Verizon deal hangs in balance

The Verizon Wireless-Big Cable deal is in uncertain waters, as regulators at the Justice Department Antitrust Division scrutinize the competition implications, "focusing on plans by Verizon Wireless and Comcast, the biggest mobile carrier and the biggest cable company, respectively, to market each other's products."

Reuters is reporting that although the FCC and DOJ "appear prepared to approve the spectrum portion of the deals with minor adjustments, antitrust regulators have sought strict limits on controversial side deals."

In other words, Verizon's cross-marketing deals with Comcast, Time Warner and Bright House cable are in jeopardy at the DOJ. "The path that the talks are on," according to Reuters, "would lead to a consent decree that would forbid the cross marketing agreement where Verizon markets its FiOS product, according to the three sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record."

At the same time, investment banker Stifel Nicolaus released its own report, predicting that the deal would ultimately go through. The problem is "...the fact that there are two agencies, five partners, and three types of agreements (covered by strict confidentiality protections) raising numerous issues that implicate telecom/broadband and video competition."

CWA remains concerned that both consumers and workers remain at risk, and that neither the FCC nor DOJ is looking hard enough at the job-killing aspects of the deal. As CWA said:

"Regulators are demonstrating a real disconnect between supporting this deal and the Obama administration's goals of affordable high speed Internet access for all and the good jobs that are necessary to push our sluggish economy forward.

"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 buildout of its high speed FiOs network."

Exclusive: Verizon Wireless spectrum deal in for tough remedy (Reuters, Aug. 2, 2012)

VZW-Cable: It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over, But the Fat Lady May Be Clearing Throat (Stifel Nicolaus, Aug. 3, 2012)

CWA: Regulators Looking to 'Slam the Door on Our High Speed Future' (CWA news release, Aug. 3, 2012)