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FCC grants extension for public opinion on Unicel/Verizon sale

The Federal Communications Commission recently decided to extend the filling deadline regarding the sale of Unicels assets to Verizon Wireless. The extension was applauded by Senator Bernie Sanders, as it provides an additional three months for Vermonters to voice their opinions. Vermonters must take a very close look at what a Verizon Wireless monopoly would mean in terms of progress towards universal service at reasonable prices, said Sanders. The decision was made in response to a petition filed by the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. The FCC granted the extension despite opposition from Verizon Wireless and Unicel. 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. 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. The commissions decision to allow more time for comment on this important transaction will afford Vermonters the opportunity to voice their concerns. 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. Any Vermonter wishing to make their voice heard, in regards to the sale, should visit Sanders website or submit comments through the FCC website. A copy of Senator Sanders letter is available for the public to view at Sanders website at www.senate.sanders.gov .

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