Home » Bright House/Spectrum »Comcast/Xfinity »Competition »Cox »Public Policy & Gov't »Time Warner Cable/Spectrum »Verizon »Wireless Broadband » Currently Reading:

FCC on Verizon-Big Cable Spectrum Deal: Sure, Why Not?; But Justice Dept. Thinking Twice

Despite concerns from consumer groups that a deal to exchange wireless spectrum in return for collaborative marketing between two competitors will lead to higher prices for consumers, the Federal Communications Commission seems prepared to approve it, according to a report from the Reuters news agency.

Two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters the FCC has taken the lead on the “spectrum transfer” issue, which involves turning over prime wireless spectrum currently owned by large cable operators Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, and Bright House Networks to Verizon Wireless. The combined licenses the cable industry holds are in the majority of major American cities, which critics charge Verizon will acquire to eliminate any potential competitive threat from a new nationwide wireless carrier.

Verizon’s recent moves to sell off its own “excess” spectrum to its current competitors has garnered favor inside the FCC, according to sources. Verizon Wireless recently agreed to transfer some of that spectrum to T-Mobile USA, which coincidentally was a fierce opponent of the deal between Verizon and cable operators. T-Mobile’s opposition has since muted.

Licenses owned by the cable industry would have been expansive enough to launch a new national wireless competitor. (Image: Phonescoop)

The deal between Verizon and the nation’s top cable companies is worth about $3.9 billion, but the Justice Department continues to signal concerns it would ultimately cost consumers more than that. According to Reuters, Verizon remains in “tougher talks” with lawyers inside the Justice Department who are concerned cooperative marketing between the phone and cable companies would result in decreased competition and higher prices.

One source told Reuters regulators were hoping Verizon’s now-stalled fiber to the home network FiOS would bring major competition to the cable industry, which until then had only faced moderate competition from satellite dish providers. In return, Comcast and other cable operators were expected to invade the wireless phone marketplace, adding needed competition.

Instead, both sides have retreated to their respective positions — Verizon focusing on its wireless service and Comcast and other cable companies abandoning interest in wireless phones and sticking to cable-based products.

The idea that both would begin to cross-market each other’s products is “a problem” according to the Justice source not authorized to speak publicly.

Additionally, concerns are being raised over a proposed “joint operating entity” between Verizon and cable operators that would focus on developing new technologies that could lock out those not in the consortium.

No decision is expected from the Justice Department until August, but Justice officials have signaled they have several options they can pursue:

  1. Sue to stop the spectrum transfer;
  2. Force the companies to modify their proposal to reduce potential collusion;
  3. Approve the deal but monitor how cross-marketing agreements impact on consumer markets for wireless and cable products.

Search This Site:

Contributions:

Recent Comments:

  • Kim: I am currently paying TWC $180 a month for tv, internet, and home phone. I recently tried calling to have my home phone removed, since both my daughte...
  • James R Curry: No guarantee at all. But, as there's no contract commitment, you can at least cancel if they gut the line-up....
  • Required: Much more expensive than Hulu or Netflix, doesn't let you time-shift (VOD) all the shows/movies,, and doesn't solve the local news/sports problem, rea...
  • JayS: Looks like the era of the CVNO (CableTv Virtual Network Operator) has arrived. MVNO's have been terrific for the Mobile-phone consumer. We now have nu...
  • Gregory Blajian: A quick analysis for my wife and my entertainment situation is below. Getting Starz and MLB Network plus the A&E and Viacom family of channels mig...
  • Elbert Davis: Your last paragraph is exactly why Armstrong Cable cord-cutters cannot have this--200GB a month is all we're allowed to have until we have to pay Arms...
  • ANgela Hill: Did you get anywhere with this? I am about to do the same thing myself. My bill is $170 month, and I cannot do it any longer....
  • Paul A Houle: Frontier is not going to be a competitor. Verizon will sell their copper to Frontier. Frontier can't afford to upgrade their networks but they can a...
  • Limboaz: Trump has named David Higbee and Joshua Wright to his transition team. I guess we can assume they will be involved in anti-trust enforcement since tha...
  • Chad: If you're in NY, and you think you've been charged unfairly by TWC, you should submit a claim with David. It takes 5 minutes and they'll fight for a r...
  • Abraham Long: I have standard internet here in Rochester, NY. The intro price is $34.99 and recently it went up to $44.99 for the second year. All I had to do was m...
  • Lee: Switched to Earthlink internet and PlayStation Vue and couldnt be happier. How did I not figure this out before?!?!?! Its worth a peek....

Your Account: