According to an article yesterday by the Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is finally ready to offer his suggestion that Verizon’s $3.9 billion spectrum deal be approved. The deal will, however, be coming with some additional expected stipulations. Verizon must offer competitive prices for data roaming to other carriers, and must use it in a timely fashion. In other words, no monopolization of markets, and no hogging the ball.
If you’ve been out of the loop, here is what has been going on. Verizon wants to buy $3.9 billion USD of AWS spectrum from a combination of major cable networks. Verizon claims that this will be used soon in its LTE rollout, and is happy to do a spectrum swap to that end with T-Mobile USA.
Most of the companies not involved with the deal are at best annoyed, but some are downright hostile. MetroPCS claims that Verizon will do nothing but stockpile the spectrum for future use. Sprint has expressed serious concerns that Verizon’s incumbent cross-marketing deals with cable companies will make things unfairly difficult for other providers—particularly in the areas of backhaul and WiFi services.
Verizon currently has a slight lead on AT&T in terms of subscribers, AT&T in turn has a massive lead over Sprint and T-Mobile—the third and fourth spot holders. While it appears the caveats to this deal through the new stipulations will address the concerns of both Metro PCS and Sprint, I’m sure many people will still find the offer a little too sweet in Verizon’s favor.
Should smaller carriers be given preferential treatment in the name of competition? Feel free to speak your thoughts in the comments section below.