CPUC orders Charter to prove its broadband upgrade claims

by Steve Blum • , , ,

Charter Communications was given ten days to deliver granular broadband deployment data to the California Public Utilities Commission yesterday. Administrative law judge Karl Bemesderfer granted a motion by the CPUC’s public advocate office (PAO) to force Charter to hand over information to support its claim that it is meeting the conditions imposed by the commission when its purchase of Time Warner and Bright House cable systems in California was approved in 2016.

Among other things, the commission required Charter to upgrade all of its Californian systems – new and old – to 300 Mbps download capability by the end of this year. The PAO hasn’t been able to verify compliance because the information it received “provided no explanation or supporting data to show how Charter identified or quantified the progress it claimed to have achieved”.

To fix that problem, the PAO

Requested census block level broadband deployment information similar to that provided by Charter to the Public Advocates Office during the proceeding [to approve the Time Warner/Bright House acquisition]…

And then made…

Additional requests for Charter to explain how it calculated the household percentages it provided in its December 2017 progress report letter, and to provide the data Charter used to perform the calculations.

Charter refused. So the PAO asked Bemesderfer to intervene. Despite Charter’s objection, yesterday’s ruling directs Charter to respond to the data requests “with substantive, complete, and accurate responses” by a week from Friday.

The details of the PAO’s data requests and Charter’s response are being treated as confidential. According to the commission’s 2016 decision, Charter must “offer broadband Internet service with speeds of at least 300 Mbps download” by 31 December 2019 to all of the broadband-capable homes in its new, expanded footprint.

I hope the PAO is asking for performance data as well as marketing data. It’s one thing to “offer” service, it’s quite another to deliver it.