Democratic Reps Urge FCC, DOJ to Scrutinize Verizon-SpectrumCo

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In a letter circulated to the press Wednesday, a group of House Democrats are asking the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice to look closely at the effects of the proposed sale by cable operators to Verizon of a block of advanced wireless spectrum.

Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and John Conyers (D-Mich.) led a group of more than a half-dozen House members in pressing the government to consider the impact of the deal on competition and consumers. They say they are concerned about both the deal and the related cross-marketing agreements that allow Verizon and cable operators Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox and Bright House Networks to cross-promote their respective services.

The letters to the FCC and Justice do not take a position on the merger, simply asking them to "examine this proposed transaction for its potential impact on the communications landscape and the goals of the Telecommunications Act of 1996," which was to promote competition between cable and telephone companies.

Some deal critics and Democratic legislators have expressed concerns that the deal will mean Verizon and the major cable operators will start cooperating, rather than competing, dividing up services, cross-promoting them, and squeezing out competitors via the marketing agreements and an agreement to work together on R&D into seamlessly integrating wired and wireless broadband.

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