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Consumer Federation to FCC: halt the merger

16 May, 2012

The nation's largest consumer coalition has called on the FCC to place a hold on the Verizon/cable deal until the commission can examine Comcast's alleged violations of its earlier merger with NBCUniversal.

One contentious issue is that Comcast has exempted its own Xfinity service to Xbox from its 250 gigabyte monthly data cap, thereby favoring partner Microsoft and infuriating competitors like Netflix. This apparent violation of net neutrality drew criticism from Al Franken of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law.

The Consumer Federation of America, a union of 300 nonprofits representing some 50 million Americans, posted a May 15 letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. In it, the group says that merely holding the deal until Verizon supplies all the necessary documents is not enough. The FCC must investigate the claims that Comcast has violated its year-old consent decree by and a network neutrality order. As a result, "Comcast's recent behavior calls into question its willingness to abide by those Commission Orders or its acceptance of the FCC's role in providing consumer protection and promoting the public interest under the Communications Act."

The Verizon/cable deal is a huge transformation in the nation's telecommunications, and in order to protect the public interest, says CFA, the FCC "cannot allow such a major change in the market structure of both the broadband and wireless markets without first ensuring that the underlying rules are working effectively."

The federation closes with this request:

"The FCC should stop the shot clock and deal with pending complains and accusations about violations of its orders. The DOJ should open an investigation into the alleged violations of the consent decree."

CFA letter to the FCC (May 15, 2012)

Al Franken questions Comcast XBox streaming as net neutrality violation
(Washington Post, May 7, 2012)

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