updated 05:12 pm EDT, Thu August 23, 2012
Spectrum bought from cable companies to boost 4G
Verizon announced today that it would be moving forward with its plan to acquire Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum licenses from the cable companies. The announcement comes following approval of the plan by both the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission. Verizon's spectrum buy had encountered resistance from a number of regulatory and industry figures, but the approval will give the carrier the spectrum it requires to greatly increase its 4G wireless capabilities.
Verizon will be buying spectrum licenses from SpectrumCo, a joint venture between Comcast, Bright House Networks, Cox Communications, and Time Warner Cable. The carrier will also be completing transactions with Leap Wireless and Savary Island. The spectrum acquired in these transactions will be used along with Verizon's existing 700 MHz upper C band spectrum to expand its LTE capacity. The deal to purchase the spectrum has been priced previously at $3.6 billion, though the figure could be as high as $3.9 billion.
Another carrier, T-Mobile, had previously opposed Verizon's spectrum buy, going so far as to petition federal regulatory bodies to block the transaction. T-Mobile argued that Verizon wasn't making proper use of the spectrum it already owned, and that allowing the carrier to grab more spectrum would bring about anti-competitive effects in the wireless market. Verizon countered T-Mobile's protest, citing T-Mobile's prior attempt to sell itself to AT&T as an example of the same sort of anti-competitive behavior T-Mobile had accused Verizon of.
Verizon will now move forward with its plan to sell its 700MHz lower A and B block spectrum licenses. More than 65 parties are said to have requested and received information on the spectrum sale. The carrier already sold off parts of its spectrum holdings to T-Mobile earlier this year, despite that carrier's objections to Verizon's larger spectrum purchase plans.