Rival Carriers Worry About Verizons Spectrum Stock

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2012-05-20 Print this article Print

€œWe are particularly concerned that there should be more attention paid to the Joint Operating Entity set up by the companies to create new technologies that could well set new and anticompetitive standards that would hurt consumers and restrict innovation,€ said Harold Feld, legal director for the group.

Public Knowledge is especially concerned about the secrecy surrounding the Verizon Cable deal, and has asked the FCC to release the full contents of the redacted documents that Verizon supplied in response to questions from the FCC. As it happens, sources familiar with the documents submitted to the FCC say that some of what was supplied to the FCC was redacted so that even the FCC itself couldn€™t view the answers.

The wireless phone companies are also concerned about the amount of wireless spectrum that Verizon would gain if the purchase goes through. A T-Mobile spokesperson told eWEEK that Verizon€™s plan is against the public interest. In addition, filings from T-Mobile to the FCC have said that Verizon already holds far more spectrum than it uses and is the least spectrum-efficient carrier in the United States.

€œIt will result in excessive concentration of this especially important spectrum for LTE in the hands of the nation€™s largest wireless carrier, who has been sitting on spectrum in this very band for years without making the slightest effort to put it to use," the T-Mobile spokesman said.

€œThe end result will be to foreclose competition and harm consumers. Additionally, Verizon€™s simplistic claim of being the most efficient user of spectrum falls apart upon closer examination of the facts€“as outlined in T-Mobile€™s filings at the FCC, when properly measured, Verizon is the least-efficient user of spectrum among the nationwide wireless carriers,€ the spokesman said.

Sprint also worries about the spectrum use by Verizon, but is particularly concerned about the damage to broadband and wireless competition. In a prepared statement, a Sprint spokesperson told eWEEK, €œThe cooperative arrangements between these companies encompass wired and wireless technologies, voice, video, and data services: the full complement of 21st century electronic communications services and have the potential to touch each consumer and every government, business, health care and educational institution in the United States. Sprint urges the FCC to closely examine whether the collaboration of these telecommunications and cable giants upends competition between these historical industry rivals, resulting in reduced choices and increased prices for consumers.€

While none of the companies would use the word €œCartel€ in their statements, it€™s pretty clear from their descriptions that it€™s exactly what they view it as. It€™s worth noting that Public Knowledge does use the word €œcartel€ in other descriptions of Verizon€™s deal with the cable companies.

Cartels, as defined by U.S. antitrust law, are illegal. Maybe this is why Verizon and the cable companies were hoping this would proposal would somehow fly under the FCC€™s radar. But the noisy protests expressed by multiple diverse interests have ensured that this deal is very prominent on the FCC€™s proverbial radar scope.

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Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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