Over the past decade, the U.S. wireless market has become increasingly concentrated, with the former Bell companies (AT&T and Verizon) using their legacy wireline monopoly advantages to establish and increase their market power in the wireless market. What once was a market with six national and numerous regional wireless providers has now devolved into a market with two dominant national carriers, two struggling national carriers and an ever-dwindling number of struggling regional carriers.
The Federal Communications Commission has asked for comments on the impact of the recently proposed AWS spectrum sale/swap between Verizon and T-Mobile on its review of Verizon’s proposal to acquire AWS licenses from SpectrumCo, Cox and Leap Wireless. Free Press offers these brief comments in response. In short, this latest deal does not change the fact that if the applications in this proceeding are granted, Verizon will control far more spectrum than it will need for the foreseeable future in markets serving the overwhelming majority of the U.S. population.
Written testimony of Free Press Policy Adviser Joel Kelsey before the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights on March 21, 2012, regarding “The Verizon/Cable Deals: Harmless Collaboration or a Threat to Competition and Consumers?”
Free Press filed a petition to deny Verizon the ability to acquire from SpectrumCo. and Cox Wireless the last nationwide block of highly valuable mobile broadband spectrum that will be available for the foreseeable future. SpectrumCo. is a Comcast majority-owned venture with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.
On Feb. 7, Free Press, the Media Access Project, Public Knowledge and the Greenlining Institute filed a letter with the Federal Communications Commission requesting that Verizon and SpectrumCo. make unredacted versions of its joint operating and marketing agreements in its spectrum deal available to parties in the proceeding.
Big telco and big cable have struck a deal to work together. That could mean working to fix prices, divide the market and give consumers less choice. We've asked the FCC to join the Justice Department in investigating the companies' proposed joint-marketing agreements, but the companies argue the government has no role in ensuring consumers are protected.