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Local officials make digital divide argument against Verizon buying cable spectrum

John Moe Mar 27, 2012

The Federal Communications Commission is hearing arguments as part of Verizon’s plan to buy up broadcast spectrum from cable companies. As part of that deal, Verizon and the companies would agree to market each other’s services. Yesterday, the FCC heard from representatives of large metropolitan areas in the Northeast who opposed the deal on the grounds that it would discourage Verizon from building out its FiOS cable network.

From Hillicon Valley:

While Verizon has built out its FiOS network in communities across the country, it has focused much of its investment on suburban areas, where it is easier to deploy physical infrastructure. The officials and community groups from Albany, N.Y., Baltimore, Md., Boston, Mass., Buffalo, N.Y. and Syracuse, N.Y., told the FCC that the deal would deprive their cities of the benefits of competition.

Albany Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin said the agreement “is not in the best interest of those who need to get and stay connected the most,” and that low-income communities and families would suffer from higher prices caused by a lack of competition.

The FiOS argument is one that we haven’t heard much in the past, although it speaks to the same issue of competition that a lot of people have already made. In that argument, opponents feel that by buying up spectrum, Verizon blocks companies like Comcast from ever getting into the wireless market and providing more competition for companies like Verizon and AT&T. Additionally, it grows Verizon’s power, making it the de facto wireless provider.

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