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Free Press Asks FCC to Deny Verizon–T-Mobile Spectrum Swap

Free Press has filed a petition to deny Verizon's proposed
swap of spectrum with T-Mobile, but its real issue is Verizon–SpectrumCo.

The group says the deal by itself would, for the most part,
be in the public interest since it entails a net sale of spectrum to T-Mobile
and swaps that enhance efficiency. But the deal cannot be looked at in
isolation, says Free Press, and is not in the public interest when coupled, as
it is by definition, with approval of the Verizon–SpectrumCo deal.

The swap, which would have the net effect of spinning off
some of the SpectrumCo purchase to competitor T-Mobile, is contingent on the
FCC's approval of Verizon's purchase of spectrum from cable operators -
SpectrumCo (which comprises Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House) and
Cox in a separate transaction (some Leap Wireless spectrum is also part of the

Free Press opposes that SpectrumCo deal, particularly in
combination with associated marketing agreements that have Verizon and cable
ops selling their respective services and teaming on R&D to integrate wired
and wireless broadband.

That is too cozy a relationship among competitors, suggests
Free Press. "This transaction cannot be viewed in isolation. It is
contingent upon Commission approval of Verizon's massive and unnecessary
acquisitions of AWS spectrum from SpectrumCo, Cox and Leap Wireless," says
the group. "Therefore, because those transactions, even when subsequently
modified by this transaction, are not in the public interest, it logically
follows that this contingent transaction is not in the public interest."