Charter Urged by N.Y. to ‘Clean Up’ TWC’s Broadband Service

  • Attorney general has been probing broadband speed claims
  • Charter asked to make good on predecessor’s promises

Charter Communications Inc. was urged by New York’s attorney general to improve broadband service for former Time Warner Cable Inc. customers following a $55 billion takeover.

In a letter to Charter Chief Executive Officer Tom Rutledge Wednesday, an enforcement official for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said he hoped the company would “clean up Time Warner Cable’s act and deliver the quality Internet service New Yorkers deserve and have long been promised.”

Charter has said it intends to phase out the Time Warner Cable name, which has earned low marks from customers for years. Schneiderman has been investigating promises by Time Warner Cable and other broadband providers of blazing-fast speeds that allow quick downloads of movies, music and television shows.

The change for Time Warner Cable is part of a rebranding that includes cable provider Bright House Networks LLC, which Charter bought last year. Products and services will be marketed to those customers under its “Spectrum” brand, according to Stamford, Connecticut-based Charter.

As a condition of approving the merger, New York’s Public Service Commission required Charter to upgrade available speeds statewide to 300 megabits per second by the end of 2019, provide more low and moderately-priced internet packages, and expand broadband to under-served areas. Time Warner Cable currently offers speeds ranging from about 50 megabits per second to about 300 megabits per second, according to its website.

Charter “has made significant investments in our core infrastructure,” Tamara Smith, a company spokeswoman, said Wednesday in a statement. “We look forward to bringing all these enhancements to customers in N.Y. and redefining what a cable company can be.”

‘Abysmal’ Results

After asking New York customers to use open-source tools to test their Internet speeds as part of the state official’s probe, “the results we received from Time Warner Cable customers were abysmal,” Tim Wu, senior enforcement counsel and special adviser to Schneiderman, said in the letter. The company failed “to achieve the speeds its customers were promised” and “generally performed worse in this regard than other New York broadband providers.”

Wu, a law professor who advocates for freedom of access to Internet content and coined the phrase “net neutrality,” joined Schneiderman’s office last year. He helps advise the attorney general on enforcement efforts for new technologies.

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