Verizon’s proposed purchase of $3.9 billion worth of US wireless spectrum formerly reserved for over-the-air cable broadcasts is not sitting well with competitor T-Mobile, as they’ve said before. Today T-Mobile CEO Philipp Humm made it clear in no uncertain terms that the company wasn’t interested in the bands that Verizon proposed to sell as a concession for its acquisition of prime wireless real estate in the AWS spectrum. Humm has already met with the FCC to express his displeasure.
The executive told investors and reporters on a conference call that the 7000MHz block C spectrum that Verizon proposes to sell just isn’t good enough for T-Mobile to expand its business. He noted that incorporating the 700MHz bands into T-Mobile’s business and hardware would take three to six years. The smaller company is hoping to begin rolling out LTE services next year, as Verizon and AT&T have already done. One of its primary complaints is that Verizon still isn’t using all of the spectrum that it owns to capacity, making an acquisition from cable companies unjustified (their implication) at present.
The Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice both need to approve the sale of more AWS spectrum to Verizon, since digital airwaves are considered a quasi-public resource. Verizon intends to bundle its own 4G LTE cellular service with more cable companies’ TV service, as it already does with Comcast in some areas. Smaller carriers with LTE aspirations bitterly oppose the sale. Thew two loudest objectors, T-Mobile and MetroPCS, were recently rumored to be in merger talks.