Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Cleveland Cable Update: Comcast/Time Warner/Charter, AT&T/DirecTV, Net Neutrality and You!


There’s been some news on the Cleveland cable front since the last time I blogged about cable (Cable in Cleveland Takes Another Step Back - Cox to Close Call Center). There’s no new news on the Cox Communications front. But there's been some new developments in a few areas.


Comcast/Time Warner/Charter

We have new information from the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger. While they are still making their case to get approval, Charter has re-entered the picture. Charter made a deal with Comcast that will give them the 3 million+ subs that Comcast said it would divest as part of the merger. Cleveland will be one of the areas that will be transitioned to Charter (Time Warner Cable Customers in Ohio to Join Charter Communications if Comcast Merger Succeeds). 


Instead of getting the innovations of powerhouse Comcast, Clevelanders will get service from upstart Charter. I haven’t seen much about their service that is unique from any other cable company...in fact, they seem like they have a few less options, at least from a video standpoint. Again, the Comcast acquisition has not been approved yet and nothing is set in stone. I do expect it to be approved, but that’s not to say there won’t be additional conditions that could affect Cleveland.

 

AT&T/DirecTV

Meanwhile, it came out this week that AT&T may be very close to acquiring DirecTV (AT&T is Closing in on DirecTV). This was a mild surprise as most of the rumors had been about a possible DirecTV/Dish Network merger. AT&T already has a partnership with DirecTV, so it’s not completely out of nowhere. This would give AT&T a national presence. The question I have is what AT&T’s long term plan would be for video. I’ve got to assume that they’d like to expand U-verse to the new customers at some point. I just don’t think they’d want to be in the satellite equipment game due to the expense. Plus, it fragments their focus between the two video options. That being said, it’s also a huge expense to build out their U-verse service throughout the country. Ultimately, I think the play here is for their Internet service. With DirecTV not having a true Internet solution, there’s a huge bundling opportunity.


It’s not known yet if getting approval for this deal would have an effect on the approval for the Comcast/Time Warner deal. What’s being said is that it’s likely that they’d either both be approved or neither would be approved. It would be hard to justify allowing one, but not the other.

 

Net Neutrality

Just a quick update on Net Neutrality. If you’re not familiar with what net neutrality is, here’s a quick summary. Internet providers (cable companies like Comcast, telcos like AT&T, etc.) control the streams that carry internet content to your computer. They can control how much of that stream (and thus the speed of it) can be used by certain Internet content. With net neutrality, Internet providers would not be able to offer faster streams to those that pay (like Netflix just agreed to pay Comcast) or slow down/block the streams to your computer.


Netflix and other advocates are now trying to urge the Tom Wheeler and the FCC to change their position. Public sentiment has gotten Wheeler to soften his stance a bit. There’s a vote on Thursday that will likely kick off a long battle (FCC Net Neutrality Plan in Chaos)

 

So there’s my update. There’s a lot going on and most of it requires us to just wait and see what happens. Hopefully this helps. If you’ve got more questions or comments, ask in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading and please share this post with your friends!




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