The Wall Street Journal is reporting that while the FCC is "essentially prepared to sign off" on Verizon Wireless’s $3.9 billion deal to acquire AWS spectrum for LTE devices from a consortium of cable companies, Justice Department officials are still worried about the deal’s antitrust implications. The office’s major concern is cross-selling — Verizon’s re-selling of cable service from Comcast or Time Warner, and vice versa — which it thinks could inhibit competition in the broadband internet market, and leave many customers without coverage.
So far, the cross-selling is only happening where Verizon’s own FiOS service is unavailable, and the concern is that there’s an implicit agreement between the companies not to move in on one another’s turf. This kind of agreement would limit consumer choice and competition in the marketplace, and so the DOJ is pushing for changes that would address these concerns before it gives the deal the go-ahead. The deal has faced intense scrutiny in the months since its announcement, most recently from the 32 House Democrats who sent a letter to the DOJ and FCC last week, stressing that the deal appears to "limit the availability of competitive services in video, broadband, voice, and wireless markets."