ALBANY — The state Public Service Commission on Thursday approved a settlement in a long-running dispute with the parent company of the Spectrum cable system over expanding high-speed broadband access to 145,000 addresses upstate.
The settlement with Charter Communications resolves a dispute in which state officials contended Charter has failed to follow through on rural broadband expansions that were promised in return for the state’s approval of a 2016 merger with Time Warner Cable. A year ago, the PSC pulled the deal’s approval over the issue, leading to a lawsuit and negotiations that led to the settlement.
Under the terms of the agreement, Charter will expand its network to provide high-speed broadband service to 145,000 new residences and businesses, entirely upstate. Language in the agreement limits the company’s ability to claim service expansions in cities, including Albany and Schenectady, against the total, to ensure the new connections will be in underserved rural areas.
The PSC estimates it will cost Charter about $600 million to comply with the settlement. Charter officials did not say Friday where they would be extending service, but residents of Duanesburg in western Schenectady County have been among those vocal about the need for better internet service.
“Broadband is crucial to driving economic growth and opportunity, especially in communities that are currently unserved or underserved, and Charter needs to deliver broadband access for New Yorkers,” said PSC Chairman John B. Rhodes. “Approval of this agreement enables the parties to move forward, without being hampered by the time and cost of litigation, to accomplish our important goals to expand access to high speed broadband. This settlement allows the parties to move forward to deliver broadband access to New Yorkers more swiftly and certainly.”
Under the agreement, Charter’s expansion is to be completed by September 30, 2021.
“We’re pleased the PSC has approved the agreement, and we look forward to continuing to serve our customers and expanding the availability of high-speed broadband in New York state,” Charter said in a statement. “We thank the PSC, Chairman Rhodes, the commissioners and staff for working with us through this process.”