Overlooking the obvious hypocrisy of politicians accusing others of failing to live up to their promises, CNN reports on a troublesome situation in the Empire State:
New York authorities have moved to oust Spectrum, the state’s largest TV and internet service provider, claiming the company failed to serve customers and live up to promises.
The state’s public service commission said Friday that cable company Charter Communications (CHTR), which operates Spectrum, reneged on commitments it made when the state approved its merger with Time Warner Cable in 2016.
The commission is giving Charter 60 days to come up with an exit plan from New York and has ordered the firm to pay $3 million in penalties. The company must provide uninterrupted service while the state transitions to a new service provider, the commission said.
Charter has 30 days to contest the order, and the company said it plans to fight the decision.
In a statement, Charter said the claims made by the commission were “politically charged” and tied to the state’s election season. The company said its workers “remain focused on delivering faster and better broadband to more New Yorkers, as we promised.”
More than 2 million New Yorkers get their digital cable TV, internet and phone service from Spectrum. Of course, this includes plenty of low-income residents who subscribe to Spectrum’s Internet Assist, the high-speed Internet plan for low-income. It costs just $14.99 per month.
Spectrum is accused of repeatedly missing deadlines for improved internet speeds and failing to deliver high-speed internet to rural communities.
Spectrum denied the charges and fired back, saying that “… it has extended broadband service to 86,000 homes and businesses” according to CNN.
“…the CEO of Charter (Spectrum’s parent company) says his company is willing to engage in a “lengthy” legal battle in New York if the situation can’t otherwise be resolved outside of a courtroom.
“We believe we’re in compliance with the plain reading of the buildout requirements that the state imposed on us in merger conditions, and we have a very strong legal case and ability to defend ourselves,” said chief executive Tom Rutledge during Charter’s earnings call on Tuesday. “It could play out over a lengthy period of time if required.”
In addition, attorneys for the state public service commission will seek fines on Charter of $100,000 per day until the company fulfills its promise to extend connectivity to households and businesses that have slow or no internet connection. The state lawyers plan to bring an enforcement action in New York state court.
Charter is also accused of “below standard installation and construction work” including, the commission claims, improperly installing poles and leaving detached wires laying on the ground.
“These recurring failures led the Commission to the broader conclusion that the company was not interested in being a good corporate citizen and that the Commission could no longer in good faith and conscience allow it to operate in New York,” the commission said in a press release.
It’s unclear which company would step in to provide service for New Yorkers if Charter is forced to cease operations in the state.
What happens to Internet Assist customers?
As TheVerge.com worded it, “…if you’re a Spectrum customer, the odds that you’re going to find yourself on a different provider within a couple months are slim to none. This is only getting started.”
It’s very doubtful that New York politicians will really kick the state’s largest provider of TV and internet service out of the state. We would guess that Charter makes generous contributions to enough politicians re-election campaigns that they’ll get away with a reasonably small fine and a well-publicized promise to be better corporate citizens in the future.
In other words, Internet Assist customers don’t have anything to worry about anything right now.
We’ll keep you posted on further developments.