What does the departure of Gene Kimmelman, known as the Justice Department’s “secret weapon” on antitrust, mean for Verizon Wireless’s bid to buy spectrum from cable giants and market its services with those firms?
Not much, according to people familiar with the review, who say Kimmelman was a lead investigator in the agency’s inspection of the proposed merger. The review is essentially done, according to those people, who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Here’s is our story on Kimmelman in today’s paper.
Verizon may have allayed concerns with a deal to swap spectrum with competitor T-Mobile. But Justice will be taking a hard look at the marketing arrangement Verizon Wireless has struck with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House and Cox.
That deal has drawn concerns by public interest groups and lawmakers who worry Verizon Communications, which owns 50 percent of the wireless business, will let its wireline Internet service business atrophy.
Some analysts and people familiar with the reviews at the Federal Communications Commission and Justice say the spectrum purchase for $3.6 billion may be approved. But regulators may put lots of conditions on the marketing deal.
On Monday, 32 lawmakers wrote Attorney General Eric Holder and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski expressing concerns over the marketing portion. The letter was provided to media by the Consumer Workers of America, which is in labor negotiations with Verizon.
Verizon Wireless said it still believes its deal will be approved later this summer.
“Over the past six months we have addressed these issues, made a persuasive case that bringing unused spectrum to the marketplace to serve millions of consumers is strongly in the public interest, and we believe we are on track for approval later this summer,” a Verizon wrote in an e-mailed statement.