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Waxman, Eshoo Call for House Hearing on Verizon/SpectrumCo Deal

The ranking Democrats of the House Energy & Commerce Committee and House Communications Subcommittee have called on their Republican chairs to hold a hearing on the Verizon/SpectrumCo/Cox spectrum deal.

Rep. Henry Waxman and Anna Eshoo, both California Democrats, cited Walden's plan for the committee to engage in a "close review" of spectrum issues -- he outlined that as one of his priorities for the committee -- and said that no such examination would be complete without an examination of the Verizon deal, which the FCC is currently vetting.

The pair said they had not taken any position on the deal, but said it was important to hear testimony and consider the policy implications of the transaction, which Verizon says will free up unused spectrum for the benefit of consumers and critics say will increase concentration and decrease competition among cable and wireless companies.

Verizon has offered $3.9 billion to cable operators who bought that AWS spectrum at auction back in 2006 but now say there is not a business case to build a stand-alone service. The deal includes marketing arrangements that allow those cable ops to sell Verizon wireless as part of their triple and quadruple-play bundles.

The Senate Antitrust Subcommittee has already held a hearing on the deal at which subcommittee chairman Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and consolidation critic Al Franken (D-Minn.) were critical of the deal.