T-Mobile, Sprint and others join to fight Verizon spectrum deal

Posted by Emma Woollacott

A new coalition including mobile operators, trade associations and campaign groups has formed to try and stop Verizon Wireless from buying more mobile spectrum.

Verizon is planning to buy Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum from SpectrumCo, a joint venture between Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, as well as from former SpectrumCo member Cox Communications.

The proposed agreement would also allow the companies to market each others' services and carry out joint research.

But the newly formed Alliance for Broadband Competition is asking the Dapartment of Justice and Federal Communications Commission to block the deals.

The group counts T-Mobile USA, Sprint Nextel, Public Knowledge and the trade groups Rural Telecommunications Group and RCA. They say the deal would give Verizon control of at least a third of mobile wireless spectrum and reduce consumer choice.

"Verizon and the cable companies are truly creating an Axis of Broadband Power that threatens competition and consumer choice to their very core," says Carri Bennet, general counsel of the Rural Telecommunications Group.

"Very quietly, this Axis has entered into complex transactions that will forever change how consumers access voice, Internet and video service, which companies these consumers will purchase those services from, and at the end of the day, what those services will cost."

The group says it would support the deal, as long as Verizon divests some of its spectrum holdings, establishes roaming agreements and agrees to a backhaul pricing structure.

But with Verizon claiming that it's going to run out of network capacity in less than three years, it's unlikely to agree. It has, though, promised to sell off spectrum in the 700MHz band if the deal is approved.