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Threat to High Speed Internet Access in VA

April 9, 2012

RICHMOND, Va. - Consumer groups say a spectrum deal between Verizon and a group of cable companies known as SpectrumCo - and another deal with Cox Communications - will grab a large share of the wireless spectrum and lead to less competition and higher prices.

Parul Desai with the Consumers Union says because of a joint marketing arrangement involved in the deal, land-line customers will be adversely affected, too.

"Any consumer who's going to want to rely on high-speed access - whether it's for gaming, music, video, even telehealth - should be concerned that they'll only have one choice in their market when it comes to high-speed broadband Internet access."

Verizon says it is "critical" that the cable spectrum be used for mobile services. Telecommunications unions call the consolidation a "job-killer."

Edyael Casaperalta with the Center for Rural Strategies says a duopoly would be created, with Verizon and AT&T dominating the field. Virginians living in less-populated areas may be among the most affected, she warns.

"The bottom line why people should oppose this deal is because it does not allow rural providers, whether they're broadband or wireless, to compete and provide service for rural communities."

Casaperalta says smaller companies that provide wireless services outside of urban areas will likely get squeezed out of the marketplace if the Verizon spectrum deal is approved.

Verizon says with smartphone traffic predicted to be more than 25 times higher in 2015 than it is today, it needs to acquire the spectrum, and denies it will stifle competition. The plan is currently being reviewed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).



Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA