The FCC followed on the heels of the Justice Department (DOJ) by approving an order on Tuesday night consenting to Verizon’s acquisition of wireless spectrum assets held by the cable-based members of the SpectrumCo venture. The FCC’s approval is contingent upon Verizon’s compliance with roaming, network build-out and other commitments. The FCC’s three Democrats— Chairman Julius Genachowski and Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel—voted to approve the order, with Republicans Robert McDowell and Ajit Pai approving the item in part while concurring on the roaming condition and on the issue of the FCC’s jurisdiction over the commercial agreements between the parties. The order adopted by the FCC is virtually unchanged from the draft item that was circulated by Genachowski last week in the wake of the DOJ’s consent decree, which limits the scope and length of the commercial agreements between Verizon and the SpectrumCo members. According to the FCC, various factors weighed in favor of approval, including Verizon’s “unprecedented” sale of spectrum to rival T-Mobile USA, a deal that was undertaken to “address staff concerns regarding spectrum consolidation,” as well as “enforceable commitments” on build-out and roaming offered voluntarily by Verizon. Specifically, the build-out conditions require signal coverage and service to at least 30% of the population in markets in which Verizon is acquiring licenses within three years and to 70% of the population in such markets within seven years. In ex parte documents filed with the FCC last week, Verizon further pledged to “continue to offer roaming agreements for commercial mobile data services in the areas where it is acquiring AWS spectrum from SpectrumCo . . . to other commercial mobile data service providers on commercially reasonable terms and conditions.” Verizon also informed the FCC that the roaming commitment “will remain in place for five years following the date of the Commission’s order approving the AWS license assignments.” Although the FCC also determined that “significant concerns raised in the record concerning the Applicants’ related commercial agreements have generally been addressed by the [DOJ] consent decree,” the agency said it would subject Verizon to certain reporting requirements and would also open a docket in which members of the public could “file complaints or petitions alleging that the parties are acting in violation of the conditions . . . or engaging in anticompetitive conduct.” Applauding the FCC’s vote, Verizon Wireless president Dan Mead lauded the SpectrumCo deal as “a milestone in the industry.”
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Verizon-SpectrumCo deal approved by FCC
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