Comcast refuses to go public with assessment of Sprint/T-Mobile merger

Stack of documents
Comcast is arguing that its filings related to the proposed merger of Sprint and T-Mobile should not be made public. (Canva.com)

Sprint and T-Mobile are urging Comcast to say publicly how it believes it will be affected by the proposed merger of the nation’s third and fourth largest wireless network operators. But Comcast is having none of it.

“Comcast’s strategic perspective on, and assessment of, the competitive impact of the Proposed Transaction [between Sprint and T-Mobile] on Comcast’s nascent wireless business and its television and broadband businesses—including discussions of Comcast’s wireless business strategy, contractual terms, and related business negotiations—constitutes competitively sensitive information that is not otherwise publicly available and falls squarely within the Commission’s definition of Highly Confidential Information,” Comcast wrote in a filing to the FCC.

The company wrote that Sprint and T-Mobile “are asking the Commission to make Comcast’s—a non-party’s—Highly Confidential internal competitive and strategic analyses widely available to the public. Such a request is at odds with the Commission’s confidentiality policy and implementing regulations. Public disclosure of this sensitive commercial information would result in competitive harm to Comcast.”

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In its filing, Comcast makes a lengthy argument about why its assessment of the effects of a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile shouldn’t be made public, including citations of the companies’ behavior during previous merger proceedings.

However, Comcast at no point offers any indications about how it might ultimately view the proposed merger between Sprint and T-Mobile.

“Comcast is not a voluntary participant in or party to this [Sprint and T-Mobile] proceeding, and has undertaken substantial effort to respond to the Commission’s Request for Information (“RFI”) to help facilitate the Commission’s review of the Proposed Transaction. Although Applicants assert that Comcast’s response includes information typically found in petitions and comments in a merger proceeding, which Comcast disputes, Comcast has filed neither here, nor has Comcast engaged in any advocacy in this proceeding—i.e., Comcast has not filed a petition to deny, comment, or substantive ex parte in this docket. Rather, it has merely responded truthfully and in good faith to a formal RFI from the Commission,” Comcast wrote.

Comcast joins AT&T and Verizon in remaining conspicuously silent on the proposed marriage of two of the nation’s four nationwide wireless network operators. Other companies though haven’t remained silent: Cable company Altice, for example, expressed concerns about how the merger would affect its plans to launch an MVNO, while America Movil’s TracFone voiced support for the deal.

And Dish Network, C Spire and others are so opposed to the transaction that they recently banded together to launch the 4Competition Coalition opposition group.

Sprint and T-Mobile have been working to obtain approval for their transaction from the likes of the FCC, and continue to expect to close their merger in the first half of next year.

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