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"When Competition Is Cooked, Consumers Are Toast"

In this March 6, 2012 photo, an AT&T technician works on fiber optic cables used for the expansion of AT&T U-verse Internet service in the Chinatown neighborhood in Los Angeles.
AP Photo

"When Competition Is Cooked, Consumers Are Toast"


August 15, 2012

Author: Susan P. Crawford, Former Faculty Affiliate, Information and Communications Technology and Public Policy Project, January–December 2012

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Cyber Security Project; Science, Technology, and Public Policy


Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice approval of the Verizon/SpectrumCo deal is inevitable. After the Bush-era Commission decided to unilaterally deregulate utility communications a few years ago, consolidation and harvesting by the companies involved has accelerated. In the "you take wireless, we’ll take wired" world in America, in which Verizon and AT&T stick to their side of the ring and Comcast and Time Warner and the other local cable monopolies stay on theirs, the SpectrumCo transaction is an outcome, not a cause, of the primitive approach to communications that characterizes this country.

Bottom line: The companies involved in the transaction can credibly claim that the deal itself is not going to change the facts on the ground for most Americans. Without "merger-specific harms," and with an impressive display of bureaucratic sleight-of-hand — FCC got the spectrum part of the deal but DOJ got the joint marketing arrangements, and the two agencies have different statutory authority and DNA, leading to lots of finger-pointing and careful behavior — the companies will avoid being interfered with unduly by the feds....

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For Academic Citation:

Crawford, Susan. "When Competition Is Cooked, Consumers Are Toast." WIRED, August 15, 2012.

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