Verizon Fails the Laugh Test

It’s encouraging to see that some members on Capitol Hill haven’t forgotten why they’re in Washington: to serve the people who elected them — and not the companies that paid for their campaigns.

Last week, Reps. Ed Markey and John Conyers sent letters to the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department urging them to take a closer look at the Verizon-Cable deal. The two men urged both agencies “to carefully evaluate the potential impacts” of the deal — which involves Verizon’s purchase of valuable wireless spectrum from a coalition of cable companies — in accordance with the pro-competition policies laid out in the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

Reps. Markey and Conyers deserve praise for looking out for consumers in this deal. In their letter, they point out that the value Verizon places on this spectrum comes not from its intention to roll out more affordable services — but from its desire to keep precious spectrum away from its competitors. (Gollum, meet Verizon.)

Our nation’s airwaves are a finite natural resource, and companies like Verizon shouldn’t be able to swipe huge chunks of it without any oversight. The FCC and DoJ have a duty to look at this deal closely. Furthermore, we need to be certain that whoever buys these airwaves uses them to bring higher-quality wireless offerings to consumers at lower prices. That means making sure whoever acquires this spectrum has a genuine need for it beyond keeping it out of the hands of competitors.

If you think Verizon has failed to pass the laugh test with this deal, go here to urge other members of Congress to reject this deal outright.


If you believe in ensuring competition in the wireless marketplace, please consider a donation to the Free Press Action Fund.

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people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good