Markey, Conyers, House Dems Urge FCC and DOJ to Scrutinize Proposed Verizon SpectrumCo Deal for Impacts on Competition, Consumers
June 13, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, led by Congressmen Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and John Conyers (D-Mich.), a group of House Democrats sent letters to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski and all four FCC commissioners as well as Attorney General Eric Holder to urge them to closely scrutinize the proposed Verizon Wireless-SpectrumCo deal for impacts on the pro-consumer, pro-competition objectives of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Because of a Rep. Markey-authored provision, the 1996 Act required the federal government to vacate 200 megahertz and auction the spectrum for commercial use, unleashing a new boom of innovation and competition and enabling the creation of the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th wireless providers. As part of the proposed Verizon-SpectrumCo transaction, Verizon is looking to purchase a rarely-available block of nationwide spectrum, a step that has implications for the availability of this valuable spectrum and resulting competition. The Department of Justice has noted that the "foreclosure value" of spectrum does not reflect the true value of spectrum to the public, but rather it reflects the private value to one company of potentially forestalling competition.
The other signatories on the letters include Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), John W. Olver (D-Mass.), John F. Tierney (D-Mass.), Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.) and Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.).
"It was the intent of Congress in the Act to promote competition between telephone and cable companies," write the lawmakers in the letters to DOJ and the FCC. "To fulfill the purpose and promise of the Act, it is essential that competition and consumer choice continue to animate our nation's communications policies. ... Accordingly, we are writing to urge the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice to examine this proposed transaction for its potential impact on the communications landscape and the goals of the '96 Act."
Rep. Markey is senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and House author of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Rep. Conyers is Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee.