Verizon and its cable partners defended
their spectrum-purchase deal and accompanying cross-marketing arrangements in a
filing late Friday with the FCC.
The following is attributed to Harold Feld,
legal director of Public Knowledge:
“The argument from Comcast and
partners that the FCC should stay out of the joint marketing deals with the
country’s largest cellular company is, frankly, absurd. The cross-marketing deals are as much a
part of this deal as the spectrum — announced together in the same release,
offered to other cable companies.
“As we explained to the FCC earlier,
the side agreements create a real danger that our communications markets will
move from competition to collusion to cartel. Rather than address these concerns, Verizon and its cable
partners continue to withhold key parts of the agreements while insisting that
the FCC has no role in approving them.
“When Comcast bought NBC-Universal, it
refused to talk about online video until regulators took a firm stand. Comcast,
Verizon and the other cable partners now resort to the same playbook by
ignoring the issue of its anti-competitive agreements in the hope regulators
will let them slip by. Particularly offensive is the suggestion by Verizon and
the cable companies that the FCC simply take a pass on these competitive
concerns because the Department of Justice can do the job of analyzing these
agreements so much better.
“The FCC can choose concentration, or
it can choose competition. It
should choose to make the wireless and broadband industries more competitive,
“While putting the spectrum the cable
companies failed to develop to use for the public is a good idea, making the
largest carrier stronger is not.
The deal will make it more difficult for consumers to find new options
for cellphone carriers as it will make it more difficult for existing companies
to get stronger or for new companies to enter the field. We also note that Verizon has said for
months that it didn’t need new spectrum, yet here it is asking to buy $3
billion worth from the cable companies.