OVERNIGHT TECH: Comcast to defend Verizon deal in Senate hearing

He said a joint research and development venture "will allow the companies to develop new technologies that compete with similar solutions offered not just by AT&T, but also by DISH Network, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and others."

But consumer groups, labor unions and wireless competitors Sprint and T-Mobile argue the deal will stifle competition. 

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The Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports, sent a letter to the Antitrust subcommittee senators on Tuesday, saying the deal will allow Verizon to consolidate its control over the airwaves and will lead to higher prices for consumers.

The other witnesses at Wednesday's hearing will be Randal Milch, Verizon's general counsel; Steven Berry, CEO of the Rural Cellular Association; Joel Kelsey, policy adviser for consumer group Free Press; and Timothy Wu, a Columbia University law professor who specializes in Internet, communications and antitrust issues.

Rockefeller asks for study on broadband adoption: Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, sent a letter to the major Internet service providers on Tuesday asking them to report back to him with information about the obstacles that prevent people from adopting broadband Internet.

"As more and more business and personal interactions migrate from over the phone and in-person to online, having access to high-speed services is more essential than ever before," Rockefeller wrote. But he noted that many people still do not have access to broadband Internet.

"I ask that you provide my office with information you have gathered about the forces that impede broadband adoption, as well as the kind of efforts that produce sustainable broadband adoption," Rockefeller wrote. 

He noted that possible obstacles to adoption include the cost of computers, the cost of Internet access, the perceived lack of relevance and a lack of digital literacy.


ICYMI:

Democratic Reps. John Dingell (Mich.) and Gene Green (Texas) said they are "skeptical" of an FCC proposal to require TV stations to keep online records of political advertising.

Two labor unions descended on Capitol Hill Tuesday to urge lawmakers to oppose deals between Verizon and a coalition of cable companies.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) urged his state's two senators, Olympia Snowe (R) and Susan Collins (R), to support legislation to allow states to tax online purchases.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) announced a Facebook application on Tuesday that allows users to track legislation as it moves through the House. Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer's (Md.) called it a partisan gimmick.