Cites Evidence of Collusion in Cable Deals
The Rural Telecommunications Group’s (RTG) has filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) two separate petitions to deny pending license sales to Verizon Wireless. RTG’s first petition to deny urges the Commission to halt Verizon Wireless’ proposed purchase of AWS and PCS licenses in 29 states from Leap Wireless and several subsidiaries. RTG’s second petition to deny asks the Commission to not only halt the proposed sale of over 150 AWS licenses from SpectrumCo (a joint venture of cable giants Comcast, Time Warner and Bright House Networks) and Cox to Verizon Wireless, but also to begin a thorough investigation of various anticompetitive commercial agreements entered into between the four cable companies and Verizon Wireless.
“In the absence of any near term FCC spectrum auctions, Verizon Wireless is systematically attempting to corner the market for commercial mobile wireless spectrum while simultaneously stripping existing and potential competitors of all their spectrum holdings,” stated RTG’s General Counsel, Carri Bennet. “This practice is anticompetitive and a violation of antitrust law and should result in the FCC’s denial of all of the applications filed by Verizon Wireless.”
“Verizon Communications, through Verizon Wireless, is also entering into numerous commercial agreements involving the integration of voice, Internet and video services with the cable companies which raises very serious concerns,” continued Bennet. “This concerted effort constitutes a scheme by the parties to divide up the markets for wired and wireless services. It’s a cartel and it’s illegal.”
In addition to demonstrating in its two filings that the assignment of vast amounts of AWS and PCS licenses from Leap and the cable companies to Verizon Wireless is not in the public interest, RTG also presents evidence that Verizon Communications is in violation of Section 572(c) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, as well as the Sherman Antitrust Act.
“Verizon Communications and Verizon Wireless, together, are taking an unprecedented step to reduce choice for American consumers in the video, broadband and wireless markets. Rural markets and rural consumers will be impacted along with urban markets if these transactions are approved,” noted Bennet. “By concealing the facts through confidential, highly redacted documents, Verizon Communications and Verizon Wireless are ensuring that the public cannot participate in the process leaving millions of consumers, including those living in and traveling to rural America, in danger of higher prices and less choice.”
About RTG – Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Rural Telecommunications Group, Inc. (RTG) is a trade association representing rural wireless carriers who each serve less than 100,000 subscribers. RTG’s members have joined together to speed delivery of new, efficient and innovative telecommunications technologies to remote and underserved communities. ruraltelecomgroup.org @RTGwireless
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