Pennsylvania Democrat worried Verizon deal will hurt constituents

Verizon wants to enter into an agreement with SpectrumCo, a partnership between cable companies Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, under which Verizon would purchase wireless spectrum the partnership owns. Verizon would also enter into cross-marketing agreements with the cable companies as well as a joint venture to develop new technology that could integrate wireless and wireline phones.

The company has already made a similar agreement with Cox Communications, which also owned the same type of spectrum the SpectrumCo partners are selling.

Doyle notes that in his district, FiOS service is unavailable in many townships he describes as “predominantly lower income communities,” and he questioned what percentage of Verizon’s service are in Pennsylvania would be served by FiOS in the future.

Doyle also asks if Verizon will continue to deploy FiOS in areas planned for coverage before the SpectrumCo deal became a possibility. He asks how much build-out Verizon still needs to do to meet its local franchise obligations.

Consumer advocacy groups such as Public Knowledge have alleged Verizon is using the SpectrumCo deal to bail out on building new capacity for FiOS by using cross-marketing agreements to push those would-be customers to cable, while increasing its capacity for new wireless customers.

Doyle echoes the concern by asking if Verizon plans to continue to seek new customers and gain market share where FiOS is currently deployed and competes with cable companies involved in the deal. He also asks if Verizon plans to maintain its DSL network, where similar overlap with cable occurs.

Doyle also seems to echo cries of “foul” by some who see Verizon abandoning less-profitable DSL and copper phone service by disallowing “naked” DSL, or the ability to pay for Internet service without paying for a phone line.

He specifically asks for customer rates for “naked” DSL, DSL + voice, and FiOS “triple play” deals of phone, TV and Internet service. 

While House Energy and Commerce Committee and Telecom subcommittee ranking members Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) sent a letter last month to Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) asking for a hearing to examine the proposed transactions, none have been scheduled so far.

Doyle closes the letter by asking Verizon for written responses by June 1.

A Verizon spokesman did not immediately comment when approached by The Hill regarding this story.