New York orders Charter to upgrade analog to digital

12 January 2016 by Steve Blum
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The New York state public service commission approved Charter Communications’ purchase of Time Warner cable systems, but added a list of conditions that included digital upgrades and speed increases. According to the decision, Charter…

…must convert their existing New York footprint to an all-digital network (including upgrading the Columbia County Charter cable systems to enable broadband communications) capable of delivering faster broadband speeds. The Petitioners will be required to offer all customers broadband speeds of up to 100 Mbps by the end of 2018 and 300 Mbps by the end of 2019.

Plus, Charter has four years to built out cable systems to 145,000 homes with nothing at all, at a hefty price…

The Commission expects that New Charter will have to invest approximately $305 million to meet these conditions, made up of (1) $290 million to reach 145,000 premises not currently passed by any cable network and (2) $15 million dedicated to advanced network upgrades to Charter’s Columbia County cable systems. These amounts are based on an estimate of $2,000 per premises passed and costs derived from past build-outs associated with the Connect New York grant program.

Charter actually offered to upgrade the one New York analog-only system it currently owns earlier in the proceeding. That’s contrary to the position it’s taking here where it’s stonewalling requests to upgrade the hundreds of thousands of analog-only Californians who live in Charter’s redlined areas.

There are other conditions attached to the New York approval. Charter has to live up to its promise to roll out a discounted service plan for low income households and participate in New York state’s broadband infrastructure subsidy initiative, which is similar to but not as well endowed as the California Advanced Services Fund program.

The deal still has to be approved, or not, by the FCC and the California Public Utilities Commission.