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Verizon, cable ops open file access to avoid AWS delay

Tue, 05/01/2012 - 2:57pm
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

Verizon Wireless and its cable partners in the AWS spectrum sale are taking steps to make transaction documents more accessible after Sprint and a number of other companies complained to the FCC.

Opening the files could help avoid a possible delay in the deal.

Sprint, DirecTV and seven other groups asked the FCC last week to stall its review of the $3.9 billion transaction because key files could only be accessed with "expensive software."

Verizon, Cox Communications, Comcast, Bright House Networks and Time Warner Cable are now offering to provide documents in formats that do not require expensive software to view, according to an ex parte document filed with the FCC on Monday.

The five companies maintain that they have "fully satisfied their obligations to make their documents available to third parties" but have agreed to "take certain additional steps to facilitate third-party review of the materials."

Verizon said it is willing to provide PDF versions of files and make documents available for review in a searchable format using software at the Washington, D.C., office of its outside counsel, among other steps. The cable operators also are offering document review at their respective Washington law offices and have taken other steps similar to Verizon's.

Sprint, among those to complain it ran into "delays and technical difficulties" accessing documents in the transaction, declined to comment on the offer.

The Communications Workers of America was one of the first to complain about problems reading files. It renewed its request for the FCC to stop the clock on the transaction yesterday, stating that it was the "only way" it could conduct a meaningful review of the materials in the deal.

The FCC has yet to say whether it will grant the delay. It is more than halfway through its 180-day timeline for its review of the transaction.

Verizon's finance chief said during the company's recent earnings call that the AWS sale is expected to close by mid-summer.

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