Verizon: What is This? Braveheart?
T-Mobile, Sprint (NYSE:S), rural carriers, and advocacy group Public Knowledge have teamed up to battle Verizon’s (NYSE:VZ) multi-faceted spectrum sale and cross-selling partnership with cable operators, objecting to various aspects of a deal that could firmly cement Verizon’s spot as the nation’s top carrier while squashing the competition.
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However, the Alliance for Broadband Competition, as the group calls itself, is fairly loose-knit, and the various companies and organizations can’t quite agree on what aspects of Verizon’s deal they oppose. For instance, Rural Cellular Association CEO Steve Barry said the RCA doesn’t actually oppose the spectrum deal, but wants to see the Federal Communications Commission impose conditions on the license transfer that would force interoperability in the LTE 700 MHz bands.
Barry’s concern is that, if Verizon (NYSE:VZ) gets hold of cable operators’ Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum, it will then sell off its excess 700 MHz licenses, and Verizon and AT&T (NYSE:T) would effectively create private LTE bands, making it difficult for other operators to get devices and sign roaming agreements.
Meanwhile, T-Mobile wants to stop the spectrum sale altogether, while Public Knowledge’s primary concern is the joint-operating entity that Verizon would create with Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC), which the group’s legal director, Harold Feld, said would allow Verizon and the biggest cable operators to dictate de facto technology standards to the detriment of consumers.
The American Antitrust Institute and Free Press, neither of which are official Alliance members, though each participated in its media call on Monday, focused more on the competitive and legal implications of Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and cable operators dividing the wireline and wireless markets between them.
The disunited front has Verizon relatively unconcerned, saying the “faux-coalition” is simply “old whine in a new bottle,” trying to rehash old complaints by presenting them under a coalition banner. Spokesman Rich Young told GigaOm in an emailed statement,
“There is nothing new here. Verizon Wireless has responded to each of these claims in our filings on multiple occasions, has addressed them with the FCC, and is confident that we have a made a strong case on bringing unused spectrum to meet the needs of consumers is in the public interest.”
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