The US Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission are set to approve a spectrum deal between Verizon and several cable companies, The Wall Street Journal reports, but a few compromises were made in the negotiations. Anonymous agency officials say that the deal could be approved in the next few weeks, allowing Verizon to purchase spectrum from companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable and collaborate for limited cross-selling, a controversial provision that would allow one company to sell services from another.
As we've heard before, federal agencies are trying to limit the impact this could have on competition and total coverage. The companies are expected to only cross-sell in areas where one offers services another doesn't — for instance, Verizon wouldn't be able to sell Comcast's Xfinity service in places it already offered FiOS. However, according to the Journal, Verizon can sell it in areas where it offers internet service but not the faster FiOS. For anyone who was hoping for more high-speed internet options, this isn't great, since it reduces Verizon's incentive to compete with Comcast or others. But Verizon apparently won this right by arguing that it wasn't going to expand its FiOS network anyways. Additionally, these deals can reportedly only last for five years, after which companies will have to apply again for antitrust clearance.
While some details are apparently still being worked out, regulators seem to have gotten past their biggest concerns about the deal. If the spectrum purchase is approved, the FCC is expected to require Verizon to start using it within a few years and offer data roaming to competitors at "reasonable" rates, and we're sure other details will surface when the official announcement comes out, whatever the verdict. All parties involved have declined comment.