DOJ to Review Verizon Spectrum Purchase

The U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing a proposed US$3.6 billion spectrum purchase by Verizon Wireless, a spokeswoman there said Tuesday.

Verizon announced this month that it plans to buy the spectrum, covering about 260 million U.S. residents, from SpectrumCo, a joint venture among Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. A DOJ review of a deal of this size in the telecom sector is expected.

The deal, for 122 Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) licenses, is also subject to review by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

Verizon had little to say about a DOJ review. "We have received no information on which to comment," a Verizon spokesman said.

Last week, Verizon also announced plans to buy spectrum licenses covering 28 million U.S. residents from Cox Communications, a former partner in SpectrumCo.

Some public interest groups have urged the DOJ and the FCC to carefully examine the deals, including plans by Verizon and the cable companies to resell each other's services, for effects on consumer choice and competition.

The two deals could contain provisions that "would reduce the participating companies' incentive to compete with one another as they work to resell each other's products rather than rolling out their own services and battling for customers," Matt Wood, policy director at Free Press, said in a statement Monday. "Such cooperation all but ensures that consumers would have fewer choices and would have to pay higher prices for broadband, wireless and video services."

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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