Crooks and Liars On Cable Competiton, or The Lack Thereof

Writing in Crooks and Liars, Susie Madrak reports on the lack of real competition between cable suppliers, regardless of whether Verizon Wireless and Comcast are required to meet government demands.

She writes:

I don’t know how much difference this will make, regardless of whether they force Verizon Wireless and Comcast to meet the feds’ demands. Anyone who has ever tried to cut their broadband and cable TV costs has already made the unhappy discovery that it is virtually impossible to realize significant savings by switching providers. THERE IS NO REAL COMPETITION in the broadband market. Nope. And I’m guessing the feds have noticed it, too. That’s why we see them nibble around the edges of provider earnings over deals like this, without ever really digging into their price stranglehold on consumers. But that’s just me!

U.S. regulators want Verizon Wireless and Comcast Corp. to limit their cooperation as a condition of letting the largest U.S. mobile provider buy airwaves from cable companies, three people with knowledge of the negotiations said.

Federal officials are seeking to limit the time that Verizon and the cable companies could jointly develop new products and services and withhold them from competitors, the people said. The transaction proposed in December for the cable companies’ unused spectrum also includes joint marketing and development agreements.

Officials also want to bar Verizon Wireless from marketing cable service in places where corporate cousin Verizon Communications Inc. offers its FiOS high-speed Internet service, said the people, who spoke on condition of not being identified because confidential talks are continuing. The idea is to preserve incentives for Verizon to maintain and build FiOS, which competes with cable companies.

Cable providers including largest U.S. provider Comcast and No. 2 Time Warner Cable Inc. want to sell frequencies they don’t use to Verizon Wireless in a $3.6 billion deal. U.S. officials are seeking conditions that would preserve competition in a U.S. telecommunications market characterized by locally exclusive cable companies and a wireless sector dominated by four players, with 60.7 percent of the market held by Verizon and No. 2 AT&T Inc.

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