A Department of Justice ruling allows Verizon to continue offering customers “the best of both worlds on their wireless devices,” a company spokeswoman said.
The government Thursday approved Verizon Wireless’ $3.9 billion purchase of wireless spectrum from four of the nation’s largest cable companies but applied conditions to the deal to protect consumers from reduced competition and higher prices.
Most significantly, the agency said it will not allow Verizon Wireless stores to sell TV and broadband services from the cable companies – Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Cox – in areas where Verizon sells its own TV and broadband service.
Besides 10 authorized dealer locations, Verizon has two company-owned stores in Fort Wayne – an outlet at Glenbrook Commons on Lima Road and at Jefferson Pointe. Two years ago, Frontier Communications Corp. closed an $8.6 billion deal with Verizon Communications Inc. to acquire its landline phone, Internet and cable business in 14 states, including Indiana.
Spokeswoman Michelle Gilbert said she expects video and Internet offerings for Fort Wayne customers to expand since regulators upheld the cable partnerships, although with restrictions.
“This allows people to take their TV with them (on mobile devices),” Gilbert said, adding that Verizon already does business with Comcast in the Summit City.
“As evidenced by the consent decree, we believe we have addressed the Department of Justice’s concerns,” she said later in an emailed statement Thursday.
“We now believe the consumer benefits of the transaction will be promptly realized, and look forward to the conclusion of the FCC review so that we can move forward with meeting the unprecedented consumer demand for innovative 4G LTE mobile and data driven products and services.”
In a blog posting, David L. Cohen, executive vice president and chief diversity officer for Comcast, said the government’s “timely completion of the antitrust review” is appreciated. T-Mobile USA objected to the spectrum purchase in February because it would place an “excessive concentration” of wireless spectrum in Verizon’s lap.
“We are pleased that the consent decree that we have negotiated with the Department of Justice preserves the most important goals of the agreements,” he wrote.
When it comes to home broadband, Verizon Communication Inc.’s FiOS provides the only significant competition to cable in many areas. Yet FiOS is costly to build out, and Verizon’s commitment to the technology has faltered.
Consumer groups who opposed the deal between the cable companies and Verizon said it showed that Verizon was further giving up on FiOS and yielding the home broadband market to cable.
The Justice Department agreed, saying the agreements would result in higher prices and lower quality for the public.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.