FCC Approves Clearwire Deal

New wireless company includes Google, Time Warner and Comcast

The commission Tuesday unanimously approved the combination of WiMax spectrum of Sprint Nextel and Clearwire to create a new wireless company that includes Google, Time Warner and Comcast, and that plans to create a new network that would deliver broadband and data services, saying it was unlikely to create competitive harms in any markets.

This serves twin FCC goals of promoting competition in the wireless space and hastening the rollout of broadband, the FCC majority argues.

Commissioner Michael Copps praised the new competition in the broadband market created by the Clearwire transfer, particularly given the new company's access to billions in capital given the "haunting economic times," as well as conditions requiring the network would be open to outside devices.

"I think this is good news, full of promise," he said, a sentiment echoed by Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein.

Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate said she hoped the new company would prove the vaunted "third pipe" competition to incumbent providers.

Commissioner Robert McDowell added his support, concurreing in part, saying the company would have the breadth and depth of resources to create a new nationwide mobile broadband network. He said he did not oppose open access and wholesale commitments by the companies, given that they had volunteered those conditions.

Both Adelstein and McDowell pointed to the need for speed in approving the item given the current economic conditions.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said the deal would improve choice and service.