T-Mobile Asks FCC To Stop Verizon Wireless Spectrum Purchase

Still stinging from being left alone at the altar by AT&T, T-Mobile USA apparently doesn’t want to see any of its fellow wireless carriers making multi-billion dollar deals if it can’t.

The nation’s fourth-largest wireless carrier has asked the Federal Communications Commission to stop Verizon Wireless’ proposed purchase of a big chunk of wireless spectrum that currently belongs to cable companies like Comcast, and Time Warner Cable.

Calling the spectrum sale “a clear threat to competition,” T-Mobile claims that it would allow VZW — already the nation’s largest carrier — “to accumulate even more spectrum on top of an already dominant position, while checkmating crucial avenues for growth of its smaller competitors.”

When the $3.9 billion deal between Verizon and Spectrum Co., an imaginatively named joint venture of Comcast, TWC, and Bright House Networks, it was believed that the sale would receive nowhere near the scrutiny that scuttled the AT&T purchase of T-Mobile.

The companies were hoping to avoid raising any antitrust eyebrows because these cable companies do not compete directly in the wireless market, meaning Verizon would not be inheriting any new customers or markets, nor would it be eliminating any competitors.

T-Mobile Asks FCC to Deny Verizon’s Spectrum Buy [WSJ.com]

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  1. Cat says:

    Spectrum Co. = Spectrum squatters and speculators. Nobody should be allowed to sit on spectrum for unlimited amount of time. This is one of the many reasons why there is a spectrum “crisis”

    There should be some sort of “use it, or lose it” rule.

  2. Brontide says:

    “The companies were hoping to avoid raising any antitrust eyebrows because these cable companies do not compete directly in the wireless market, meaning Verizon would not be inheriting any new customers or markets, nor would it be eliminating any competitors.”

    I’ll take some of what they are smoking.

    Personally I’m a big advocate for splitting the infrastructure from the retail. Anyone who owns last mile or spectrum can’t compete in the retail market.

  3. VectorVictor says:

    Verizon FiOS subscribers are hoping T-Mobile, et al, opposing this deal succeed, as the current Verizon CEO is (myopically) scrapping expansion of FiOS service and buildouts and putting all of Verizon’s eggs into the wireless spectrum basket.

    A strong denial on this front may force Verizon to go back to the drawing board for profits, which may include a reversal on scrapping FiOS Expansion in existing Verizon markets.

    • Cat says:

      Wireless spectrum is cheap and easy to build out. Landlines, not so much. But landlines are superior for data transmission, and is not finite: they can build more.

      But the short term (and short-sighted) profit is in wireless, and that’s where they are going to invest.

    • PhiTauBill says:

      In total agreement that the myopathy is astounding, considering how good the availability of the FIOS offering is to consumers who have real competition… unfortunately, since wireless is not *yet* regulated as heavily as wireline, they can live at the proverbial margins with their walled gardens and expect higher ARPU and profits in that space… the status quo on that front will likely not last forever, however, especially once there is a new sheriff in town after Genachowski vacates for his fait accompli postion at Verizon down the road.

      • Cat says:

        Shall we take bets on who Genachowski goes to “work” for after he leaves?

      • VectorVictor says:

        Agreed. FiOS is an outstanding service, especially compared to the competition (Time Warner, DirecTV, DISH).

        Though they *have* been slacking as of late…Verizon really needs to poo or get off the proverbial pot regarding IPTV and/or MPEG 4 compression of their signal, as they’re running out of QAM space to deliver new HDTV signals. I suspect this is why fan favorites like GOL TV, BBC America, Cartoon Network, and the like haven’t been added in HD to the lineup yet, but random new Disney channels have–they have enough space to meet possible future contractual obligations, but little else.

        That, and you can’t get a Wireless-N router to be the primary router for your network without sacrificing functionality on the TV side, and the stock G router sucks something fierce.

    • soj4life says:

      Verizon announced that they were not going to enter anymore new markets with fios a long time before this deal was made. It costs verizon thousands of dollars per subscriber for fios, that is why they are going to install only in the markets they currently service. If verizon wireless can not purchase this spectrum, it is not going to change their business model with fios.

  4. Invader Zim says:

    I would think other providers would want to squash the deal too.

  5. DonnieZ says:

    I had a demo unit of the new Verizon LTE MyFi.. 20Mbps down and 8Mbps up while riding the train was pretty impressive.

    I’ve been an AT&T customer for years but they seem to have made a few critical erroneous moves in their acquisition of spectrum in the past few years. Verizon owns a solid block of 20MHz of spectrum in the former analog TV space (7xxMHz) coast to coast which makes for a pretty easy LTE rollout. AT&T is rolling with non-contiguous 10MHz channels in a lot of areas and this is causing major headaches for AT&T’s LTE rollout.

    If Verizon can blanket the areas I use most with sweet, sweet LTE coverage I might have to go to the Red side…

  6. Jawaka says:

    So T-Mobile doesn’t want Verizon to purchase the spectrum. Do they plan on purchasing it themselves? Who should be allowed to purchase it? Its not like there’s many new cell phone start up out there with 4 billion dollars to spend.

  7. TuxthePenguin says:

    Not that it has anything to do with the story, but “Still stinging from being left alone at the altar by AT&T” is simply not true. More accurately, it was like T-Mobile’s father, the government, confronted AT&T with a shotgun and said “Get the hell away from my daughter”.

    • Minneapolis says:

      Close. In your scenario, the father of the bride would be ol’ man Deutsche Telecom. The government would be crooked the town’s Sheriff, known for taking money and looking the other way, who finally cleaned up his act and did the right thing by stopping the wedding.