If Comcast is allowed to purchase Time Warner Cable, it will have at least one fixed-line broadband competitor with a roughly comparable 25 Mbps tier in only about a third of its footprint.
If the Comcast/TWC deal goes through, Comcast and Charter Communications will subsequently swap some systems, and several more will be spun off into a new company called GreatLand.
At that point, a few more than 1 in 10 (13 percent) Charter subscribers would have a choice of at least one other ISP with a competitive 25 Mbps service.
The number for GreatLand will be a little over 1-in-4 (27 percent).
The FCC gathered the data from the companies to be included in its evaluation of whether or not to approve Comcast’s takeover of Time Warner Cable and AT&T’s purchase of DirecTV. The agency said it is making no determination about contested matters in the proceeding, it is merely making the information public in support of the processes of economic analysis and public comment.
The issue is whether the broadband market is competitive. Comcast will end up controlling about 60 percent of all U.S. broadband connections should the deal go through. Opponents say that is too much market power.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wants to reset a new floor for broadband to at least 10 Mbps – and better yet at 25 Mbps; it is now 4 Mbps. Wireless carriers object, largely because their wireless networks would then cease to qualify as broadband. This serves cable’s interests as well; if wireless at 4 Mbps is considered broadband, then the number of competitors they have in many markets will go up by at least two – Verizon and AT&T. Note that the accompanying graphs specify wireline competitors, excluding wireless competitors.
Even so, the broadband market would look much more competitive if the definition of broadband is set at 10 Mbps. Comcast would have at least two competitive ISPs in 71 percent of its footprint, Charter Communications in 70 percent of its footprint, and GreatLand in 86 percent of its footprint.
Filed Under: Industry regulations