Verizon gets green light from Justice Department to buy Comcast airwaves

Verizon’s spectrum deal with cable operators is inching closer to final approval.

The Justice Department has approved the deal, which will allow Verizon to pick up unused airwaves from Comcast and other cable companies.

With the spectrum, Verizon says it will be able to give 70 percent of the U.S. population wireless access within the next seven years. Verizon also agreed to let other wireless companies piggyback on the spectrum for use by roaming customers.

Some critics have feared that the deal would hamper competition between companies. That’s never good, the critics say, as it tends to mean higher prices for consumers. To fix this, the Justice Department limited the deal to December 2016 and clamped down on the ability for Verizon and Comcast to cross-promote each other’s products.

The Justice Department appears to be quite happy with its handling of the issue.

“By limiting the scope and duration of the commercial agreements among Verizon and the cable companies while at the same time allowing Verizon and T-Mobile to proceed with their spectrum acquisitions, the department has provided the right remedy for competition and consumers,” Justice Department attorney Joseph Wayland said in a statement.

The next step? Approval by the Federal Communications Commission, which is likely to pass the deal next week.

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