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FCC, DOJ approval rumored for Verizon AWS deal

Tue, 08/14/2012 - 2:12pm
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

The government is said to be set to approve Verizon Wireless' $3.9 billion purchase of AWS spectrum from four cable operators.

Clearance from the FCC and Justice Department may come "in the coming weeks," The Wall Street Journal reported late yesterday, citing unnamed sources with inside knowledge of the issue.

The rumor is one of a number that have circulated around the transaction this summer.

The government was previously reported to have delayed approval of the spectrum sale because of concerns about the competitive impact of cross-selling deals and a joint venture Verizon arranged with its cable partners at the same time it signed off on the AWS purchase.

According to the latest speculation about the government's conditions on the transaction, the companies will have to limit their partnerships outside the spectrum sale to a duration of five years. Once the initial trial period concludes, they must reapply for antitrust approval from the DOJ.

Verizon Wireless and Comcast are also said to have agreed to not cross-sell each other’s products in Verizon Communications' FiOS markets.

Verizon Wireless has already kicked off cross-selling with cable partners Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications. Bright House Networks is the only company in the AWS transaction that hasn't embarked on a joint marketing initiative with Verizon.

Some have characterized the arrangements as a de facto non-compete agreement, allegations the companies deny.

Approval of the transaction will allow Verizon to move forward with its plan to use the spectrum to augment its LTE network. The addition of the cable company's AWS spectrum to Verizon's existing AWS holdings gives it a nationwide footprint in the band.

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