Monday, August 18, 2008

Get in Line to Restrict the Verizon-Alltel Marriage

When AT&T and Cingular started their hook-up process, there wasn't that much opposition. Now, with Verizon Wireless and Alltel coming to the alter, the opponents are little more vocal. At issue is the amount of spectrum that will eventually be controlled by Verizon, which will be considerable, especially in light of their recent AWS (2100MHz) and 700 MHz spectrum additions. It means a large amount of the 800 MHz cellular band being totally controlled by Verizon, leaving only the less robust frequencies available.

Opposition from smaller carriers and associated trade groups has also taken on the issue of "in-market" roaming, which they claim will be necessary until these small carriers can build out networks using their own newly-gained spectrum. While Verizon claims that all roaming contracts will be honored, these carriers fear what will happen when the agreements expire over the next 4 or 5 years. We do too.

Guess what? You and I can help the process along. The FCC welcomes thoughtful public input, and if you don't think your voice will be heard, consider how few people will take the time to comment. Your opinion becomes a big percentage of the discussion. We agree with the smaller carriers. Bigger isn't always better. Yes, Verizon and Alltel can merge, but not at the expense of competitive rural coverage. No carrier should own both 800 MHz channels, even though AT&T got away with it. And the idea of Verizon controlling both CDMA and GSM roaming is worrisome, too.

If nothing else, your comments could slow the process down a bit to give everyone more time to mull it over. If Verizon wants to 'fast track' the process by making these concessions, the end result could benefit us all. Visit and make 'em think about it.

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