Verizon Wireless is reportedly pushing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to apply its spectrum screen to Clearwire’s 2.5GHz spectrum holdings, as part of the watchdog’s review of Sprint Nextel’s proposed purchase of Clearwire. Fierce Wireless reports that Verizon’s argument is laid out in a filing with the regulator, and suggests that the FCC should evaluate Clearwire’s spectrum in the same way as it judges other bands. Previously, Sprint has argued that Clearwire’s spectrum is above 2GHz and thus exempt from the FCC’s so-called ‘spectrum screen’, which is aimed at capping the amount of frequencies a single carrier can devote to mobile broadband. In turn Verizon notes that Clearwire is already using the 2.5GHz frequencies for mobile broadband.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, there are two types of 2.5GHz licence: the broadband radio service (BRS) concession and the educational broadband service (EBS) concession. The former is technically the commercial version of the licence; these licences can be owned by commercial companies and bought and sold basically at will. The latter can only be owned by educational or religious organisations with a scholastic mission, and in the US, the Catholic Church is a major holder of this spectrum.
Verizon’s regulatory filing reads: ‘As the applicants themselves demonstrate, however, this spectrum is clearly both suitable and available for mobile services – and in fact it is already in use. Indeed, they assert that control of the BRS/EBS spectrum will enable them to compete even more vigorously in the mobile services market. In short, in order to evaluate this transaction, the commission must include 133MHz of BRS/EBS spectrum in its spectrum screen analysis, in addition to the other blocks of spectrum that are currently included in the screen’.