Charter and the State New York settle on terms for an honest broadband buildout

by Steve Blum • , , ,

Charter Communications won’t be thrown out of the State of New York. The Public Services Commission voted last week to accept a settlement that ends a dispute over whether Charter is meeting the obligations it accepted when its acquisition of Time Warner Cable systems was approved in 2016. It ends the threat that Charter could lose its franchise to operate cable systems in New York because, the commission said, Charter was “just lining its pockets”.

One of the points of contention was whether Charter could count addresses in New York City towards its commitment to build out broadband service to under and unserved communities. The New York PSC said it couldn’t, because there’s no shortage of broadband there. The settlement means that Charter will build out its footprint where it’s needed, according to the order adopted by the New York PSC last Thursday…

The 2019 Settlement Agreement…requires, among other things, that Charter continue to invest in network expansion to bring high speed broadband to 145,000 unserved and underserved addresses entirely in Upstate New York by September 30, 2021; that Charter provide $12 million in additional funds to further expand broadband coverage in Upstate New York beyond these 145,000 addresses; and, that Charter meet enforceable interim milestones and provide monthly reports to track its progress. The 2019 Settlement Agreement, will, in short, ensure that Charter’s network expansion only takes place in areas of Upstate New York where for the most part wireline broadband does not currently exist.

A similar dispute continues in California. Charter was likewise obligated to upgrade service in its Californian territory – old and new – by the California Public Utilities Commission, by the end of this year. The CPUC’s public advocates office (PAO) has been trying to verify that Charter is on track to meet that commitment, but hasn’t been able to get the information it needed to do so. In April, Charter was ordered to hand over the requested data “with substantive, complete, and accurate responses”. No word yet on whether they complied, but the fact that the PAO has scheduled a meeting with outgoing CPUC president Michael Picker’s telecoms advisors to discuss the case might be read as indicating that all is not well.