updated 05:05 pm EST, Tue December 20, 2011
DOJ worried about collusion on Verizon spectrum
The Department of Justice on Tuesday said it was investigating Verizon's plans to buy cable companies' wireless spectrum. The agency was investigating whether or not taking the usually 1,700MHz space from Bright House, Comcast, Cox, and Time Warner Cable raised competitive problems. Officials are reportedly concerned that the deal amounted to collusion rather than fostering competition.
The companies involved hadn't yet responded to the investigations.
Verizon is paying over $3.6 billion for what's largely an attempt to boost the capacity for its LTE network as it plans to reach the majority of its users in 2012. Its deal would simultaneously help with roaming on LTE in Canada, where most carriers are using the same 1,700MHz bands for their LTE access.
Concerns about spectrum hoarding are at a high point following the end to AT&T's T-Mobile buyout attempt. Among the complaints that led to the merger was that a company of the size of AT&T or Verizon might hoard spectrum that prevents smaller carriers from getting much-needed capacity or coverage. Verizon's approach may not face serious challenges since it's taking advantage of largely unused access.