* Say held up by uncommon file formats, costs to obtain
* Ask FCC to stop the clock on 180-day review
By Jasmin Melvin
WASHINGTON, April 24 Sprint Nextel Corp,
DirecTV and others asked U.S. communications regulators
on Tuesday to suspend their 180-day clock for reviewing proposed
multi-billion dollar airwaves deals between Verizon Wireless and
several cable operators.
Along with public interest groups and trade organizations,
Sprint and DirecTV argued that they and smaller players, who
could be seriously affected by the deals, need more time to
study the deal.
They also said the smaller interested parties are having
trouble getting access to new material from Verizon and the
cable operators that was filed in difficult software formats.
The Federal Communications Commission is on the 96th day of
its review of Verizon Wireless's plan to buy about $3.9 billion
worth of wireless airwaves from cable companies including
Comcast Corp and Time Warner Cable Inc.
The cable operators would be allowed to resell Verizon's
mobile service as part of the deals. Verizon Wireless is a
venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc
The FCC declined to comment on the delay request.
"Verizon is cooperating fully with the FCC in responding to
its requests, and we are continuing to cooperate in getting it
information it needs," a Verizon spokesman said.
Verizon rivals Sprint, Deutsche Telekom AG's
T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS Communications, have all
complained to the FCC about the bigger company's cable deal on
concerns that it would give too much market power to the already
Other opponents have argued the deals would create allies
out of former rivals, to the detriment of consumers.
The letter sent to the FCC on Tuesday said that some public
interest groups and smaller companies do not have the expensive
software to run the file formats specified by the FCC for
responses to document requests.
Further, costs imposed to obtain paper copies and electronic
media of the documents hit $2,124.39 to date - a price tag that
could make it difficult for consumer groups and small companies
to fully analyze the spectrum deals and marketing agreements.
"They must initially rely on discussions with others who
have been able to study the documents, which adds additional
time to the process," the letter said.
The letter was signed by Sprint, DirecTV, FairPoint
Communications Inc, Rural Telecommunications Group,
Rural Cellular Association, as well as public interest groups
Free Press, Media Access Project, New America Foundation and
The letter was similar to an FCC filing last week by the
Communications Workers of America that accused Verizon and the
cable operators of obstructing a meaningful review of the deals.
The largest union for telecommunications workers cited large
redacted segments in documents and unreadable file formats in
its plea to the FCC to stop the review clock.