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Comcast, Verizon Defend Deal Before Congress
Consumer Advocates Worry About Anti-Competitive Impact
by Karl Bode 04:08PM Wednesday Mar 21 2012
Comcast and Verizon went before Congress today to defend their co-branding arrangement, which includes the cable industry bundling Verizon LTE service with the cable industry's triple play service -- in addition to selling them $3.6 billion in new spectrum. Consumer advocates have worried that the deal will result in Comcast and the cable companies limiting competition in both fixed and wireless markets, using their combined power to crush smaller competitors ranging from more rural telcos (Windstream, Fairpoint, Frontier) to satellite broadband competitors.

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As it stands, there's not much to the agreements now -- the companies are simply offering users $300 gift cards if they sign up for four services. It's also not operating in very many markets yet. Comcast is the only cable company to start offering the option, and that's only in just three markets as they get a grip on the customer support and billing burden.

The concern is what the agreement could ultimately result in -- namely markets where the Verizoncast quadruple play is the only option after what feeble competition that exists now -- primarily WISPs and rural telco and cablecos -- is crushed. The other concern is that Verizon, on record in recent years claiming they have plenty of spectrum, suddenly claiming spectrum crisis -- a move consumer advocates argue is driven simply by keeping spectrum out of the hands of potential competitors.

The hearing is ongoing, and the live stream can be found here.

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KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK

It's a given the goal is to crush the competition

There's no doubt this will give Verizon and the cable MSO's a massive competitive advantage over everyone else.

IMHO far too much of the spectrum is already in the hands of the big two, Verizon and AT&T.

What should be happening is the Congress and the FCC should be looking seriously at expanding the spectrum options for everyone else, and that includes fast tracking Dish's LTE plans and smaller operators.

The whole point of the auction process to the MSO's was to generate new options and competition--- not to turn around and have them hand it all over to the entrenched players. Which is pretty much exactly what has been happening....

We all will suffer for this.
--
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

Oh_No
Trogglus normalus

join:2011-05-21
Chicago, IL

Re: It's a given the goal is to crush the competition

I dont see the big deal as comcast is not a wireless company.
It would not be right to say no to comcast and say if they want wireless they have to build it themselves as they are not a wireless company.

This does not crush competition. It really does nothing but give consumers an option to get a couple dollar discount per month by bundling a 3rd parties LTE with their comcast landline services. I am sure the discount wont be much.

ATT and verizon already does this with their wireless, TV, and land line internet. Comcast wants to be like them but by using Verizon's wireless.

As for the 122 Advance Wireless Spectrum licenses Verizon is buying, it does not matter when the sellers were not going to use it quick enough.
The FCC just needs to enforce that verizon must develop on the spectrum or lose it.
Even if verizon develops it, the government can still force them to sell it later. So in the end who cares.

Yawn....

ITALIAN926

join:2003-08-16
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

4 edits

1 recommendation

Re: It's a given the goal is to crush the competition

I see the big deal as comcast is a wireline company. Verizon should be selling, endorsing, and improving their OWN wired network, not abandoning it in favor of cable. These companies compete on the wired side of the business. Its not just about FiOS either, Verizon still has millions of landlines/ DSL, they should be selling their own products, competitively against the cable co's.

The entire deal is hypocritical, and circumvents the entire goal of the '96 telecom act.

The cable co's should have pooled all their spectrum together and created their OWN wireless co, OR partnered with a Wireless co that does not have their own Wired products , Tmobile , Sprint ( I believe they spun off wireline to Embarq)

If none of that was good enough, the cable co's should have auctioned the spectrum off ! And VZ could have, and probably would have won the bid, without a conflict of interest.

There is so much wrong here, its sickening.

AVD
Respice, Adspice, Prospice
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Onion, NJ
kudos:1

Re: It's a given the goal is to crush the competition

and the Sherman Anti-trust act too.

