Archive for the ‘Charter’ Category

The tech antitrust problem no one is talking about

October 31st, 2020

After years of building political pressure for antitrust scrutiny of major tech companies, this month Congress and the US government delivered. The House Antitrust Subcommittee released a report accusing Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook of monopolistic behavior. The Department of Justice filed a complaint against Google alleging the company prevents consumers from sampling other search engines.

The new fervor for tech antitrust has so far overlooked an equally obvious target: US broadband providers. “If you want to talk about a history of using gatekeeper power to harm competitors, there are few better examples,” says Gigi Sohn, a fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy.

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Posted in AT&T, broadband, Charter, Comcast, Competition, Policy, verizon | Comments (0)

SpaceX, Charter, Verizon among 500 ISPs competing for FCC broadband funds

September 2nd, 2020
A SpaceX Starlink user terminal, also known as a satellite dish, seen against a city's skyline.

Enlarge / A SpaceX Starlink user terminal/satellite dish. (credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX, Charter, Verizon, CenturyLink, Frontier, Cox, and about 500 other companies are seeking government funding to provide broadband in rural areas. The Federal Communications Commission yesterday released a list of applicants for the first phase of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), which is set to pay up to $16 billion to Internet service providers over 10 years.

SpaceX would be the first low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite provider to get FCC rural-broadband funding. The RDOF and predecessor programs generally fund expansion of wired or terrestrial wireless services by paying ISPs to expand their networks into rural areas where they would not otherwise have built.

As a satellite provider, SpaceX won't need to install wires or wireless towers in any particular area. But traditional satellite providers have obtained FCC funding before despite already offering service throughout the US. For example, the FCC's Connect America Fund last year awarded $87.1 million to satellite operator Viasat on condition that it provide service in specific parts of 17 states at lower prices and with higher data caps "than it typically provides in areas where it is not receiving Connect America Fund support."

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Posted in Biz & IT, Charter, FCC, Policy, rural broadband, spacex, verizon | Comments (0)

FCC asks for more public input on whether to let Charter impose data caps

August 18th, 2020
Illustration of $100-dollar bills being sucked into a broadband network.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Aurich Lawson)

The Federal Communications Commission is taking another round of public comments on Charter's petition seeking permission to impose data caps on broadband users and charge network-interconnection fees to online-video providers, following a court ruling that may complicate the FCC's decision.

The deadline for comments on Charter's petition passed on August 6. But in a public notice issued today, the FCC said it is opening an additional comment period that will last until September 2, giving people time to weigh in on the impact of the court ruling.

"To ensure that the [Wireline Competition] Bureau has a full record upon which to evaluate the effects of the conditions, we initiate this additional comment period," the FCC notice said, while also inviting commenters to "address the effect" of the new court ruling on the FCC's consideration of Charter's petition. As before, comments can be submitted on the docket by clicking "New Filing" or "Express." There are more than 1,500 filings, mostly from consumers who object to data caps.

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

Charter can charge online video sites for network connections, court rules

August 14th, 2020
A Charter Spectrum service van used by a cable technician.

Enlarge / A Charter Spectrum van in West Lake Hills, Texas, in April 2019. (credit: Tony Webster / Flickr)

Charter can charge Netflix and other online video streaming services for network interconnection despite a merger condition prohibiting the practice, a federal appeals court ruled today.

The ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturns two merger conditions that the Obama administration imposed on Charter when it bought Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks in 2016. The FCC under Chairman Ajit Pai did not defend the merits of the merger conditions in court, paving the way for today's ruling. The case was decided in a 2-1 vote by a panel of three DC Circuit judges.

The lawsuit against the FCC seeking to overturn Charter merger conditions was filed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a free-market think tank, and four Charter users who claim they were harmed by the conditions. The FCC unsuccessfully challenged the suing parties' standing to sue, and it did not mount a legal defense of the conditions themselves.

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Posted in Charter, data caps, FCC, interconnection, Policy, spectrum | Comments (0)

Charter tries to convince FCC that broadband customers want data caps

August 11th, 2020
Illustration of a water hose with Internet data trickling out of it, represented by 1s and 0s.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

Charter Communications has claimed to the Federal Communications Commission that broadband users enjoy having Internet plans with data caps, in a filing arguing that Charter should be allowed to impose caps on its Spectrum Internet service starting next year.

Charter isn't currently allowed to impose data caps because of conditions the FCC placed on its 2016 purchase of Time Warner Cable. The data-cap condition is scheduled to expire on May 18, 2023, but Charter in June petitioned the FCC to let the condition expire two years early, in May 2021.

