CU: Comcast/TWC Shoudn't Be on FCC's Broadband Competition Agenda

Reaction continued Thursday following FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's speech outlining his goals for boosting broadband speed and competition, including from Consumers Union, which used it to argue against the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger.

"The Chairman's right - the market for high-speed Internet service isn't nearly competitive enough," said Delara Derakhshani, policy counsel for Consumers Union. "That's why it's so critical for the FCC to reject Comcast's merger with Time Warner Cable. If the FCC allows the Comcast merger to happen...Comcast would become a national gatekeeper for the Internet with control over nearly half of the residential broadband customers."

Comcast has said its total would be much lower of the broadband sub universe, but Wheeler signaled in his speech that high-speed is the relevant measure of availability, suggesting high-speed should be more like 25 mbps than the FCC's current 4 mbps downstream definition.

COMPTEL, which represents competitive telecom carriers, joined other industry groups in applauding Wheeler's focus on the need for competition, as well as his recognition there could be a new, digital "speed" divide absent efforts to help rural areas.

We agree with the Chairman that competition in the current broadband market is not sufficient and that, as the Chairman noted, 'the exercise of uncontrolled last mile power is not in the public interest. This has not changed as a result of new technology,' said COMPTEL CEO Chip Pickering.

"Last mile access - regardless of the technology - is an absolute requirement for ensuring a competitive marketplace, and COMPTEL supports the Commission's efforts to address its last mile access policies so competition will flourish," he said. "We also applaud the Chairman recognizing the need to ensure rural Americans are not caught in a new digital divide as broadband speeds increase."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.