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Nine Groups Seek to Block or Condition Verizon/SpectrumCo/Cox Deal

Public Knowledge, Media Access Project and the Writers Guild of America, West have joined with six other groups to petition the FCC to block the sale of advanced wireless spectrum from cable operators to Verizon, or absent that it refer it for hearing before an administrative law judge.

In the filing, the groups argued that the deal to buy spectrum from Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House (SpectrumCo) and Cox would fundamentally alter the telecom market, and not in a good way.

First, they don't want Verizon to get any more spectrum, "aggravating existing anticompetitive problems with spectrum aggregation," they said. Second, they say, separate agreements between Verizon and the companies to sell their video services means that not only will they not compete, but they may collude. The groups cite the agreement by the companies to create a "joint operating entity" to develop new technologies to link voice, video and wireless traffic.

The FCC has itself been promoting the integration of video and data in a broadband delivery system as a way to promote adoption of a technology it suggests is this generation's highway system and electric grid rolled into one.

The groups argued that if the FCC does approve the deal, it should be with conditions including an interoperability condition to prevent Verizon from "controlling the equipment market and deploying handsets that work on its network alone," roaming obligations, and a tight build-out schedule combined with a "use it or share it" condition that requires the spectrum be opened for unlicensed use until Verizon builds it out.