Will FCC’s Desire for More Competition Doom Comcast Merger?

Chairman: "Meaningful competition" is lacking among high-speed Internet providers.

The FCC wants more competitors offering high-speed internet service. Does that mean the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger is doomed?

BGR’s Brad Reed thinks so. He points to a speech this week by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler that laments that “meaningful competition for high-speed wired broadband is lacking.”

Reed says:

Wheeler also vowed not only to protect competitive markets where they already exist but to find ways to spur more competition in noncompetitive markets.

While he never mentioned the Comcast-TWC merger, these remarks seem to indicate that Wheeler looks upon it unfavorably since it would take the two largest cable companies in the United States and make them even bigger. After all, fostering competition will only get harder when there’s one mammoth company that dominates high-speed broadband access in the United States.

Comcast has repeatedly pointed out, though, that combining the two companies won’t really reduce competition — because they are, essentially, monopolies in the territories where they exist.

In any case, Wheeler’s comments don’t mean that Comcast and Time Warner is doomed. The Washington Post notes that one way to get competition going for high-speed Internet is to let more cities offer the service as a sort of utility. Comcast has opposed that in the past, but it’s easy to see the FCC demanding that Comcast cease such opposition — and maybe even provide some assistance to such cities — as a condition for approving the merger.