The Communications Workers of America signaled Friday it
thought regulators were poised to approve the Verizon/SpectrumCo deal.
"Regulators looking to slam the door on our high-speed
future," the group headlined a release slamming both the FCC and DOJ for
"seem[ing] to have lost their focus on competition" on a deal they
suggested was imminent.
An FCC spokesman said no decision has been made, but the
general read in Washington communications policy circles is that the deal will
be approved, likely with conditions--preventing Verizon tfrom selling Comcast in its FiOS footprint--and likely within the next month. That is
based on the fact that the deal frees up wireless spectrum currently laying
fallow -- something that the FCC is trying to do in other areas -- and involves
a spectrum sale rather than a merger of companies, though the attendant
cross-marketing agreements have deal critics concerned it will be a merging of
interests that discourages competition.
CWA sounded like the deal had already been done.
"Regulators are demonstrating a real disconnect between
supporting this deal and the Obama administration's goals of affordable
high-speed Internet access for all," the group said, "and the good
jobs that are necessary to push our sluggish economy forward."
Given that it appears to think the deal is just about done, it
added its two cents in the condition department. "The remedy to ensure
competition and good jobs is clear: the FCC and DOJ should bar cross-marketing
within the Verizon footprint and require Verizon to continue build-out of its
high speed FiOS network."
"The CWA press release is totally bizarre," said an FCC official who asked not to be identified, "given that no deal has been reached. CWA has no idea what might be in one if it were to be reached."
Verizon has said it will build out its current footprint per
previous plans, but will not go further, something it also signaled a couple of
years ago saying there was not a business case for extending beyond its current
build-out plans. Critics are concerned that the SpectrumCo deal would ensure it
would not change its mind.
That pessimistic statement -- if you are a deal critic -- followed
CWA's circulation Thursday of a report it says details Verizon's
"abandonment" of some New York regions in its build-out of FiOS.
"New York could be further left behind if the FCC
approves Verizon's proposed deal with cable companies that the report shows
would destroy competition, increase prices for millions of New York consumers
and end the expansion of FiOS, since Verizon would instead be promoting the
broadband services of cable companies including Comcast and Time Warner,"
CWA has also bought TV time in upstate New York -- Buffalo,
Albany, Syracuse, Rochester -- for an ad urging Governor Andrew Cuomo to fight
"This report is not news. There's nothing new,"
said Verizon spokesman Richard Young. "It's factually untrue and full of
holes. It's a rehash of every misleading accusation that the CWA has put forth
over the past year. Verizon remains committed to bringing our customers in New
York and elsewhere top tier products and services. And we prove it in the
marketplace each and every day."
Verizon has proposed buying $3.9 billion worth of
spectrum from the SpectrumCo consortium (Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright
House) and former SpectrumCo partner, Cox. It has pledged to spin off some
spectrum to T-Mobile after the purchase -- to better geographically align their
respective holdings -- a move that will reduce its local-market spectrum