WASHINGTON Aug 22 U.S. communications
regulators on Friday asked Comcast Corp for additional
details about its video and broadband operations, including its
web traffic management practices, to review the company's
proposed merger with Time Warner Cable Inc.
The Federal Communications Commission is reviewing whether
the proposed $45 billion merger between Comcast and Time Warner
Cable, the two largest U.S. cable providers, is in the public
As is common with FCC merger reviews, the agency sought more
information from the companies about their business and future
plans than the companies first submitted in their application
earlier this year.
Notably, the FCC asked numerous questions focused on
Comcast's broadband business, seeking an overview of the
company's competitors in each geographic area, use of data caps
and tools for traffic management.
Though analysts predict that the FCC will ultimately approve
the merger, the regulators are expected to impose various
conditions. Particular attention is on Internet traffic
management issues as the FCC is working on new "net neutrality"
rules that guide how Internet providers route web content on
their networks and could use merger conditions in lieu of rules
that are facing a heated debate.
In Friday's letter to Comcast, the FCC asked for all
documents related to "the Company's decisions whether to block,
stop, throttle, slow, favor, congest or otherwise hinder the
transmission of any (online video distributor) service or other
content ... or to favor, prioritize or otherwise advantage the
Company's relevant service over such competing service."
The agency also asked for all documents related to how
consumers may benefit or be disadvantaged by how Comcast, thanks
to its size, negotiates Internet traffic delivery agreements
with content creators or delivery services, which could mean
companies like Netflix Corp Inc and Level 3
Additionally, the FCC sought detailed tables on
interconnections with other services carrying web traffic as
well as network congestion.
The FCC also sought data on consumer satisfaction and
success getting and retaining customers, including in ethnic
Similar requests went to Time Warner Cable and Charter
Communications Inc, which has proposed to acquire some
of Comcast's subscribers to leave Comcast with less than 30
percent of the U.S. residential cable or satellite TV market.
Most of the content of Comcast's and others' responses are
unlikely to be public, because such business information is
deemed highly confidential. The responses to the FCC are due by
(For the FCC's information request to Comcast, see bit.ly/1llRw4i)
The Department of Justice is also reviewing the proposed
Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger for antitrust issues, though
the companies stress they do not directly compete in any market.
The FCC is collecting public comments on the merger and
replies to them through Oct. 8.
"This is just another standard step in the review process,
and we look forward to continuing to work with the Commission as
the process moves forward," a Comcast spokeswoman said on
(Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Leslie Adler)