Business and consumer advocates were brought together on Monday by Sen. Bernie Sanders to press for better cell phone coverage throughout Vermont . "Anyone who drives around the State of Vermont knows the coverage is spotty," Sanders said. "If Verizon is allowed to buy out Unicel and create a monopoly in the state of Vermont, it seems to me that we have to attach requirements to that merger. At the very least we have got to demand that Verizon provides universal geographical coverage in every area of our state," the senator said. Sanders was joined at a press conference in the senator's Burlington office by Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce president Tom Torti and Vermont Public Interest Research Group executive director Paul Burns to discuss the bid by Verizon Wireless to acquire Unicel.
The Chamber of Commerce official said improved cell service is important to the state's tourism industry. He said cell service also is critical to the success of economic development initiatives. The VPIRG spokesman said complete coverage is a basic consumer issue. Also joining Sanders at the press conference was state Rep. Al Perry of Richford, who talked about the practical consequences of living in a part of Vermont along the Canadian border where cell service is not always avaialbe.
Verizon Wireless has asked the Federal Communications Commission to approve the broadcast license changes needed to seal its deal with Unicel. The FCC is expected to rule on the case early next year.
To watch the press conference, click here.
To read the senator's letter to the Federal Communications Commission, click here.