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK
Unused for wireless, it should have reverted back to the taxpayer.
fiberguy
My views are my own.
Premium
join:2005-05-20
kudos:3

1 recommendation

It's very simple.. if Comcast doesn't want the spectrum then they should turn it back over to the FCC. I don't think that private sales between business should be allowed.

The fact that comcast wants to turn around and sell it to VZ could easily be theorized that it was intended all along.. similar to when AT&T wanted MediaOne as did Comcast.. AT&T got it, shelled the company of @home, took the ISP and then sold the operation to Comcast anyway. These kinds of deals piss me off and this one is no exception.

While there is certainly no proof that my theory above is true, there is certainly enough past precedence to say I'm probably right.

FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Cohen made a credible defense of the deal

Comcast's Cohen made a credible defense of the deal between the cable companies and Verizon. Especially in the claims that the deal should trigger anti-trust concerns.

He has been lobbying Congress for 10 yrs now as Comcast's mouthpiece and before that as the City of Philadelphia's Chief of Staff to the Mayor. And as a big time Dem contributor and power broker and also a mouthpiece for Comcast, he speaks easily to both parties on the Senate Committee.

His main points:

Deal has made no changes to previously planned action by Verizon to curtail Fios and Comcast's plan to not get in to wireless. So that concerns the deal encouraged that behavior was ridiculous.

This isn't a merger and no competitors are being removed from the marketplace like the AT&T/TMO deal.

The cross-selling agreements are no different than those already being done by competitors with Dish & DirecTV.

Therefore anti-trust concerns are not relevant.

Verizon spokesperson made the same points.

Ultimately the long standing relationships by both Comcast and Verizon lobbyists with Senate members of both parties will likely mean the committee is merely going thru the motions on doing anything to halt this deal.
--
The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, I'm from the government and I'm here to help.
»www.politico.com/2012-election/

AndyDufresne
Premium
join:2010-10-30
Chanhassen, MN

Re: Cohen made a credible defense of the deal

Cohen is also big time DEM fundraiser. You think Dem controlled Senate is going to get in the way. Enjoy the show.

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK
Right, decision not to get into wireless.

So spectrum should revert back to the taxpayer. Use it or lose it. Not grab it, sit it, sell it to entrenched player.

We all knew this was going to happen, the FCC rules were so weak and left this huge loophole--- deliberately. The way AT&T and Verizon wanted it.
--
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini
fiberguy
My views are my own.
Premium
join:2005-05-20
kudos:3
The issue is though that when the original spectrum was sold, wasn't it sold with a certain level of requirements? Now that the sale has passed and Comcast holds it, they can easily decide to sell it to a party that was never intended to receive it in the first place. If that's true, then that alone should be a red flag to the FCC to deny this sale.

Comcast stated that they never intended to get into wireless... where does that come to play?
Telco

join:2008-12-19

4 edits

New Local Wireless

Once again,the private sector wins while Americans lose out.

Can these Beck / Rush / GOP types please explain why these very same carriers are lobbying every single state to prevent counties and cities from rolling out their own FTTH network???

What the FCC needs to do is set aside 100MHZ in an unused frequency for the various towns, cities, and counties to be able to establish their own network. That way they are not limited with the constraints of 2.4GHz 802.11 nor does it clash with local wireless networks.

Now, how do we get the GOP to vote in the interests of the American people for a change...
daake07

join:2011-06-28
Kearney, NE

1 recommendation

Let it go

Verizon announced last year that they were halting their FiOS roll out just like AT&T is halting their U-Verse roll out.

I don't see this as anti-competitive, and how is it any different than Centurylink offering service with a satellite company. They offer their Prism home TV service, which I believe they are expanding. In fact if I remember right they also partnered with Verizon Wireless to sell mobile phone service.

The only ones who should be opposed to this are the major competitors who would also want that spectrum, Sprint, AT&T, US Cellular, T-Mobile.

