The US Department of Justice has signed off on a major $3.6 billion deal between Verizon Wireless and several cable companies that will see America's largest carrier gain valuable new spectrum, according to Bloomberg. Final approval of the controversial agreement will rest with the FCC, which is expected to give the go-ahead in the near future. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowksi issued a statement in support of the agreement today, revealing that his agency is currently circulating a draft order that will make things official.
FCC approval expected in near future
The original proposal faced heavy scrutiny from regulators who raised competition concerns over aspects of the sale that would enable Verizon and cable heavyweights like Comcast and Time Warner to cross-sell each other's services.
To alleviate that threat, the government has placed heavy restrictions on the deal that will forbid Verizon and cable companies from forming joint ventures in all FiOS markets. Further, Verizon has committed to providing cellular service to 70 percent of the population covered by its newly-acquired frequencies within the next seven years. The company has also pledged to let other wireless companies offer roaming coverage utilizing the spectrum.
T-Mobile comes out a winner
T-Mobile will also come out as a beneficiary of the deal; Verizon will immediately be offloading spectrum to its smaller competitor. The Justice Department was quick to highlight as much in a statement. "By limiting the scope and duration of the commercial agreements among Verizon and the cable companies while at the same time allowing Verizon and T-Mobile to proceed with their spectrum acquisitions, the department has provided the right remedy for competition and consumers," said Joseph Wayland, who leads the DoJ's Antitrust Division.
Comcast was first to acknowledge the approval, with vice president David Cohen saying the cable provider is pleased that the final deal "preserves the most important goals of the agreements, including Comcast's ability to market Verizon Wireless services throughout our footprint in order to offer our customers a wireless option, Verizon Wireless' ability to market our products in virtually all of our footprint, our ability to opt into an MVNO relationship with Verizon Wireless."