Verizon is very keen on getting public support for its proposed $3.6 billion purchase of wireless spectrum from Comcast, Bright House and Time Warner Cable, and today CEO Lowell McAdam is suggesting to that same public that a mobile television service could help sweeten the deal. He told The Wall Street Journal that if the purchase is approved, the cable operators could team up with Verizon to provide an "integrated" mobile TV deal "in time for the holidays." What's more, McAdam told the Journal that this particular arrangement might open up an option that cable customers have been requesting for a long time: the ability to pick and choose which channels they want with a la carte pricing.
"Most content providers realize that the number of channels and the layout that you have within your home may not be appropriate for the mobile environment, and those discussions are just beginning now," Mr. McAdam said. Some content providers, he said, "have come to us and have said, 'We are willing to do an à la carte approach here.'"
The deal is currently under scrutiny from the Department of Justice for anti-competitive reasons, but McAdam's ideas could open up an entirely new field of debate: he also told the Journal that Verizon is looking to make video streamed this way not count against a customer's mobile data cap. Like Comcast's Xbox 360 video service, that could fly in the face of net neutrality efforts. Here, McAdam suggests that Verizon could bill content providers for the data instead, but that would still mean that an entire category of data wouldn't be treated equally to the rest. Verizon isn't the only company pushing for this idea, either: Netflix has publicly declared that it will become part of just such a service, and is hoping for the same kind of cap-free treatment on its carrier network. With net neutrality, spectrum concerns and industry consolidation bumping heads, it feels like something's gotta give.