& cplSiteName &

Amid Hearings, Comcast Ups Speeds/Hotspots

Mari Silbey
4/10/2014
50%
50%

Comcast knows a thing or two about timing.

Even as executive vice president David L. Cohen testified before the US Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday regarding the proposed Time Warner Cable acquisition, the Comcast home team released news that the company has now activated more than 1 million WiFi hotspots and increased Internet speeds for customers in the Northeast.

The WiFi announcement covers outdoor, business, and neighborhood hotspots, the last of which refers to home routers that segment bandwidth to enable separate public and private WiFi access routes. (See Comcast's Home Hotspots Heat Up.)

The Internet speed announcement applies to 14 states between Maine and Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia. Comcast has boosted the Xfinity Blast tier from 50 Mbit/s to 105 Mbit/s in those regions, and the Xfinity Extreme tier from 105 Mbit/s to 150 Mbit/s.

These announcements support the company's argument that a merger with Time Warner will allow Comcast to deliver more benefits to consumers across a wider subscriber footprint. Cohen has said that if the Comcast acquisition is approved, more consumers will benefit from: faster broadband; greater network reliability and security; improved WiFi access; an advanced video platform in the form of X1; more on-demand video choices; the extension of Internet Essentials for low-income families; and the extension of diversity and community investment commitments.

When questioned by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on whether or not these benefits would still be realized even without the merger, Cohen stated that the changes would happen faster and with more certainty as a result of the acquisition.

Despite assurances from Cohen, there was a mixed reaction from the senators present at the hearing, with many expressing skepticism that a merger between the two largest cable companies in the US would be in consumers' best interest.

Senator Al Franken (D-MN) flatly announced his misgivings stating, "I'm against this deal." Franken recalled for the audience that when hearings were held to discuss Comcast's acquisition of NBC Universal, the company argued that vertical integration shouldn't be a concern because there were still other "robust distributors" in the market including Time Warner Cable. That argument no longer holds up if Time Warner is folded into Comcast operations.

Franken said Comcast also declared at the time, "We are not getting any larger in cable distribution here." Four years later, the situation has changed.

One of the other major concerns expressed during the latest Judiciary hearing was the idea that a larger Comcast would jack up the price of programming for smaller operators. Cohen argued that programmers don't leave money on the table in any negotiation, so a better deal for Comcast wouldn't result in a higher price for other operators.

President of Public Knowledge Gene Kimmelman disputed that analysis, however, and reports from independent operators suggest that they have had to pay higher licensing fees as a matter of course in order to balance out the deals negotiated with larger cable companies. (See In Cable We (Anti)trust.)

Between Comcast's vertical integration through the purchase of NBCU and the expanded distribution it will gain if the merger with Time Warner is approved, perhaps the biggest fear among regulators is that the company will have the power to control pricing in its supplier market in the future. Cohen argued in the hearing that the Federal Communications Commission has already examined the limits of horizontal ownership and found little risk in a company owning 30% of a market.

Kimmelman countered that any earlier review of that theory had been based on generic rules, and that the specifics as they relate to Comcast are what are important today. He also cited statistics that Comcast could end up in control of as much as 50% of the broadband market.

The debate on the merger isn't over. Even as the Senate Judiciary Committee mulls its findings from this week's hearing, the House Judiciary Committee has said it will hold its own hearing on May 8.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

(5)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
danielcawrey
50%
50%
danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/12/2014 | 6:13:22 PM
Re: Will wireless be next for Comcast?
Activating wifi hotspots makes Comcast sound like a data provider that could compete with wireless companies like Verizon. 

Comcast is a conglomerate involved in many different areas at this point. Not only do they control infrastructure, they also own content. That's something wireless carriers don't have, and what's to stop Comcast from building out a nationwide wifi network?
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
4/12/2014 | 2:02:11 PM
Re: Monopsony
kq4ym - "You can bet Comcast has lots of "bonuses" hidden up their sleeves in preparation for getting approvals and support for the coming merges."

You bet. And I expect we'll see them roll out in pieces, at each interval when opposition to the merger seems to be building. 
kq4ym
50%
50%
kq4ym,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/12/2014 | 1:16:51 PM
Re: Monopsony
You can bet Comcast has lots of "bonuses" hidden up their sleeves in preparation for getting approvals and support for the coming merges. The danger of course is that the future benefits/disadvantages to the proposals are just not going to be very predictable. Whatever Comcast has to do to get it's way throught the regulatory mazes, will be done. There will be other suprises coming as well, I'm sure.
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
4/10/2014 | 4:23:35 PM
Monopsony
The concern with the Comcast/TWC merger isn't so much monopoly, where a single supplier dominates a market. It's the lesser known threat of monopsony, where a single buyer controls the market. In this case, it would be the market for TV programming but possibly also networking equipment and services. 
mhhf1ve
50%
50%
mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/10/2014 | 3:50:58 PM
Will wireless be next for Comcast?
Comcast seems to have partnered with Verizon to offer some cellular wireless bundles... but I gotta wonder when Comcast will try to get into the wireless market on its own. 

Cable providers and incumbent telcos seem to be dividing up the market and leaving each other alone for now.. but if there's no collusion, it seems like Comcast should want to be in the wireless space, too. Perhaps the barrier to entry is too great, even for Comcast? 
From The Founder
The independent evaluation of Nokia's key virtual network functions (VNFs) was a defining moment for the Finnish giant.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP’s Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it’s going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Innovations in Cable

5|26|16   |   03:18   |   (0) comments


Marc Aldrich from Cisco discusses the latest in security, the evolution and momentum for CCAP and what the industry will be seeing next from Cisco.
LRTV Documentaries
Leading Lights 2016 Highlights

5|25|16   |   02:26   |   (1) comment


Some of the high points from this year's Leading Lights awards dinner at the Hotel Ella in Austin, Texas.
LRTV Documentaries
Light Reading Hall of Fame 2016

5|23|16   |   05:43   |   (0) comments


Find out who has been welcomed into Light Reading's Hall of Fame this year.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE TM Forum Highlights

5|23|16   |     |   (0) comments


ZTE showcased its new ICT solutions at TM Forum in Nice.
LRTV Interviews
Gamma's MD on the Emergence of UC2

5|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


Gamma Communications Managing Director David Macfarlane believes the unified communications (UC) market has reached a tipping point.
LRTV Custom TV
The Ultimate 5-Minute Guide to Digital Customer Engagement

5|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


In this short video, you will hear all about how Digital Customer Engagement is the key to meeting customer expectations, keeping them happy, and maximizing revenue. VP Product & Marketing at Pontis, Ofer Razon, breaks down for us the five essential capabilities for successful Digital Customer Engagement. Don’t miss!
LRTV Custom TV
NFV in 2016: Part 1 – NFV Use Cases Get Real

5|19|16   |   05:57   |   (0) comments


Consensus is building around the key use cases for NFV, including managed IP services at the network edge and on customer premises, which can generate new revenues from enterprises/SMBs and consumers; Evolved Packet Core to support LTE migration; and adjacent technologies, such as TAS and IMS, to support VoLTE and next-generation charging and policy control ...
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's Steve Vogelsang on NFV – Part 3

5|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang discusses the challenges of operational transformation and how Nokia helps its customers. Join Steve at the Big Communications Event in Austin the morning of May 24, on his keynote and optical networking panel.
LRTV Interviews
Level 3: Why UC Is In Demand

5|17|16   |   04:12   |   (1) comment


Andrew Edison, Level 3's senior VP of sales, EMEA region, talks about the drivers of growth in the unified communications services market.
LRTV Custom TV
ARM's OPNFV Action

5|17|16   |     |   (0) comments


At the ARM booth at MWC 2016, Joe Kidder and Bob Monkman speak to Light Reading about OPNFV and their upcoming action.
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's Steve Vogelsang on NFV – Part 2

5|16|16   |     |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang gives advice to service providers on how to move to NFV. Join Steve at the Big Communications Event in Austin the morning of May 24, on his keynote and optical networking panel.
LRTV Interviews
Interoute CTO on NFV's Maturity

5|13|16   |   06:46   |   (1) comment


Matt Finnie, CTO at international operator Interoute, explains how NFV has made life easier in terms of logistics and how Interoute can now enable a 'software-defined moment' for its customers.
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
December 6-8, 2016,
June 16-18, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
A new survey conducted by Heavy Reading and TM Forum shows that CSPs around the world see the move to digital operations as a necessary part of their overall virtualization strategies.
Hot Topics
DT: Telcos Must Escape Vendor Prison
Iain Morris, News Editor, 5/24/2016
AT&T to Start 5G 'Friendly' Trial by 2016 End
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/24/2016
Cable Is Eyeing Its Retail Options
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/25/2016
AT&T's Margaret Chiosi Retires
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 5/25/2016
Verizon Backpedals on Go90
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/24/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
In this latest installment of the CEO Chat series, Craig Labovitz, co-founder and CEO of Deepfield, sits down with Light Reading's Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York City office to discuss how Deepfield fits in with the big data trend and more.
Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO of Cologix, sits down with Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, in the vendor's New Jersey facility to offer an inside look at the company's success story and discuss the importance of security in the telecom industry.
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Our world has evolved through innovation from the Industrial Revolution of the 1740s to the information age, and it is now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by technology. Technology is driving a paradigm shift in the way digital solutions deliver a connected world, changing the way we live, communicate and provide solutions. It can have a powerful impact on how we tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. In this radio show, Caroline Dowling, President of Communications Infrastructure & Enterprise Computing at Flex, will join Women in Comms Director Sarah Thomas to discuss the impact technology has on society and how it can be a game-changer across the globe; improving lives and creating a smarter world. Dowling, a Cork, Ireland, native and graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program, will also discuss her experience managing an international team focused on innovation in an age of high-speed change.