Following the lead of AT&T, Verizon Wireless late last week filed a petition with the FCC to rescind certain conditions the agency placed on a private-equity firm's plans for a nationwide, wholesale LTE network. Verizon argued the provisions for the network, which Harbinger Capital Partners hopes to build using both terrestrial and MSS spectrum following the firm's merger with satellite operator SkyTerra, are not in line with the open ethos the FCC recently has trumpeted.
In approving the merger of SkyTerra and private-equity firm Harbinger, the FCC approved a provision that requires SkyTerra to ask for approval before leasing capacity on the network to the "largest or second-largest wireless provider." Harbinger wanted this provision to be included. In addition, AT&T and Verizon are being forbidden from holding more than 25 percent of the spectrum. Verizon is the nation's largest wireless provider and AT&T is the second largest.
In a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Verizon's General Counsel Steve Zipperstein said the provisions are a departure from the analytical mold Genachowski has sought to bring to the FCC. "The process used to include these conditions in the SkyTerra order was deeply flawed and inconsistent with the transparent, open and fact-driven decision-making that has been an early hallmark of your chairmanship," Zipperstein wrote in his letter.
AT&T raised similar objections to the move last week.
An FCC spokeswoman declined to comment specifically on the petitions, and directed attention to a blog post the FCC published last week on the topic defending the move. "These commitments--building out the network to 260 million Americans by 2015 and allowing the FCC prior review of potential leases of spectrum or capacity to the two largest incumbent carriers--do not prohibit any specific transactions," Paul de Sa, chief of the FCC's Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis, wrote in a blog post. "But they do provide some reassurance that the approval will ignite new broadband competition while protecting the public from any potential harms."
- see this Washington Post article
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