Verizon Wireless Sues FCC

Wednesday, February 6th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Verizon Wireless sued the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday in an attempt to recoup a $1.74 billion deposit related to the aborted auction of wireless licenses held by NextWave Telecom Inc.

The suit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, comes more than a month after Verizon Wireless unsuccessfully petitioned the FCC for the return of its funds, carrier spokesman Jeffrey Nelson said.

``We want our money back,'' he said.

With a successful $8.7 billion bid, Verizon won rights to 67 of 216 NextWave wireless spectrum licenses auctioned last February. But the auction was nullified last June by a federal appeals court, which ruled that the FCC violated bankruptcy laws when it repossessed the licenses from NextWave and reauctioned them.

The ruling returned the spectrum licenses to NextWave, which is still under bankruptcy protection.

``The FCC has neither delivered the licenses to us ... nor has it recognized that the auction is void,'' said Denny Strigl, Verizon Wireless president and chief executive.

The loss of interest on the deposit is costing Verizon Wireless more than $250,000 a day _ or a total of $80 million already, Strigl estimated.

FCC officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment.