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Cable-VZ Wireless Deals to Face Senate Grilling

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
2/1/2012
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A bit more heat will soon be applied to a string of recent bundling and spectrum deals between Verizon Wireless and some of the nation's biggest cable operators.

Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), who also serves as chairman of the Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights subcommittee, announced Wednesday that plans for a hearing about the agreements between Verizon Wireless and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Bright House Networks and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), are "well underway." Cox Communications Inc. has more recently joined in on a multifaceted deal that calls for the cable operators and the mobile carrier to bundle and promote their respective services and, separately, to sell their Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum licenses to Verizon Wireless for a combined $4 billion.

Comcast and Verizon Wireless have the co-marketing piece of it up and running in three markets. Further down the road, the MSOs have an option to resell Verizon Wireless services under their own brands. (See Comcast, VZ Wireless Bundle Up in the Bay .)

Kohl did not set a specific date for the hearing, but it will likely take place sometime after Feb. 23, which ends the Presidents' Day recess, reports The Washington Post.

Why this matters
The specter of a Senate hearing isn't a huge surprise, but the line of folks wanting to examine the competitive impact of the deals continues to lengthen. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's comment cycle is underway, with petitions to deny due Feb. 21, and oppositions due March 2. The Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice is also probing the deal.

The MSOs involved in the deal have already agreed to provide the FCC with confidential details about the service-bundling component in order to keep the Commission's review on task. They insist, however, that the information they share in that part of the deal should have no bearing on the agency's review of the AWS spectrum sale.

For more
Read up on the deal.



— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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kaps
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kaps,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:43:46 PM
re: Cable-VZ Wireless Deals to Face Senate Grilling


Grilling? This hearing will probably be more like a light saute where everyone gets to say what a wonderful thing it is that "market forces" are at work making commercial agreements without any necessary government intervention.


Now if someone wants to ask questions about collusion and agreements not to compete so that the pie can be split up without those nasty price wars, well then the temperature might rise. But what lawmaker has the guts to do that when the loss of campaign contributions would be the reward?


Any heroes for the consumer in an election year? Bueller?

kaps
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kaps,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:43:46 PM
re: Cable-VZ Wireless Deals to Face Senate Grilling


Grilling? This hearing will probably be more like a light saute where everyone gets to say what a wonderful thing it is that "market forces" are at work making commercial agreements without any necessary government intervention.


Now if someone wants to ask questions about collusion and agreements not to compete so that the pie can be split up without those nasty price wars, well then the temperature might rise. But what lawmaker has the guts to do that when the loss of campaign contributions would be the reward?


Any heroes for the consumer in an election year? Bueller?

Jeff Baumgartner
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Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:43:45 PM
re: Cable-VZ Wireless Deals to Face Senate Grilling


Heh, good one.  Will be interested to see what panel they put together. The Comcast-NBCU hearings were entertaining, anyway. But, you're right, the tone of the statement would not have me quaking in my boots yet...but I still think some rather pointed questions will be posed here.. JB


 


Statement of U.S. Senator Herb Kohl on Verizon and Cable Company Deals

February 1, 2012

 

Plans are well underway for a hearing to examine the impact of Verizon’s spectrum purchase from a number of cable companies and a separate marketing agreement to cross-sell each other’s products.   The subcommittee carefully examines questions about competition in the wireless and video markets, with the ultimate goal of protecting consumers and reducing their cable and cell phone bills, and these deals are no exception.


 

AESerm
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AESerm,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:43:44 PM
re: Cable-VZ Wireless Deals to Face Senate Grilling


I kinda think those market forces deserve a salute. FiOS and Xfinity (and the other cable video services) continue to compete where they are in the same market. Where they're not, VZ Wireless and Xfinity et al. can pair up. I'm not smelling too much opportunity for collusion here, though my olfactory nerves may be less sensitive than others. 

Jeff Baumgartner
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Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:43:44 PM
re: Cable-VZ Wireless Deals to Face Senate Grilling


I'm just waiting for these guys to put their marketing where their mouths are  and  launch a cable-Verizon Wireless blitz in a FiOS territory and really put this purported separation to a true test.  Bay Area is AT&T'ville, and I don't recall there being much of a FiOS presence in Seattle and Portland.  It'll happen, but i'm not too surprised that they started off in FiOS-free markets. JB

steve q
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steve q,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 5:43:40 PM
re: Cable-VZ Wireless Deals to Face Senate Grilling


If this does go in to the state's that verizon have there fios. I only see the end to verizon. Comcast will make changing to the way verizon will provide there service to those people that like to keep the fios service. Everything is going the way of the internet and the wireless is still slow and need more work. It is good for the cellphone market but not for the home user where they like to have speed and the fios is still the best out there.

jayja
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jayja,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 5:43:38 PM
re: Cable-VZ Wireless Deals to Face Senate Grilling


I think I saw a separate article about VZW-CMCST co-marketing in the Bay Area that said they would not offer their co-marketing deals in areas where VZ provides wireline service.

steve q
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steve q,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 5:43:36 PM
re: Cable-VZ Wireless Deals to Face Senate Grilling


True but what will happen if the cust is trying to get verizon fios service and can not will cable try to move in  under the verizon wireless brand.If verizon wireless start to push out the new wireless ont will that stay only with the wireless or be part of the cable-vzwireless deal.

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