FCC to review pair of wireless mergers

The Federal Communications Commission plans to closely examine two pending wireless mergers before the end of the year, reports the Wall Street Journal.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin on Thursday said the agency will try to finish its review of Verizon Communications Inc.'s pending acquisition of Alltel Corp. and Sprint Nextel Corp.'s purchase of Clearwire Corp. before year end.

The agency is also hoping to tackle issues related to the rates phone companies pay each other to connect calls, to tee up two airwave auctions and to decide on whether to allow high-tech companies to use vacant, unlicensed television airwaves for a next-generation wireless gadgets.

Martin didn't mention new cable regulations on his list, but that hasn't stopped the cable industry -- which has come under more scrutiny than any other industry under his watch -- from taking pre-emptive measures. Leaders of the influential Senate Commerce Committee, prodded by cable lobbyists, recently sent a thinly veiled letter warning Martin and other FCC commissioners against imposing more regulations on cable.

"Pursuing contentious policy initiatives, such as the unbundling of wholesale subscription television channels, would divert the attention [of FCC staff] at a critical time," they wrote.

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