Archive for the ‘Charter’ Category

Disney fights streaming account sharing with help from cable industry

August 15th, 2019
Image of Mickey Mouse with Hulu and Disney+ logos.

Enlarge / Here they come, all together in a streaming bundle. (credit: Disney / Sam Machkovech)

Disney and Charter Communications are teaming up to fight account sharing in an attempt to prevent multiple people from using a single account to access streaming video services.

The battle against account sharing was announced as Disney and the nation's second-biggest cable company struck a new distribution agreement involving Disney's Hulu, ESPN+, and the forthcoming Disney+. Customers could still buy those online services directly from Disney, but the new deal would also let them make those purchases through Charter's Spectrum TV service.

If you buy a Disney service through Charter, be aware that the companies will work together to prevent you from sharing a login with friends. Disney and Charter said in their announcement yesterday that they have "agreed to work together on piracy mitigation. The two companies will work together to implement business rules and techniques to address such issues as unauthorized access and password sharing."

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Posted in Biz & IT, Charter, Disney, ESPN, Hulu, Policy | Comments (0)

Cable companies can save money now that DOCSIS 3.1 upgrade is mostly done

June 14th, 2019
The back of a Comcast van driving along a street in Sunnyvale, California.

Enlarge / A Comcast van in Sunnyvale, California, in November 2018. (credit: Getty Images | Andrei Stanescu)

Cable-company spending on network equipment is dropping as major providers like Comcast and Charter finish up their nationwide DOCSIS 3.1 rollouts.

Equipment vendors that sell to cable companies such as Arris/CommScope and Casa Systems are reporting drops in cable-related revenue. Light Reading detailed the situation this week:

Total cable access network-related revenues plummeted 38 percent in Q1 2019, to $275 million, versus the year-ago period, driven by a "strong slowdown" on capacity purchases by MSOs and an ongoing delay in deployments of new distributed access architectures, according to new data from Dell'Oro.

Cable access network spending is known to be lumpy, "but not to this extreme," said Jeff Heynen, Dell'Oro's research director, broadband access and home networking. He said he doesn't recall seeing revenues in this segment of the market reach drop to such a low level since 2013.

He said the trend in reduced Q1 spending can be traced partly to Comcast and Charter Communications, which have all but wrapped up their DOCSIS 3.1 network deployments.

Charter's first-quarter earnings announcement on April 30 said that its "decrease in scalable infrastructure spending was primarily driven by the completion of the rollout of DOCSIS 3.1 technology." Charter, the nation's second-largest home Internet provider after Comcast, said its capital expenditures (excluding mobile) will be $7 billion this year, down from $8.9 billion in 2018.

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Posted in Biz & IT, cable, Charter, Comcast, docsis 3.1, Policy | Comments (0)

Charter data use “rising rapidly” as cord cutters average 400GB a month

May 1st, 2019
A Charter Spectrum service vehicle.

Enlarge / A Charter Spectrum vehicle. (credit: Charter)

Charter cable Internet customers who don't subscribe to Charter's TV service are using an average of more than 400GB of data a month, the company said yesterday.

While Charter doesn't impose data caps on its Spectrum Internet service, the newly released stat helps illustrate how ditching cable TV and relying on streaming services can push customers closer to incurring data overage fees. Comcast and other ISPs impose monthly caps of 1TB.

"The demand for both speed and throughput on our network continues to increase," Charter CEO Tom Rutledge told investors in an earnings call yesterday. "Monthly data usage by our residential Internet customers is rising rapidly and monthly median data usage is over 200GB per customer. When you look at average monthly usage for customers that don't subscribe to our traditional video product, usage climbs to over 400GB per month, which compares to an average mobile usage of well under 10GB a month." (Charter also offers mobile service through a reseller agreement with Verizon.)

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Posted in Biz & IT, broadband, Charter, data caps | Comments (0)

Charter avoids getting kicked out of New York, agrees to new merger conditions

April 22nd, 2019
A Charter Spectrum service vehicle.

Enlarge / A Charter Spectrum vehicle. (credit: Charter)

Charter Communications won't be kicked out of New York after all.

Nine months after a New York government agency ordered Charter to leave the state over its alleged failure to comply with merger conditions, state officials have announced a settlement that will let Charter stay in New York in exchange for further broadband expansions. The settlement will enforce a new version of the original merger conditions and require a $12 million payment, about half of which could help other ISPs deploy broadband.

The State Public Service Commission (PSC) had voted in July 2018 to revoke its approval of Charter's 2016 purchase of Time Warner Cable (TWC), saying Charter failed to meet interim deadlines for broadband-expansion requirements. The order, which came just a month after a $2 million fine, would have required Charter to sell the TWC system to another provider. But the PSC never enforced the merger revocation order as it repeatedly granted deadline extensions to Charter while the sides held settlement talks.

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Posted in Biz & IT, broadband, Charter, new york, Policy | Comments (0)

Music labels sue Charter, complain that high Internet speeds fuel piracy

March 25th, 2019
A man, surrounded by music CDs, uses a laptop while wearing a skull-and-crossbones pirate hat and holding one of the CDs in his mouth.

Enlarge / "Yarr, matey, a pirate would be lost at sea without a swift broadband connection." (credit: Getty Images | OcusFocus)

The music industry is suing Charter Communications, claiming that the cable Internet provider profits from music piracy by failing to terminate the accounts of subscribers who illegally download copyrighted songs. The lawsuit also complains that Charter helps its subscribers pirate music by selling packages with higher Internet speeds.

While the act of providing higher Internet speeds clearly isn't a violation of any law, ISPs can be held liable for their users' copyright infringement if the ISPs repeatedly fail to disconnect repeat infringers.

