Stamford-based Charter Communications to stay, expand in NY
STAMFORD — Charter Communications and New York officials have reached an agreement for the cable-and-internet giant to stay in the state by expanding its internet service, nine months after state regulators had ordered the firm to leave.
As part of a proposed agreement jointly filed Friday by the company and the New York Department of Public Service, Charter would extend its high-speed broadband network to about 145,000 residences and businesses in upstate New York by September 2021. In addition, Charter would pay $12 million to expand its broadband offerings to “unserved and underserved premises.”
This prospective agreement would face a 60-day public-comment period and a final review and decision by the state’s Public Service Commission.
“It allows the parties to move forward with the critical work of expanding access to broadband, by resolving their disagreements without the need for costly litigation,” Charter said in a statement. “As a result, Charter will invest even more money in New York state than originally planned, bringing the educational, economic and social benefits of high-speed broadband to areas where access is often limited.”
The Stamford-based company was ordered to file a proposal to exit New York within six months, after the Public Service Commission last July revoked its approval of the company’s $55 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable in 2016. The purchase of TWC made Charter New York state’s largest internet service provider.
The PSC has accused Charter, which markets its services under the Spectrum brand name, of failing to meet its service obligations to customers and making misleading statements about its offerings. It has since granted several requests by the company to prolong the filing date for the exit plan.
“It does not surprise me that Charter is trying to remain active in New York state,” David Souder, associate dean of graduate programs in the University of Connecticut’s business school, said in a recent interview. “Although cable TV subscriptions are declining nationwide, providing internet service remains an important service with strong profit potential. Charter already has the infrastructure in place, and it makes sense to keep it in use.”
The company has grappled with other controversies in the state since it completed the TWC takeover.
Last December, Charter agreed to pay about $174 million to settle a lawsuit from the state’s attorney general that accused it of failing to deliver the fast and reliable connections it had promised.
During the past two years, the company has also grappled with a strike of several hundred New York technicians.
Nationwide, Charter now serves 26.2 million residences and 1.8 million small and medium-size businesses. In the fourth quarter of 2018, its total customer base grew about 3 percent from a year ago.
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