The Nation's Second Biggest Cable Company Probably Won't Get Kicked Out Of New York State After All

from the ill-communication dept

Back in July, New York State took the historically-unprecedented step of voting to kick Charter Communications (aka Spectrum) out of New York State. Regulators say the company misled them about why the company repeatedly failed to adhere to merger conditions affixed to the company's $86 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, going so far as to falsify (according to the NY PUC) the number of homes the company expanded service to. The state has also sued the company for failing to deliver advertised broadband speeds, for its shoddy service, and for its terrible customer support.

But the threat to kick Charter out of the state appears largely to have been a negotiation tactic, as the two sides are now purportedly making progress and engaging in "productive dialogue" as they attempt to hash out their differences. That's at least according to a Charter filing with the state PUC requesting a deadline extension obtained by Ars Technica:

"Good cause exists to further extend this deadline. Charter and the Department have been involved over the past few weeks in productive dialogue regarding the Revocation Order as well as the July Compliance Order and the related special proceeding initiated by the Commission in the [state] Supreme Court pursuant to the July Compliance Order. As part of that dialogue, Charter has been assembling additional information regarding broadband deployment efforts in New York for the Department's and the Commission's review. A further extension would allow additional time for discussions between Charter and the Department before the initiation by Charter of additional Commission or court proceedings."

The state PUC seems to agree, noting in its own order granting a deadline extension (pdf) that Charter has made a few good faith efforts of late, including ceasing running ads misleadingly stating the company expanded broadband to areas it may not have actually wired. While most telecom experts I've spoken to believe this is likely to result in some kind of settlement, this is still a fight that's going to be important to watch moving forward.

For one, Charter has attempted to use the FCC's "pre-emption" language embedded in its net neutrality repeal to try and claim that states have no authority to police ISPs in the wake of obvious federal apathy on consumer issues by the Trump administration and Ajit Pai FCC.

ISPs have lobbied hard (and quite successfully) to not only gut federal (FTC and FCC) oversight of their businesses, but have also been working hard to cripple state oversight. That's a troubling trend for an industry that already faces limited accountability due to the lack of competition in most of their markets, especially given that Charter and Comcast now enjoy a pretty stark monopoly over faster broadband speeds. That monopoly manifests itself in all manner of obvious ways, including soaring prices, unnecessary usage caps, net neutrality violations, and historically-terrible customer service.

So far those efforts haven't gone well for ISPs, with a court shooting down Charter's claim that the FCC's net neutrality repeal means states can't step in to fill the void. But with more than half the states in the nation now pursuing their own net neutrality rules, and other states trying to pass privacy rules in the wake of dismantling of FCC protections last year in Congress, this is a fight that's going to be playing out repeatedly in the months and years to come as states try to fill the vacuum left by a federal government that (unless you're in deep denial) pretty clearly doesn't care much about telecom consumer protection.

And while some states (New York, California, Washington) clearly still think consumer protection is important given the perils of monopoly power, there's countless states that are going to mirror the federal belief that telecom Utopia is accomplished, magically, by letting giant monopolies like Comcast, Charter and AT&T run amok. That's going to be especially problematic for users in states like Tennessee and West Virginia, where letting these historically-unpopular companies rip off taxpayers and over-charge captive customers is seen as a god-given right.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2018 @ 6:37am

    Regulatory Capture

    Clear examples can be found in the news weekly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2018 @ 6:42am

    in other words, those who brought in the threat have now been treated in a much nicer way (read bribed!) and have decided that their own pockets are more important than doing their jobs, like ensuring the customers get what they pay for, all the way up to state level!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2018 @ 6:53am

    I'm in the effected area.

    What are the ACTUAL options? They can't "toss them out of NY" without a massive Taking of poles, wiring, server farms, etc.

    About the most the State CAN do is revoke their privilege of monopoly service. Which is pretty much what was done.

    Who can move in to "compete"?

    It's NOT an easy situation to fix, especially when trying to do so below Federal levels. The Fed *could* simply set restrictions that would apply to all States (which would be screamed about, just like them NOT doing so is being screamed about).

    Personally, what *I* would like to see at the federal level is simple - if you want to be a "provider", you MUST offer Dumb Pipe Service for under fifty bucks a month.

    If it wasn't for the duopoly of cable providers, anyone entering the market now offering such would beggar the Big Two in under a year. NOBODY wants all the "upgrades" they force on us or charge us for even if we don't want them or never use them.

    My spectrum bill breakdown is STILL half a page of "below the line" fees and charges.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Sep 2018 @ 7:32am

      Re:

      "Who can move in to "compete"?"

      I'm also in the effected area. I'd probably still rather have Spectrum than have Comcast move in...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2018 @ 6:17pm

      Re:

      Poles are rented by spectrum , they do NOT own the poles . There are other things like power and the telephone company that utilize the same poles .

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2018 @ 9:55am

    Good faith

    Charter has made a few good faith efforts of late, including ceasing running ads misleadingly stating the company expanded broadband to areas it may not have actually wired.

    So... they've agreed to stop doing certain enumerated things that are illegal, like false advertising? That's a pretty low bar for both "good faith" and "effort". Perhaps next they'll agree to do all that stuff they'd agreed to do years ago but didn't.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2018 @ 10:48am

      Re: Good faith

      Clearly, this is the law enforcement definition of "good faith" where it's good enough unless the other party can present egregiously damning evidence of bad faith.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Digitari, 17 Sep 2018 @ 10:02am

    I unfortunately have Charter Spectrum 15 years ago before I left Michigan I was able to get as a minimum 30 megabytes per second now for the same price I get 30 megabits per second 1/8 the speed for the same price

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 17 Sep 2018 @ 2:43pm

    talk talk talk...

    As long as they can SIT and do nothing..except pay lawyers///

    IS IT ANY CHEAPER???
    Lies are LIES..and they KNOW they did it...ON PURPOSE..

    Start Fining them, for failing to complete the contract as well as Truth in adverts, as WELL as Lieing about Availability..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 17 Sep 2018 @ 2:46pm

      Re: talk talk talk...

      "ot that? 4% of global revenue. As the article notes, that means if Google fucks up a single download, it could owe $4.4 billion to the EU. Facebook could owe $1.6 billion. "

      WHY NOT?? Check is in the mail..

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bamboo Harvester (profile), 17 Sep 2018 @ 5:25pm

      Re: talk talk talk...

      Fining? How about ZERO TAX BREAKS. No more free ride to "upgrade infrastructure".

      They pocket that money as soon as it's available. Verizon was notorious for it - the copper in the street at this house in NY was installed in the sixties. They've gotten millions to upgrade it - YEARLY.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        ECA (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 12:01pm

        Re: Re: talk talk talk...

        HOW about the Gov. going around, doing its job, and Showing the Corp is lying..
        Then Force the corp NOT to lie..

        Part of the problem with this, is WE dont have enough people to do the job??

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    A Cable Fan (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 5:46am

    It's just a union ploy

    Let's be real here. This is the union friendly governor apply pressure to get those union jobs back and increasing our costs for services. It's all about votes and re-election for Cuomo. Politics not service!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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