The Wall Street Journal reports today that Verizon is exploring a merger with Charter Communications, less than a year after Charter successfully merged with Time Warner Cable.
The talks are still reportedly in the early stages. According to The Journal, there is “no guarantee” a deal will arise, and it’s “unclear whether Charter executives, including Chief Executive Tom Rutledge, would be open to a transaction.” But there has reportedly been speculation recently about such a merger since Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said it would make “industrial sense.”
Charter is the second-largest cable provider in the US after Comcast. Last year, it merged with Time Warner Cable, giving it control of 34 percent of the US cable-broadband market, according to Business Insider. Time Warner Cable company was previously owned by Time Warner before being spun off in 2009; Time Warner itself is currently exploring a merger with AT&T, Verizon’s main rival in the wireless market. The Washington Post noted that a Verizon-Charter merger would make it competitive in size with Comcast:
Verizon serves 114 million cellphone subscribers, 4.6 million TV customers and 7 million Internet subscribers; Charter has 17 million TV customers and 21 million Internet subscribers. Together, the two companies’ high-speed Internet businesses would add up to more than Comcast’s 25 million broadband customers; at 21.6 million, their combined base of TV customers would be roughly on par with Comcast’s.Many Americans still don’t have much choice of cable company or internet service provider, particularly at 25mbps speeds which is the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) definition of “broadband” (i.e., enough speed to stream video or use multiple devices). The latest FCC data shows 29 percent of developed census blocks (areas of the US that people actually live in) don’t have access to any provider that provides 25 mbps, and a further 47 percent only have access to one provider with that speed.
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