Originally published: July 11, 2012
Last updated: July 11, 2012 - 4:37pm
A host of Verizon's cellular competitors want to make sure the company does not get any preferential access to Wi-Fi networks through its $3.6 billion deal with a coalition of cable companies. In filings with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this week, Sprint, MetroPCS and a coalition of mid-sized carriers argued that if regulators approve the deal, they should attach conditions to ensure that all carriers have equal access to the cable companies' Wi-Fi hot spots.
Verizon agreed in December to buy blocks of radio spectrum from a group of cable companies, including Comcast, Time Warner and Cox. The companies also agreed to cross-sell each other's services and to launch a joint-research venture. Many of the same cable companies have been setting up high-speed Wi-Fi Internet hot spots around the country, and in May, they announced that they would allow each other's customers to access all of the hot spots. But Verizon's competitors are worried that the company's arrangements with the cable companies will give its customers special access to the Wi-Fi hot spots.
Consumer advocacy groups also filed comments with the FCC this week calling for conditions on the Verizon-cable deal. The groups are not satisfied with Verizon's recent announcement that it will sell off some of the newly acquired spectrum to T-Mobile, the smallest national carrier. Free Press said Verizon, the largest carrier, should be forced to relinquish more spectrum holdings in certain markets. Public Knowledge argued that the commercial arrangements still pose a serious threat to competition. The group said that although Verizon's deals with T-Mobile "may alleviate some of the spectrum concentration concerns posed by the proposed transactions in this proceeding, they do nothing to prevent or remedy the harms threatened by the proposed transactions to the development of competition in the telecommunications landscape."
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