Wireless phone monopoly a bad deal

Source: Congressman Bernard Sanders [Times Argus]

Anyone who travels around Vermont knows the inadequacy of our cell phone coverage. Some towns have virtually no reception. Others have, at best, spotty coverage. At a time when strong cell phone service is essential if our state is to be economically competitive nationally and internationally, it is imperative that every region of Vermont have coverage. At a time when more and more people (especially young people) are using cell phones as their only source of phone service and are able to take advantage of such benefits as free weekend and night calls, it is only fair that all Vermont communities have access to that service. No one doubts that quality broadband and cell phone service are as much a part of Vermont's future as electricity and land-line phones were in the years past. Two companies, Verizon Wireless and Unicel, now dominate the Vermont cell-phone market. Verizon's proposal to buy Unicel would create a virtual Vermont monopoly. Without safeguards, that would be bad news for consumers and the business community. Without competition or state regulation Vermont gets "the worst of both worlds." We would end up with an unregulated monopoly company that could do just about anything it wants – or doesn't want – to do.

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