Sprint, T-Mobile and other organizations against Verizon Wireless controversial agreements with cable companies Time Warner, Comcast and Bright House Networks--together called SpectrumCo--and Cox Communications today held a kick-off phone call with the media, introducing a newly formed Alliance for Broadband Competition.
Consumer-protection groups Public Knowledge and the Free Press, as well as the American Antitrust Institute (AAI) and Rural Cellular Association (RCA) The Competitive Carriers Association, are also members. All these groups, save for Sprint, had representatives on the call.
The general consensus on the call was: If Verizon is allowed to purchase from SpectrumCo the Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum that it would like to, and be allowed to continue with the joint marketing arrangement that it has already begun selling, it will facilitate a duopoly in the wireless space between Verizon and AT&T, damage competition in the cable space, hurt American consumers who are sure to see increased prices, and even eventually cause the quality of networks in the United States to trail that of lesser-developed nations because of a lack of competition to spur innovation.
Sprint, in a statement, said it feared the proposed transactions between Verizon and the cable companies could "undermine broadband competition."
"The cooperative arrangements between these companies encompass wired and wireless technologies, voice, video and data services: the full complement of 21st century electronic communications services and have the potential to touch each consumer and every government, business, healthcare, and educational institution in the United States," according to Sprint.
Attention during the call was focused on a number of areas. One was what has repeatedly been referred to as Verizon's "stockpile" of unused AWS spectrum, suggesting it doesn't need more of what the others regard as a scarce resource.
The two bands of spectrum capable of supporting Long-Term Evolution (LTE) are the 700MHz band and the AWS band. Verizon has already built an LTE network on the 700MHz band; this acquisition of AWS spectrum, on top of its "stock-piled" AWS spectrum, suggests they're keeping it from competitors who could use it to make the transition to LTE, said Kathleen Ham, T-Mobile's vice president of federal regulatory affairs.
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