Comcast Merger a Chance to Narrow the Digital Divide

The California Public Utilities Commission is expected to decide this month whether Comcast’s proposed takeover of Time Warner Cable’s operations in the state would be in the public interest. An administrative lawjudge has recommended that the takeover be approved but with a number of conditions that have caused Comcast to cry foul. These include requiring the merged company to sign up 45% of the low-income households in its area for Comcast’s discounted broadband Internet service, or at least as high a percentage as it has signed up among all homes in its territory. Comcast argues that simply offering its discounted “Internet Essentials” in Time Warner Cable’s service area will be a boon to low-income families, given that they don’t have access to anything like it today. But if Comcast expects to merge its way into those communities, the public benefit should be greater than if Comcast had chosen to compete with Time Warner Cable instead of buying it.