The proposed spectrum sale is contingent on Verizon closing its proposed acquisition of Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum from Leap Wireless International Inc. (Nasdaq: LEAP) and four MSOs: Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Bright House Networks and Cox Communications Inc.
Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Inc. analyst Craig Moffett believes the proposal bodes well for Verizon Wireless and its cable partners in part because it implies that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice are about to wrap up their review of the AWS deals and apply some conditions that Verizon Wireless can apparently live with.
"A carrier does not just wake up one day and decide to sell some of the best spectrum it has at a time when it argues the industry is facing a spectrum crunch," he writes. Importantly, he adds, this could mark the start of a new national policy that applies spectrum caps on Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and other wireless carriers.
Moffett estimates that Verizon's "weighted average spectrum depth on a national basis" would be roughly 107MHz, but fall just below the 100MHz ceiling if it were to sell its A and B blocks.
Update: Here's a graph from the research firm comparing the spectrum holdings of top U.S. carriers.
Here's how Moffett sizes up the winners and losers if Verizon Wireless is allowed to proceed.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable