A new $3.6 billion deal between Verizon and three major cable TV companies is threatening to change a fierce rivalry between competitors into a partnership that critics fear would restrict consumer choice, reports the Washington Post. Mobile service, Internet, and cable TV providers have been locked in an intense battle for years, with each increasingly encroaching on the others' turf. But this deal—in which Comcast, Time Warner, and Brightline Cable would let Verizon access their unused cellphone airwaves in exchange for a "cooperative marketing arrangement"—would end that.
Regulators at the Justice Department and the FCC would have to sign off on the deal. “A flag is raised when two rival networks move to start selling each other’s services,” said someone close to the regulators. “They lose their desire, impetus, to compete. That is a big antitrust flag.” Spokesmen for the companies denied the deal would reduce competition and some analysts say it is needed to help them fend off the growing threats coming from new giants such as Google, Apple, and Facebook, which increasingly offer similar services. (Read more Verizon stories.)