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N.Y. Gives Charter Spectrum Another Extension

Phillip Dampier November 26, 2018 Charter Spectrum, Consumer News, Public Policy & Gov't, Rural Broadband 10 Comments

New York’s Department of Public Service (DPS) has granted Charter Communications an unprecedented additional 18-day extension to file its threatened appeal of the Commission’s decision to boot the cable company from the state and its six-month exit plan.

“Charter and DPS Staff state in their request for a limited 18-day extension of time that discussions are ongoing, that Charter and DPS Staff have established a framework for how a settlement agreement might be structured, and that any final agreement would necessarily address: issues relating to the inclusion of certain categories of addresses and whether they are valid ‘passings’ under the Merger Approval Order; penalty actions and amounts under dispute in Supreme Court; and a schedule for compliance (including enforcement mechanisms) going forward,” the order granting the extension reads.

Despite last week’s filing from Charter’s attorneys excoriating the Public Service Commission for its decision to remove Spectrum from the state, the DPS claimed this week that because of Charter’s “continued obligations to comply with the Public Service Law and regulations, good cause exists […] to allow for further discussions while both sides reserve their respective legal rights.”

But some consumer groups, including Stop the Cap!, are wondering exactly when patience will run thin at the Commission.

“When the latest deadline arrives in January 2019, it will be nearly six months since the Commission voted to strip approval of Charter’s merger with Time Warner Cable,” said Phillip M. Dampier, founder of Stop the Cap! “While we can appreciate the benefits of negotiation and dialogue, these conversations are taking place behind closed doors with no public input and no formal ability for groups like ours to intervene and offer our own views.”

Stop the Cap! has advocated that Charter Communications be allowed to remain in business in New York, but only with their agreement to meet some additional terms and conditions:

  1. Further extend Spectrum service to additional customers in rural New York scheduled to receive satellite internet service;
  2. Increase entry-level broadband speed to at least 200 Mbps immediately and further extend availability of Everyday Low Price Internet service ($14.99/mo);
  3. Settle the ongoing labor dispute with striking Spectrum workers in downstate New York.

“At present, it appears the DPS/PSC is only negotiating to get Spectrum back in compliance with the original terms of the Merger Order they have been ignoring, which is hardly a concession,” Dampier said. “Charter’s arrogance and blatant disrespect for the terms of the merger deal and its flippant adherence to those terms should cost the company more than just a monetary fine lost in the state’s coffers. Visible benefits to New York consumers must be part of the equation.”

Dampier

The state seems mostly focused on keeping Charter in compliance with the agreement while the lawyers talk.

“As the Commission noted in prior extensions, however, this limited extension should not be viewed as an indefinite grant of time for discussions to continue between DPS Staff and the Company,” DPS officials wrote. “Many Upstate New Yorkers living in Charter’s franchise areas are understandably frustrated by the lack of modern communications infrastructure. The Compliance and Revocation Orders were designed to deal with very serious consumer issues presented by Charter’s conduct related to the company’s network expansion. As such, the processes envisioned therein must continue in the absence of an agreement.”

The current extension resets the deadlines to file an appeal to Dec. 14, 2018 and the six-month exit plan to Jan. 11, 2019. Both are just the latest in a series of extensions.

Important Dates:

  • July 27, 2018: The PSC votes to rescind approval of the Charter/Time Warner Cable merger in New York, effectively disallowing the company to continue to do business in the state.
  • August 17, 2018: Charter files a 60-day extension request, which is granted on Aug. 20.
  • September 7, 2018: Charter files a 30-day extension request, which is granted on Sept. 10.
  • October 9, 2018: Charter files a 60-day extension request. The DPS grants a 45-day extension instead on Oct. 10.
  • November 21, 2018: Department of Public Service (DPS) Staff and Charter filed a joint letter stating that they had not yet been able to reach a fully executed settlement agreement, but that they had established a framework for how a settlement agreement might be structured and that discussions remain ongoing. A limited 18-day extension is granted.
  • December 14, 2018: Deadline for Charter to file its appeal with the Commission.
  • January 11, 2019: Deadline for Charter to file a six-month exit plan showing the Commission how the company intends to orderly transfer its Spectrum cable operation to another provider.

Currently there are 10 comments on this Article:

  1. Ms Willie C Branagan says:

    I have sent complaints regarding Spectrum to the FCC, New York State’s Attorney General, always with copies to Thomas M. Rutledge CEO and President, Charter Communications. However, despite the fact that I have spoken to no one who feels that Spectrum provides even fair service. I am sorry that they continue to receive extensions.

