CWA: Softbank/Sprint/Clearwire Review Must Include Build-Out Requirements, Address National Security Concerns

  CWA: Softbank/Sprint/Clearwire Review Must Include Build-Out Requirements,
  Address National Security Concerns

Business Wire

WASHINGTON -- January 28, 2013

The Communications Workers of America urged the Federal Communications
Commission to give close scrutiny to the Softbank/Sprint/Clearwire proposed
deal, especially in terms of the concentration of spectrum and the lack of
specific, verifiable planned build out by the merged company.

In a filing submitted today to the FCC, CWA pointed to the significant public
interest risks of this transaction in two critical areas. Read the filing at
www.cwa-union.org/sprint-transaction.

First, the FCC must put in place real buildout requirements as a condition of
the deal. So far, we’ve only seen vague, unverifiable promises of network
expansion. Sprint owns more than a third of licensed spectrum, yet operates
virtually free of any construction requirements. In recent transactions and
spectrum auctions, the FCC has imposed build-out requirements. The FCC should
not make Sprint an exception to this precedent. The FCC should not approve the
proposed transaction unless and until Sprint commits to concrete build-out
requirements and provides a real plan, not vague promises.

“The FCC should stand up for the public interest and insist on build out and
job creation as part of this deal. The FCC has denied other transactions and
imposed build out standards to meet public interest standards. So far, we’ve
seen nothing from Sprint and its partners that points to any U.S. job creation
or consumer benefit from network investment. In reviewing this transaction,
the FCC must follow past precedent and impose real conditions," said CWA
President Larry Cohen.

Such a plan should be based on past Commission practices and the FCC should
set specific requirements for Sprint in terms of build out and coverage, with
three- and seven-year benchmarks for serving specific populations.

Second, the transaction raises serious national security concerns that also
must be addressed. Sprint currently has majority ownership of Clearwire and is
seeking FCC approval to buy the rest of Clearwire that it currently does not
own. Clearwire buys network equipment from two Chinese equipment makers that
are considered security risks by the House Intelligence Committee.

“The proposed Softbank/Sprint/Clearwire transactions would dramatically change
the U.S. wireless market, putting control of a company that owns one-third of
all U.S. licensed spectrum in the hands of a foreign company,” CWA said.
Sprint is seeking an FCC waiver of its 25 percent foreign ownership rule.

Without firm and effective conditions to address these serious public interest
concerns, as well as those raised by other parties, the FCC should deny the
application.

Contact:

CWA Communications
Candice Johnson, 202-434-1168
cjohnson@cwa-union.org
or
Chuck Porcari, 202-434-1168
cporcari@cwa-union.org
 
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