Verizon's Shammo: Give spectrum to companies that can use it
Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) would like to see the government unleash spectrum to companies that can use it rather those that will sit on it and try to flip it for profit. And the government should not place spectrum caps on wireless companies, a top Verizon executive said.
Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo said AT&T's (NYSE:T) proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA highlighted the spectrum issue, and that one of the reasons AT&T is trying to acquire T-Mobile is for its spectrum. Speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Entertainment & Communications conference, Shammo said that the government needs to move faster to auction spectrum, and that placing spectrum caps on companies will not lead to industry innovation or to more mobile devices consumers want to buy.
"Overall, the government has to alleviate the pressure of spectrum and allow the companies who want to acquire it, and build it and innovate, to do that," he said. One of Verizon's persistent concerns since the AT&T/T-Mobile deal was announced in March is that if regulators at the FCC and Department of Justice allow it to proceed, they will place conditions on the deal that will impact other carriers in the industry.
During his appearance, Shammo also touched on a handful of topics, including the carrier's $50 Unleashed prepaid unlimited plan and Verizon's LTE smartphones. Verizon plans to launch the Unleashed plan nationwide Thursday, which Shammo said is being done to coincide with the launch of the carrier's retail relationship with RadioShack, given that the retailer sells a great deal of prepaid service.
Shammo also talked about the LTE-capable Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) Droid Bionic, which Verizon began selling last week for $300 with a two-year contract. He said the device is selling "quite well" and that the Bionic has solved the battery life issues that affected earlier LTE smartphones. The Bionic's battery life "is probably as good as a 3G device right now," he said.
Verizon's LTE network now covers more than 160 million POPs, which is more than half of the U.S. population. The network is available in more than 117 cities, and Verizon expects to cover 175 markets and 185 million POPs with LTE by year-end. Shammo said that as the network expands the carrier expects LTE devices, especially smartphones, to make up a higher percentage of its device sales.
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