Comcast/TWC Merger

INCOMPAS' Position on the Comcast/Time Warner Cable Merger

The proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable—currently pending before the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice—presents a range of anticompetitive concerns for businesses and consumers alike. INCOMPAS' concerns over the proposed merger include access to the Internet and Internet content, availability of programming, choice and functionality in both streaming devices and set top boxes, and access to wholesale carrier inputs and services from the merged company.

INCOMPAS, ITTA (The Independent Telephone & Telecommunications Alliance) and NTCA (The Rural Broadband Association) are members of the industry coalition Networks for Competition and Choice. This coalition has launched the “Don’t Comcast the Internet” campaign to raise awareness about the serious consequences this proposed merger would have for technological innovation, competition and consumer choice, which include:

  • Less Access, Slower Speeds for Online Content: Comcast has already demonstrated its willingness to use its bottleneck control to degrade streaming speeds and demand “access charges” from rival online content providers. With this merger, Comcast will be able to degrade or block access to online video and other content for even more customers.
  • Reduced Choice and Functionality in Streaming Devices: Comcast has violated the FCC’s no-blocking condition, which Comcast remains obligated to follow as a result of its previous merger with NBCU, by preventing customers from accessing content they have paid for through popular streaming devices including Roku and Playstation 4. Post merger, this harm may be visited upon an additional 8 million customers who are currently able to enjoy such access as customers of TWC and Charter.
  • Stifling Competition in the Set-Top Box Marketplace: Although a revolution in device technology has the potential to make the traditional “cable box” a thing of the past, Comcast is poised to stop this innovation in its tracks through its domination of the market. Comcast will be able to impose its X1 platform as a closed industry standard—to be licensed and controlled by Comcast—and would have the power and incentive to use it to favor its own programming and content.
  • Constricting the Wholesale Market to Harm Competitors: Comcast has failed to promise continued access (following expiration of current Time Warner Cable contracts) to the carrier wholesale market on which smaller providers rely as an alternative to incumbent telcos for crucial network inputs. Many small and medium-sized operators depend on wholesale inputs purchased from Time Warner and Charter to serve their customers. By limiting access to them, Comcast could harm its competitors in the retail business market. customers.

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