Culture 4 min read

A Partnership and a Merger Amid Net Neutrality's Last Stand

r.classen /

r.classen /

This article details news about Comcast and Tile’s partnership, as well as a last-ditch effort to save Net Neutrality. It also details recent actions such as the proposed Sprint and T-Mobile merger.

You might have read about the “Red Alert” preparation to save Net Neutrality for Wednesday’s final push. Many companies such as Reddit and OKCupid will bear “red alerts” to raise awareness.

Whether or not this will save Net Neutrality, Comcast has other plans.

Comcast and Tile first announced their partnership at CES2018. The partnership seems a little odd given what Tile is and the services Comcast offers.

But Sprint and T-Mobile also announced a proposed merger last week. The U.S. federal government did not allow similar proposals to go through twice in less than a decade. Despite this, CEOs  John Legere (T-Mobile) and Marcelo Claure (Sprint) remain hopeful.

How did these partnerships manifest and what does it mean for tech competition?

What is Tile and why is Comcast Partnering With Them?

You might not have heard of Tile if it weren’t for Comcast’s partnership with them.

The company offers small “tiles” to aid people in finding various objects. From keys to water bottles and more, you can choose from one of four models. You track everything from the companion app using your smartphone.

You can even use the Tile on your keys to make your phone ring on silent to find it.

This is a little creepy to me, but I can see its usefulness. Apparently, so could Comcast, but they weren’t alone in that fact. Companies like Bose and Samsonite also incorporated the Tile tracking technology into their various gadgets and products.

Comcast pairs the Tile technology with their Xfinity X1 Voice Remote. You can now say “Xfinity Home, can you find my keys?” and your TV will show you the last recorded location of the tracked item.

Perhaps this is an attempt to break into the virtual assistant market to compete with Google and Amazon. Perhaps this is a small distraction from the bad press surrounding Comcast and their role in Net Neutrality.

But Tile sold 10-million units so far according to their website, so it was probably just a smart business decision.

The Sprint and T-Mobile Merger No one saw Coming

Most Americans can only choose from one of two internet service providers: Comcast and AT&T. Luckily, when it comes to wireless services such as cell phones, you get double the choice. You can choose from Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, or AT&T.

But last week, the smaller providers Sprint and T-Mobile proposed a merger.

The U.S. government has several recent precedents for denying mergers based on consumer interest. They barred an AT&T/T-Mobile merger in 2011 and played a role in dissolving a Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger in 2015.

People’s main concerns over mergers like this revolve around protecting consumer rights. Competition, in theory, leads to better and fairer prices for various rungs of the economic ladder. It also pushes people to innovate more, chasing better profits or more users.

The argument against mergers means that more competition better protects consumers and spurs technological advancement.

So how are Sprint and T-Mobile attempting to bypass this precedent?

Everything Hinges Upon Ajit Pai

Ajit Pai sometimes comes across as more memelord troll than leading FCC member. His comically large Reese’s cup gained the attention of John Oliver among many other outlets.

While Congress will ultimately decide if Net Neutrality dies, Pai has more sway over the Sprint/T-Mobile merger. Everything hinges upon Sprint and T-Mobile’s argument for the merger.

They claim that, in order to compete with juggernauts like AT&T and Verizon, they must fuse. Lawmakers and other critics say that this will only diminish competition, raising prices overall.

They also claim that this merger can help them make bigger technological leaps, as well.

The FCC and the Department of Justice will review this merger before any actions can be taken on behalf of Sprint and T-Mobile.

Though past FCC chairmen have argued for more wireless options, Pai declined to comment on the subject when asked in 2017.

His previous actions regarding Net Neutrality suggest that he does not fear what some call monopolies. If AT&T and Comcast can be the only two internet service providers, perhaps Pai will agree with Sprint and T-Mobile’s argument.

Or, he may just say that only ATT and Verizon should be cell phone service providers.

We will update this story as we learn more details.

Why do you think Comcast partnered with Tile to help find things using your TV?

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Juliet Childers

Content Specialist and EDGY OG with a (mostly) healthy obsession with video games. She covers Industry buzz including VR/AR, content marketing, cybersecurity, AI, and many more.

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