The idea of a merger between two of the largest cable companies in the United States has never been a popular one amongst consumers, and now a coalition of industry stakeholders has been formed to lobby the halls of power to block the deal.
Earlier this week The Stop Mega Comcast Coalition announced its formation to block the deal on the grounds that a merged Time Warner Cable and Comcast would have too much power and influence over the country’s telecommunications infrastructure. The Coalition is spearheaded by Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) and includes a variety of groups which have a stake in distributing their content over a telecom’s network: Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, the Writers Guild of America, the Parents Television Council, the Rural Broadband Association, and the Sports Fan Coalition are bigger names attaching themselves to the deal.
The coalition says that it’s concerned an enlarged Comcast would be a hostile “gatekeeper”. The group fears that Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) would be able to wield too much control over the prices it pays for signals carriage. In addition, a merged Comcast-TWC would raise concerns for the preservation of net neutrality; as Comcast also owns content providers it could hamper the ability of its rivals in that field to deliver their content down Comcast’s pipes.
What’s the alternative?
Consumers are becoming more and more skeptical of the intentions of Big Telecom. Comcast is not alone in this, AT&T (NYSE:T) has come under it’s own set of scrutiny. The solution to Big Telecom, as many communities are finding, is to build a city or region-wide network that’s classified as a utility and owned by the municipality. As the infrastructure is not owned by a profit-seeking enterprise, issues like net neutrality simply don’t exist. In addition, areas that are typically underserved and starved for bandwidth by Big Telecom will be able to catch-up to the rest of the country.
So far these efforts are rather niche; only a handful of communities are building them. But as hostility towards Big Telecom grows, this might be move from being the niche to the norm.