updated 11:02 pm EDT, Thu August 16, 2012
FCC approval likely, paving way to 4G LTE buildout
The US Department of Justice said on Thursday that it would approve Verizon Wireless' $3.9 billion wireless spectrum purchase. The head of the Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski, said that the FCC would also likely give the deal permission to continue -- albeit with marketing restrictions.
One noted restriction by the Justice Department prevents Verizon Wireless from marketing cable products in areas where Verizon Communications markets and sells FiOS television and Internet services in direct competition with the cable companies.
After the Justice Department announced its conditions on the transfer, Genachowski urged the commission to approve the deal. A majority of the FCC commissioners must vote in favor of the transfer before Verizon can claim the bandwidth.
"By limiting the scope and duration of the commercial agreements among Verizon and the cable companies, while at the same time allowing Verizon and T-Mobile to proceed with their spectrum acquisitions, the department has provided the right remedy for competition and consumers," said the head of the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department, Joseph Wayland.
Verizon's deal with cable providers Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, and Cox Communications drew opposition from public interest groups, claiming the lack of choice would hurt competition and drive up prices. To partially address these concerns, the Justice Department said that it wanted changes to Verizon Wireless' commercial agreements with cable companies on marketing each other's services and the creation of a technology joint venture. Verizon is planning on using the spectrum to add capacity to its high speed "4G" LTE network.