Public Knowledge Sees Benefits To Cable Spectrum Sale

The following is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge:

"On the one hand, it is good news that Verizon is paying $3.6 billion to buy useful spectrum from the cable company consortium. Spectrum is better held in the hands of those who will use it, as opposed to those who don't.

"The transaction also shows how relatively cheaply more spectrum can be acquired by those who need it. The purchase price is about one-tenth of the amount AT&T wants to pay for T-Mobile to theoretically solve AT&T's spectrum shortage.

"At the same time, we have some questions and concerns about the transaction's side deal. Consumers have benefited from head-to-head competition between Comcast and Time Warner (the major partners in SpectrumCo) and Verizon FIOS. If this deal becomes a way for the companies to coordinate their product offerings to avoid competition, or a way to work together to exclude other competitors such as DISH from the mobile and wireless data market, that would obviously be a bad outcome.

 "The Federal Communications Commission will need to review this transaction. Even with our general approval of spectrum being used, the Commission will also need to review the transaction against its 'spectrum screen,' which measures spectrum concentration rather than market share, to ensure that there is enough leftover spectrum in every market for vigorous competition."

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