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Comcast merger-bait spinoff to be known as GreatLand Connections

Company ups ante on bid to ward off antitrust attack dogs

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US cable giant Comcast has provided further details on its plans for a spinoff venture designed to coax the Federal Communications Commission to approve its $45.2bn gobble of Time Warner Cable.

The company said that the hypothetical spinoff – heretofore variously referred to as SpinCo and Midland Cable LLC – would officially be known as GreatLand Connections and would have a customer base of 2.5 million Americans in 11 Midwest and Southeastern US states.

"The name GreatLand Connections pays homage to the rich history and striking geographies of the diverse communities in which the company will operate," said would-be GreatLand CEO Michael Willner.

"It brings to mind our commitment to connecting people and businesses with terrific products and excellent service in the almost 1000 historic communities – large and small – across the 11 states we will serve."

GreatLand has been pitched by Comcast and Charter as a negotiating chip in the former's bid to acquire Time Warner Cable. Comcast hopes that by spinning off a portion of its business, it will win favor with antitrust authorities that have been leery of its proposed merger, which would combine two of the largest cable providers in the country.

Comcast in April struck a deal with Charter to dump 3.9 million of its existing subscribers through the GreatLand venture and a direct subscriber swap, which it said would lower its share of the US market 30 per cent. The plan would make Charter the second-largest US cable provider, behind the newly merged firm.

Other companies, however, have not been so bullish on the proposed mega-deal. Netflix and Cloudflare have been among the parties to express concern that the cable tie-up will result in monopoly conditions that will raise prices for cloud services that conduct business with ISPs.

The mayors of Los Angeles and New York City have also expressed concern over the deal.

The FCC, meanwhile, is in the process of examining the proposed deal and has requested detailed subscriber information from Comcast. ®

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