Verizon and its potential cable partners deemed some details of their deal too private to share with the FCC in a recent document. The FCC is now asking to know more.
The Federal Communications
Commission has asked Verizon Wireless, Cox Communications and the entities of
SpectrumCoComcast, Time Warner and Bright House Networksto share some
information that it left out of a nearly 300-page March 2 correspondence
to FCC, deeming the details too top-secret.
In order to
fully consider the $3.9 billion agreement that Verizon hopes to enter into with
its cable partners, the FCC said in a March 8 letter
that it requires additional
information and clarification of certain matters discussed in the applications
and other information provided to the Commission.
The FCC has
requested that all parties respond no later than March 22.
The FCC also
wrote to Comcast March 7, asking that, by March 12, it submit a revised copy of
the agreement between the partiesbeing called the Cellco Partnershipthat
includes redacted information related to three particular sections of the
FCC said it plans to consider marketing agreements that are a part of the saleand
that have been pointed to with great concern by lawmakers, such as Sen. Al
Franken (D-Minn.), consumer advocacy groups, such as Public Knowledge, and U.S.
carriers, including T-Mobile, Sprint and the Rural Telecommunications Group.
the matter, Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen, in an interview with Politico
released March 8, explained
that the spectrum sale and marketing agreements are of a wholethat there is no
one without the other.
transaction is an integration transaction. There was never any discussion about
selling the spectrum without having the commercial agreements," Cohen
The comment prompted a letter
to the FCC the same morning, by
representatives from T-Mobile, Sprint, Rural Telecommunications Group, Media
Access Project, Free Press, Public Knowledge and DirecTV, who wrote that
comment undid the "Cellco" assertion that the commercial agreements
are unrelated to the spectrum sales and so not under the FCC's jurisdiction.
Equally disturbing is Applicants apparently evolving
position with respect to Department of Justice jurisdiction. In their prior
submissions to the Commission, they argued that the Commission need not
consider the commercial agreements because they are already the subject of
review by the . . . Antitrust Division.
Now, however, they appear to be saying that even DOJ lacks
jurisdiction over those agreements.
If nothing else, such gamesmanship only underscores the
importance of transparency in this proceeding. The Commission must ensure that
the record includes complete and unredacted versions of the commercial
agreements, and that interested parties are given sufficient opportunity to
review and comment upon them.
Since at least Feb. 3,
interested parties have
been appealing to the FCC to force Verizon and its partners to reveal the
details of their "commercial agreements," which were first hinted at
in a Dec. 2 blog post
by Comcast President Neil Smit,
the same day the deal was announced.
years from signing, Comcast could become a reseller of Verizon Wireless'
service through a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) agreement. Comcast
could purchase Verizon Wireless' service at wholesale rates and then market and
sell its own, branded wireless service in connection with our bundled
offerings, creating more choice for consumers," Smit wrote.
and others have expressed worry that, by turning competitors into allies, the
deal would have the opposite effect, both lessening choices for consumers and