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Comcast looks forward to more mergers during Trump presidency

Enlarge / Comcast executive David Cohen testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the proposed merger of Time Warner Cable and Comcast, on May 8, 2014. (credit: Getty Images | Drew Angerer)

President Donald Trump said on the campaign trail that his administration would take a tough stance against mergers and consider breaking up Comcast and other conglomerates. But nearly a year into his presidency, it's now clear to Comcast's top government official that the Trump administration will instead allow more mergers than the administration of Barack Obama.

"Overall, this president and this administration is likely less hostile to horizontal growth or even vertical growth in the telecom space and elsewhere," Comcast Senior Executive Vice President David Cohen said in an interview, according to a Recode article today.

Horizontal mergers are deals between companies that make the same goods or services and compete against each other, like the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger that was blocked by the Obama administration. (Cohen took the lead in pitching that deal to government regulators.) Vertical mergers join companies that operate at different levels of an industry's supply chain.

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Comcast said he used too much data—so he opted to live without home Internet

Longtime Comcast customer Drew Weaver was surprised in mid-May of this year when he got an automated call notifying him that he’d gone over his 1TB monthly data cap. First of all, Comcast alleged that he'd exceeded the data cap two months in a row, and Weaver says he never got a notification about the first overage. Moreover, Weaver just didn't believe that he'd used more than 1TB of data.

But after a weeks-long, tedious process of troubleshooting with Comcast, the company insisted that its data meter was accurate. Comcast agents also repeatedly urged Weaver to pay an extra $50 a month to upgrade to an unlimited data plan or risk paying a $10 overage fee for each additional 50GB, up to a maximum of $200 in extra fees each month. According to Comcast, Weaver had used up his "courtesy months" in which a customer is allowed to exceed the data cap without penalty and would have to pay overage charges going forward unless he limited his usage or bought unlimited data.

Weaver could afford the additional payments—but out of principle, he decided not to give Comcast the extra money. And so he ended his nearly 14 years of being a Comcast customer.

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ISPs claim a privacy law would weaken online security and increase pop-ups

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Thomas Jackson)

The country's biggest Internet service providers and advertising industry lobby groups are fighting to stop a proposed California law that would protect the privacy of broadband customers.

AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Frontier, Sprint, Verizon, and some broadband lobby groups urged California state senators to vote against the proposed law in a letter Tuesday. The bill would require Internet service providers to obtain customers' permission before they use, share, or sell the customers' Web browsing and application usage histories. California lawmakers could vote on the bill Friday of this week, essentially replicating federal rules that were blocked by the Republican-controlled Congress and President Trump before they could be implemented. The text and status of the California bill, AB 375, are available here.

"This bill will create a cumbersome, uncertain, and vague regulation of Internet providers in California," Tuesday's letter to California senators said. "This single-state approach is antithetical to the forward-looking policies that have made California a world leader in the Internet Age."

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Comcast puts YouTube in its TV boxes to entice would-be cord-cutters

Enlarge (credit: Comcast)

Comcast on Tuesday said that it has started integrating YouTube into its X1 set-top boxes across the US. The two companies first announced the partnership this past February.

Much like the deal Comcast struck with Netflix last year, the move will see the YouTube app sit in the X1’s home screen, allowing subscribers to put the popular video service on their TV without switching to a third-party device like a Roku or Apple TV.

Comcast says it will also plant a handful of YouTube videos in its on-demand video section as well. Clips in the “Music” section of the on-demand menu, for instance, might feature music videos from the YouTube app.

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Hurricane Irma took 7 million cable and wireline subscribers offline

Enlarge / Destroyed power lines hang above a road on September 12, 2017, two days after Hurricane Irma swept through the area. Power outages played a big role in Internet, TV, and phone disruptions. (credit: Getty Images | Spencer Platt )

More than 7 million subscribers to cable or wireline telecom services have lost service due to Hurricane Irma.

"There are at least 7,184,909 (down from 7,597,945 yesterday) subscribers out of service in the affected areas in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia," the Federal Communications Commission reported Tuesday in its latest storm update. These are subscribers to Internet, TV, or phone service or some combination of the three.

In addition to those 7 million, many subscribers in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands lost service. "Since there are widespread power outages in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, the FCC has received reports that large percentages of consumers are without either cable services or wireline service. Companies are actively working to restoring service," the FCC said.

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