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Comcast Takes Their Unconvincing Merger Sales Pitch to Congress
by Karl Bode 02:15PM Wednesday Apr 09 2014
Comcast and Time Warner Cable executives today headed to Capitol Hill to attempt to sell skeptical lawmakers on their $45.2 billion merger proposal. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee (whose members have, like most of DC, received ample cash from both companies), Comcast trotted out many of the same justifications for the merger the company used in their formal application for approval released yesterday.

Click for full size
Namely Cohen and Comcast's argument in defense of the merger appears to be two pronged:

• Ambiguously proclaim the deal will create amazing, mysterious synergies that benefit consumers, while stating that anybody claiming otherwise isn't rational.

• Proclaim repeatedly that nobody needs to worry about any potential harms from letting Comcast grow larger, because imaginary broadband competition will protect consumers and smaller businesses.

At today's hearing Cohen again admitted that consumers likely won't see lower prices from the merger, blaming the "inordinate market power" of broadcasters (Comcast of course owns NBC Universal, one of said broadcasters). According to Cohen, "consumers are the big winners in this transaction." The cable operator also again played up dwindling competition against phone companies in the broadband sector as evidence of ample market checks and balances.

Unmentioned once again by Comcast (or anyone at the hearing, in fact) was the fact that AT&T and Verizon are hanging up on DSL and POTS on more than half of the country, resulting in less competition than ever before. Despite the fact that Comcast will soon be the only choice for fixed-line broadband across massive swaths of the country, Cohen stated all this imaginary competition will result in imaginary investment in the sort of markets most telcos are fleeing from.

"When we invest, our competitors will be spurred to invest, too, benefiting even more Americans," Mr. Cohen said. "In fact, many of them have already announced their plans to expand investment in response to our proposed transaction," the lobbyist added, referring to recent ambiguous comments by AT&T, who was hinting at a very small number of additional, largely theatrical fiber to the press release expansions.

Cohen's hallucinations of competition as well as merger benefits were largely countered by two people. New Public Knowledge CEO Gene Kimmelman did an excellent job raising concerns regarding the broader impact of usage caps and other issues. Meanwhile Al Franken clearly tested Cohen's patience when he pressed Comcast on their failures to adhere to some NBC Universal merger conditions (namely hiding their standalone broadband option, and pushing Bloomberg News further up the dial to the benefit of CNBC, both things that resulted in FCC wrist slaps).

Meanwhile, fifty public interest groups have sent a letter to the FCC opposing the merger, arguing that a larger Comcast will result in the kind of leverage that will inevitably lead to less competition and higher prices all along the supply chains in both TV and broadband. The House Judiciary Committee is expected to hold their merger hearing May 8. While somewhat theatrical in nature, the hearings give regulators at the FCC and DOJ the ability to take a political pulse before deciding if they're going to approach their antitrust analysis with or without a backbone.

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topics flat nest 

battleop

join:2005-09-28
00000

2 recommendations

Synergies

When salesmen use words and phrases like Synergies, Absolutely, NetNet, and Win Win my Bull Shit detector goes off the chart.

Edit: Spelling.

--
I do not, have not, and will not work for AT&T/Comcast/Verizon/Charter or similar sized company.

fg8578

join:2009-04-26
Salem, OR

2 recommendations

Telco competition (or lack thereof)

It's not Comcast's fault that telco DSL isn't competitive with cable broadband.

DSL is a "soda straw" compared to the "fire hose" that is cable modem service. DSL got a slight head start compared to cable modem service, but from the beginning, telcos were required to share the service with competitors, while cable service never had that requirement.

Thus hamstrung, the telcos were never really serious about deploying it, since it wasn't really a competitive alternative to cable broadband. Given a choice between 1.5M ADSL and 5 or 10M cable modem service, which would you choose?

And it's an open question whether the disparity will ever narrow, or is it in fact getting wider?

