Concerns about monopolies, net neutrality and competition be damned: Time Warner and Comcast will no longer attempt to close a deal that would merge the two cable giants under Comcast’s banner. The internal desire — according to the two companies, anyway — was to bring more of their “great” product to more people in more cities. Says Comcast CEO and Chairman Brian L. Roberts:
Today, we move on. Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn’t agree, we could walk away.
Comcast NBCUniversal is a unique company with strong momentum. Throughout this entire process, our employees have kept their eye on the ball and we have had fantastic operating results. I want to thank them and the employees of Time Warner Cable for their tireless efforts.
But it didn’t take long for red flags to pop up all over the place. The department of justice was the biggest opponent from the get-go, and much like AT&T’s proposed buyout of T-Mobile it was hard for them to believe that this merger could do anything good for the state of the US cable and broadband market.
The landscape of competition in said market is already severely flawed, with many areas only able to choose between just one or two services. Yours truly literally had no choice other than Time Warner Cable up until a few years ago when AT&T finally rolled out DSL. You’ll find similar situations in many areas of the country where Time Warner, Cox and Comcast enjoy the fruits of being the only cable provider in town for miles on end.
Thankfully the powers that be which blocked this deal realized that this monopoly would hurt an already lopsided industry. If not for the likes of Google Fiber and Verizon FiOS, we might not have seen these companies scrambling to upgrade their customers to Gigabit speeds.
Take Time Warner Cable, for instance. They kept their Charlotte, North Carolina customers on 50 megabit packages for years at what most of them would consider “fair” prices, but it only took them weeks to upgrade those customers to 300 megabit packages after they heard Google Fiber was on the way. Comcast did the same in Atlanta, Georgia when Google confirmed plans to expand to that particular market.
It’s clear these companies weren’t (and likely still aren’t) willing to do anything to improve service and value for their customers unless they had true competition. Allowing them to merge would have done nothing to change that (and would most likely have worsened the situation beyond repair). Good on everyone to see fit to block the deal and nip it in the bud in this instance just as they did to protect the spirit of competition in the wireless industry.