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Union protests Verizon deal, fears Baltimore will never get FiOS

VerizonSatellite and Cable ServiceVerizon Wireless

About 80 members of the Communications Workers of America protested at Baltimore City Hall Thursday against a deal between Verizon Wireless and cable companies that they said will hurt the city's chances of ever receiving the telecommuncation company's next-generation Internet broadband network, known as FiOS.

In a deal with major cable companies across the country, Verizon Wireless plans to expand its fourth-generation wireless services after purchasing unused wireless spectrum from the cable providers. Verizon and the cable companies would then cross-promote their wireless and landline services to consumers.

But the CWA, which represents Verizon's landline workers, worries that the arrangement could mean that Baltimore residents won't get access to Verizon's high-speed FiOS network — a deployment could create potentially hundreds of new jobs in the city.

Some members of Congress complained to the Federal Communications Commission this month that they feared the deal would limit competition among companies and drive up telecommunication prices for consumers.

A Verizon Wireless spokesman said the company believed the deal enhanced competition in the wireless and landline business that Verizon competes in against other providers, including cable companies.

gus.sentementes@baltsun.com

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