On March 26th, RTG filed reply comments regarding the transactions proposed by Verizon Wireless, SpectrumCo and Cox TMI Wireless as they would cause significant harm to RTG, its members, and Americans who live, work and travel through rural America. Just as it has failed to make any efforts to put its existing AWS spectrum to use, Verizon Wireless is likely to warehouse any AWS spectrum acquired in these transactions, denying the benefits derived from use of such spectrum throughout its vast service area. Letting valuable spectrum lie fallow disserves the public interest in many ways, and SpectrumCo’s sale of its spectrum with no intent to actually buildout its AWS licenses magnifies the harm resulting from this transaction.
SpectrumCo has conceded that it never intended to buildout its licenses, and post-hoc justifications for such admissions do nothing to refute justified concerns of license trafficking. At a minimum, an evidentiary hearing is warranted under Section 309(e) of the Communications Act to resolve such issues.
Perhaps the greatest harm that will result from approval of the proposed transactions is the loss of two potential nationwide competitors. That the license sale would occur prior to SpectrumCo and Cox initiating service does nothing to diminish the competitive impact of the loss of such well positioned competitors.
Not only are the proposed transactions (combined with related agreements) contrary to the public interest, they appear to violate both the Sherman Antitrust Act and Section 262(c) of the Communications Act. Contrary to Applicants’ assertions, these agreements are directly relevant to the license transfers, as both Comcast and the FCC appear to have recognized.
In reviewing the proposed transactions, the FCC should apply a lowered spectrum screen as proposed in RTG’s petition to deny. The proposed transactions also highlight the need for a spectrum cap, and RTG urges the FCC to commence a rulemaking proceeding based on RTG’s pending petition for rulemaking to consider adoption of such a cap.