The secretive, anti-competitive deal between Verizon Wireless and the nation's four leading cable companies will hurt economic development, diminish job creation, lead to higher prices with fewer options, and grow the digital divide, nine upstate New York mayors said Wednesday.
In a letter to the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission, the mayors urged the agencies to "examine the impact of this transaction on competition and consumer choice, and ensure that our communities are not left behind."
Under the proposed deal, Verizon Wireless and major cable companies would market each other's products, allowing them to offer a "quadruple play" of video, Internet access, voice, and wireless service that would essentially eliminate competition. Verizon Wireless would also pay $3.9 billion to buy large segments of the wireless spectrum from Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, and Bright House Networks.
As a result, the proposed deal would deter any expansion of Verizon's high-speed fiber-optic FiOS network, killing thousands of jobs and widening the digital divide. Though FiOS is widely available in New York City and affluent suburbs, the agreement would remove any incentive for Verizon to provide high-speed service to the state's other urban centers — cutting people of color and low-income communities off from the opportunities that accompany high-speed Internet.
"As you are well aware, high-speed broadband is critical to economic development and job creation, as well as improvements in health care, education, public safety, and civic discourse which are so essential to communal life," the mayors wrote in the letter. "The economic health of our cities and our upstate region depends upon access to the same first-rate communications infrastructure available to the New York City metropolitan region and the suburban communities that ring our cities."
The letter was signed by Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie A. Miner, Albany Mayor Gerald D. Jennings, Binghamton Mayor Matthew T. Ryan, Kingston Mayor Shayne R. Gallo, Elmira Mayor Susan Skidmore, Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin, Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri and Troy Mayor Lou Rosamilla.