Verizon Communications Inc. said Federal Communications Commission officials may face criminal penalties should they approve Nextel Communications Inc.'s plan for reducing interference from mobile phones with police radios.
Nextel, based in Reston, Va., has offered to give up some airwave rights and spend $1.36 billion to reprogram some equipment already in use in exchange for new frequencies that may help the company expand its high-speed Internet service.
Granting Nextel’s request, without first auctioning the airwaves, may put the FCC in breach of laws that bar U.S. officials from distributing government property or taking funds without authority, Verizon General Counsel William Barr wrote in a letter to the FCC. Verizon, which owns 55% of the biggest U.S. mobile-phone operator, wants to derail Nextel’s proposal and has said it would bid $5 billion for the rights.
FCC spokeswoman Lauren Patrich declined to comment.