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FCC 'set to approve' Verizon Wireless airwaves deal

Verizon Wireless is set to win approval from the FCC, according to reports, in a airwave buyback deal from a group of cable companies. But there's still a catch to overcome: the U.S. Justice Department.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is close to approving Verizon's plans to acquire airwave spectrum from a group of cable companies --- including Time Warner, and Comcast --- that would boost the cell giant's 4G LTE coverage beyond the 700MHz spectrum it currently uses.

Two sources spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity.


Verizon, the largest U.S. mobile provider with around 110 million customers, said in December it would seek to buy the Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum for $3.9 billion.

Congress has been highly scrutinous over the planned deal, and other cell networks have voiced their strong opinions on the case. It was argued that the wireless landscape could be adversely affected by Verizon's gain over providing high-bandwidth content such as video streaming and the like, and that smaller networks --- such as T-Mobile USA --- could be a better candidate to make use of the spectrum.

To ease the deal, Verizon swapped  some of its spectrum with Deutsche Telekom-owned T-Mobile. In a nutshell: it helped out the company with additional spectrum space in a bid to drop its objection to the deal. Smart move, considering T-Mobile's potential to be disruptive in the wireless pricing space.

But next in line to question the deal is the U.S. Justice Dept., and so far the government department has erred on the side of caution.

The tougher talks will lead to a decision made by the Justice Dept. in August, but what could get in the way is the collaboration between Verizon and Comcast --- the two largest companies in the mobile and cable space respectively.

One of the main concerns is that there could be less "head-to-head competition," as Reuters described, leading to higher cable broadband and wireless plan prices.

The FCC deal is far from complete, despite signals that a green light could be on the cards, and the two agencies will have to give their blessing before a deal can complete. Until then, the deal will remain under watchful eyes of both Congress and the government regulators.

Image credit: CNET.

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