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T-Mobile: Verizon doesn't need AWS spectrum it's trying to buy, because it hasn't used the AWS spectrum it already owns

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Virtually any spectrum purchase undertaken by the two largest incumbent carriers in the US is going to be met with anticompetitive skepticism. Verizon's attempted purchase of a block of AWS bandwidth from cable consortium SpectrumCo is no exception — not only have T-Mobile (which relies almost exclusively on AWS for its present-day 3G footprint) and other members of the Rural Cellular Association approached the deal with strong objection, but both the FCC and Congress have raised concerns as well. Needless to say, the deal is far from closed.

The latest maneuver comes from T-Mobile, which pointed out in a meeting last week with Rick Kaplan — head of the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau —that Verizon already owns AWS spectrum that it has never used since acquiring it several years ago. By all appearances, it's an attempt to undermine the company's talking point that it uses spectrum more efficiently than any other tier-one carrier in the country, and T-Mobile execs are bolstering their argument by pointing out that they'd make sure SpectrumCo's licenses were put to good use "immediately."

Additionally, T-Mobile noted to Kaplan that Verizon's offer of a 700MHz sale in exchange for approval of the SpectrumCo acquisition has several problems, "including a lack of a national footprint in what Verizon is offering, interference from adjacent high-powered broadcasters, and lack of equipment and interoperability with the rest of the 700 MHz band." In many ways, this battle is shaping up to be the AT&T / T-Mobile acquisition of 2012, and ironically, T-Mobile is leading the opposition this time around.