The Federal Communications Commission decided to delay its review of telecom giant Verizon’s $3.6 billion bid to secure airwaves from cable firms. The FCC said it is delaying its review because the firms involved submitted their requested documentation late. The delay is procedural in nature and will stop the 180 day requirement for a final decision on the matter. Recently, the companies involved in the proposed spectrum deal told the FCC that they would make the documentation pertaining to the proposed sale publicly viewable. This move aimed to satisfy critics of the proposed spectrum deal who have sought access to the corporate paperwork. The FCC said that if the companies produce adequate material for the documentation request, they do not expect to extend the 180-day period. The delay deals a small setback to Verizon’s intention of closing the spectrum bid by the middle of the month of July The company is looking to secure AWS spectrum held by Time Warner Cable, Cox, Bright House, and Comcast. It has said that it needs to do this to ramp up its LTE 4G network.
This is not the first time the federal government has delayed big telecom deals. Previously, Comcast’s joint venture with NBC univeral and the failed bid of AT&T for T-Mobile underwent delays by the FCC. However, according to some analysts, the spectrum purchase deal is expected to get the green light from federal regulators. The real tricky issue whether the joint-marketing deal that is a core component of the spectrum buy will be approved by the feds as well. According to this deal provision, Verizon Wireless will be able to sell cable services. This provision is a deal killer for many public interest groups since they fear that this would make Verizon less inclined to push competing FIOs paid TV service and broadband service as competitor services to cable.
In addition to the FCC, the Justice Department is also looking the deal over. Lawmakers have not been silent on this proposed deal. They have voiced questions regarding where the deal will diminish competition and whether it may lead to consumers getting fewer choices.