ATTprob

@78.129.148.x

1 recommendation

Re: Telco competition (or lack thereof)

said by fg8578:

Telco competition (or lack thereof)

You can't punish Comcast for AT&T & Verizon sins of abandoning copper plant. If the legislators don't like that, then let them address their regulatory fervor against the telcos.
why60loss

join:2012-09-20
Reviews:
·Comcast
·Time Warner Cable
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·CenturyLink
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Re: Telco competition (or lack thereof)

said by ATTprob :

said by fg8578:

Telco competition (or lack thereof)

You can't punish Comcast for AT&T & Verizon sins of abandoning copper plant. If the legislators don't like that, then let them address their regulatory fervor against the telcos.

+1

I am really getting sick of everyone calling Comcast evil for wanting to enter new markets via taking over TWC that like DSL has always been behind on upgrades and lets there plants rot.

In the northeast you can get 105/10 for less than Time warner cables 30/5. That's not even to say the 50/5 plan is the max in most markets STILL and cost far more than the Comcast 105/10 blast tier.

As for caps, well they both have been testing it from time to time. I was a victim of the 40GB cap from time warner cable in 2009.

I see this deal as a chance to end the cap BS all together. But sadly if the deal fails TWC will enforce a cap of 40GB saying that because they can't pay for upgrades and that netfilx users/high users will have to pay for what they use.

rit56

join:2000-12-01
New York, NY
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

3 recommendations

Re: Telco competition (or lack thereof)

You should also admit whatever ties you have to the industry. Anyone who thinks this deal is "ok" and should go through is an Astroturfing shill. This deal is terrible for every single TWC customer. Where are all the Time Warner customers happily posting about this merger? There are none and the few that do work for them.

tshirt
Premium,MVM
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:4
Reviews:
·Comcast

2 recommendations

Re: Telco competition (or lack thereof)

said by rit56:

Anyone who thinks this deal is "ok" and should go through is an Astroturfing shill.

Not everyone else is a shill.

It's a pretty honest assessment that many TWC customer see they have given up and are selling to the highest bidder. and between the 2 known bidders Charter (uncompetitive, low bid that they can't even finance) and Comcast (can go it alone AND intends to upgrade the TWC last gen plant(s) is a better choice, not just for the stockholders but the majority of customers.

your name

@google.com

Re: Telco competition (or lack thereof)

said by tshirt:

said by rit56:

Anyone who thinks this deal is "ok" and should go through is an Astroturfing shill.

Not everyone else is a shill.

It's a pretty honest assessment that many TWC customer see they have given up and are selling to the highest bidder. and between the 2 known bidders Charter (uncompetitive, low bid that they can't even finance) and Comcast (can go it alone AND intends to upgrade the TWC last gen plant(s) is a better choice, not just for the stockholders but the majority of customers.

+1
Unfortunately, many self-identified consumer advocates are under the mistaken belief that THEIR opinion is the only valid opinion and that anyone disagreeing with them is automatically a shill.

rit56

join:2000-12-01
New York, NY
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

Re: Telco competition (or lack thereof)

No I'm not a consumer advocate. I am a customer who is tired of paying a premium price for an inferior product with no option to switch. Your unfettered corporate model is basically screwing people and anytime someone objects to it the usual conservative talking points come out. They are a big corporation screwing their customers and the bigger company that also screws their customers should not be allowed to buy it. TWC should be forced to improve their product and service and if they can't than break it up and sell it. A voice company, a cable tv company and an ISP. 3 different companies.

treichhart

join:2006-12-12

Re: Telco competition (or lack thereof)

Ur going to pay more with this merger if u go over the cap period!

rit56

join:2000-12-01
New York, NY

1 recommendation

I disagree. They shouldn't be allowed to merge with either company. One is not better than the other and this notion that consolidation is inevitable or bigger is better is bullshit. They should be regulated.

tshirt
Premium,MVM
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:4
Reviews:
·Comcast

1 recommendation

Re: Telco competition (or lack thereof)