It's unfortunate that Windstream and Frontier can't compete in terms of speed, their only hope is to compete on price. They could also try DSL binding as well as vDSL to help compete with cable companies. I know when I'm given a choice between 1.5Mbps DSL or 22Mbps/5Mbps cable, I will be taking the cable.

It's been stated for a while, once residential LTE becomes available it will trounce DSL service. The only major issue with it would be the data caps. Once they increase to a reasonable level there would almost be no reason to get DSL.

HaloFans

join:2006-12-18

1 recommendation

Re: Let it go

Between you and NWOhio, which one is the better corporate apologist?
Telco

join:2008-12-19

1 edit
Basically, those Americans outside the limited areas and streets already cabled with Fios are stuck.

Once again, the rest of the world propels ahead while we are held hostage and at the mercy of corporate boards - of legacy monopolistic businesses.

Nowhere in our Constitution does it state that business has a right to generate profits at our expense.
fiberguy
My views are my own.
Premium
join:2005-05-20
kudos:3

Re: Let it go

said by Telco:

Nowhere in our Constitution does it state that business has a right to generate profits at our expense.

Being that the constitution doesn't GRANT any RIGHTS,.. it doesn't. The constitution only limits the powers of the government from restricting certain rights.
Automate

join:2001-06-26
Atlanta, GA

1 recommendation

said by daake07:

Verizon announced last year that they were halting their FiOS roll out just like AT&T is halting their U-Verse roll out.

For now. Do you really think that Verizon will never put down any more FiOS fiber?

Think about in a few years when:
* The economy begins to grow again
* Unemployment drops
* Housing market picks up
* Fiber gear continues to drop in price
* The US population and housing density continues to grow
* 100Mb connections are a must-have by everyone wanting to use latest internet capabilities
jjeffeory

join:2002-12-04
USA

Re: Let it go

Verizon operates in some of the most affluent counties in the US, yet they still stopped rolling out FiOS to those areas. I'm not sure why they did that but I don't think that your bullet points are going to get them to startup again. They have some other agenda in motion.

tim_k
Buttons, Bows, Beamer, Shadow, Kasey
Premium,VIP
join:2002-02-02
Stewartstown, PA
kudos:41

Re: Let it go

said by jjeffeory:

Verizon operates in some of the most affluent counties in the US, yet they still stopped rolling out FiOS to those areas. I'm not sure why they did that but I don't think that your bullet points are going to get them to startup again. They have some other agenda in motion.

IMO, VZ, especially now with a CEO from the wireless side, loves the profit margin of wireless and are putting nearly all money into LTE. Their unwillingness to negotiate a new contract with the union seems to indicate they aren't interested very much with the wire line side with its union employees.
--
RIP my babies Buttons 1/15/94-2/9/07, Beamer 7/24/08, & Bows 12/17/94-10/11/09
Automate

join:2001-06-26
Atlanta, GA

Re: Let it go

I think it is only a matter of time until over-the-top TV comes. Maybe Apple, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, who knows which one will be first. Over-the-top home HD TV and 4G will not mix well.
BiggA

join:2005-11-23
EARTH
Exactly. And it's better that it's in the hands of a company who will deploy it than let it sit idle for years and years, just being wasted.

ITALIAN926

join:2003-08-16
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

1 edit
They halted it because they have hundreds of town/city franchises to fulfill !! Once that is done, they *would* have had money to further expand FiOS !

The future is fiber when it comes to internet/video ; not wireless, not DSL, not copper. Youre just as ignorant as they are.

Anyone who thinks its right for a customer to walk into a VZ wireless store and buy Comcast services is an ignoramus. Verizon has their OWN wired services !
BiggA

join:2005-11-23
EARTH

Re: Let it go

There's all kinds of weird overlaps. AT&T sells U-Verse and DirecTV.
BiggA

join:2005-11-23
EARTH

Re: Let it go

And it's not like AT&T is not rolling out U-Verse just because they have a partnership with DirecTV. A lot of their stores have both side by side (which ironically makes U-Verse look like a POS).

