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NY AG Weighs In On Charter/TWC Merger

The New York State Attorney General has sent a letter to Charter Communications, warning the firm that it cannot simply "re-brand" Time Warner Cable services when it takes over the company.

In the letter, Tim Wu, Senior Enforcement Counsel and Special Advisor with Eric Schniederman’s office, tells Charter CEO Tom Rutledge that "Time Warner Cable has been advertising its WiFi in ways that defy the technology’s technical capabilities and has been provisioning some of its customers with equipment that simply cannot achieve the higher bandwidths the company has sold to them."   Wu explained,  "We don't yet have a concern with Charter itself, but a concern is that Time Warner Cable, our investigation has shown, has drastically underperformed under its promises, and since Charter is acquiring or has acquired this company, processing, basically we're saying to Charter, the mess here you're gonna need to clean up."

The letter says that buying TWC and simply rebranding its services as "Spectrum" is an inadequate solution.   "In many cases, people seem to be getting a lot less than they're paying for, and that's where I'll put it."

Wu wrote Charter needs to correct problems the AG’s office has identified.    "They promise, if you've ever watched Time Warner ads, blazingly fast speeds, super-reliable internet connection and no buffering, all the movies you can watch as fast as you want, and the testing, thousands of complaints have shown to us that in fact, people are suffering from lower speeds, are suffering from buffering, aren't getting the performance that they're paying for, and so those are our concerns, and you know our basic discussion with Charter is, you know, you're the new guy in town and let's have a conversation about cleaning this up."

Time Warner Cable did not make a spokesperson available for comment.  Charter issued a statement (scroll down) that lauds the company’s Spectrum Line of products and services, which it says will bring greater value and more consumer friendly policies.

Wu says the AG's office is optimistic "Charter will do something better than their predecessor."

NYAG Letter to Charter

Here is the full statement emailed to WAMC by Charter:

“Charter has made significant investments in our core infrastructure which has enabled us to offer high-value products backed by a high-quality service organization throughout our footprint.  As we progress with the integration of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, we will continue to do the same, bringing all TWC and BHN systems all-digital so that Charter can provide its advanced Spectrum products and services, bringing greater value and more consumer friendly policies, such as Broadband speeds starting at up to 60 mbps, no data caps, no usage based billing, and no modem lease fees to all our customers.  In addition, Charter’s interconnection policies have been lauded by companies such as Netflix as a real benefit of these transactions for consumers.  We look forward to bringing all these enhancements to customers in NY and redefining what a cable company can be.”

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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