2011
12.22

What does a carrier have to do to get a little spectrum around here? Not only has AT&T been forced to regroup following the collapse of its pending deal for GSM rival T-Mobile USA, but now comes word that the Dept. of Justice is looking into the proposed spectrum transactions by Verizon Wireless from a group of cable companies.
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Verizon turned some heads earlier this month when it entered into an agreement to acquire 122 advanced wireless spectrum licenses from SpectrumCo., a joint venture between Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks, for $3.6 billion. Then came news a few weeks later that Verizon entered into an agreement to acquire 20 MHz advanced wireless services spectrum licenses from Cox Communications for $315 million.
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In both instances the companies have agreed to become agents to sell each other’s products, which is perhaps the part that caught the DOJ’s attention, ensuring such agreements are not violating antitrust laws. In all, no official word from the DOJ on the exact reasoning. The only confirmation comes from a spokeswoman who says it is indeed looking into the proposed transaction, and leaving it at that.
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The folks at AT&T must be looking over at their New Jersey-based rival with that “join the club” look, as both carriers are probably wondering what they have to do in order to get some much-needed spectrum. Spectrum is a real issue, and if we don’t do something soon we could be stunting the growth of this market.
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It seems the cable companies are fine with giving up wireless spectrum in order to help. Could it mean that broadband providers are throwing in the towel on rivaling the wireless carriers, opting instead to become their partners? Perhaps some in the market didn’t like the idea of this scenario and have made enough noise over “antitrust violations” lately that it is just making everyone overly cautious about any deal. Or is it all truly standard practice?
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Is it just me or does it seem as though the government has been making more M2M-related headlines these days than the actual machine-to-machine providers themselves? Don’t get me wrong, I am all in favor of playing fair, and yes sometimes we need a higher power stepping in to ensure everyone is playing nice in the sandbox, but let’s make sure regulation isn’t standing in the way of moving technology forward.

M2M and connected devices is the fastest growing segment of wireless. It’s been projected that billions and billions of devices will be connected in the coming years. But in order to reach such grandiose levels, we first need some additional spectrum to play with. If not from your rival, or the cable companies, then where will it come from? Who knows, perhaps it’s time to start looking at something like UHF whitespace.

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