Comcast, Charter May Soon Get Even Larger With Joint Acquisition Of Sprint

from the merge-ALL-the-things!!! dept

With the telecom sector seeing the Trump administration as somewhat of a blank check, the industry is busy considering all manner of mergers and acquisitions that would have been blocked under any number of previous administrations for being competition-killers. Verizon has made an offer to buy Charter (Spectrum), Sprint has been trying to merge with T-Mobile, AT&T's pushing for approval of its acquisition of Time Warner, Altice USA is gobbling up smaller providers hand over foot, and the industry is consolidating at a faster rate than ever.

While obviously not all M&As are bad by default, ignored in this rush is that several recent high-profile telecom deals have been utter shitshows for the American consumer.

While the Obama administration did block both AT&T and Sprint's attempted acquisitions of T-Mobile (which wound up being a very good thing for competition and consumers), its approval of Frontier's acquisition of Verizon's unwanted DSL customers in Florida, California and Texas resulted in endless outages and problems courtesy of a bungled integration. The Obama administration also approved Charter's $79 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House, resulting in not only much higher prices for consumers, but (somehow) even worse customer service for already one of the least-liked companies in America.

Undaunted by any potential history lessons, now Trump-era merger mania rolls on with the news that Charter and Comcast are considering either a joint acquisition of Sprint, or a minority ownership stake in exchange for a more lucrative network sharing deal for both companies' wireless services:

U.S. wireless carrier Sprint Corp is in talks with Charter Communications Inc and Comcast Corp about a partnership to boost the two U.S. cable companies' wireless offerings, according to sources familiar with the matter. Sprint, controlled by Japan's SoftBank Group Corp, has entered into a two-month period of exclusive negotiations with Charter and Comcast that has put its merger talks with U.S. wireless peer T-Mobile US Inc on hold till the end of July, the sources said on Monday.

Said deal could involve an outright acquisition of Sprint by the two cable giants, though one source suggests that's unlikely at first. More likely is a joint minority investment by both companies in exchange for a discount network sharing arrangement to help fuel both cable companies' attempts to get into the wireless sector. Comcast has already launched a WiFi-centric wireless voice service that uses the Verizon Wireless network for backup, and Charter is planning a similar service for 2018. That would, depending on how it went, likely evolve into a full acquisition of Sprint down the road.

Both companies had already struck a deal to partner on handset contracts, including a promise not to acquire a wireless carrier without first informing the other company. That deal was criticized on some fronts as a way for the two cable companies to avoid having to directly compete as they pushed their respective services to market.

How all of this shakes out (and whether it's good for anybody not named Sprint, Comcast or Charter) remains unclear. The deal could be an improvement over a Sprint acquisition of T-Mobile as it would not only keep the four major wireless competitors intact, but would bolster Sprint's historically rocky balance sheet ensuring it remains a somewhat viable competitor. That said, Charter and Comcast are no strangers to anti-competitive behavior, and adding another entire service segment to this well-documented dysfunction could prove disastrous for what's already some of the worst customer service in any industry in America.

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Filed Under: acquisition, antitrust, broadband, competition, fcc, mergers, mobile
Companies: charter, comcast, sprint


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  1. icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 29 Jun 2017 @ 10:56am

    Perhaps they can hire the folks who promoted the Fyre Festival to tell everyone about how great it will be!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jun 2017 @ 11:07am

    And people didn't believe me when I told them that Trump WAS a globalist.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jun 2017 @ 11:21am

    worst service contest

    "... worst customer service in... America"



    of course Congress and the other 2 Federal Branches provide really great customer (citizen) service at very fair prices

    there's no way that the Federal Government is too big or operates as a monopoly in dozens of non-optional "services" to citizens

    Politicians & government bureaucrats are the true experts on promoting competition in the delivery of quality services to Americans (?)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Karl Bode (profile), 29 Jun 2017 @ 11:23am

    According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, the IRS has had consistently better customer satisfaction ratings that Charter for much of the last decade, which should tell you pretty much everything you need to know about the cable industry.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jun 2017 @ 12:36pm

    Seriously who in their right mind would buy into a Comcast wireless service. AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile look like the good guys in comparison

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jun 2017 @ 1:47pm

    Re:

    IRS perhaps sucks slightly less than COMCAST, by merely 6 points on the subjective ACSI measure

    Only ~20% of Americans approve of US Congress

    Gallup finds 65% of Americans disapprove of the US Federal Government overall... far worse than COMCAST numbers

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jun 2017 @ 1:52pm

    Cable monopolies suck. I'm in the Phoenix area and Cox just announced a 1TB cap with $10 per 50 gigs after that. My current 50 meg internet costs $79/mo and I use 1.5T average a month so I get a $100 a mo increase for nothing. Since they are a monopoly the only competitor is badly reviewed slower DSL. Absolute BS.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Thad, 29 Jun 2017 @ 2:18pm

    Re:

    I'm in the Phoenix area too, and we don't even have CenturyLink as an option at my house. It's Cox or nothin'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Thad, 29 Jun 2017 @ 2:19pm

    Re: Re:

    Only ~20% of Americans approve of US Congress

    Which would mean something if it were possible to vote for "Congress".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jun 2017 @ 6:44pm

    A big question is whether Comcast will achieve its goals before Trump appointments start taking over the federal agencies, and might not be too happy that Comcast-owned NBC and MSNBC have been spearheading the intense anti-Trump media activism.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jun 2017 @ 7:21pm

    Re:

    Well, given that he's a few hundred appointments behind, I think they have some time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Wendy Cockcroft, 30 Jun 2017 @ 5:24am

    Re:

    The term you're looking for is "neoliberal." Both parties are up to their necks in it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jun 2017 @ 10:06am

    I was planning to leave Sprint as my carrier this year. I appreciate the news telling me that I'm right to do so.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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