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Comcast Tells FCC TWC Merger Poses No Concern to National Broadband Market

**Editor’s Note: Please click here for a recap of the biggest communications mergers in Q3 2014.**

Comcast, whose pending acquisition of Time Warner Cable is undergoing scrutiny by regulators, is adamant that there is no such thing as a national broadband market.

In a meeting last month with two FCC officials, Comcast executives said an analysis of the broadband market should focus on the local markets where Comcast and Time Warner Cable don’t compete.

But even if the national market is considered, Comcast’s merger with Time Warner Cable doesn’t present any concerns, according to the Philadelphia-based cable company.

After acquiring Time Warner Cable, Comcast will control 35.5 percent of all fixed broadband connections based on the FCC’s definition of broadband service, according to Comcast’s Oct. 2 filing, which disclosed the substance of the meeting with the FCC officials, commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel and her staff member Clint Odom.

Comcast wants the FCC to consider such technologies as DSL and wireless in its analysis of competition in the broadband market, and not limit the analysis to broadband speeds of at least 25 Mbps.

Comcast executives told FCC officials the merger wouldn’t present any issues even if the broadband sector was considered a national market with speeds of at least 10 Mbps or 25Mbps, Kathryn Zachem, Comcast’s senior vice president of regulatory and state legislative affairs, noted in the FCC filing. On Sept. 30, Zachem and Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen met with Rosenworcel and Odom to discuss the $45 billion merger.

“At a 10 Mbps threshold, the combined company share will be 40 percent of fixed connections and 22.5 percent of fixed and wireless connections,” Zachem said. “And at a 25 Mbps threshold, the combined company’s broadband share would increase by less than 1 percent (due to the very small number of TWC customers receiving speeds of 25 Mbps or higher). Such a de minimis increase is hardly troubling and provides no basis to allege any transaction-specific harm.”

In a speech Wednesday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler indicated Americans need to have access to broadband speeds of at least 25 Mbps.

“Table stakes for the 21st century is 25 Mbps, and winning the game means that all consumers can get at least 100 Mbps – and more,” he said.

“At a time when technological advances are moving at lightning speed, competition that forces companies to embrace those advances is the best way to achieve those goals. Unfortunately, today there is an inverse relationship between competition and broadband speed.”


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