FCC greenlights Verizon cable deal for AWS spectrum

News Stephen Tenerowicz 20:34, Aug 23 2012

The Federal Communications Commission has determined that Verizon Wireless may acquire spectrum from U.S. cable companies with conditions

The FCC  on Thursday officially approved Verizon Wireless’ $39 billion deal to acquire spectrum from a consortium of U.S. cable companies. The Commission signed off on the deal late this afternoon with a plethora of conditions in place.

According to the FCC’s presser, Verizon must complete a deal it signed to transfer spectrum to T-Mobile USA and Leap Wireless within 45 days of closing. The carrier must also provide wireless internet to more rural parts of the country in 2013.

Verizon, the largest U.S. carrier, announced in early December its plan to purchase 122 AWS spectrum licenses from SpectrumCo., a joint venture between Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House. The carrier originally said it planned to use the AWS spectrum to further build out its 4G LTE network.

As you can imagine, once the deal was announced, the DOJ launched an investigation that focused on whether the agreement put too much control in one company’s hands. The DOJ, it appears, felt the deal was OK to go forward, however, and approved it just last week.

In recent years, the need for spectrum has been the driving force behind merger and acquisition deals in the mobile industry. AT&T's main objective in its failed bid to acquire T-Mobile USA was to gain spectrum for 4G LTE. I fully expect to see more blockbuster deals in the years ahead.

Hot on the heels of the FCC's announcement, Free Press and Public Knowledge said they believe that the conditions on the deal will help consumers, but that the DOJ did not go far enough. They also called on the FCC and DOJ to more to encourage competition in wireless.

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