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Verizon Is Scared Of T-Mobile Getting More 600MHz Spectrum

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It looks like Verizon has tried to prevent T-Mobile from getting its hands on leases of more 600 MHz spectrum. As reported by Fierce Wireless, Verizon has appealed to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over the issue.

The two companies have currently become engaged in a bit of competition over 5G speeds so this move will further fuel the fire between them. Most recently T-Mobile came out on top on one metric of speed. Prior to this, Verizon outperformed its rival in terms of speed but T-Mobile won out on coverage.

However, these issues between T-Mobile and Verizon with 600 MHz spectrum concerns a very different element of their business. Verizon argues that if T-Mobiles acquires any more of these leases then there would be competitive harms.

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Verizon cites legal precedent in bid to halt T-Mobile

Back in June, T-Mobile applied for instant spectrum leases with Channel 51 License Company and LB License Co. This would see them lease 600 MHz spectrum in a number of major markets, including Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, New Orleans, St. Louis, San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta and Seattle, among others.

During the pandemic. Channels 51 and LB License Co. had been lending 600 MHz spectrum to T-Mobile. They did this in order to help the carrier boost its network. T-Mobile now wishes to convert these loans into permanent leases.

Verizon claims T-Mobile is set to exceed ‘spectrum screen’

Verizon, however, aims to fight this citing anti-competition concerns. The company claims that if T-Mobile was granted these leases it would cause “competitive harms”.

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Verizon also cites that these additional leases would exceed a “spectrum screen” set by the FCC. The FCC uses this spectrum screen in order to review secondary market transactions.

The screen is essentially a mark to determine what is an is not acceptable levels of spectrum holdings. Generally, it is used to assess mergers and spectrum swaps.

Verizon claimed that “T-Mobile’s own statements underscore the competitive harms from T-Mobile’s concentration of spectrum”. The statement went onto say that T-Mobile’s President of Technology Neville Ray boasted “‘competition doesn’t have a path to match for some time.’”

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Verizon argues that in itself is tantamount to evidence that this would cause an anti-competition issue. The company also presented the chart below to show the impact if T-Mobile did gain access

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Verizon requests that the FCC denies T-Mobile’s petitions for 600 MHz spectrum from Channel 51 and LB License Co. The other alternative is that some sort of compensating spectrum divestitures would be required from T-Mobile.

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T-Mobile has countered these claims by arguing that the acquisition would  “provides benefits for consumers”. How this all plays out is anybody’s guess. However, we suspect this may rumble on for some tim.e