Tech groups endorse merger
The U.S. Department of Justice has urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to defer action on the petition for the proposed acquisition of Marianas Cable Vision Holdings by Docomo Pacific, pending completion of federal review of the agreement.
Kristin A. Taylor, attorney for DOJ’s National Security Division, said the justice department along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security are currently reviewing the carriers’ proposed transaction “for any national security, law enforcement, and public safety issues but have not yet completed that effort.”
Taylor said once the review is completed, the agencies would notify FCC and recommend “appropriate action.”
According to the joint petition filed with FCC, the signed agreement involves Docomo Pacific’s full purchase of MCV’s stock.
Docomo Pacific is a subsidiary of NTT Docomo of Japan.
The proposed acquisition was endorsed by Washington-based One Economy Corp. (OEC) and One Global Economy (OGE), which were the only ones that submitted public comments to the federal commission. FCC’s public comment period ended last week, while reply comments are due today.
The two non-profit technology groups said the proposed deal between Docomo and MCV may lead to lower telecommunication costs in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
“After the acquisition of MCV, Docomo could potentially offer a quadruple play bundle of landline phone, home internet, cable TV, and wireless phone service, which would allow it to compete with GTA for those in the market for TV and mobile wireless internet,” they said. “While there will be one fewer entity offering home internet service, Docomo has only a very limited presence in the home internet market.”
Consumers who purchase their internet through bundles pay $8.55 less per month for their service than those that buy their service as a standalone product.”
OEC and OGE also said the pending union between the two carriers provides an opportunity for the industry to bridge the digital divide that marginalizes the elderly, the less educated and the Micronesian citizens residing in Guam and the CNMI.
“We support the acquisition for the reasons mentioned, while also recommending broadband adoption programs targeting seniors and recent immigrants to ensure that the acquisition best serves the public interest,” OEC and OGE said in joint comments submitted to the commission.
In assessing the characteristics of the Guam and the CNMI market, OEC and OGE cited a 2010 survey which revealed the existence of a “discernible digital divide” in both territories.
The survey showed low-income residents, the elderly, those who have less than a high school education, and immigrants from Micronesian states “are much less likely to use the internet and subscribe to broadband than the rest of the population.”
OEC and OGE thus recommended that the commission require the merger to “support digital adoption” focusing on training and awareness for older residents and recent immigrants from Micronesia.
OEC and OGE recommended the recruitment of “young technology ambassadors to interest seniors and retirees” into adopting broadband use.
For the CNMI, the two technology groups recommended the adoption of a program focusing “on training, affordability, and anchor institution connectivity that would suit the interests of residents in CNMI.”
“Especially in Rota and Tinian, the merged entity’s efforts should focus on bringing low-income households affordable access, ideally in the home, but programs aimed at providing access at new community anchor institutions would also be effective.”