Brindisi: Spectrum Seeks Data Caps In Effort To Charge Customers More
Congressman Anthony Brindisi is blowing the whistle on what he says is an attempt by Spectrum (Charter Communications) to limit data use by customers and charge for overages.
New York's 22nd District Representative held a press conference outside Spectrum's location in Consumer Square in New Hartford on Friday, saying the cable, internet and phone provider is attempting to backtrack on promises it made the federal government when it merged with Time Warner back in 2016.
At issue, he says, is an attempt to impose data caps on broadband customers. Then, he says, Spectrum would charge those customers more for additional broadband use.
Brindisi is urging the FCC to reject Spectrum's request to have certain terms of that 2016 merger lifted. The Utica Democrat says not only would this violate the terms Spectrums agreed to but is made worse in the face of a pandemic where families are forced to rely on internet service to maintain their businesses and to educate their children.
“Spectrum cable, during a pandemic, is seeking permission to impose data caps on customers and I am here to stand up to them and say no,” said Brindisi. “If Spectrum gets their way, your family could hit your monthly data cap after your child does one week’s worth of online classes. If you want your child to see their teacher the rest of the month, you would need to cut Spectrum another check. That is unacceptable.”
The full text of Brindisis letter to the FCC ca be read below:
Dear Chairman Pai and Commissioners O’Rielly, Carr, Rosenworcel, and Starks,
I write today regarding the petition filed by Charter Communications (Charter) to sunset two conditions of its merger agreement on May 18, 2021. The original merger agreement included terms that would not expire for seven years. I strongly urge the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reject Charter’s request and require them to abide by the terms of the merger for the full seven years.
As you are aware, on May 10, 2016, the FCC approved the merger of Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable, Inc. This came after the New York State Public Service Commission (NYS PSC) granted similar approval to the merger in New York, a move which impacted 2.6 million customers in our state. As a condition of that merger, the new Charter Communications (operating under the name “Spectrum”) was required to expand high-speed internet access to at least an additional 145,000 addresses over a four-year period, at a rate of at least 36,250 per year.
In 2018, the NYS PSC took action to revoke its approval of Charter’s merger agreement due to “persistent non-compliance and failure to live up to promises.” The NYS PSC identified Charter’s “attempts to skirt obligations to serve rural communities” as a primary reason for the revocation. Charter had missed “every network expansion target since the merger was approved in 2016.” In order to stay operational in the state, Charter eventually agreed to complete its 145,000 home build-out and pay the state $12 million to finance further broadband expansion.
Due to their failure to abide by the terms of their merger in New York State, Charter’s fulfillment of their FCC obligations requires close monitoring. The terms with the FCC include expanding their broadband network to two million new customer locations and prohibiting Charter from imposing data caps. As I wrote to Chairman Pai in a letter dated January 25, 2019, I encourage the FCC to conduct thorough oversight of Charter’s build-out and other merger obligations.
I hope that the FCC will also weigh the current national situation in its decision regarding Charter’s request to impose data caps on its customers. With millions of Americans working from home, and countless K-12 and college students participating in distance learning, it would be disastrous to allow Charter to institute data caps on their customers as early as next year. No worker should have their internet access crawl to a stop because they hit their data cap, and no family should be put in the position of having to pay their Internet Service Provider more so their eight-year-old can participate in their third grade class. With millions of Americans out of work in the middle of the global pandemic, Americans need our support. They expect agencies such as the FCC to stand with them, not with corporate behemoths trying to raise their bills
Given Charter’s record and the current realities facing American families, the FCC should reject Charter’s request to terminate the terms of their merger and require that they continue to abide by the merger agreement for the full seven years. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this matter.
Brindisi has been a loud critic of Spectrum/Charter Communications in recent rate hikes and failures to provide service to underserved and rural areas of the state.
Earlier this week, he released results of a statewide broadband survey that found his district (NY-22) was home to the slowest internet speeds in New York State.