Eager to ease fears that their merger would create a cable and internet monopoly, Comcast and Time Warner have plans for a third company – GreatLand Communications – to take on customers in Minnesota and 10 other states.
As MPR reports, however, the new company is itself now raising fears.
The station notes there are concerns such a newborn entity wouldn't know how to manage its operations or customer base.
And that's a lot of customers. The White Bear Press reports GreatLand would serve 2.5 million subscribers – including those in the metro area – as part of an effort to "appease" government regulators who don't want a Comcast-Time Warner behemoth operating too big a chunk of the market.
The paper notes the Ramsey-Washington Suburban Cable Commission, a regulatory body in the Twin Cities, is the latest authority to "conditionally approve" the Comcast-Time Warner plan, following other areas including the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
One of those conditions is that the company must assure its customers won't be slapped with fee hikes to cover the costs of launching the new operation.
Comcast dismisses GreatLand concerns
Speaking to MPR, Comcast spokesperson Mary Beth Schubert dismissed concerns about GreatLand's ability to handle the new service.
She said the transition will be "as seamless as possible" and would continue to invest in fiber networks to "bring Twin Cities customers the highest quality and most reliably service anywhere."
All this depends on whether the $45 billion merger is approved, of course. The plan is currently under review by the Federal Communications Commission.
Who owns GreatLand, exactly?
It may sound like GreatLand would be a separate company in name only, with Comcast and Time Warner overseeing it and collecting profits from a distance. The truth is a little more complex, however.
As The Verge explains it, Comcast shareholders – not Comcast itself – would hold a 67 percent stake in the new company. In something of a twist, Charter Communications (a competitor of Comcast and Time Warner) would hold the remaining stake.
GreatLand will be 33 percent owned by rival company Charter Communications, which will be providing the customer service, engineering and billing to its Minnesotan subscribers.