Verizon offers to sell some airwaves in exchange for approval to buy others

Verizon Wireless on Wednesday offered to sell some unused airwaves in exchange for federal approval of its purchase of other airwaves from cable companies.

The wireless giant said it would sell some spectrum licenses in the 700 megahertz band that it bought at a federal auction in 2008. The sale is meant to appease regulators who are reviewing whether Verizon will have too much dominance in the wireless industry if it were also to buy AWS airwaves from SpectrumCo, a consortium of cable giants including Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

The airwaves Verizon said it would sell, in the A and B portion of the 700MHz band, are not being used for its deployment of LTE 4G services. The A and B block licenses cover dozens of major cities and “a number of smaller and rural markets.”

Verizon Wireless didn’t immediately say whether the A and B block licenses it owns cover fewer areas than the AWS licenses it wants to buy from cable firms.

In a release, Verizon was confident about its bid for the AWS spectrum and said it expects the Federal Communications Commission and Justice Department to complete their reviews by mid-summer.

“Since wireless operators, large and small, have expressed concern about the availability of high-quality spectrum, we believe our 700 MHz licenses will be attractive to a wide range of buyers,” said Molly Feldman, vice president of Business Development for Verizon Wireless.  “Moreover, provided our acquisition of AWS spectrum is approved, our open sale process will ensure these A and B spectrum licenses are quickly and fairly made available for the benefit of other carriers and their customers,” she said.

Justice and the FCC have expressed concern that Verizon’s joint sales marketing agreement with cable companies could lead to less competition for landline high-speed Internet service.

Related:

Lawmakers question cable companies’ spectrum sale to Verizon Wireless

Verizon bids for cable spectrum

Cecilia Kang is a senior technology correspondent for The Washington Post.

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