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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

February 15, 2000
Meribeth McCarrick at (202) 418-0654

FCC Approves VoiceStream/Omnipoint/Cook Inlet License Transfers and Assignments

Washington, D.C. -- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved the transfer and assignment of various wireless licenses of Omnipoint Corporation (Omnipoint) and VoiceStream Wireless Corporation (VoiceStream) to VoiceStream’s recently created parent holding company, Voicestream Wireless Holding Corporation (VWHC) and to joint ventures involving affiliates of Cook Inlet Region, Inc. (Cook Inlet). Because the parties have committed to certain divestitures, the FCC concluded that this transaction does not present competitive concerns, and will likely result in various public interest benefits.

Specifically, the approval was conditioned on (1) the divestiture of certain interests proposed by the parties to comply with FCC rules; (2) compliance with an Agreement among VoiceStream, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) addressing national security, law enforcement, and public policy issues; and (3) completion of the appropriate agreements and financing documents to assign designated entity licenses that are subject to installment payments.

Pursuant to section 214(a) and 310(d) of the Communications Act (the Act), the FCC must determine whether the applicants have demonstrated that their proposed transaction will serve the public interest, convenience and necessity. The FCC found that the proposed merger of Omnipoint and VoiceStream would pose no risk of harm to U.S. telecommunications markets and would permit the merged companies to form a near-nationwide GSM network capable of competing better with other nationwide service offerings. Under section 310(b)(4) of the Act, the FCC also analyzed the foreign ownership implications of the proposed transaction and found Hutchinson Whampoa Limited’s proposed 30.6 percent investment in VWHC to be in the public interest.

With respect to properties in 18 overlapping markets, the FCC afforded the merging parties limited additional time to come into compliance with the spectrum cap rule. Because of the extent of divestitures required and the need for an orderly divestiture process, the FCC granted a limited waiver of the spectrum cap rule, permitting Omnipoint and VoiceStream 90 days after consummation of the transaction to accomplish the divestitures.

The FCC denied a petition to deny filed by QUALCOMM Incorporated with respect to whether Omnipoint has met the requirements in its New York A Block PCS license. QUALCOMM argued that the New York license, which Omnipoint was awarded through the pioneer’s preference program, could not be transferred because Omnipoint has not made “substantial use” of the technology that was the basis for the pioneer’s preference award. The FCC found that Omnipoint has met the substantial use condition because it made a bona fide effort to develop and market the technology for commercial use. Further, the FCC, in the alternative, granted Omnipoint a waiver of the condition in order to further the objective of nationwide GSM interoperability.

The FCC approved the transaction subject to the companies’ compliance with a January 26, 2000, Agreement among VoiceStream, DOJ, and FBI. The Agreement is intended to resolve national security, law enforcement, and public safety issues raised in a petition filed by DOJ and FBI in this proceeding.

Action by the Commission on February 14, 2000 by Memorandum, Opinion and Order (FCC 00-53). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth, Powell and Tristani with Commissioner Furchtgott-Roth issuing a separate statement.

Wireless Bureau contacts: Bill Kunze at (202) 418-7887, e-mail at, TTY at (202) 418-7233; Lauren Kravetz at (202) 418-7944, e-mail at, TTY at (202) 418-7233.