FCC Commissioner and consolidation critic Michael Copps may
have left the commission, but he is holding to his pledge by speaking out on
the issue on which he passionate at a recent going-away party hosted by the
National Cable & Telecommunications Association.
As one of the keynote speakers at the Freedom to Connect
(F2C) Conference in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring, Md., Monday, he
took the opportunity to take aim at the Verizon/SpectrumCo deal currently being
vetted by the FCC. Google and the Open Technology Initiative are among the
sponsors of the conference.
"Antitrust hasn't been the strong suit of many recent
Administrations," he said, according to an embargoed copy of his speech,
"but Department of Justice and FCC action on the proposed AT&T-T-Mobile
transaction showed life where some had thought the oxygen was long gone. Now,
with the proposed Verizon-cable deal, another canary is sent into the coal mine
to see if the oxygen is still there. Why this deal should be so much more
difficult than ATT-T-Mobile is difficult for me to understand. No matter what
you call it -- cabal, cartel, collusion, conspiracy in restraint of trade -- I
don't see how anyone can claim that reducing competition in both wireless and
wireline somehow advances the well-being of consumers."
The FCC and Justice blocked the AT&T-T-Mobile deal, but
supporters have pointed out that while that was about two companies combining,
this is primarily about a sale of spectrum.
Copps said he had no intention of letting that and other
issues go, and will take his criticisms on the road. He gave a shout-out to the
FCC's two newest members, Ajit Pai and Jessica Rosenworcel, the latter his
former aide, and suggested that if they are sufficiently successful in their
new posts, "I can turn the lights out at Motel 6 and come on home."
He may have left the commission, but Copps is not a critic
without portfolio. He is a national board member of Common Cause
and is also on the board of Public Knowledge.