Verizon Facing Antitrust Subcommittee Today For Cable Company Deal
March 21, 2012

Verizon Facing Antitrust Subcommittee Today For Cable Company Deal

The Senate Judiciary Committee antitrust subcommittee held a hearing on Wednesday to discuss Verizon Wireless plans to purchase more wireless spectrum.

Verizon announced plans earlier in the year to purchase 122 Advanced Wireless Systems (AWS) spectrum licenses from SpectrumCo, LLC, which is a joint effort from Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.

The companies involved in the deal signed agreements to sell each others' products and services.  Under the agreement, Comcast could bundle Verizon Wireless services with one of its packages.

Also, if the deal goes through, Verizon would be able to offer its customers access to Comcast, Time Warner, or Bright House cable and digital phone service in areas where its FiOS is not available.

The deal has not come without criticism from other players in the industry, with some claiming if it goes through, consumers would be left with higher prices and less options.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) claims the deal would be bad for competition and bad for consumers.

CWA has an online petition with over 92,000 signatures to try and sway the antitrust subcommittee to see the Verizon deal as a monopoly move.

"Take action today to stop Verizilla by signing the petition to the right," the communications union said in a statement accompanying a promotional video for the petition.

CWA said the deal would see an end to Verizon trying to grow its FiOS network in areas that do not have it, shortening supply in markets that the company has not expanded the service to yet.

"Less FiOS also means fewer jobs building, maintaining, servicing, and installing the network," CWA wrote in a blog post about the petition. "This deal will create a corporate behemoth that will use exclusive quad-play market power to shrink its future workforce."

T-Mobile claims that the spectrum transfer would give Verizon too much spectrum, hurting competition.  Metro PCS says that Verizon and the cable companies have not proved that the deal was in the public interest.

"Instead of planning for a stable future that provides a world-class telecommunications infrastructure for America, Verizon has chosen to strive for the lowest common denominator in the industry, pursuing a low-wage, poor-service and limited choice alternative that benefits only their top executives at the expense of everyone else," IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill said in a press release.

Verizon, the nation's number one wireless carrier, said in a response to some criticism that it needs to expand its network for a growing customer base.

Statistics by Cisco show that last year's mobile data traffic was eight times the size of the entire global Internet.

The company says the deal "is in the public interest" and addresses the needs of consumers by grabbing more spectrum to "meet growing demand."