ALBANY — State regulators on Thursday announced the finalization of a $13 million settlement with Charter Communications over Charter’s failure to upgrade its network quickly enough after acquiring Time Warner Cable.
The New York State Public Service Commission called it the largest financial settlement with a cable company in state history, and possibly also in the nation’s history.
The PSC in January 2016 approved the Charter-Time Warner deal. Under strengthened review standards, Charter agreed to conditions including:
- Delivering broadband speed upgrades to 100 megabits per second statewide by the end of 2018.
- Delivering broadband speed upgrades to 300 Mbps statewide by the end of 2019.
- Building out its network to reach 145,000 un-served or under-served homes and businesses within four years of the closing of the transaction in four equal phases of 36,250 per year.
The PSC said Charter reported it had completed its first speed upgrade ahead of schedule but, in fact, had expanded its network to pass only 15,164 premises, not 36,250, as of May 18, 2017.
Under the revised agreement, Charter will have to reach six expansion increments of 21,646 each through May 18, 2020.
In a prepared statement issued Thursday, Charter said: “Charter has met and even exceeded the vast majority of our key year-one commitments in New York associated with the merger. Delays in pole-attachment approvals and make-ready by pole owners made it impossible to extend our network to the targeted number of homes in the first year post-merger — an important fact that the settlement appropriately reflects. Thousands of upstate consumers now have access to Spectrum services where approvals and make-ready have occurred, and we have a solid deployment plan to reach the thousands of additional homes in our commitment.”
Under the settlement, Charter will forfeit its right to earn back up to $1 million each time it misses a six-month build-out target. The actual amount forfeited will vary, depending upon the percentage of the target that is missed and whether Charter can demonstrate it has performed specific tasks in a timely manner.
Also as part of the settlement agreement, Charter developed a website (www.bldlkup.com) to inform homeowners and businesses whether their address is included in Charter’s broadband expansion plan.