An alliance of midsized U.S. phone companies on Tuesday urged the Federal Communications Commission to conduct a thorough review of commercial agreements between Verizon Wireless and several cable companies before deciding whether to approve requests that would grant the nation's biggest mobile-phone provider billions of dollars worth of spectrum licenses.
Verizon Wireless has entered into arrangements to purchase spectrum from the cable companies and co-market each other's services. Critics of the deals fear the commercial agreements will undermine competition by resulting in collaboration between rivals such as Comcast and Verizon Wireless' parent Verizon Communications.
The Independent Telephone & Telecommunications Alliance (ITTA), whose members include Cincinnati Bell, CenturyLink and FairPoint Communications among others, expressed concern that the FCC will rule on the spectrum transfers without adequate consideration of the commercial agreements between Verizon and several leading cable companies.
"In the instant transactions, review should not be restricted to the assignment of wireless licenses when the Applicants themselves have characterized the Commercial Agreements as "integrated" into the spectrum deal," the ITTA said.
The ITTA also asked the agency to require Verizon Wireless and the cable companies to broaden their disclosures in connection with the commercial agreements.
The ITTA submitted its letter to the FCC a day after Reuters reported that the FCC is prepared to approve the spectrum transfers.
Verizon Wireless has agreed to buy 122 Advanced Wireless Services licenses from a consortium of cable companies comprised of Bright House Networks, Comcast and Time Warner Cable. The mobile phone giant also has asked the FCC for approval to acquire 30 AWS licenses from Cox amid growing concerns that the nation could face a spectrum crunch in a few years if U.S. regulators don't do more to free up additional capacity to meet demand for wireless data services.
"The explosion in customers' use of data services over the past several years shows no signs of abating and is in fact accelerating," Verizon Wireless said in its public interest statement filed with the FCC.