FCC rules against Sirius, approves T-Mobile and Verizon spectrum swap

The FCC granted permission to T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) to swap some AWS-1 and PCS spectrum licenses with Verizon (NYSE: VZ), rejecting objections raised by Sirius XM.

Sirius had objected to the transaction, claiming T-Mobile's AWS-1 cell sites interfered with its receivers and that granting the carrier new AWS-1 licenses in additional markets would only exacerbate the problem. T-Mobile said it is using its spectrum in accordance with FCC regulations and that Sirius should be responsible for addressing any interference problems.

The FCC dismissed Sirius's complaint, saying the interference allegations "would be better addressed in a different proceeding." Sirius failed to prove that the transaction would make any interference problems worse, the FCC ruled, and didn't propose any conditions that could have been imposed on the transaction to address its concerns.

The FCC noted, however, that its ruling "does not foreclose any right of Sirius to seek reliever on the interference allegations in the appropriate proceeding."

A Sirius XM spokesman told the WSJ that the company is working with T-Mobile to fix the situation, but warned that Sirius XM might pursue "other avenues" if the companies don't reach an agreement. A T-Mobile spokesman declined to comment, according to the WSJ.

Earlier this year, Verizon and T-Mobile forged a $173 million deal to transfer a slew of AWS-1 and PCS spectrum licenses between them in various markets across the country. The deal includes spectrum swaps in parts of Arkansas, California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee and Virginia.

T-Mobile has been using the AWS band as its primary band to support LTE, which it launched in March 2013. The company's LTE network now covers around 300 million POPs.

For more:
- see this FCC announcement
- read this Wall Street Journal article

Related articles:
Verizon, T-Mobile strike $173M deal to swap AWS, PCS spectrum in dozens of markets
T-Mobile accused of interfering with Sirius XM's signal at certain cell towers