Judge Approves Cable Companies’ Spectrum Sale Plan

Cable companies had agreed to conditions set by Justice Department

A judge has approved deals major cable systems reached with the Justice Department to address concerns over their plans to sell spectrum to Verizon Wireless and then cross sell their wireless and cable plans.

The ruling came despite concerns of the Communications Workers of America and by cable provider RCN. Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Cox are the companies involved in the deals.

The companies wanted to forgo setting up their own cell phone services and sell $3.9 billion in wireless spectrum they owned to Verizon Wireless. The cable systems would then become wholesalers for Verizon Wireless cell phone service, selling the cell service as part of "quad play" bundles that include Internet, telephone, cable and cell phone service.

The Justice Department were concerned that the companies would unlawfully cede competition especially in areas where Verizon Communications’ FiOS and DSL services compete with the cable systems.

To address those concerns, cable companies agreed to put a number of conditions on what they could sell the quad bundles, essentially banning the sale in localities where they compete for Internet service business.

In approving the settlement, Judge Rosemary M. Collier of the District Court for the District of Columbia on Aug. 9 rejected concerns by RSN and CWA that the settlement didn’t go far enough because it didn’t ban national ads for quad packages.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this story