Today, RTG filed with the Federal Communications Commission both a petition to deny the spectrum deal between Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile and comments demonstrating how that deal perpetuates the anticompetitive harms brought about by Verizon Wireless’ pending license acquisition deals with SpectrumCo, Cox, and Leap. Verizon Wireless is asking for FCC consent to assign licenses which it does not yet have the authority to assign. For that reason alone, the deal between Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile should be denied or held in abeyance. Furthermore, the proposed spectrum sale-and-swap with T-Mobile does not decrease Verizon Wireless’ continued hoarding of AWS spectrum nor does it address the real anti-consumer threats posed by its commercial resale, wholesale and “joint venture” deals with SpectrumCo, Cox, and Leap. Commission approval of all of these pending deals without any major conditions or divestitures, will only serve to embolden Verizon Wireless to continue to warehouse CMRS spectrum and limit how American consumers can access the mobile Internet. Verizon Wireless has failed to deploy mobile wireless services, let alone LTE services, on the AWS spectrum it has held since Auction 66 concluded in 2006. Today, Verizon Wireless seeks regulatory approval to add even more AWS spectrum from the Cable Companies, Leap and now T-Mobile. RTG’s members and the customers they serve will be materially harmed by the totality of these anticompetitive transactions.
Once a vocal critic of Verizon Wireless’ plan to grab spectrum from the Cable Companies, T-Mobile is now a pawn in Verizon’s efforts to eliminate competitors (namely Comcast, Time Warner, Cox and Bright House Networks) and severely limit the ability of those few remaining regional, small and rural mobile wireless operators seeking bandwidth to add 4G services.
“Verizon Wireless would like the general public to believe that by entering into an 11th hour deal with T-Mobile it is engaging in a magnanimous self-divestiture that will somehow mitigate the public interest harms created by its previously-announced deals with the Cable Companies and Leap. In fact, Verizon is doing nothing more than muddying an already overly-complex transactional web designed to catapult it further into position as the largest national wireless carrier in the United States and co-magnate of its shared duopoly with AT&T. This is nothing more than a game of three-card Monty using the public’s airwaves. No matter how many times Verizon Wireless shifts the cards on the table, the results will be the same: more spectrum for Verizon and fewer choices for the consumer,” concluded RTG’s General Counsel, Carri Bennet.
About RTG – Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Rural Telecommunications Group, Inc. (RTG) is a trade association representing rural wireless carriers who each serve less than 100,000 subscribers. RTG’s members have joined together to speed delivery of new, efficient and innovative telecommunications technologies to remote and underserved communities. ruraltelecomgroup.org @RTGwireless
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