What basis of regulation would prevent TWC from selling itself?
Why would it be prevented from receiving the much higher bid?
Even regulated companies merge when the economics dictate and no "clear harm" to the marketplace can be shown.
In the end users will still have ONE cable company serving them plus whatever other companies, using some other method IF they have chosen to compete.
I can find no market where Comcast and TWC serve the same customers.
Clearly there can be economies of scale, and buying power for outside content on the CATV end.
for HSI a single ubiquitous network is far more likely to get regulated as a quasi utility.
Unless you can find another bidder with deep pockets (notice Google hasn't jumped in this ring yet) this deal is likely to be approved.
Rather than calling all the realists shills you might be better off focusing on presenting realistic concessions/conditions to the various regulatory bodies ASAP before the conversation/range becomes set in stone.

rit56

join:2000-12-01
New York, NY
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

Re: Telco competition (or lack thereof)

Here you go -"I can find no market where Comcast and TWC serve the same customers." Talking point. People who access this site all disagree with this, all of them except shills and talking point preachers. Ok give them the TV but not the Internet. How about that? No control of broadband. How about that? Take a survey of Time Warner Customers only and see how they feel about it. They shouldn't be allowed to have that much control over content and the ability to make all internet access a premium product. It is a utility. There is no competition. It should be regulated and cheap like the rest of the world.

rit56

join:2000-12-01
New York, NY

Re: Telco competition (or lack thereof)

I'll already answer your next answer about owning the lines and capitalism and the free market. They broke up Standard oil and the original AT&T and amazingly things improved for people until they started deregulating again.

tshirt
Premium,MVM
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:4
Reviews:
·Comcast
said by rit56:

People who access this site all disagree with this, all of them except shills and talking point preachers.

Apparently not everyone agrees, no matter what names you call us.
Lack of competition doesn't not make it a utility, nor is it a sign it should be regulated.
And basic economics tells you it won't be cheap.

Standard oil and AT&T were far different cases than comcast wanting to own 30% of the current market.
You seem to like the idea of seizing other peoples property/investment/money just so things you desire will be cheap (seems self serving and greedy IMHO) shouldn't you instead seize the Telco's for failing to try and compete?
How about google's share of the ad market?, can't let them grow bigger, let's break them up too.
NYC is way too big, should be chopped up too.

NormanS
I gave her time to steal my mind away
Premium,MVM
join:2001-02-14
San Jose, CA
kudos:11
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
·Pacific Bell - SBC

Re: Telco competition (or lack thereof)

said by tshirt:

Standard oil and AT&T were far different cases than comcast wanting to own 30% of the current market.

Actually, Comcast is more like AT&T than you think. AT&T didn't cover the entire U.S.; some form of Sprint, and General Telephone and Electric covered significant areas not covered by Bell. And part of the basis for the Federal anti-trust suit which broke Bell apart was the vertical integration of the company. Now the same Federal government as broke up AT&T has done an about face, and allowed the vertical integration of delivery (Comcast) and content (NBC/Universal).

So what, exactly, should the Fed be doing? Either AT&T wasn't so bad, and should not have been broken apart, or Comcast/NBCU isn't so good, and should not have been allowed to come together.
--
Norman
~Oh Lord, why have you come
~To Konnyu, with the Lion and the Drum

tshirt
Premium,MVM
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:4
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: Telco competition (or lack thereof)

But comcast doesn't own cable labs (think bell labs) or modem manufacturers (western electric) nor do/can they "force" you to rent MOST equipment.
Content has no real parallel, and in theory owning nbc should help them control some content costs, both what they own and what they can trade that content for... but that might be a concession separating the operating company from the content company It still doesn't stop the operator from growing.
For all the breakup of Ma Bell did, it didn't mean less money for the RBOC's as a whole receive far more money as well as all the money thrown at the competitors +the consumer spent far more for the same and even more on the "replacement (wireless) which they now adore but refuse to see as the successor.
Telco wireline for voice is no longer viable at just 40% of the lines once exclusive to the bells, so we destroyed one of our greatest federal projects (universal telephone service) but fail to understand that having more than one company serve each home multiples the cost by more then the sum of the parts.
And snatching the rewards of their current success from their moths would guarantees the end of the level of investment need to compete the second phase of national telecommunications network/the internet.

