Verizon Wireless filed a nearly 300-page document with the FCC, defending its deals with major cable companies. T-Mobile and others responded March 6, insisting critical information is still missing.
Verizon Wireless filed a
with the Federal Communications Commission March 2, describing its
spectrum-purchasing deals with SpectrumCo and Cox TMI Wireless as foremost
"squarely in line with Administration and Commission policy," in the
best interests of the public, and presenting "no countervailing
The document has already
prompted critics of the deal to file a response with the FCC.
Following criticism of
Verizon's deals from a number of the carrier's competitors, as well as public
interest groups, the Verizon document also describes how allotting the spectrum
to Verizon will not reduce market competition and what the role of the FCC is in
such matters anyway, particularly with the U.S. Department of Justice already
Suzanne Fenwick, executive director for corporate development for Cox
Communications; Robert Pick, CEO of SpectrumCo (the joint venture between Time
Warner, Comcast and Bright House Networks); and William H. Stone, executive
director of network strategy for Verizon, are included, along with arguments
from experts David E. Borth, an independent consultant and former Motorola
engineer, and economist Michael Katz.
The version of the document
posted to the FCC Website has great sections of missing text, and chunks of
"highly confidential" text have been deleted. Stone, in particular,
apparently had lots of juicy details to disclose.
While the whole thing seems
to echo AT&T's nine-month process of trying to convince the FCC to let it
buy T-Mobile, Verizon works to undo such comparisons, suggesting that while the
AT&T deal would have shifted the spectrum holdings of the top-four U.S. carriersand
so competition within the marketthe Verizon deal won't touch what's already in
place; it will just bring in currently unused spectrum.
"The focus of the
trigger should be on the total amount of spectrum available to other
competitors, not how much an individual carrier holds in any given market,"
states Verizon. "It is well-established that providers may have
significantly different spectrum needs while competing successfully, as the
Commission has found that 'many carriers are competing successfully with far
lower amounts of bandwidth today.'"
More spectrum is what every
carrier is grabbing for these days; it's critical to keep pace with increasing
numbers of smartphone and tablet users, not to mention data cards and small
armies of machine-to-machine (M2M) deployments. T-Mobile, according to the
Associated Press, has told the FCC that the Verizon deal will
give T-Mobile an "excessive concentration" of spectrum
The Rural Telecommunications
Group (RTG) has also criticized the opaque manner in which Verizon is going
about things, while others, including Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), have worried
that somealso opaquemarketing details in the agreement will turn competitors
into allies, resulting in higher prices and fewer choices for consumers.
Verizon argues all these
points, suggesting sour grapes on the part of T-Mobile and downplaying the
"The industry is replete
with joint marketing agreements and other joint ventures," Verizon writes.
It adds that the FCC "did not review joint marketing agreements and other
business arrangements closely akin to those at issue," and offers the
example of the 2005 creation of Pivotal Wireless by Sprint Nextel, Comcast,
Time Warner, Cox and Advance/Newhouse.
Hints at the still-vague
marketing agreements continue to unnerve Verizon competitors. On March 6,
T-Mobile, Sprint, DirecTV, the Rural Telecommunications Group and other parties
a group letter with the FCC
, asking it to stop the 180-day "shot
clock" on the Verizon proceedings.
The deal, they say, only
"nominally" involves a spectrum transaction; more problematic are
plans that "provide the parties to those agreements with the ability to
act as agents selling one another's services."
Due to the redacted portions
of text in the Verizon document, says the March 6 letter, "neither the
Commission nor interested parties can evaluate the transactions fully..."
As a matter of policy, the
letter continues, "the Commission cannot allow the Applicants to deny
production of evidence for the record without which interested parties would be
unable to submit the type of fully informed analyses necessary to help inform
the Commissions consideration of the public interest."
Once such information is
made clear, it continues, "all concerned will be free to turn their
attention to other issues in this proceeding."