Comcast Today: Entire Tech Industry Opposes Merger

Group representing Google, Facebook, and more releases letter of opposition.

Looks like the entire tech industry has come out against Comcast’s merger with Time Warner. That’s interesting. Also interesting? Comcast says it won’t abide by “Open Internet” rules after the terms of its NBCUniversal merger expire in 2018. Lots of stuff to chew on today.

Read on….

Industry trade group the Computer & Communications Industry Assn. is urging federal regulators to block the proposed $45 billion merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, concluding that it would give the combined company “even more ability to successfully harm competition and innovation in the greater Internet ecosystem.” The group’s opposition was revealed in a letter made public on Monday by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), the most visible congressional critic of the transaction. He had sought out its opinion and has highlighted the issue in congressional hearings and during his re-election campaign. The trade association includes Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Facebook, eBay, Sprint, T-Mobile, Motorola, Dish, Aereo, Pandora and TiVo. (Variety)

Black also expressed concerns about how the merged company would interact with competing Internet providers and cable companies, which have to negotiate with Comcast for the TV programming it controls after its 2011 merger with NBC Universal. While Comcast has argued that the merger would help the companies better compete against Internet-company rivals and increase the number of people who receive Comcast’s customer benefits, the CCIA said regulators should block the merger due to the size and influence the resulting company would have. If the merger is approved, and Comcast creates “a cable company five times bigger than its next cable competitor, how could the agencies effectively argue against a merger of Comcast and the next largest cable companies … a few years down the road?” Black asked. (The Hill)

The group’s opposition came as Franken released a second letter in which Comcast Executive VP David Cohen formally shut the door on any extension of the Open Internet conditions that Comcast agreed to as part of its 2010 deal acquiring NBC Universal in order to win regulators approval of the Time Warner Cable deal. Comcast has touted the extension of those Open Internet conditions to millions of Time Warner Cable subscribers as one of the benefits of its latest proposed merger. The NBCU conditions expire in January 2018 and binds Comcast to honor the terms of a since overturned Federal Communications Commission order that required internet providers to maintain Open Internet standards and not to discriminate against content provided by other companies. In the letter, Cohen said that Comcast hopes and expects the Federal Communication Commission to adopt a replacement order before its NBCU commitment expires, but that Comcast doesn’t intend to be bound by a commitment its competitors don’t have to follow. (The Wrap)

Other Comcastic headlines:

Netflix on Monday released data comparing the speeds of major Internet service providers to “help consumers understand the Internet access they’re actually getting.” The Netflix report had bad news for U.S. consumers using Verizon and Comcast: Services from the two companies slipped in its rankings. In statement, Comcast said the company, over the past couple of months, “has installed multiple terabits per second of capacity to support Netflix’s traffic.” “We have monthly discussions with Netflix about capacity and performance and are constantly working to upgrade interconnections to support additional traffic based on forecasts,” the company said. (MarketWatch)

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