Verizon received the Department of Justice’s blessing for its cable company spectrum purchase last week, and now it’s the FCC’s turn to rubber stamp the plan. The agency has followed Chairman Julius Genachowski’s recommendation and voted that Verizon can snap up the relevant AWS airspace as part of its LTE network expansion. Some riders are attached to the deal, although they’re not all weighty. Verizon has to make an “unprecedented divestiture” of spectrum to T-Mobile in addition to its swap with Leap, promise certain coverage levels in the newly acquired zones at 3- and 7-year milestones, guarantee some roaming deals and provide updates on how its DSL service adoption is impacted by all that 4G. That Verizon has 45 days to finalize the T-Mobile deal gives some idea of how quickly everything has to move, although it could be a long while before we see AWS-ready Verizon devices in the shops.
To no one’s surprise, advocacy groups are still upset: the Alliance for Broadband Competition believes the FCC decision “does not go far enough” to keep a level playing field, for example, and wants to voice its problems to the FCC. Anxiety still exists that just about any deal concentrates too much spectrum in the hands of Big Red. Still, there’s a sense among groups like these that Verizon has had to at least partially address worries over unfair competition.