Originally published: August 20, 2012
Last updated: August 20, 2012 - 10:00pm
In winning approval for a $3.6 billion deal with leading cable companies, Verizon showed that it learned from the mistakes of its chief rival, AT&T.
Whereas AT&T rolled out a splashy public relations campaign last year to try and push through a $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile, Verizon kept its cable proposal under the radar while offering concessions to regulators. Verizon's strategy proved more effective. Although there were many differences between the AT&T/T-Mobile merger and Verizon's cable deal, both were primarily about the companies' need for spectrum. Gigi Sohn, president of consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, which opposed both deals, said that although she believes Verizon's deal was "in a lot of ways equally bad, if not worse" than AT&T’s, it was "more subtle." She noted that Verizon's deal would allow it upgrade its network with spectrum that the cable companies weren't using. The AT&T merger, Sohn claimed, was "just a dog" from a public interest perspective. Verizon's strategy for navigating its deal through the regulatory process was also vastly different. Verizon’s public relations campaign was barely noticeable, and few lawmakers weighed in on the matter. When it became clear that regulators were taking a hard look at the deal, Verizon proactively offered to put some of its own valuable spectrum up for sale. The company even won the support of T-Mobile, who had been a vocal critic, by striking a side deal that gave T-Mobile a chunk of the cable companies' spectrum.
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