INCOMPAS Has Issues with CenturyLink/Level 3 Merger

INCOMPAS, which represents competitive carriers and computer companies, has major issues with the proposed merger of CenturyLink and Level 3.

"[T]he Applicants have not met their burden of demonstrating that the public interest benefits outweigh the harms or that the merger will enhance competition," it told the FCC in a filing this week.

INCOMPAS said the companies have not shown that the merger will enhance competition in the "enterprise market" (business broadband services).

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It argues that the benefits the company has cited – improved financial position, experienced management, reduced dependency on leased networks – are more benefits for the companies than they are public interest benefits.

“Level 3 is a shining example of how competition and interconnection policy bring more innovation and better customer service to market – it is a competitive provider that both builds and leases wholesale access to benefit the broadband ecosystem, said Karen Reidy, VP of regulatory affairs for INCOMPAS. “While we understand why an incumbent like CenturyLink would desire to acquire such an innovative network, the significant reduction in competitive choice at building locations across CenturyLink’s footprint threatens to saddle business customers with less choice and higher prices and the transaction threatens to slow down the construction of new fiber infrastructure across the nation.”

CenturyLink and Level 3 filed their merger (license transfer) applications with the FCC in December as well as their pre-merger notification to the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department.

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The merger is valued at $34 billion including debt.

Along with the AT&T-Time Warner merger, it will be one of the first big media mergers to be vetted primarily under the Donald Trump Administration. Trump has talked about reducing regs but also about blocking consolidation among media outlets.

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.