In an ironic turn of events, the fourth largest U.S. carrier T-Mobile is asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to halt Verizon’s pending acquisition of additional wireless spectrum currently licensed by some of the nation’s biggest cable companies.
Verizon previously agreed to pay cable companies (Comcast, Time Warner Cable Inc., Bright House Networks, and Cox Communications) $3.6 billion to license a portion of wireless spectrum currently not in use. In return, the cable companies will cross-market Verizon’s phone, video, Internet and cell phone services to its customers. Additionally, Verizon has also agreed to halt any further build out of its FiOS broadband cable TV and Internet service.
T-Mobile is arguing that allowing the deal to go through would give Verizon an “excessive concentration” of spectrum, which in turn could stifle competition. Verizon, on the other hand, is defending the deal because it will allow the company to boost download speeds and better facilitate the growing number of data-hungry smartphone customers.
The fact that T-Mobile is against allowing any one company to control a vast portion of spectrum is interesting. Just months ago, the company unsuccessfully fought for federal regulators to approve its $39 billion merger with AT&T. The merger fell through in December 2011, leaving T-Mobile, once again, the smallest of the big fish carriers.
T-Mobile isn’t the only one urging the FCC to stop Verizon from obtaining more spectrum. The fifth largest wireless carrier MetroPCS and 10 special interest groups have also filed petitions with the FCC in regards to blocking Verizon’s deal.