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Washington, D.C. -- In a filing to the Federal Communications Commission, the Communications Workers of America called for specific conditions on the application by Verizon Wireless to purchase additional spectrum from four cable providers.
CWA does not oppose the sale of spectrum. We believe that spectrum should be used and that additional spectrum is necessary to expand connectivity. However, to ensure competition, protect consumer choice, and promote job-creating investment, the FCC should set specific conditions on this application.
The FCC has stated and CWA agrees that competition among network operators is critical to ensure that broadband is affordable and accessible. The proposed transaction, without conditions, would eliminate the historic competition between FiOS and cable company services through joint marketing arrangements. The result: reduced investment in infrastructure, job loss and higher prices for consumers. Millions of consumers in Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo and other cities in the Verizon footprint where the company has not yet built FiOS will never have access to the advanced fiber network.
The joint marketing agreements will give Verizon and the cable companies -- through their ability to offer a quad play of voice, video, data and wireless from the top video, broadband, and wireless providers -- the market power to harm competition, raise cable and broadband rates and reduce incentives for new video entrants to invest in their networks, leading to significant job loss.
CWA is calling for specific conditions on this transaction.
First, consistent with past transactions, the FCC should require that Verizon continue to offer FiOS broadband Internet access service, expand its in-region deployment to cover at least 95 percent of residences and, following the merger, continue to deploy a set percentage of broadband to rural and low income areas, with timetables, data reporting and penalties for non-compliance.
Second, the joint marketing arrangements should not be permitted to put other marketers of Verizon Wireless service at a disadvantage. Comparable conditions and terms for the marketing of Verizon Wireless service should be available to all wireline competitors in a market. This will even the playing field among competitors.
CWA urges the FCC carefully to review this proposed transaction and address the effect on competition, consumers and jobs by setting conditions to ensure the deal is in the public interest.