Spectrum Ordered to Leave New York

Spectrum New York

The Public Service Commission's decision is the latest and most aggressive offensive in a prolonged battle between Charter, which operates under the brand name Spectrum and employs more than 11,000 New Yorkers, and Cuomo, who has accused the company of reneging on its promises to expand broadband service to rural areas of the state.

It wasn't immediately clear what the rejection means for Charter.

Experts have reported that Charter Communications is going to be putting an appeal to the order made by the state of NY, though it likely will not be flipped over; it looks like Charter Communications is going out and never coming back in.

Luckily, the ruling has no impact on New Yorkers and their ability to access cable television services. Charter now has 60 days to file a plan with the commission "to ensure an orderly transition to a successor provider (s)", but must continue to serve its customers in the meantime. After more than a year of administrative enforcement efforts to bring Charter into compliance with the commission's merger order, the time has come for stronger actions to protect New Yorkers and the public interest.

The commission said the U.S. broadband provider failed to live up to its agreement as part of the merger to build internet access to an additional 145,000 households and businesses in rural areas of NY under-served by internet providers.

Charter, which does business as Spectrum cable in NY, has been locked in a battle with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration over the rollout of high-speed internet access in rural areas of the state. "To ensure that Charter's customers are not negatively affected during that process, the commission further ordered the company to maintain service to the company's more than 2 million customers in NY until an orderly transition occurs".

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Conditions of the 2016 merger included extending service availability to 145,000 underserved homes and businesses in less populated areas of the state within four years and upgrading network speeds to 100Mbps by the end of 2018 and 300 Mbps by late 2019.

After its reply and further PSC deliberations, the commission determined that Charter Communications acting as Spectrum could not comply with the contingencies imposed in the 2016 conditional approval of the Charter-Time Warner merger, and the approval was rescinded and Charter banned from doing business in the state.

The Public Service Commission had previously fined Charter $2 million for failing to meet the broadband deadlines and voted Friday to force the company to forfeit $1 million in credit that was approved as part of the merger. "Rather than accept responsibility, Charter has tried to pass the blame for its failure on other companies, such as utility pole owners, which have processed tens of thousands of pole applications submitted by Charter". The Commission has also referred a false advertising claim to the Attorney General after Spectrum missed every network expansion target but continued to advertise as if they were delivering fast speeds.

Spectrum provides cable TV, internet and phone service to a wide swath of the Mid-Hudson Valley.

Charter's justification for this has been it doesn't want to allow competitors to take away potential customers, even though the Public Service Commission has allowed Charter to be the only company that provides service in designated area.

Find the entire decision, go to www.dps.ny.gov, choose "Commission Documents" and enter Case Number 15-M-0388 in the box labeled "Search for Case/Matter Number".

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