Free Press has filed a petition to deny Verizon's proposed
swap of spectrum with T-Mobile, but its real issue is Verizon–SpectrumCo.
The group says the deal by itself would, for the most part, be in the public
interest since it entails a net sale of spectrum to T-Mobile and swaps that
enhance efficiency. But the deal cannot be looked at in isolation, says Free
Press, and is not in the public interest when coupled, as it is by definition,
with approval of the Verizon–SpectrumCo deal.
The swap, which would have the net effect of spinning off some of the
SpectrumCo purchase to competitor T-Mobile, is contingent on the FCC's approval
of Verizon's purchase of spectrum from cable operators - SpectrumCo (which
comprises Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House) and Cox in a separate
transaction (some Leap Wireless spectrum is also part of the deal).
Free Press opposes that SpectrumCo deal, particularly in combination with
associated marketing agreements that have Verizon and cable ops selling their
respective services and teaming on R&D to integrate wired and wireless
That is too cozy a relationship among competitors, suggests Free Press.
"This transaction cannot be viewed in isolation. It is contingent upon
Commission approval of Verizon's massive and unnecessary acquisitions of AWS
spectrum from SpectrumCo, Cox and Leap Wireless," says the group.
"Therefore, because those transactions, even when subsequently modified by
this transaction, are not in the public interest, it logically follows that
this contingent transaction is not in the public interest."