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Verizon Wireless CEO: We don't warehouse spectrum

Dan Mead takes an opportunity at CTIA to tell the audience that Verizon needs more spectrum and defend his company's plan to buy it from cable companies.

CEO of Verizon Wireless, Dan Mead, during his keynote speech at CTIA 2012. Lynn La/CNET

NEW ORLEANS -- Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead defended his company's plan to buy wireless spectrum from cable operators during a keynote here Tuesday.

Mead emphasized the need for more wireless spectrum in the market to keep up with growing demand for wireless data services among consumers. He said it will take years for the Federal Communications Commission to auction off additional spectrum. And he said Verizon can't wait: his company will need additional spectrum in some markets by 2013, and it will need even more by 2015.

Verizon has been deploying new technology to get more efficient use out of its existing spectrum, but he said that isn't enough, either. So the company has turned to the secondary markets to buy additional spectrum.

In December, Verizon struck a deal with a consortium of four major cable operators to buy their AWS wireless spectrum. Verizon plans to use this spectrum to augment its 4G LTE network. But other carriers, such as T-Mobile USA, have criticized the deal. T-Mobile says Verizon is already one of the largest owners of wireless spectrum. And it is accusing Verizon of "warehousing" this valuable spectrum to keep it away from competitors.

But Verizon's Mead said that isn't the case at all.

"We will put this spectrum to use quickly to expand our LTE network," he said. "We are confident that the FCC and Department of Justice will understand that this deal is good for Verizon customers and good for the broadband economy."

He noted that the company also plans to sell some of its 700MHz spectrum that it doesn't plan to use right away.

"This clearly indicates [that] we aren't interested in warehousing spectrum," he said. "We think these initiatives show we are responsible stewards of spectrum."