The top music labels—Sony, Universal, Warner, and their various subsidiaries—sued Charter Friday in a complaint filed in US District Court in Colorado. While Charter has a copyright policy that says repeat copyright infringers may be disconnected, Charter has failed to disconnect those repeat infringers in practice, the complaint said:

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Posted in Biz & IT, Charter, music piracy, Policy, Sony, universal, Warner | Comments (0)

New York hasn’t followed through on order to kick Charter out of state

March 8th, 2019
A Charter Spectrum service vehicle.

Enlarge / A Charter Spectrum vehicle. (credit: Charter)

New York government officials still haven't followed through on a July 2018 decision to kick Charter Communications out of the state. Negotiations between Charter and the state have dragged on for months past the original deadline, and the sides say they're getting closer to an agreement that would allow Charter to remain in New York.

The state Public Service Commission (PSC) voted on July 27, 2018 to revoke its approval of Charter's 2016 purchase of Time Warner Cable (TWC), after accusing Charter of failing to meet merger-related broadband expansion commitments. The PSC ordered Charter to sell the former TWC system and to file a transition plan within 60 days.

But Charter still hasn't had to file that transition plan, and may never have to, because the PSC has repeatedly granted deadline extensions while Charter negotiates with the state. Charter requested yet another extension on Tuesday this week, and the PSC granted it on Wednesday, setting a new deadline of May 3, 2019.

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Posted in Charter, new york, Policy | Comments (0)

Google Fiber’s biggest failure: ISP will turn service off in Louisville

February 8th, 2019
A Google Fiber van in Louisville.

Enlarge (credit: Google Fiber)

Google Fiber will turn off its network in Louisville, Kentucky and exit the city after a series of fiber installation failures left cables exposed in the roads. Google Fiber's customers in Louisville will have to switch ISPs and will get their final two months of Google Fiber service for free to help make up for the disruption.

Google Fiber went live in Louisville late in 2017, just a few months after construction began. The quick turnaround happened because Google Fiber used a "micro-trenching" strategy that is quicker than traditional underground fiber deployment and doesn't require digging giant holes. Instead of a foot-wide trench, a micro-trench is about an inch wide and four inches deep.

But Louisville residents soon found exposed cables, as a WDRB article noted in March 2018. "When you're walking around the neighborhood, [the lines are] popping up out of the road all over the place," resident Larry Coomes said at the time. "People are tripping over it."

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Posted in AT&T, Biz & IT, Charter, Google Fiber, louisville | Comments (0)

Charter raises sneaky “broadcast TV” fee for second time in four months

February 6th, 2019
A Charter Spectrum service vehicle.

Enlarge / A Charter Spectrum vehicle. (credit: Charter)

Charter Communications will raise its "broadcast TV" fee from $9.95 to $11.99 on March 1, only four months after the previous fee increase.

Charter and other cable companies say they charge broadcast TV fees to recoup the cost of paying broadcasters for the right to retransmit their signals over cable systems. But Charter doesn't include the fee in its advertised rates, instead revealing the fee in the fine print, often giving customers bill shock when they learn that they have to pay more each month than expected.

Additionally, increases to the fee apply even to customers who agreed to deals that ostensibly lock in a specific monthly rate during a set period. In summary, Charter uses the broadcast TV fee to advertise lower rates than it actually charges and to raise prices on customers even before their promotional rates expire.

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Posted in Biz & IT, broadcast tv fee, cable, Charter, Policy | Comments (0)

Charter will spend less on cable network in 2019 but charge customers more

January 31st, 2019
A Charter Spectrum service vehicle.

Enlarge / A Charter Spectrum vehicle. (credit: Charter)

Charter Communications will spend nearly $2 billion less on capital improvements to its Spectrum cable network and services this year, despite raising TV and broadband prices—and despite Ajit Pai's claims that repealing net neutrality rules would boost capital investment.

"We currently expect capital expenditures, excluding capital expenditures related to mobile, to be approximately $7 billion in 2019, versus $8.9 billion in 2018," Charter wrote in an earnings announcement today. "Our expectation for lower capital expenditures in 2019 versus 2018 is primarily driven by our expectation for lower customer premise equipment spend with the completion of our all-digital conversion [and] lower scalable infrastructure spend with the completion of the rollout of DOCSIS 3.1 technology across our footprint." Charter's costs are also going down because it has largely finished integrating Time Warner Cable and Bright House, after buying the cable companies in 2016.

"2019 is the year we'll see a significant reduction in capital intensity," Charter CEO Tom Rutledge said in an earnings call today, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. A year ago, Charter executives promised investors "a meaningful decline in capital intensity" in 2019.

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Posted in Biz & IT, capital expenditures, Charter | Comments (0)

Charter users who didn’t get promised speeds will get $75 or $150 refunds

December 18th, 2018
A man's hand grabbing a fist full of money.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | tazytaz)

Charter has agreed to pay $62.5 million in refunds to more than 700,000 customers to settle a lawsuit filed by the New York state attorney general's office, which alleged that Charter defrauded customers by promising Internet speeds that it knew it could not deliver.

The 700,000 New York-based customers will receive between $75 and $150 each, NY AG Barbara Underwood announced today. Charter will also provide access to "streaming services and premium channels, with a retail value of over $100 million, at no charge for approximately 2.2 million active subscribers." The settlement's total value is $174.2 million, the AG's office said.

"The $62.5 million in direct refunds to consumers alone are believed to represent the largest-ever payout to consumers by an Internet service provider (ISP) in US history," the AG's announcement said. "The landmark agreement settles a consumer fraud action alleging that the state's largest ISP, which operated initially as Time Warner Cable (TWC) and later under Charter's Spectrum brand name, denied customers the reliable and fast Internet service it had promised."

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