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Comcast-Time Warner Cable, Sprint-T-Mobile 'Not an Impossible Wall to Climb Over'

By Craig Galbraith
December 26, 2013 - News
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**Editor's Note: Please click here for a recap of the biggest communications mergers in Q3 2013.**

All eyes will be on a pair of potential acquisitions in the new year.

It's widely expected that either Sprint or DISH Network – or both – will make a run at buying T-Mobile USA sometime in 2014. An acquisition by Sprint would create a larger, third-place wireless carrier that could really compete with Verizon Wireless and AT&T. An acquisition by DISH would make the satellite provider a major player in the mobile industry.

Charter Communications is said to be readying an offer for Time Warner Cable, America's second-largest cableco. TWC, in turn, has said it would prefer a bid from Comcast, the nation's biggest cable company.

The speculation surrounding a Sprint-T-Mo tie up or a Comcast-TWC merger, in particular, raises a lot of regulatory concerns. Would such acquisitions have a negative impact on customer choice and perhaps lead to rate hikes?

"[The Obama administration is] concerned about the effects of market concentration on consumers," former FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell told Reuters. "It's not an impossible wall to climb over but it is a high wall nonetheless."

It was just two years ago that the federal government put up roadblocks to stop a potential merger between AT&T and T-Mobile. Industry insiders tend to believe that DISH would have a better shot than would Sprint if the two vied for a piece or all of T-Mobile. Reuters cited sources on Thursday that said Sprint and its majority owner, SoftBank of Japan, were in the "final stages" of talks with the Magenta Network regarding a buyout.

An acquisition of Time Warner Cable by Comcast might come a little easier since the cable companies don't compete directly with one another in major U.S. markets; still, that would create a monster cableco that would dwarf their rivals in terms of subscriber numbers.

Follow senior online managing editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

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