22
Feb
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Remember back in December when Verizon announced its plans to buy a truckload of spectrum licenses from several cable companies? T-Mobile does, and they're not happy about it.  The fourth-largest US carrier told the FCC that the deal would allow Verizon to "accumulate even more spectrum on top of an already dominant position."

Verizon fired back with the time-honored legal defense of "Well, why not? Nobody else is using it!" In a response to the filing, Verizon claimed that the deal would make use of spectrum that is currently going unutilized by the cable companies. The FCC currently has the goal of ensuring spectrum is utilized as efficiently as possible, so Verizon's response is appropriately laced with an "Isn't this what you wanted us to do?" tone.

The timing of T-Mobile's response shouldn't go unnoticed, though. Verizon first announced their deal to acquire spectrum back on December 2nd. Back then, T-Mobile still had the faintest hope of being acquired by AT&T. Or, at the very least, hadn't announced the deal would be scrapped. One has to wonder why T-Mobile waited this long to speak up.

Still, potential hypocrisy aside, T-Mobile could have a point. Verizon already has a very dominant position when it comes to spectrum holdings, and purchasing more spectrum would be a crushing blow to smaller competitors. Remember, spectrum is a finite resource. T-Mobile is already facing trouble getting their own LTE network up to snuff, their consolation prize from the failed AT&T deal notwithstanding. With even less unused spectrum to invest in, T-Mobile could be up the creek if this deal goes through.

T-Mobile isn't the only one that's unhappy with the deal, either. MetroPCS, the US's fifth-largest carrier also asked the FCC to block the deal, saying that neither Verizon nor the cable companies had provided enough information to prove the acquisition was in the public's best interest. Sprint also spoke up, not to ask the FCC to block the deal per se, but to at least take a good long look at the deal before approving it.

Part of the deal between Verizon and the cable companies would also include cross-promoting each other's services. This means that in the future you'll start to see ads and hear sales pitches for Comcast services in Verizon stores. By "the future" we mean "the past", that is, since Verizon has already started some of the cross-promotion in their stores already, under the assumption the deal will go through.

Verizon hopes to close the deal by mid-2012, so we'll probably hear something from regulators in the next few months.

Sources: AP, WSJ

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • David M

    I know I'm best served by effective competition. That said, T-Mobile demonstrated a couldn't care attitude towards its own customers over the last 6-12 months that was very effective in getting me to leave them for big red. I am sympathetic towards the other carriers concerns in this matter, but can't say I feel any sorrow for T-Mobile in this one. They had plenty of time and opportunity (and our monies) to tend to business and they just sat around milking us for all they could get. Shameful.

  • http://al.com Al

    T-Mobile should do everything in its power to utilize more of it's own "spectrum." I don't know about you, but it's incredibly annoying that they are the only cellular company in the entire world that uses "1700mhz" in the United States for 3G service. It's weird, and very few international phones having built in modem's for it. Maybe they should start offering a better phone choices and less choppy service, because I'm seriously thinking about jumping ship. Damn that 2-year contract!

  • Tim

    T-Mobile is all but dead anyway. It's only a matter of time before someone else either buys them or they merge with one of the smaller carriers since Dutch Telecom isn't investing in them anymore. Let Verizon have the spectrum. This isn't going to give them any more dominance than they already have. T-Mobile couldn't afford it anyway.

  • J-Dog

    Would it be possible for Verizon to set up a cooperative agreement with T-Mobile & any other provider so they could use some of the spectrum they're purchasing? Since everyone is basically switching to LTE now it shouldn't really be too much of an issue, just have to ensure the phone's LTE radio can access the right frequencies. It'd be beneficial for everyone. Customers would get better signals (if T-Mobile was stronger in the area I'm in, my Verizon phone jumps on their network & visa versa) & the carriers win by not having to blanket 100% of the country. Verizon could relax some in areas where T-Mobile is strong & focus on areas where there is 0 LTE (like rural areas - us country geeks want fast mobile internet too you know)...

    If the deal goes south though, going along with Verizon's "Hey no one else is using it" argument... There was an article in the latest Popular Science about Wifi soon becoming as ubiquitous as cellular data.. One thing they talked about was the FCC's idea for Super-Wifi... Using white space between TV channels rather than traditional frequencies, the article suggested the range could be 2miles in dense cities to up to 40 miles in the open country... Since most cable providers are also ISPs, they should have the infrastructure to fix something similar up. Then the Galaxy Nexus S comes out with a 802.11 a/b/g/n chip, 3/4G and Super-Wifi. All Time Warner would have to do is set up a couple towers & I could log into their network using my Road Runner ID, and I'd have internet access all over town. That'd help reduce the load on the cellular networks, maybe allowing carriers to re-instate unlimited data packages again.

    • calvin

      good points there, hope someday sprint will not be the only carrier that has unlimited data.

      $print FTW

      • dude

        T-Mobile cane out with a new unlimited plan (technically, its capped at 9765GB a month, but that is more than the current 5GB.)

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