NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Google's (GOOG) plan to expand its local fiber Internet services could be great news for Comcast (CMCSA - Get Report) because it may improve Comcast's standing with federal regulators who are looking at its proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable (TWC) and with state regulators who want fairness for customers.
On the federal level, Comcast is facing a skeptical to hostile reception as it tries to steer its merger past the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission. Democrats are mostly lining up against it, while Republicans are mostly lining up in support.
At issue is not just that Comcast would increase its customer count from 22 million to 33 million, but that it and Time Warner Cable are the largest and third largest Internet service providers in the U.S., with a combined 39% of the local access market, according to Leichtman Research.
Google's plan to enter nine new markets is not a direct threat to that market dominance. Patrick Lucey of New America Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank, notes that after the merger Comcast cable would pass 80 million homes and Google 3.5 million.But Google has a market capitalization of over $400 billion, compared with a combined $174 billion for Comcast and Time Warner Cable. In Washington, such comparisons matter.