Charter Promises Faster, Cheaper Internet to Win Merger Approval

Charter Communications Inc. made its first formal argument for why regulators should approve its purchase of Time Warner Cable Inc. and Bright House Networks LLC, saying consumers will benefit from faster, cheaper Internet speeds and improved customer service.

In May, Charter announced a deal to buy Time Warner Cable for about $55 billion, along with Bright House Networks, a smaller cable company that Charter had previously agreed to acquire for $10.4 billion.

In a filing with the Federal Communications Commission Thursday, Charter said it would offer a broadband service with minimum Internet speeds that cost less than what Time Warner Cable and Bright House customers currently pay for similar offerings. In addition, Charter would expand a much faster Internet service now being offered by both Time Warner and Bright House to its own customers, the company said. Charter didn’t disclose prices for these proposed services.

Turning to another issue, the company said it wouldn’t block or degrade Web traffic, favor its own online content ahead of others’ or create Internet fast lanes for a fee -- the concept known as net neutrality. The company also wouldn’t impose caps on customers’ Internet usage or charge higher monthly rates if they consume more bandwidth.

Eyeing growth opportunities, Charter said it would invest at least $2.5 billion in the build-out of networks to serve commercial customers and deploy more than 300,000 Wi-Fi hotspots.

The deal needs clearances from the Department of Justice, which determines whether it will reduce competition, and the Federal Communications Commission, which judges whether it benefits the public.

Adding Time Warner Cable would enable Stamford, Connecticut-based Charter to almost quadruple its cable subscribers, gaining customers in cities including New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. The combined business would have about 17 million basic cable customers, second to Comcast’s 22 million.

In April, Comcast abandoned its planned merger with Time Warner Cable after regulators expressed concern that the combined company would have incentives to thwart online video services like Netflix Inc. that offer alternatives to cable-TV packages.

Charter and Time Warner Cable have said they expect to close their transaction by the end of this year.

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