News

Spectrum Deal Gets More Time at FCC

5/07/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

The Federal Communications
Commission’s Wireless Telecommunications
Bureau needs three more weeks to review
the proposed spectrum deals among Verizon
Wireless and
four cable operators,
due to
“deficiencies”
in document
production by
the parties.

The bureau
on May 1 said
Verizon Wireless
and the
operators —
Comcast, Time
Warner Cable,
Cox Communications
and
Bright House
Networks — had not completed a “responsive
production” of documents by March 22.
More than half of their total documents were
submitted after April 19.

At issue is the December 2011 agreement
among Comcast, TWC and Bright House to
sell Verizon Wireless their Advanced Wireless
Services spectrum holdings for $3.6 billion.
The operators and wireless carrier also
said they would sell each other’s services
in select areas. Cox Communications later
struck a similar arrangement with Verizon
Wireless, proposing to sell its AWS spectrum
holdings for $315 million.

The FCC on May 1 was on day 103 of its review
of the spectrum deals, but the so-called
“shot clock” is informal and the commission
has often gone beyond the 180-day target.

The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
said it did not foresee any further extension
of the 180-day period “assuming the adequacy
of the current productions in response to
the requests.”

The bureau said the “untimely productions”
by Verizon Wireless and the MSOs had
delayed the staff ’s review.

Verizon Wireless responded to the document
requests with a production of approximately
4,000 documents as of April 5,
the bureau said. But “in light of deficiencies
commission staff identified in that initial
production, the company’s response grew
to more than 50,000 documents as of April
27. Cox and Bright House Networks did not
submit the great majority of responsive documents
in proper form until April 24.”

There is a standing request from several
parties — including Sprint Nextel, DirecTV,
the Communications Workers of America
and public-advocacy groups critical of the
proposed Verizon Wireless/MSO deals — at
the FCC to halt the
review process altogether.
They cited
problems opening
some of the documents
filed by Ver
izon and cable
operators, a charge
the carrier and the
MSOs said lacked
merit.

And already, Verizon Wireles s,
Comcast and Time
Warner Cable have
begun co-marketing
programs in
cer tain markets
that of fer incentives
to subscribers
who take services
from both the wireless
carrier and the
MSOs. The companies
say those deals
are separate from
the proposed AWS
spectrum sales.

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