T-Mobile asks FCC to block spectrum sale to Verizon

The company says, according to documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission, that Verizon would receive an "excessive concentration" of wireless spectrum in the deal.

T-Mobile is not too pleased with a plan Verizon Wireless has hatched to acquire nearly $4 billion in wireless spectrum.

According to The Washington Post, which obtained the documents, T-Mobile lodged a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission yesterday, urging the government agency to block the sale of wireless spectrum from Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks--collectively known as SpectrumCo.--to Verizon.

According to the Post, T-Mobile believes the sale could provide Verizon with an "excessive concentration" of wireless spectrum.

Verizon announced plans to acquire the so-called Advance Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum in December . If the deal is approved, Verizon will have the option to sell cable service in its stores, and the cable companies involved in the sale will be able to access its wireless network on a wholesale basis. The deal is a boon for Verizon, as the gold rush for precious spectrum heats up.

"Spectrum is the raw material on which wireless networks are built, and buying the AWS spectrum now solidifies our network leadership into the future, and will enable us to bring even better 4G LTE products and services to our customers," Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead said in a statement at the time.

Despite T-Mobile's reservations, Sprint isn't so quick to jump on the bandwagon. The carrier didn't ask the FCC to block the deal, but it did request that the government agency take a deep dive into the particulars of the agreement to ensure it won't hurt competition across the wireless space.

Sprint's tempered response is no surprise, considering the company has somewhat strong ties with cable companies . Years ago, for example, cable companies and Sprint formed an ill-fated joint venture called Pivot designed to get the cable providers into the wireless business. To attempt to block the deal could have a negative impact on Sprint's relations with those firms.

If Verizon can gain FCC approval for the spectrum purchase, it could achieve something its chief competitor, AT&T, wasn't able to do last year in its $39 billion bid for T-Mobile USA. Federal regulators argued that the acquisition would have hurt wireless competition. After a brief court battle, AT&T decided to abandon plans to acquire T-Mobile USA. If the deal had been approved, AT&T would have acquired a boatload of spectrum and significantly improved its 4G LTE rollout across the country.

If all goes well for them, Verizon and SpectrumCo. hope to complete the acquisition by the middle of this year.

 

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