The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday delayed its review of Verizon’s $3.6 billion bid for airwaves from cable companies, saying the investigation is being held back because the companies were late in submitting requested paperwork.

The delay, which appeared procedural, will stop what is known as an informal 180-days “shot clock” by three weeks, the FCC said in an order.

On Monday, the companies told the FCC it would make documents searchable to the public, which would appease critics of the deal who have asked for access to corporate documents.

“Assuming the adequacy of the current productions in response to the requests, we do not anticipate further extension of the 180-day period,” the FCC sad in its order.

The delay puts back Verizon’s ambition to close its deal by the middle of July. The company is bidding for AWS spectrum from Comcast, Bright House, Cox and Time Warner Cable it wants to use to beef up its LTE 4G network.

Past deals have been delayed by the FCC, including Comcast’s joint venture with NBC Universal and AT&T’s failed bid for T-Mobile. The spectrum purchase is expected to be approved with some conditions, analysts project.

But less clear is the companies’ joint-marketing deal that would allow Verizon Wireless to sell cable services. That arrangement bothers public interest groups who say Verizon may be less inclined to promote its competing FiOs broadband and paid TV service as a competitor to cable.

The FCC and Justice Department are reviewing the spectrum sale and marketing venture.


Lawmaker criticize Verizon’s deal with cable