Sprint Wants to Snip the Verizon/Cable Bundle

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) wants the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to impose a condition on Verizon Wireless 's proposed acquisition of cable-owned wireless spectrum that, if successful, would effectively block the wireless carrier and the MSOs from bundling services in several major U.S. markets, including New York City, Philadelphia and Boston. (See VZ Wireless, Cable Guys Fight for Spectrum Deal and Verizon Wireless: Cable’s New BFF.)

As described in this filing, Sprint wants the Commission to ban Verizon Wireless, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Cox Communications Inc. and Bright House Networks from marketing or profiting from "each others' services in areas where a Cable Company competes with Verizon's [Verizon Communications', in this case] wired network."

So far, Sprint's pretty much had its wish, as Verizon Wireless and its new cable partners have largely avoided hooking up in FiOS markets, instead ganging up on the likes of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL). (See Comcast/Verizon Combo Steers Clear of FiOS and TW Cable, VZ Wireless Gang Up on AT&T.)

But, if the FCC sees things Sprint's way, it could mean Verizon Wireless and the MSOs couldn't bundle up in some major cities where cable faces off with FiOS. Examples of markets that would be off the table are Boston, Baltimore and Washington (Comcast markets); New York City and Dallas (TW Cable markets); and Los Angeles, where both Comcast and TW Cable have cable operations. Cox, meanwhile, locks horns with FiOS in parts of Rhode Island and Northern Virginia, while Bright House does the same in some pockets of Florida.

Sprint didn't spell out precisely why it wanted this particular condition, though there are already some concerns that the bundles could reduce the level of wired broadband competition between cable and Verizon Communications. But, overall, Sprint did argue that the many proposed conditions it outlined to the FCC would "serve the public interest by countering the loss of effective competition that would follow from the spectrum sale and its associated 'Commercial Agreements.'"

This wireline-related ask is a new one. Sprint has already pitched other conditions it would like to see applied, including fair access to cable's Wi-Fi networks and assurances that Sprint can strike backhaul deals with Verizon Communications and the MSOs on a non-discriminatory basis, noting that anything less would harm its ability to deploy the microcells necessary to fulfill the aims of its Network Vision initiative. (See Sprint Tries to Hamstring Verizon/Cable Deals .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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