flwpwr

@comcast.net
I doubt Comcast is going to upgrade last gen plant, unless you cmts when you say plant. The plant in most Comcast areas is still last gen 750 Mhz [80's]. We're up to 1Ghz actives now in the cable industry and I'd be surprised if any plant comcast owns is above 860Mhz. [late 90's early 00's].

To me plant means the stuff out there in the air and under the ground [since that's how we refer to it in the field], and Comcast is not upgrading it any time soon.

tshirt
Premium,MVM
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:4

Re: Telco competition (or lack thereof)

I meant physical plant, cmts, and CPE...whatever it takes to get it all D3 compliant and 3.1 ready.
Something I believe TWC was lagging on.

Plus

@comcast.net
said by flwpwr :

I doubt Comcast is going to upgrade last gen plant, unless you cmts when you say plant. The plant in most Comcast areas is still last gen 750 Mhz [80's]. We're up to 1Ghz actives now in the cable industry and I'd be surprised if any plant comcast owns is above 860Mhz. [late 90's early 00's].

To me plant means the stuff out there in the air and under the ground [since that's how we refer to it in the field], and Comcast is not upgrading it any time soon.

I'm in Jersey suburbs and am running on 1Ghz plant. Comcast upgraded it about 8 yrs ago.

Nameless

join:2014-02-25
Austin, TX
I'm a TWC customer, and if this deal goes through, I will seriously consider going back to AT&T, a company for which I have an absolutely bottomless pit of undying hatred for. And that's saying something.

That is, until & unless Google Fiber arrives, then it's sayonara to all the incumbent ass-clowns.
why60loss

join:2012-09-20
Reviews:
·Comcast
·Time Warner Cable
·Verizon Wireless..
·CenturyLink
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said by rit56:

You should also admit whatever ties you have to the industry. Anyone who thinks this deal is "ok" and should go through is an Astroturfing shill. This deal is terrible for every single TWC customer. Where are all the Time Warner customers happily posting about this merger? There are none and the few that do work for them.

So when are we ALL going to get more than 50/5 out of time warner cable for less than 60 dollars a month?

Unless they could force them to improve service, then yea I am for the deal.

They clearly want to sell out and don't care for there network any longer just like DSL.

I don't see how 105/10 for less than 30/5 "terrible" but maybe I am just high or a shill for thinking faster=better.

I don't see how it could be anyworse than a business who thinks 80GB is high usage or that 60% packet loss is just cable.

The only tie I have is I knew a guy who worked for Time warner cable business class. Wish I was getting paid.

Comcast even has FTTH in some places, where is TWC doing 500mbs service for home users. Or having 10 dollar a month internet?

zoom314

join:2005-11-21
Yermo, CA
2 words: Metered Billing...

And I'm a TWC customer and a past Charter customer as well, I'm against this merger...

treichhart

join:2006-12-12
U got proof that twc did caps or just blowing slots of BS on twc doing caps comcrap is probably the worst cable companies out there with caps n pricing.
why60loss

join:2012-09-20
Reviews:
·Comcast
·Time Warner Cable
·Verizon Wireless..
·CenturyLink
·AT&T Wireless Br..

1 edit

1 recommendation

Re: Telco competition (or lack thereof)

said by treichhart:

U got proof that twc did caps or just blowing slots of BS on twc doing caps comcrap is probably the worst cable companies out there with caps n pricing.

