Verizon received the Department of Justice's blessing for its cable company spectrum purchase last week, and now it's the FCC's turn to rubber stamp the plan. The agency has followed Chairman Julius Genachowski's recommendation and voted that Verizon can snap up the relevant AWS airspace as part of its LTE network expansion. Some riders are attached to the deal, although they're not all weighty. Verizon has to make an "unprecedented divestiture" of spectrum to T-Mobile in addition to its swap with Leap, promise certain coverage levels in the newly acquired zones at 3- and 7-year milestones, guarantee some roaming deals and provide updates on how its DSL service adoption is impacted by all that 4G. That Verizon has 45 days to finalize the T-Mobile deal gives some idea of how quickly everything has to move, although it could be a long while before we see AWS-ready Verizon devices in the shops.
To no one's surprise, advocacy groups are still upset: the Alliance for Broadband Competition believes the FCC decision "does not go far enough" to keep a level playing field, for example, and wants to voice its problems to the FCC. Anxiety still exists that just about any deal concentrates too much spectrum in the hands of Big Red. Still, there's a sense among groups like these that Verizon has had to at least partially address worries over unfair competition.
VERIZON WIRELESS RECEIVES FCC APPROVAL TO PURCHASE ADDITIONAL SPECTRUM FROM CABLE COMPANIES
Company Committed to Using Spectrum for Continued Rollout of 4G LTE and High-Speed Data Services to Customers
BASKING RIDGE, N.J. – Verizon Wireless today announced that with the recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval, the company will move forward with plans to acquire Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum licenses from SpectrumCo, a joint venture between Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, and from Cox Communications, as well as to complete transactions with Leap Wireless, Savary Island Wireless and T-Mobile. Verizon Wireless will use the spectrum it is acquiring in these transactions in conjunction with its 700 MHz upper C band spectrum to deploy additional LTE capacity.
"This purchase represents a milestone in the industry and we appreciate the FCC's diligent work to review and approve the transaction," said Dan Mead, president and chief executive officer of Verizon Wireless. "We will work aggressively to ensure that we put this previously unused spectrum to use quickly to benefit customers."
The approval of these transactions also means Verizon Wireless can move forward with its previously announced plan to sell its 700 MHz lower A and B block spectrum licenses. Mead added, "We expect a very robust sales process as more than 65 parties have requested and received information about the spectrum we are selling. Selling the A and B licenses will allow this spectrum to be used to the benefit of other carriers and their customers."
Verizon Wireless' 4G LTE network is available today in over 370 markets covering nearly 75 percent of the U.S. population. The higher-speed network is important as the company works to meet the increasing needs of customers who are using smartphones, tablets and more, to manage their lives and run their businesses. The FCC estimates that the industry demand for mobile data by 2015 will be 25 to 50 times greater than it was in 2010 as customers move toward more data-intensive devices that allow them to video chat, stream live video, download movies or large work files and more, on smartphones and tablets.
Verizon Wireless remains committed to helping America lead the world in broadband infrastructure that will ultimately give consumers more choice, convenience and innovation.
Alliance for Broadband Competition Statement on FCC Verizon-SpectrumCo Order
The Alliance for Broadband Competition released the below statement following the FCC's order regarding the Verizon-SpectrumCo Agreements:
"Our alliance of competitive carriers, trade associations, public interest groups, and other entities continue to have deep concerns about the future of the competitive communications landscape. While the FCC's Order does not go far enough to ensure a competitive landscape, we are pleased that the Order addresses some of the concerns that we have raised with the Commission over the past several months. We look forward to future conversations with the Commission to address our remaining concerns.
"Continued conversation and monitoring compliance with the proposed remedies are a start-- but these actions are just the beginning of a necessary longer effort by the Alliance to continue to educate Washington and consumers about the competitive harms that face the American communications industry and the impacts of continued consolidation. It remains critical that the FCC and other federal regulators protect the competitive goals of the Communications Act and prevent the continuing march towards a communications duopoly."
*Verizon is currently in the process of acquiring AOL, Engadget's parent company. However, Engadget maintains full editorial control, and Verizon will have to pry it from our cold, dead hands.