While AT&T is putting pressure on regulators who are etching out new rules for Internet moderation, Comcast asserts it's staying the course and it's CEO says the telecom is moving "full steam ahead" with its acquisition of Time Warner Cable.
Comcast is waiting for the regulatory green light to acquire Time Warner Cable for $45.2 billion, a move that's projected to deliver $1.5 billion in synergies and bring the purchasing party 11 million new customers. Comcast is also offering a share swap of 2.875 shares for each Time Warner Cable (TWC) share.
Comcast and AT&T have insisted they have no intention of managing Internet fast lanes, a business model in which large companies can pay premium prices to get the fastest and most stable connection speeds. The practice is already going on, claims Netflix, but Comcast and other telecommunications companies have denied those accusations.
As the Federal Communications Commission is finalizing rules to maintain a neutral Internet, or to restore it, President Barack Obama has weighed in and offered his opinion on how regulators should proceed.
Obama called for regulators to draw up net neutrality legislation that uses elements of Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Despite FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler saying the 80-year-old act brings with it a mountain of legal complications, the president's mention of cannibalizing Title II has made telecommunications companies squirm.
In an interview on Nov. 12, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts echoed the sentiments of other telecommunications companies. Roberts said he and his company support keeping the Internet fair and open, but are wary of heavy-handed legislation that could have a negative impact on competitiveness.
"We are trying to work with the FCC, with the Congress, with the administration to forge an outcome that everyone can live with and doesn't do harm to the investment cycle and innovation cycle," said Roberts.
Roberts says he plans to push forward with the bid for TWC. The deal, if approved, is expected to close at some point in March.
While Comcast is standing resolute and says its future plans aren't shaken by the uncertainty of net neutrality legislation, AT&T is taking a different stance. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson recently said his company is considering scaling back its capital investments until the new rules on net neutrality have been drafted.
"We can't go out and invest that kind of money deploying fiber to 100 cities not knowing under what rules those investments will be governed," said Stephenson.