»arstechnica.com/uncategorized/20···-arrive/

»arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2009···-remain/

They really did do that in 2009. Even though I was not those "test" markets they said 80GB was high use and your getting network managed.
en103

join:2011-05-02
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
It would really depend on price.
I wouldn't have a problem with 1.5Mbps ADSL for ~$15/month. The lines already exist virtually EVERYWHERE. Putting in an RT isn't that big of a deal, similar with VRAD for many areas. The problem isn't that they can't do it... the question is - can they make more profit on selling capped/restricted wireless vs. POTS/ADSL. The answer is YES. This is also why Verizon and AT&T keep FiOS/U-Verse to specific markets (density/profitability reasons).
At one time for me, AT&T POTS/DSL + DirectTV was less expensive than Comcast - so I used it. After TimeWarner took over the market, the cost of cable dropped by ~$40/month, and as the same time, AT&T was raising the cost of DSL/POTS, and similarly, DTV was increasing their cost.

In general, for many its economics on the BOTTOM LINE.
TBBroadband

join:2012-10-26
Fremont, OH
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
·MegaPath
Telco's where never required to share their DSL from the get go. You had CLECs like MegaPath and Northpoint deploying their own equipment all over the place. Even COVAD and Earthlink had their own equipment. When Northpoint was bought up and all the other starters- they were purchased in bankruptcy via GTE/Verizon and Ameritech/SBC/AT&T and then stripped out and left to rot. Even MegaPath has gutted Covad out and went to selling regular ADSL and Cable Services.

The Bells could be ahead if they really wanted to but they stopped only because they were then asked to allow reselling of their DSL services for access to other things they wanted. But they still allow resellers of DSL and next-gen broadband services.
kaila

join:2000-10-11
Lincolnshire, IL

Re: Telco competition (or lack thereof)

I had a neighbor that worked for Rhythms, a CLEC that didn't survive much after 2000. He worked in a then Ameritech->SBC CO where the working conditions were legendarily acrimonious.

Ameritech locked the CO bathrooms, forbade use of the break room, parking lot, and essentially tried to make life as difficult as possible.

fg8578

join:2009-04-26
Salem, OR
Whether the telcos had to line-share from the beginning isn't really the point.

The point is, cable NEVER had to share their broadband. Generally, cable modem service offers greater bandwidth than copper-based DSL. Yet the FCC forced the narrow pipe to be shared, leaving the fat pipes un-shared.

Does that make sense to you?

NormanS
I gave her time to steal my mind away
Premium,MVM
join:2001-02-14
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said by fg8578:

Given a choice between 1.5M ADSL and 5 or 10M cable modem service, which would you choose?

13M ADSL2+?

When I signed up for 1.5M ADSL, 3.0M was the fastest Comcast speed; but not available in my neighborhood.
--
Norman
~Oh Lord, why have you come
~To Konnyu, with the Lion and the Drum

newview
Ex .. Ex .. Exactly
Premium
join:2001-10-01
Parsonsburg, MD
kudos:1
Reviews:
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The Big Lie

Cohen stated that “bigger is a good thing,” as an increase in Comcast’s size “enhances our ability to compete more effectively.”

Total bullshit.

»www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEaJYeRpl1g

IsBigBad

@66.90.121.x

Re: The Big Lie

said by newview:

Cohen stated that “bigger is a good thing,” as an increase in Comcast’s size “enhances our ability to compete more effectively.”

Total bullshit.
(youtube clip)

Big isn't by definition bad. Being big allows Comcast to cut a better deal with the content companies and get better lower prices in their contracts.

•••••
cablemanf250

join:2013-07-15

Would Like a Mac or a PC

Comcast acquiring TWC would be better for all, How Many choice's do you need, a Mac or a PC, an I-Phone or an Android, DSL or Broadband, a corrupted Government or Edward Snowden. Comcast & TWC doesn't over lap, But Comcast & Verizon does, Comcast & ATT does, and who did you chose for you broadband needs? I say bring it on, My service can only get better.
Joe12345678

join:2003-07-22
Des Plaines, IL

comcast cable tv sucks and they play games with there CSN channles is some m

comcast cable tv sucks and they play games with there CSN channels is some markets to keep them off of other systems and TWC is playing the same card with sports net la and you them to have more power to play the same game with NBC, NBCSN, and others?

