New Coalition Opposes Verizon-Cable Alliance
Telecoms T-Mobile, Sprint Nextel, the watchdog Public Knowledge and other organizations have banded together in a new coalition, The Alliance for Broadband Competition, which opposes Verizon's pending deal with cable companies.
The newly launched organization says the deal will undermine competition and harm consumers' ability to obtain high-speed broadband on attractive terms.
Last December, Verizon and cable companies announced a deal that calls for Verizon to pay almost $4 billion to license spectrum from Comcast, Cox, Time Warner and BrightHouse Networks. Verizon and the cable providers also intend to enter into joint marketing agreements.
The proposed deal drew immediate criticism by watchdogs, as well as other telecoms. The Federal Communications Commission is currently reviewing the deal.
Verizon argued in an FCC filing earlier this month that the deal will help it to build out its mobile broadband network. "These transactions will move spectrum that is currently not being used to a provider that will put it to use to ensure consumers using LTE will have robust and reliable service on their smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices," Verizon says. "The benefits to consumers, the mobile ecosystem, and the larger U.S. economy are clear."
But Verizon rival T-Mobile disagrees. The company said today in a statement that the proposed alliance "will result in excessive concentration of ... especially important spectrum for LTE in the hands of the nation’s largest wireless carrier."
Earlier this year, Public Knowledge, New American Foundation Open Technology Initiative and Writers Guild of America West and other groups asked the FCC to nix the Verizon-spectrum deal. They argue that allowing Verizon to 'supersize' with spectrum from cable companies "directly undermines the pro-competitive policies of the 1996 Act and is thus contrary to the public interest."
Those groups also warned that the Verizon-cable alliances "provide a mechanism for future collusion on pricing, building out, coverage, and other market control methods."