FiOS-Less Cities Complain About Spectrum Deal

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Groups in five cities without FiOS service have asked the Federal Communications Commission not to approve the sale of cable wireless spectrum to Verizon and the associated deals that have cable operators marketing video service in Verizon Wireless' stores, or at least not okay it without conditions that spread the wealth.

In comments to the FCC, according to the Communications Workers of America, which opposes the deal, groups and elected officials in Albany, Buffalo and Syracuse, N.Y., as well as Boston and Baltimore criticized the deal and agreements to cross market, saying it would foreclose the possibility of video/broadband competition via FiOS in their cities.

"Under this transaction, Baltimore will never get a fiber-optic network and the city will be at a disadvantage. The direct job loss will be the hundreds of technicians that would be employed building, installing and maintaining FiOS in the area. The indirect costs of this deal are even higher: the lack of competition in telecommunications will raise prices and reduce service quality," said Curt Anderson, chair of the Baltimore City Delegation to the Maryland House of Delegates, joined by Baltimore City Council President William H. Cole.

But a Verizon exec points out that those cities are all areas that were not scheduled to get FiOS, whether or not the cable spectrum deal goes through. As Verizon has pointed out, the company decided back in 2010 that it was going to build out the franchises it had already secured and target those 18 million customers in and around New York City, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, rather than spend any more of its shareholders money in a wider buildout. The above cities were not in those franchise areas.

Undeterred, some of the groups and officials were suggesting that further FiOS build-outs to their cities should be made conditions of approving the deal.

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