Verizon says will sell billions of dollars of spectrum if cable deal closes

Reuters

Verizon Wireless plans to put a chunk of wireless spectrum up for sale as it looks for regulatory approval of its controversial plan to purchase a block of spectrum from cable service providers.  According to a Wall Street Journal report, the spectrum sale could be worth billions of dollars.


The company's offer to sell spectrum follows opposition from several smaller rivals to its efforts to buy wireless airwaves from cable companies including Comcast Corp (Philadelphia, Penn., USA), BrightHouse (Syracuse, N.Y., USA) and Time Warner Cable Inc (New York) for around $3.6 billion.


Verizon Wireless (New York), the biggest U.S. mobile provider, said it will only go through with its plan, announced on Wednesday, to sell A and B spectrum licenses in the 700 Megahertz (MHz) frequency band if its cable deal is approved by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Justice.


Verizon Wireless, a venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc (London), said it hopes the spectrum purchase is approved by mid-summer.


Verizon rivals Sprint Nextel (Overland Park, Kan., USA), T-Mobile USA (Bellevue, Wash., USA) and MetroPCS Communications (Richardson, Texas, USA) all complained to the FCC about Verizon's deal with the cable companies, which also involves a service resale agreement and the formation of a joint venture.


Verizon's biggest rival AT&T Inc (Dallas, Texas, USA) has said it would look at all options for gaining access to more spectrum after regulators blocked its efforts to buy smaller rival T-Mobile USA, a unit of Deutsche Telekom (Bonn, Germany) last year.


U.S. wireless service providers all say they are in dire need of access to more airwaves in order to support heavy demand for data services such as mobile video.


"Since wireless operators, large and small, have expressed concern about the availability of high-quality spectrum, we believe our 700 MHz licenses will be attractive to a wide range of buyers," Molly Feldman, vice president of Business Development for Verizon Wireless said in a statement. "Moreover, provided our acquisition of AWS spectrum is approved, our open sale process will ensure these A and B spectrum licenses are quickly and fairly made available for the benefit of other carriers and their customers."


Verizon Wireless said it would begin the sale process of the A and B licenses it bought in a 2008 FCC auction, once the cable deal is completed.


It is already building high-speed wireless services in the upper C block of spectrum in the 700 MHz band and aims to supplement with the spectrum from the cable companies.


It has hired Stephens Inc to manage the spectrum sale process.

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