Comcast offers California a few crumbs

19 April 2015 by Steve Blum
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Not what the CPUC was thinking of ordering.

It’s almost certainly too little, too late, but Comcast has offered a few concessions to the California Public Utilities Commission, in the hopes of gaining approval for its proposed mega-merger and market swap with Time Warner and Charter. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, Comcast came to a public meeting in LA last week with a much lighter alternative to the long list of conditions proposed by a CPUC hearing officer

On Tuesday the company submitted a list of voluntary commitments that it said would be acceptable.


Even Google needs video to compete against broadband incumbents

17 April 2015 by Steve Blum
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Cut the cord carefully, if you bleed Dodger blue.

Video is an essential part of high speed broadband service. That’s the conclusion that Google has apparently reached. Google Fiber exec Milo Medin spoke at a conference in Florida earlier this week and, according to a story in Fierce Telecom, said…

What we have found is that while it’s not necessary to offer voice service because of wireless [substitution], if you don’t offer a good TV service your ability to compete with incumbents that bundle Internet and TV together is significantly impaired.


Comcast sings the same old tune in LA

16 April 2015 by Steve Blum
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You weren’t expecting a new act, were you?

It doesn’t look like any progress was made at a California Public Utilities Commission-supervised meeting between Comcast, its would-be mega-merger allies and opponents of the deal in Los Angeles on Tuesday. I was thinking of flying down to LA to see the show, but after reading the news accounts of it, I’m glad I didn’t. It seems – judging from those reports, anyway – that it was more of the same old, same old.… More

CPUC commissioner urges rejection of Comcast's California merger plans

13 April 2015 by Steve Blum
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It’s a new game.

The California Public Utilities Commission will formally consider denying Comcast’s proposed takeover of Time Warner and Charter cable systems in the state. Until now, the conversation has been guided by a tentative decision drafted by a CPUC administrative law judge that would approve the merger and market swap, with a long list of temporary conditions. On Friday, commissioner Mike Florio proposed an alternative decision that would reject the deal outright…

Certain material facts are beyond serious dispute: the merger will roughly double Comcast’s share of broadband subscribers in California, leaving it with several times more broadband customers than all its competitors combined; Comcast’s market dominance is even more dramatic if the market is defined as broadband above 25 Mbps; and given this substantial increase in market share, Comcast will have a concomitant increase in control over Californians’ access to online content and services…

Comcast and Time Warner each have an effective monopoly on providing broadband services within its local geographic area…a post-merger Comcast will have a monopoly on speed tiers of 25 Mbps and above in approximately 78 percent of California census blocks, with only one competitor in almost all the rest.


CPUC takes the Comcast party out of the backroom

24 March 2015 by Steve Blum
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It’s not official yet, but you can safely bet that the California Public Utilities Commission won’t be voting this Thursday on whether or not to approve the proposed Comcast-Time Warner-Charter mega merger and market swap. The CPUC posted an announcement yesterday that another “all parties” meeting will be held in Los Angeles in April to try to thrash out the three-cornered fight over the deal.

Comcast and its presumed partners want the transactions to be rubber-stamped with no conditions, consumer advocacy groups – including the CPUC’s office of ratepayer advocates – say it should be killed outright, and two other groups – the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) and Caltel, a lobbying organisation for competitive phone companies – want the conditions, at least those that benefit their respective interests.… More

CPUC commissioners say no back room deals for Comcast

18 March 2015 by Steve Blum
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Don’t even think about going there.

Responding to fears that the CPUC would grant Comcast its wish and cut a deal in private to approve its proposed mega merger and market swap with Time-Warner and Charter, several commissioners publicly said no way at their meeting in San Francisco last week.

Carla Peterman is the commissioner assigned to manage the merger review process. She said she’s following the commission’s ex parte rules which strictly limit one-on-one discussions…

Someone expressed some concern that some parties might have unique access through the ex parte process to kind of negotiate or influence decisions and particularly there was a mention of the Comcast Time-Warner proceeding.


Let's settle this behind closed doors Comcast tells CPUC

12 March 2015 by Steve Blum
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If it was good enough for PG&E, it should be swell for Comcast.

Comcast, and its would-be merger and market swap partners, don’t like any of the conditions that would be imposed on the deal, if a proposed decision by a California Public Utilities Commission administrative law judge is approved. Not surprisingly, in a 60 page objection, the so-called Joint Applicants – Comcast and friends might be a better description – run through the 25 conditions proposed conditions and find fault with every one.… More

Debate continues over whether proposed Comcast merger benefits outweigh the damage

11 March 2015 by Steve Blum
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Not expecting time off for good behavior.

Ten organisations filed comments about a California Public Utilities Commission administrative law judge’s proposed decision regarding the Comcast/Time-Warner/Charter Communications mega-merger and market swap. Seven want the deal killed altogether, and argue that the mostly temporary conditions proposed would not offset the damage done to broadband service in California. The Greenlining Institute, a consumer advocacy group, detailed Comcast’s obstreperous response to the draft decision and said

While the proposed conditions are well-intended, they simply cannot rehabilitate a merger which would hand Comcast a potentially permanent monopoly in virtually all of the largest markets in both California and the United States, giving Comcast unprecedented power to raise prices, decrease service quality, and harm consumers.


Deny the Comcast merger, don't try to fix it with conditions urges CPUC ratepayer advocates

10 March 2015 by Steve Blum
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If it’s that broke, trash it.

Comments are coming thick and fast regarding the proposed decision by a California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) administrative law judge to approve, with conditions, the mega-merger and market swap between Comcast, Time-Warner and Charter Communications. I’m still working my way through the stack – the CPUC posted the documents yesterday – but one of the filings, from the CPUC’s office of ratepayer advocates (ORA) jumps out.

As it has all along, ORA is urging outright rejection of the transactions…

As the [proposed decision (PD)] correctly concludes, the Joint Applicants [i.e.


Temporary conditions will make Comcast's Californian monopoly permanent

23 February 2015 by Steve Blum
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It won’t get any better when the referee leaves the ring.

One of the more fascinating aspects of a proposed California Public Utilities Commission decision approving the Comcast/Time-Warner/Charter mega merger and market swap is an analysis of the resulting broadband market in the state. Prepared for the CPUC’s office of ratepayer advocates by Lee Selwyn, a telecommunications analyst, the study reaches the bottom line conclusion that if Comcast swallows up all of Time-Warner and Charter subscribers in California (except for Charter’s subs in the Lake Tahoe area), Comcast would have monopoly control of the broadband market in 78% of its expanded service area.… More