The Federal Communications Commission decided to take a longer look at the sale of Unicel's assets to Verizon Wireless, Vermont's two primary cell phone providers. The commission extended by three months the filing deadline before which individuals and groups can voice their opinions on this transaction. "Vermonters must take a very close look at what a Verizon Wireless monopoly would mean in terms of progress toward universal service at reasonable prices," said Sanders. Verizon Wireless and Unicel actively opposed the extension of this deadline. "The commission's decision to allow more time for comment on this important transaction will afford Vermonters the opportunity to voice their concerns," said Senator Sanders. "People are only now beginning to understand the significance of this transaction. Few things hit home more than those sitting in your pocket: your wallet, your car keys and your cell phone. This extension will appropriately allow Vermonters to be heard on an issue that affects their lives."
"This is a small but important victory that demonstrates that consumers can win even against corporate giants like Verizon Wireless," said Paul Burns, executive director of VPIRG, which officially filed a petition requesting this extension. "Now we must demand that federal regulators deny this merger or include enforceable conditions to prevent consumers from being significantly harmed by the deal."
"I am very concerned about what a cell phone monopoly would mean in the state of Vermont. If the FCC approves this takeover, there must be specific conditions met: enforceable commitment to universal cell phone coverage; continued upkeep, maintenance, and expansion of the GSM network; free exchange of Unicel phones to equivalent Verizon Wireless handsets; and a commitment to reasonable roaming rates and national pricing for Vermont."
Vermonters wishing to comment can do so here.
To read the letter sent to the FCC, click here.
To watch the Senator's press conference with Mr. Burns, Tom Torti of the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce, and state Representative Al Perry (D-Richford) click here.