HaloFans

join:2006-12-18
Reviews:
·Verizon Online DSL

3 edits

Only approved if Verizon builds out FiOS for everyone

by 2013.

Otherwise, forget about it. Reject this deal like it's hot.

Verizon wants to find a cop out excuse to discontinue building FiOS, and this deal is a perfect exit strategy.

Every time that quarter report arrives, Verizon will argue that people want wireless connections since their DSL numbers are dwindling even though the real reason is Verizon is not willing to go head to head to compete with cable companies. Putting money in FiOS and offering a competitive price structure is the real strategy, but since corporations are people, arguing your way out and paying others is American business.

Absolutely slimy move.
Telco

join:2008-12-19

Re: Only approved if Verizon builds out FiOS for everyone

Hey, who doesn't want 10 gigs of so so LTE speeds for $80.

HaloFans

join:2006-12-18
Reviews:
·Verizon Online DSL

1 recommendation

Re: Only approved if Verizon builds out FiOS for everyone

Law official: What is this deal going to do?

Verizon/Comcast: Going to offer lower prices for all customers in the tough economy, and therefore, businesses can create jobs.

Law official: OK! I don't understand what tech does, but since you used keywords to make it sound good, you get the carrot.

*stamp*

-----------

Says pro-consumer.

Raises prices every year.
Telco

join:2008-12-19

Re: Only approved if Verizon builds out FiOS for everyone

Yep. Every single ad from Oil, Coal, CTIA lobbying mentions that they will magically create millions of jobs.
tmc8080

join:2004-04-24
Brooklyn, NY
Reviews:
·Optimum Online
·ooma
·Verizon FiOS

Re: Only approved if Verizon builds out FiOS for everyone

said by Telco:

Yep. Every single ad from Oil, Coal, CTIA lobbying mentions that they will magically create millions of jobs.

Absent from their pro industry ads is lowering prices and doing right by the consumer. This is the NEW normal in recent years Comcast and AT&T who have the MOST foot-print overlap have colluded to keep prices high and innovation low. How can you expect anything different between an alliance with Comcast and Verizon. IMHO, Comcast is playing the telcos for a fool as they must have some grand scheme to screw the consumer AND the telcos at the same time. We just don't know EXACTLY what it is yet..
fiberguy
My views are my own.
Premium
join:2005-05-20
kudos:3

1 recommendation

Re: Only approved if Verizon builds out FiOS for everyone

Does anyone REALLY think that Comcast has any desire to offer wireless service? Let's not forget the past. Comcast was a wireless carrier. Comcast has tried, and failed, on several occasions to offer a wireless service. Each wireless venture turned out to be such a joke of an offering that the consumer realized they could get a better deal on their own. Comcast has often sold the quad play as "one combined bill".. and surprise!! .. not everyone likes to drop a lot of money in one spot. (ie: all eggs in one basket) Many people have learned that while these resellers offer verizon's service, you usually can't just leave Comcast, in this case, and jump to Verizon with out starting a new contract as a new customer.

Over the years people have learned what a joke reseller agreements really are. Qwest resold Sprint service for a while, that didn't go well for them. They dumped Sprint and moved to Verizon. I really don't think it's the greatest thing either for Qwest, now CL.

I think Comcast is just selling the spectrum off to Verizon for a profit, putting up the front that they're going to sell combined service, and in about a year, at best, those who foolishly subscribed with Comcast's new friend, formerly a foe, will get the familiar letter, something of:

Dear Valued Subscriber,

We're dumping Verizon service. you're welcome to migrate directly to Verizon, and in fact we'll make it easy for you! ... you're now a Verizon customer!

Sincerely,

Comcast
Richer for the Deal

I'm seriously trying to figure out why comcast wants to get into wireless. They've talked about it for YEARS! And a comapny the size of comcast, with all the money they have, seriously can't figure out their way into wireless? I see Comcast's desire to be a wireless option about the same as the way AT&T made my iPhone 4S a 4G phone over night with a small update - it's just a "we have to be part of the parade" kinda thing.

