Verizon Wireless is again going on
offense against critics of the AWS deal, this time targeting MetroPCS.
In a document posted Thursday afternoon
to the FCC’s website, the operator rebutted MetroPCS’ claims that it has been
unwilling to negotiate roaming agreements.
According to Verizon, it had been
“engaged in roaming discussions” about EV-DO data roaming with MetroPCS
since late last year and exchanged rate proposals with the company last
Verizon said it also offered to extend
the negotiations to include talk of an LTE roaming agreement. But MetroPCS
waited “until this week” to respond after Verizon sent the prepaid
provider a revised offer in February to try to continue discussions, it said.
“It appears that MetroPCS has
decided to try to wring conditions out of the regulatory process rather than
negotiate commercial arrangements,” Verizon said.
A MetroPCS spokesman declined to comment
specifically on Verizon’s claims, saying only that it is “continually in
talks with existing and potential partners with regards to CDMA and LTE roaming
MetroPCS has repeatedly claimed that
Verizon will not offer data roaming with “commercially reasonable
rates” in documents outlining its opposition to Verizon’s AWS purchase. It
claims the transaction would exacerbate Verizon’s unwillingness to enter into
data roaming agreements.
In an April 26 ex parte filing, MetroPCS
said “allowing Verizon to add to its warehouse of spectrum will eliminate
one of its few remaining incentives to enter into commercially reasonable
roaming agreements… if the transactions are approved, the commission must act
to ensure that Verizon offers commercially reasonable roaming rates.”
Defending its roaming record is part of
Verizon’s broader strategy to convince the FCC to approve its purchase of
nationwide AWS spectrum from cable operators Comcast, Cox Communications,
Bright House Networks and Time Warner Cable. The spectrum sale has been met by
vocal opposition from smaller operators who say it would consolidate too many
licenses with a single provider to the detriment of the broader wireless
The FCC recently pushed out its review
of the transaction for three weeks because of delays in producing documents.
Verizon now expects the deal to close in late summer.
MetroPCS’ LTE footprint is considerably
smaller than Verizon’s and it is running the service on a narrower swath of
spectrum. An LTE roaming contract with Verizon could allow MetroPCS to offer
However, there could be technical
complications to such an arrangement, as devices would have to be compatible
with both MetroPCS LTE service, operating mainly in the AWS band, and Verizon’s
LTE service in the 700 MHz band. Notably, Verizon plans to use the AWS spectrum
it is in the process of buying to supplement its LTE network.
There are currently no LTE roaming
agreements between any U.S. operators except for those Verizon has forged with
regional providers through its rural LTE program.
MetroPCS’ LTE network will cover up to
104 million people when it finishes construction during the third quarter,
President and COO Tom Keys said at an investor conference yesterday. By
comparison, Verizon’s LTE network currently covers more than 200 million people
and it plans to add more than 140 new markets over the next seven months.