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Verizon Wireless claims T-Mobile swap ‘enhances’ AWS deal

Wed, 07/11/2012 - 2:44pm
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

Verizon Wireless is telling the FCC that its agreement to swap spectrum with T-Mobile USA makes its purchase of AWS spectrum even better for consumers.

"The SpectrumCo-Cox license assignments will advance the public interest in numerous ways; Verizon Wireless’ transaction with T-Mobile only enhances those public interest benefits," Verizon said in a document filed with the FCC yesterday, referring to its acquisition of AWS licenses from Cox Communications and three cable operators listed as SpectrumCo: Time Warner Cable, Comcast and Bright House Networks. The cable companies also signed on to the statement.

The transfer of licenses between Verizon and T-Mobile will allow the operators to make more efficient use of their assets, shows that the secondary market for spectrum works well and contradicts allegations of spectrum hoarding, Verizon argued.

Verizon is working to close its $3.9 billion AWS deal by late summer. The FCC is rumored to be close to approving the spectrum portion of the transaction, but the Justice Department is said to be leery of marketing and cross-selling arrangements forged by Verizon and the four cable providers at the same time they signed off on the AWS sale.

The agreement with T-Mobile was part of Verizon's plans to expedite approval of the transaction. T-Mobile had been an opponent of the deal until Verizon agreed to trade licenses.

The exchange covers 218 markets and will give T-Mobile more spectrum for its LTE network. The licenses gained by T-Mobile cover 60 million people in a number of top markets, including Washington, D.C., Detroit and Philadelphia. Verizon will get spectrum spanning a population of 22 million, plus an unspecified cash payment from T-Mobile.

Before Verizon announced the arrangement with T-Mobile, it had already offered to sell off some of its 700 MHz spectrum not being used for its LTE network. It says it has extended offers for the lower A-block and B-block licenses to 59 parties, up from the 36 entities it previously reported.

The 700 MHz sale and the deal with T-Mobile will only move forward if the FCC clears the AWS transaction.

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