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Democratic Reps Urge FCC, DOJ to Scrutinize Verizon-SpectrumCo

In a letter circulated to the press Wednesday,
a group of House Democrats are asking the FCC and Justice to look closely at
the impacts of the proposed sale by cable operators to Verizon of a block of
advanced wireless spectrum.

Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and John Conyers (D-Mich.) led a group
of more than a half dozen House members in pressing the government to consider
the impact of the deal on competition and consumers. They say they are
concerned about both the deal and the related cross-marketing agreements that
allow Verizon and cable operators Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox and Bright
House to cross-promote their respective services.

The letters to the FCC and Justice do not take a position on
the merger, simply asking them to "examine this proposed transaction for
its potential impact on the communications landscape and the goals of the
Telecommunications Act of 1996," which was to promote competition between
cable and telephone companies.

Some deal critics and Democratic legislators have expressed
concerns that the deal will mean Verizon and the major cable operators will
start cooperating, rather than competing, dividing up services, cross-promoting
them, and squeezing out competitors via the marketing agreements and an
agreement to work together on R&D into seamlessly integrating wired and
wireless broadband.