  2. Dylan says:

    I definitely see this whole ordeal just stalling for quite a while and going quietly in the night. NYS has no options here besides Charter.

  3. Dylan says:

    I will add as my edit time ran out that I agree here with mostly everything said. Most importantly, getting 200mbps base standard to everyone and making sure everyone has the best equipment aka, the new 3.1 modems. The older legal matters with the attorney general were mostly due to bad customer equipment and/or older equipment from legacy TWC. Now that Spectrum carries some very good equipment, wave two router 2200mbps total throughput and Docsis 3.1 modems for all, there should be no issues for speed.

  4. Vince says:

    Just a quick bit of food for thought. Everyone always complains about spectrum being a horrible provider. You guys unfortunately are not seeing the big picture. What do you think happens when they leave NY. You are going to get a 100x worse replacement Comcast coming in to replace. This is going to be the biggest IT cluster of all time. Spectrum, yes, is not the best ISP and they have their issues. But they are light years better than Comcast. There shouldn’t be a push to remove them. There should be a push to introduce competition. Everyone who supports this is absolutely insane.

  5. Justin says:

    Yup, spectrum is the lesser of two evils.

  6. EJ says:

    It is about principle and holding a companies feet to the fire. As long as the government rolls over they will continue to get rolled over. Funny how the talk was tough around election time and now it is well okay we will give you an extension. I don’t care how it is done, but the company should be kicked out. Take the money from the fines and turn it into a municipality. All the matters is getting them out. I’m so sick of telecommunication companies getting away with promising things they don’t deliver. FEET TO THE FIRE!!!!!!!!

  7. Ian S Littman says:

    The issue here is that the NY PSC’s threats have no teeth because, well, who will take over the cable systems if Spectrum is forced to sell? Either Altice or Comcast, and Altice probably can’t outbid Comcast for the properties. Heck, Comcast could offer Spectrum a market swap so no money would change hands, kind of like what happened years ago when Adelphia was pieced out. For example, Comcast could give Spectrum its Texas (Houston-area), North Carolina, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Kansas, and/or Missouri systems in exchange for Spectrum’s NYC systems, at which point each cable company would end up with a more consistent regional footprint than before and you wouldn’t actually get any more competition anywhere.

    Of course, the NY PSC probably knows that the above is exactly how things would go down, and would rather not go that route because suddenly everyone would go from no modem fees and no caps to $13/mo modem fees and 1TB caps. Because, in markets where Spectrum has 200/10, 400/20 and gigabit tiers, they’re superior to Comcast for 99.5% of cases (exceptions being at the very top end where you can actually get residential metro Ethernet if you pay enough).

    The only way a system sale would actually net out to better service/pricing is if RCN found enough funding to take the system over. But that’s a heck of a long shot.

  8. Paul Houle says:

    For a long time communities have been frustrated in that they don’t have any power to
    negotiate with cable companies.

    This town refused to enter into a contract with “big cable”

    https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/12/comcast-rejected-by-small-town-residents-vote-for-municipal-fiber-instead/

    probably because they’ve seen that a contract protects the cable company but not the town.

    If New York really wants universal service in upstate they just may need to take “the public option”.

  9. Earl says:

    Stop with the extensions… spectrum is a price/speed manipulating scam company..I’m in upstate NY Albany county..I pay $71 a month for internet only…it’s the only option I have where I live…so spectrum can charge me anything they want…it’s garbage..it doesn’t work half the time n have to keep unplugging n replugging it in…handful of calls..the answer is always…well concrete walls..microwaves will affect it…are you kidding me?. Garbage company garbage answers…kick them out!!!

  10. John says:

    I have been with Time Warner since the 1980’s and since Charter Spectrum took over here in upstate NY my internet only minimum speed bill went from 29.99 to recently raised to 59.99. I am retired living on a fixed income and no one is giving me a raise. Yet companies like Spectrum and other utilities just keep raising their rates. I complained and got a small reduction only because I have been with RR and them since the beginning and have never been late paying my bill. But people HAVE TO draw the line if they don’t they will just keep running us over. So I say the buck stops here and now. They make so much in profit it is lunacy to think they need more. if they didn’t how do you think they can pay those fines still operate and make a profit? and they do which is proof they are charging way to much for their services. I head that someone is working on a satellite system that will provide high speed internet for the whole planet and it will be way cheaper then what we pay now because they will not need the infrastructure that land lines need plus since the entire world will be hooked up will only mean they need to charge bare minimum and still make large profits. That is what we should be pushing for.







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