House Dems Want Verizon-SpectrumCo Hearing


Top House Energy & Commerce Committee Democrats have renewed their call for a hearing into the Verizon-SpectrumCo wireless spectrum sale.

The Federal Communications Commission and Departmen of Justice are currently vetting Verizon's proposed $3.9 billion purchase of spectrum from Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox and Bright House.

According to a copy of the letter, ranking Commerce Committee Democrat Henry Waxman (Calif.) and Communications Subcommittee ranking member Anna Eshoo, also from California, pointed out to their respective chairs that it has been almost two months since they wrote the first time asking for a hearing on the deal and joint marketing agreements.

"We believe it is important that members of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee have an opportunity to hear from key stakeholders."

In their first letter, the pair cited Subcommittee chairman Greg Walden's avowed plan for the committee to engage in a "close review" of spectrum issues -- he outlined that as one of his priorities for the committee -- and said that no such examination would be complete without an examination of the Verizon deal, which the FCC is currently vetting.

They have not taken a position on the deal, but said in that first letter that it was important to hear testimony and consider the policy implications of the transaction, which Verizon says will free up unused spectrum for the benefit of consumers and critics say will increase concentration and decrease competition among cable and wireless companies.

Verizon has offered $3.9 billion to the cable operators, who bought that AWS spectrum at auction back in 2006 but now say there is not a business case to build a stand-alone service. The deal includes marketing arrangements that allow those cable ops to sell Verizon wireless as part of their triple and quadruple-play bundles and to work together on R&D projects to integrate wired and wireless service.

The Senate held a hearing on the deal back in March.

A House Energy & Commerce Committee spokesperson was not available for comment.