Regulators Agree to Approve Wireless Deal Between Comcast, Verizon, Others

8:30 AM PST 08/16/2012 by George Szalai
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

The FCC and Justice Department plan to give the green light for the $3.9 billion pact.

Regulators made things official on Thursday, approving a multi-billion-dollar wireless spectrum sale from Comcast, Time Warner Cable and two other cable firms to Verizon Communications with conditions.

The conditions include ones that avoid anti-competitive behavior and incentives for Verizon to continue to market its FiOS TV service in markets where it competes with the cable companies, which will partner with it on joint product offers.

The deal, which still requires the formal approvals from the FCC and Justice Department, has been valued at $3.9 billion.

Comcast lauded the agreements.

"We appreciate the timely completion of the antit-rust review by the government of the proposed sale of spectrum and associated commercial agreements," said Comcast executive vp David Cohen.

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He added: "And, we are pleased that the consent decree that we have negotiated with the Department of Justice 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" and others.

"A rigorous review by the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice staffs revealed that the deal as proposed by Verizon Wireless and the cable company owners of SpectrumCo posed serious concerns, including in the wired and wireless broadband and video marketplaces," FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said. "The parties have made a number of binding pro-competitive commitments and will also make fundamental changes to their agreements."

He said he would circulate a draft order to his FCC colleagues to formally approve the deal.

“Specifically, Verizon Wireless has undertaken an unprecedented divestiture of spectrum to one of its competitors, T-Mobile," the FCC said. "In addition, the companies’ commercial agreements will be modified to, among other things, preserve Verizon's incentives to build out its FiOS [TV service], increase wireless competition and ensure that the proposed IP venture is pro-consumer and that its products cannot be used in anti-competitive ways."

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