Comcast and Charter will control 70% of 25 Mbps market with merger: report

If Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) is successfully able to acquire Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and Bright House Networks, it will combine with Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) to serve around 70 percent of the U.S. market share of broadband users with download speeds of 25 Mbps or higher -- not the 90 percent figure posited by merger opposition coalition Stop Mega Cable, according to figures compiled by Ars Technica.

The tech blog compiled the 70 percent figure using FCC data, countering a figure released last week by the newly formed coalition Stop Mega Cable, which put the combined total at 90 percent. 

The FCC last year redefined broadband to be download speeds of 25 Mbps and higher. Market share of broadband is a key factor as the FCC considers Charter's merger bids. Last year, the FCC shunned Comcast's $45 billion bid to take over TWC, fearing that its combined control of the broadband market would harm competition in areas such as online video.

With the mergers, Charter would control 20.56 million broadband subscribers, second to Comcast's 22.87 million and just ahead of AT&T's (NYSE: T) 15.83 million. 

If regulators had greenlit Comcast-TWC, the combined company would have controlled just over 27 million broadband users, or 36 percent of the U.S. market, under the old 4 Mbps downstream definition.

Despite the Ars Technica figures, members of the Stop Mega Cable coalition continue to purport the "90 percent" figure.

Writing a guest column in Variety, Writers Guild of America Executive Director David Young said: "If this latest merger is approved, two companies -- Comcast and the new Charter entity -- will control close to 90 percent of that market. This is a problem because these two companies will have both motive and opportunity to coordinate actions to stifle online video competition that threatens their traditional cable business."

Charter, meanwhile, now faces a public hearing today at with the California Public Utilities Commission. On Monday, the FCC restarted the 180-day "shot clock" on its review of Charter's merger proposals. It paused the review earlier this month to consider several new document downloads.

For more:
- read this Ars Technica story
- read this Los Angeles Times story
- read this Variety guest column

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