Verizon Wireless will move quickly to use the AWS spectrum it is paying $3.9 billion to acquire from four cable operators, two of its executives told officials from the FCC's wireless bureau this week.
The operator is trying to rebut allegations of spectrum warehousing as it works to get approval for its purchase of the nationwide licenses from Cox Communications, Bright House Networks, Comcast and Time Warner Cable.
Representatives from Verizon told Rick Kaplan, head of the FCC's wireless competition bureau, that the operator would use the licenses within a similar timeframe to the deadlines the Commission has proposed for Dish Network's LTE network in its AWS-4 spectrum, according to an ex parte filing documenting the Monday meeting.
"Verizon Wireless intends to put the spectrum to use promptly in order to meet the needs of its customers and, in any event, currently intends to do so in a timeframe that is consistent with the build-out requirements recently proposed by the Commission for AWS-4 spectrum," the company said.
The target is one the most specific build-out commitments Verizon has made to date.
The FCC’s proposed deadlines for Dish Network's AWS-4 spectrum are stricter than for some other licenses. If Dish fails to provide service to 30 percent of the population covered by the spectrum within three years, and 70 percent of the population in its licensed areas within seven years, the FCC will automatically terminate its licenses. Dish has opposed the deadlines, arguing they are unrealistic for a greenfield deployment.
Verizon's pledge to follow similar deadlines could help convince the FCC to approve the AWS sale without burdensome build-out requirements. Verizon has repeatedly stated that such requirements will be unnecessary.
Verizon federal regulatory affairs executive Kathleen Grillo and deputy general counsel Michael Glover attended the meeting with Kaplan and two members of the FCC’s Office of General Counsel.
The AWS-4 timeframe has been mentioned in some of Verizon's earlier filings, but the company was less explicit about its build-out intentions.
Verizon currently has a significant amount of unused AWS spectrum purchased during the FCC's 2006 auction. Opponents to its latest AWS purchase have pointed to the unused licenses to support claims that Verizon is hoarding spectrum.
"The instant transactions would add even more AWS spectrum to Verizon Wireless’ unused spectrum inventory," T-Mobile USA said in an April filing with the FCC. T-Mobile has asked the government to block the transaction, arguing it will harm competition and contribute to the consolidation of spectrum with a small number of companies.
To prove it does not intend to warehouse spectrum, Verizon has offered to sell off its 700 MHz A- and B-block licenses if the AWS sale goes through. T-Mobile has dismissed the importance of the divestiture, pointing to interference problems that make it difficult to deploy on the A-block.