These days, you hear a lot of jokes on the internet about the citizens of the world (or at least the US) heading down the “darkest timeline.” It’s easy to believe it, too, with important things like healthcare and net neutrality potentially at risk through new legislation. Now, Citibank analyst Jason Bazinet has penned an opinion that Comcast should purchase Verizon, and if we aren’t in the darkest timeline right now, we certainly will be if such a deal ever becomes a reality.
It’s concerning, then, that Bazinet would suggest that this is something Comcast should even pursue. Recently, market analysts have suggested that DISH Network could make an offer to buyout Verizon, but Bazinet thinks that Comcast should make its own offer to buy the mobile carrier. How much does Bazinet suggest Comcast should offer? An eye-watering $215 billion.
Make no mistake: there is no way such a deal would benefit you, the consumer. If Comcast begins to seriously consider purchasing Verizon, we’ll likely hear half-baked justifications for the deal that probably include Comcast’s fortune being used to expand and improve Verizon’s wireless network. If Verizon were a beleaguered small or mid-sized carrier, perhaps that justification would make sense.
Verizon isn’t, though. Verizon is currently the biggest wireless carrier in the United States, and it doesn’t risk losing that seat anytime soon. As of Q1 2017, Verizon reported having 146 million subscribers, while AT&T came in second with 134.2 million subscribers. Even if AT&T were to eventually overtake Verizon, there’s little chance of it ever falling into third place – T-Mobile currently occupies that spot with “only” 73.9 million subscribers.
The point is that Verizon makes more than enough money as it is to afford network expansion while still pleasing shareholders with the amount of cash it has left over. Maybe the idea of pleasing shareholders by spending money to offer a better service is a little too optimistic, but the fact remains that Verizon doesn’t need Comcast’s help when it comes to capital.
Such consolidation would only serve to make shareholders richer and Comcast even more dominant when it comes to internet service. As someone with Verizon and Comcast service, I can tell you that I don’t want Comcast providing both the connection for my home internet and the connection for my mobile data. That’s saying a lot, too, because I hardly even want Verizon providing my mobile data. Still, I’d much rather have the two be separate entities than arms of the same massive corporation.
At this point, anything that gives Comcast more influence over media and connectivity is something that we should be wary of. Keep in mind, Verizon owns both Yahoo and AOL, companies that own many different media outlets themselves.
AOL in particular owns a number of prominent technology and news websites that have frequently taken stances against Comcast and its anti-consumer crusades to do things like roll back net neutrality protections. Do you want those websites under the control of Comcast, even with the promise of independence? I certainly don’t.
This seems like a deal that government regulators would oppose vehemently. That’s just the problem, though: there’s no real evidence that the current administration cares much for regulating the mergers and acquisitions of already monolithic companies. That’s the entire reason why Bazinet suggested this merger in the first place – what may not have received regulator approval under previous administrations could get a pass from the current one.
Let’s hope that Comcast doesn’t actually make a bid to buy Verizon. If it does, though, and regulators within our government don’t immediately begin questioning the necessity of such a deal, be ready to call your senators and representatives and hold their feet to the flames. Make them fear for their jobs and they won’t let such an awful deal for American consumers become reality.