By Brendan Sasso - 03/14/12 03:01 PM EDT
Verizon agreed in December to buy wireless airwave licenses, known as spectrum, from cable companies including Comcast, Time Warner and Bright House Networks. Under a separate deal announced simultaneously, Verizon and the cable companies agreed to cross-sell each other’s services.
The Rural Cellular Association, other wireless carriers including Sprint and T-Mobile and consumer groups such as Free Press are urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to block the deal. They argue the spectrum deal will allow Verizon, the nation's largest wireless carrier, to consolidate its control over the airwaves, hurting competition. The groups also argue the cross-marketing deals could lead to price-fixing or other anti-competitive behavior.
Verizon says the spectrum deal will help it to meet the growing demands of smartphones and tablet computers. The company points out that the cable companies had no immediate plans to use the spectrum licenses.
Verizon says the business arrangement with the cable companies is unrelated to the spectrum sale and does not run afoul of antitrust law.