T-Mobile USA is going after Verizon
Wireless’ claims that it uses spectrum more efficiently than other operators, a
new line of attack in its fight to block Verizon’s $3.9 billion purchase of
nationwide AWS spectrum.
Verizon has told the FCC it is already using its spectrum more
efficiently than other providers and “serves more customers per MHz than
other national carriers,” but even so will still run into spectrum
shortages in some markets as early as next year.
Its purchase of AWS spectrum from four
cable operators commonly referred to as “SpectrumCo” will address the shortage,
Verizon says. But T-Mobile and other opponents to the deal say it will
consolidate too much spectrum in the hands of a single operator.
T-Mobile government affairs executive
Steve Sharkey this week sought to undermine Verizon’s efficiency claims in a
post on the operator’s official blog.
“On average, T-Mobile is 50 percent
more efficient than Verizon in the top markets,” he said. “This is a
very different picture than the one Verizon paints for the FCC and the
Sharkey argued that Verizon’s
calculations should have been conducted on a market-by-market basis, improperly
included spectrum that T-Mobile doesn’t yet have access to – the AWS airwaves
gleaned from the failed AT&T merger – and failed to account for the fact
that T-Mobile holds no spectrum below 1 GHz, beachfront airwaves that are more
efficient than the spectrum above 1 GHz which T-Mobile holds.
Verizon replied in a statement that it
had already “made a strong case that it is in the public interest to get
SpectrumCo’s previously unused spectrum into the hands of consumers” in
filings with the FCC, where it has also refuted T-Mobile’s claims.
According to Verizon’s calculations, it
serves 109 million wireless customer connections using an average of 89 MHz nationwide,
with each megahertz of spectrum serving on average 1.23 million customers.
Once its AWS
purchase closes, it would hold an average of 109 MHz nationwide, with each
megahertz of spectrum serving on average nearly 1 million customers.
“Despite the claims of T-Mobile and
others to the contrary, this usage makes
Verizon Wireless the most spectrally efficient wireless provider currently, and
the second most spectrally efficient provider post-transaction (second only to
AT&T and tied with MetroPCS),” Verizon said in a rebuttal filed with
the FCC in early March.
Verizon wants to use the spectrum to add
capacity to its LTE network, which uses its 700 MHz holdings. The deal is still
being reviewed by the FCC.