In addition to approving the controversial white space proposal (story here), the FCC okayed the Sprint-Clearwire merger and Verizon’s acquisition of Alltel.
For the cable industry, the acquisition of Clearwire by Sprint-Nextel is the first step toward gaining access to a broadband data network.
The merged entity, which will retain the Clearwire name, will build a nationwide WiMAX network which, if it remains on schedule, should provide mobile broadband data services long before the major phone companies are able to upgrade to a network (specifically an LTE network) able to rival WiMAX for speed and access.
Clearwire investors include Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Google and Intel. Cox Communications intends to build its own cellular network, and follow a path to LTE technology.
The FCC said the approval of Verizon’s acquisition of Alltel will allow the former to fill in some holes in its geographic coverage and become a truly national wireless network.
In exchange for the approval, Verizon agreed to give up licenses to spectrum in 100 markets where the combination would be, the FCC’s estimation, anti-competitive.
The Commission said it also conditioned its approval of the transaction on roaming commitments made by Verizon Wireless.
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