DirecTV Wants Cable to Dump Clearwire Stakes
DirecTV's proposal, described in this Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing, comes into play as the Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice review the proposed sales, which are valued at about $4 billion and also include Cox Communications Inc. 's AWS spectrum. T-Mobile US Inc. is in line to gain some of that spectrum, but only if Verizon Wireless can get those deals done. (See VZ Wireless/T-Mobile Spectrum Deal Has a Catch.)
In 2008, Comcast originally kicked in $1.05 billion to Clearwire, while TW Cable contributed $550 million and Bright House gave $100 million. But in late 2011, and soon after those MSOs forged spectrum sale deals and service bundling partnerships with Verizon Wireless, those operators announced plans to end their wholesale agreements with Clearwire. (See Cable Plays Clearwire Card and Comcast, TW Cable to Halt Clearwire Sales.)
DirecTV thinks those cable operators should now further distance themselves for the sake of wireless competition, arguing that cable's continued connection could scare off others from investing in Clearwire, which plans to offer Long Term Evolution Time Division Duplex (LTE TDD) services in at least 31 cities by June 2013, including New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle. (See Sprint's Stake in Clearwire Falls Below 50% and Clearwire Targets 31 Cities for LTE TDD .)
"Allowing these MSOs to continue to hold minority ownership and management interests in Clearwire despite their new arrangement with Verizon Wireless would enable them to hamper further development of Clearwire's competing network and services, both by impeding new initiatives and by refusing to make additional investments," DirecTV argued in the filing.
DirecTV didn't say if it's interested in investing in Clearwire, but it has shown some interest in offering fixed-Long Term Evolution (LTE) services -- the satellite TV company conducted LTE trials with Verizon Wireless before the mobile carrier struck its new deals with the cable operators. (See Verizon Ditches DirecTV LTE Plans for Cable and LTE in a Can .)
DirecTV, U.S. cable's largest video competitor, urged the FCC to require the cable guys to shed their interests in Clearwire within six months.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable