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Verizon's controversial spectrum purchase from cable companies nearing FCC approval, Reuters reports

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Reuters is reporting that the FCC is close to approving a large deal to transfer AWS spectrum from cable consortium SpectrumCo to Verizon.

Verizon Wireless store (1020)
Verizon Wireless store (1020)

Reuters is reporting this afternoon that the FCC is close to approving Verizon's planned acquisition of AWS spectrum from a consortium of cable companies — most notably Comcast and Time Warner — that it would use to deploy additional LTE coverage beyond the 700MHz footprint that it uses today. The deal has been under intense scrutiny by Congress and from other wireless providers over the last several months, arguing that other carriers like T-Mobile would be able to make better use of the spectrum in question and that related deals that allow the cable companies to sell cable service in Verizon stores and vice versa put an unhealthy cap on competition in affected markets.

T-Mobile has backed off in recent days on news that it would get a chunk of the AWS spectrum that Verizon is planning to purchase, but Reuters says this isn't a done deal: though the FCC is on board, the Department of Justice is still reviewing the associated cross-marketing deals and it won't have a decision until August. A group of 32 House democrats just submitted a letter to both the DoJ and FCC expressing concerns that any such deal would reduce the number of broadband choices customers have in markets where both Verizon and SpectrumCo members do business, so Washington still has this transaction squarely under the microscope.