updated 10:40 pm EDT, Thu March 29, 2012
Verizon raises chance of pay TV on mobile for deal
Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam in conversation Thursday raised the prospect of a mobile video service to try and secure its cable provider spectrum deal. He argued to the Wall Street Journal that an "integrated" service, where paid TV subscribers could watch the content on a device like a phone or tablet, could be ready by the end of the year. The offer would take advantage of a companion part of the deal, where either company could sell a service from the other.
Unlike some cable TV providers' mobile viewing, which can be contingent on being on the same Internet connection as the main TV service and defeats some of the advantage, the move could let users roam more freely. It might also have an "à la carte approach" where users picked their channels, with the content providers themselves reportedly asking about the option.
McAdam didn't see bandwidth caps on LTE and similar as issues, since prices might go down over time to make it more feasible, and possibly still give Verizon more money from heavier use.
The gesture would come as an attempt to appease officials increasingly concerned about the competitiveness of the deal. Department of Justice officials are investigating the spectrum buy for a possible collusion effect that would hurt competition in video and wireless. Smaller carriers have been worried it would be handing more spectrum to a rival that isn't as pressed for it as themselves.
Recent history has also raised concerns that Verizon might be using a similar tactic to that used by AT&T in its unsuccessful attempt to win approval for its attempted T-Mobile merger. The carrier promised rewards such as job creation and repatriation that, to regulators, not only defied the established logic of such deals but could easily be ignored or wouldn't eliminate the problems at hand. Verizon's plan is more achievable, but wouldn't be portable beyond its existing FiOS subscriptions and might only reinforce the existing position.