biotech

@sbcglobal.net

....Fuck

David Cohen's face looks like a fat pig. Maybe the "fat pig" represents the shame that he has to deal with from the public.
Whoozits

join:2014-01-15

1 edit

Not yet

It's worth noting that the FCC hasn't given the green light for AT&T's "transition" proposal yet. There's no doubt in my mind that the incumbent carriers are forking over a handsome amount of money to get this done, but a lot of companies and individuals alike - particularly those with big CLEC interests have given some particularly scathing comments regarding AT&T's proposal. Among other things, it doesn't look to be even filed correctly.

They appear to be meeting personally with the commissioners to appeal against the plan now.

»apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?···21096322

EDIT: Since this is chiefly a broadband article, is there anything stopping the incumbent carriers from pulling the plug on DSL right now? It isn't a common carrier service, is it?
b10010011
Whats a Posting tag?

join:2004-09-07
Bellingham, WA

Synergies? I believe Synerjizums is the correct term

At least in this instance
devolved

join:2012-07-11
Rapid City, SD

Watched the hearing

Watched the hearing and most of the focus was on the combined companies controlling most of the channels people watch.
bcltoys

join:2008-07-21
Lost today

What happens

What will happen when Verizon and AT&T stop servicing there copper and people don't have cable and can't get wireless. My house is in a 1x hole no voice coverage at all.

Nameless

join:2014-02-25
Austin, TX

All I can say is wow...

The shills and astroturfers are out in force today.

Oh also, that thing on Cohen's head has to be the worst rug I've ever seen.
63475675

join:2014-01-06

Racketeering is not only a felony, but a federal crime that falls under RICO

These lobbyists are qualified to be prosecuted under federal racketeering laws called RICO.

When you bribe senators and congressmen you are a felon and should be
prosecuted to the full extent of the law, which includes extreme financial
penalties and significant time in a federal pen.

Any Congressmen that accept any form of bribe also are felons and should also be prosecuted under RICO.

So when the heck is the US Attorney General going to start charging these
white collar criminals?????

That fat felonious fock Cohen is a prime suspect and perp for RICO charges.

Mulder25

@rr.com

1 recommendation

Will move if merger goes through

I am extremely lucky, in that I live in Kansas City, so I have the option to move to a place with Google Fiber. Unfortunately, moving is not convenient, in fact, it has been pointed out by my friends, that it is extreme, over something like internet companies. However, I have been a customer of both Comcast, and TimeWarner. When I was with comcast, I was exceptionally unhappy. On one instance, I got into an argument with a customer service rep. when I was trying to cancel service. I am somewhat knowledgable about how the system works, and they tried telling me that they offer fiber to the home, but ATT is only to the node. I know for a fact, that both were fiber to the node. In addition, ATT offered a fee to install fiber to the home for U-verse service, something Comcast was unwilling to do if I wanted higher speeds. I was paying for 30/5, but receiving about 7/5. ATT could only go up to 15/1.5 without paying for the upgrade to 28/10.
I had moved out later, and went to Overland Park(still in KC metro area). I got Time Warner here, and couldn't be happier. My dad used it when I was a kid, and I was always happy with them. Service was reliable, when we had issues, they were quick to resolve them, and best of all - they don't monitor your usage, or cap your throughput!
Comcast has some great services, and reasonable prices. Some of their services, TWC has yet to offer. The services Comcast offers are great, and to have them offered after a merger would be nice, but it is not worth it to know you are a customer to that company. I love TWC. I love their customer service, and their products. I tend to use about 750GB or more in throughput in a month. This may be a lot to some, but to me, it is normal, and 3 times what comcast allows without charging fees. Therefore, if the merger goes through, my monthly cost will skyrocket.
I literally will move if the merger goes through. The only company better than TWC is Google, and since it is somewhat of an option, I will go to whatever lengths necessary to avoid being a Comcast customer.