But I really believe that this is just a shell operation to transfer spectrum to Verizon with out the pesky FCC getting in the way.

If I were congress, I'd require that if they want this deal that bad, then Verizon Telco and Verizon Wireless need to got the way of AT&T et 1984.. split 'em up! AT&T should have been split up in the same way when they wanted Tmo, and when they merged with Bell South. Either regulate them again, or split up their operations. Split 'em up and see how fast the land line business starts to innovate in order to survive with out the cash cow of the wireless.

ITALIAN926

join:2003-08-16
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

Re: Only approved if Verizon builds out FiOS for everyone

quote:
Split 'em up and see how fast the land line business starts to innovate in order to survive with out the cash cow of the wireless.
Ding Ding Ding , we have a winner !

The most sensible deal is for VZW to go team up with the cable co's, and for AT&T to * gulp* merge with VZwireline AND adopt FiOS as its new love-child.

Aside from a small amount of wholesale lines inherited when SBC bought AT&T and Verizon bought MCI, these companies do NOT compete. Their wireline areas do not cross anywhere except one lucky town in Texas that can get either FioS OR Uverse.

treichhart

join:2006-12-12
Any WISP can due LTE speeds without caps for $80 dollars if they really wanted to.

mikedz4

join:2003-04-14
Weirton, WV
the real reason is verizon is selling off it's dsl areas to smaller companies like fairpoint and frontier, who have no intention or ability to keep the infrastructure up to date.

Oh_No
Trogglus normalus

join:2011-05-21
Chicago, IL
Force verizon to build out fios for buying wireless spectrum??? really??

They just need to force verizon to actually develop the wireless spectrum they are buying instead of sitting on it.
Also it would not hurt to ban all caps on wireless.

ITALIAN926

join:2003-08-16
kudos:2

1 edit

Re: Only approved if Verizon builds out FiOS for everyone

They arent simply BUYING SPECTRUM, why dont you wake up. If it was just a spectrum purchase , it wouldnt be as big a deal.

ITALIAN926

join:2003-08-16
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
That would be a great stipulation.

"Sure, you can partner with the cable co's, as long as FiOS reaches every inch of your wireline footprint. OH, and that includes TV franchises as well."

Youll see how quick Comcast & Time Warner withdraws from the deal !

treichhart

join:2006-12-12

1 edit

This is so funny

This is so funny even if Verizon was able to crush "US" wisp that would be very tall order to do.

Because Verizon is noting but crappy ass caps and overloaded site towers LOL!!!!

IT only takes a WISP offer 20+ Mbps vs your crappy ass LTE service and once a WISP do that it would seriously crush Verizon services.

Here you go for the MOBILE data speed: »www.phonearena.com/news/4G-speed ··· _id17405

•••••••••••
corey7

join:2012-03-21

Another Goliath

Any merging of any kind that has a significant % reduction in the number of choices is bad. Time and again through history this plays out, it ends badly always for the consumer.

Why are we not learning from our past mistakes like "BELL"

This next bit is going to sound off topic but isn't because most people do not know about this organizations existence. I had it officially confirmed at my senators office. "ALEC" It has been in place for the past 40 years, I think, and they been introducing bills for state reps That weaken the very rules that the FCC follow that would have normally stopped this kind of merger.

I am not going in to "ALEC" It does not effect just FCC it pretty much every major facet in life. you can google it.

I do not want this kind of merge in that I have hard enough time getting services that are mutually favorable for both the business and myself.

Once merged, their attitude will change, they feel since there is no one else to go to, your stuck with us so your going to take what ever crap we give you.

good example of such merge centurylink/qwest.

In the end it doesn't matter what services are provided by the separate companies. Especially these days when there is no real competition left. bigger is not better. Bigger is also much slower at change when something bad happens. Or where change needs to take place.

it is better to have smaller companies because they can adapt to change better. and because they are smaller they can focus on who matters, their clients.