Comcast is adamant about merging with Time Warner Cable and claiming that nothing can go wrong and that competition will not be harmed, but even as it tries to convince regulators about this, the company doesn’t play fair.
CenturyLink, a local provider of high speed Internet, phone and TV services, is accusing Comcast of trying to prevent competing companies to enter cities and towns where it operates. The ISP says Comcast has made it difficult for them to obtain reasonable franchise agreements from local authorities.
In a filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), CenturyLink doesn’t just slam Comcast for its efforts to kill off competition, but it also protests the idea of the merger with TWC. At the very least, if the acquisition isn’t stopped, the company believes some conditions preventing Comcast from using its market power to harm competitors should be included in the deal.
The entire system is faulty, however, because competition is not real when it comes to ISPs in the US. That’s because newcomers are more or less eliminated before they even have a chance to try to lure customers out of other networks.
The fact that it’s not viable to build an infrastructure without knowing if you’re going to have any customers is why providers don’t even bother trying to compete with each other in various cities. Network operators aren’t required to lease their infrastructure to smaller companies, so they never stand a chance.
One of the arguments brought by Comcast in favor of its merger with Time Warner Cable is the fact that the two don’t really compete against each other, for residential or business subscribers. Basically, the two giants that have a combined 33 million Internet customers, have divided territories between themselves.
This doesn’t just hurt smaller companies, but it also hurts competition because customers have no other option that to carry on with the same provider because there’s nowhere to run.
“Comcast has been uniquely and extraordinarily aggressive in seeking to delay CenturyLink’s entry into new markets. For example, in the Denver metropolitan area, where CenturyLink is currently pursuing local video franchises, Comcast appears to be sending a similar letter to each local franchising authority from which CenturyLink is seeking a franchise or potentially might be seeking a franchise providing Comcast’s ‘concerns’ regarding CenturyLink’s entry into the video market,” CenturyLink tells the FCC.
“The ‘concerns’ that Comcast has raised, while couched in terms of ‘fair competition,’ are in reality an effort to have the LFA [local franchising authority] impose such onerous and unreasonable buildout requirements that the new entrant will not be able to obtain a franchise agreement that will support a feasible business plan.”
For its part, Comcast says it’s not trying to bury CenturyLink, but rather to look out for poor people, claiming that the companies trying to enter various cities need to build the entire network and not be available only to a small area.