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Verizon, Comcast agree to US regulator airwave demands

Verizon and Comcast have agreed in principle to limit cross-selling in order to purchase unused airwaves from cable companies.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer on

The largest mobile provider in the U.S., Verizon Wireless, and cable company Comcast have agreed in principle to limit joint ventures in order to continue purchasing unused airwaves from other firms, Bloomberg reports.

verizon comcast airwaves spectrum purchases fcc

U.S. antitrust regulators have demonstrated concerns over a market which could become completely dominated by several companies, and so are attempting to place limits on activity which may further strengthen the monopoly of a small number of telecommunications firms.

The cross-marketing agreement includes Verizon Wireless's bid to purchase unused airwaves owned by cable companies worth $3.6 billion.

For this to go ahead, the mobile provider must agree with cable companies including Comcast and Time Warner Cable to restrict joint ventures by time and geographic reach, in order to maintain a competitive industry.

Verizon's FiOS high-speed Internet, telephone and television services have come under particular scrutiny, although Verizon Chief Executive Officer Lowell McAdam believes that the deal will help meet consumer demand for high-speed connections. Both companies must return to federal authorities for a review in four to five years if they wish to continue cross-selling products.

The deal is being handled by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Department of Justice (DOJ).

As the two companies have agreed in principle, it is likely the deal will be given the seal of approval next month. However, citing sources close to the talks, the publication reports that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski may ask four fellow commissioners next week to approve the deal.

A majority vote is required for the purchases to go ahead.

Verizon spokesman Richard Young said:

"We continue to have constructive conversations at both the FCC and Department of Justice and anticipate approval later this summer."

60.7 percent of the market is held by Verizon, with AT&T's market share coming in second. The FCC has until 21 Aug to complete its review.

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