Home » Bright House »Comcast/Xfinity »Competition »Cox »Public Policy & Gov't »Time Warner Cable »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:

  • Josh: I don't know how anyone passes laws like that, or upholds them or whatnot with a straight face. It couldn't possibly be more blatantly because you're...
  • Paul Houle: This is a sad day. Many of the states involved with these fights are the ground zeroes of the broadband struggle. While Wheeler pursues suburban p...
  • Lee: Ah the magic of corporate debt to pay dividends. They are not the first nor will they be the last to use debt to pay dividends....
  • Jackripper: What bs so now we are stuck with limited services and no consumer choice. Like mobs owning their own domain. How thuggish....
  • Josh: Still totally irrelevant so long as they have laughably tiny caps....
  • Derpson: Just ran speedtest on my galaxy s7, got a blazing 8/1. They need more towers next!...
  • Phillip Dampier: A paid subscription is required to access the article in question which is why you are probably having an issue. I have captured a screenshot which is...
  • Paul Houle: @rcxb, it could be worse. You could live in Frontier Country where you pay $90 a month for phone + 1 Mb/s DSL. Fiber prices for smoke signal s...
  • jhf5: I wonder what is in store for New York, wondering if 100Mb/ s will be standard service or not, NYSPC requirements say 100 required, though I am not su...
  • rcxb: Does anybody else remember back when AT&T DSL was $12.99/mo? Sure it was only 1.5Mbps, but I'm sure plenty of people would go for that speed at t...
  • Mike The Great: All I can say is LOL!...
  • Dave: Please post your references for your assertion that ATT made a $70,000 donation. All google searches just link back to you for this....

Your Account: