While we normally wouldn’t see a rival competitor urging the FCC to approve a deal that would benefit the competition, that’s the situation currently unfolding in the spectrum wars. T-Mobile USA is strongly encouraging the FCC to approve Verizon’s $3.6 billion spectrum acquisition deal with cable companies that would net Big Red 122 spectrum licenses covering 259 million Americans.
Under normal circumstances, T-Mobile USA would vehemently oppose the deal. In fact, the company did oppose the deal at first, but last month reached a spectrum swap agreement of its own with Verizon that would give T-Mobile key AWS spectrum licenses in 218 markets covering 60 million Americans across the United States, including 15 of the top 25 US markets.
The T-Mobile USA – Verizon spectrum swap deal is contingent upon the FCC granting approval for Verizon’s deal with the cable companies, giving T-Mobile a clear motive for wanting the deal to go through. For its part, the FCC indicated a few weeks ago that it was ready to approve the deal, though no movement has been made since that time. T-Mobile disclosed filings with the FCC, which indicated that top T-Mobile USA officials met with the FCC last week to push for the deal to go through, and rejected arguments from the Rural Telecommunications Group, which argued that the Verizon deal would stifle competition.
The FCC should be ready to make a decision on the Verizon – Cable Companies deal soon, though the agreement would still need to pass through the DOJ, which has been lukewarm to the deal. We’ll be watching the FCC like a hawk in coming weeks, and will keep you up to date on any developments in the case.