With consumer-advocacy groups and Internet users opposing the petition, Charter filed a response with the FCC last week, saying that plans with data caps are "popular."

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Posted in Biz & IT, Charter, data caps, FCC, Policy, spectrum internet service | Comments (0)

Charter’s donations to charities and lawmakers may help it impose data caps

July 29th, 2020
A Charter Spectrum service van used by a cable technician.

Enlarge / A Charter Spectrum van in West Lake Hills, Texas, in April 2019. (credit: Tony Webster / Flickr)

Nonprofits and local politicians are lining up to support a Charter Communications petition that would let the ISP impose data caps on broadband users and seek interconnection payments from large online-video providers.

Charter filed the petition with the Federal Communications Commission last month, asking the FCC to eliminate merger conditions applied to its 2016 purchase of Time Warner Cable two years early. If Charter's petition is granted, the company would be able to impose data caps on its Spectrum broadband service and charge network-interconnection fees to video providers after May 18, 2021, instead of in May 2023 as scheduled.

With the FCC seeking public comment, the docket is overwhelmingly filled with consumers urging the commission to oppose Charter's request for permission to limit consumers' data usage and charge data-overage fees. "In this age of Internet communication, data caps are an unscrupulous way to gouge money from clients, many of whom do not have alternative Internet sources. This is unacceptable," one person wrote in a sentiment echoed by hundreds of other Internet users who wrote to the FCC in the past few weeks.

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Posted in Biz & IT, Charter, data caps, FCC, Policy, spectrum | Comments (0)

Charter’s hidden “Broadcast TV” fee now adds $197 a year to cable bills

July 10th, 2020
A cable TV box and remote control.

(credit: Getty Images | DonNichols)

Charter Communications is raising the "Broadcast TV" fee it imposes on cable plans from $13.50 to $16.45 a month starting in August, Stop the Cap reported.

Charter says the Broadcast TV fee covers the amount it pays broadcast television stations (e.g. affiliates of CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox) for the right to carry their channels. But for consumers, it is essentially a hidden fee because Charter's advertised TV prices don't include it.

Charter has raised the fee repeatedly—it stood at $9.95 in early 2019 before a series of price increases. At $16.45 a month, the fee will cost customers an additional $197.40 per year. Charter sells TV, broadband, and phone service under its Spectrum brand name and is the second largest cable company in the US after Comcast.

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

FCC helps Charter avoid broadband competition

June 26th, 2020
A Charter Spectrum service van used by a cable technician.

Enlarge / A Charter Spectrum van in West Lake Hills, Texas in April 2019. (credit: Tony Webster )

The Federal Communications Commission is helping Charter avoid broadband competition in New York State with a decision that will block government funding for other ISPs in locations where Charter is required to build.

The FCC plans to award ISPs up to $16 billion over 10 years from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) in a reverse auction scheduled to begin in October. The FCC said in an announcement yesterday that it "granted Charter Communications' waiver request to exclude 2,127 census blocks in New York from the eligible areas list because the company will deploy broadband in those locations pursuant to a settlement reached with the State of New York."

Separately, the FCC denied a Frontier Communications request to exclude nearly 17,000 census blocks in parts of 29 states from the auction.

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Posted in Charter, FCC, frontier, Policy | Comments (0)

Charter seeks FCC OK to impose data caps and charge fees to video services

June 23rd, 2020
An illustration of $100 bills being sucked into an Internet connection.

Data cap cash. (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

Charter Communications has asked federal regulators for permission to impose data caps on broadband users and to seek interconnection payments from large online video providers, starting next year.

Charter, unlike other ISPs, isn't allowed to impose data caps and faces limits on charges for interconnection payments because of conditions applied to its 2016 purchase of Time Warner Cable. The conditions were imposed by the Federal Communications Commission for seven years and are scheduled to elapse in May 2023. Last week, Charter submitted a petition asking the FCC to let the conditions run out on May 18, 2021 instead. The FCC is seeking public comment on the petition.

Charter has frequently pointed to its lack of data caps as an example of a customer-friendly policy. When it sought FCC permission for the merger, it told the FCC that it provides service "without any data caps, usage-based pricing, or modem fees" and that it "has been involved in no notable disputes over traffic management and has long practiced network neutrality."

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Charter tells court that its no-refund policy helps prevent price increases

May 15th, 2020
A Charter Spectrum service vehicle.

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

Charter is suing Maine to block a new state law that requires prorated refunds when cable customers cancel service mid-month, claiming that the requirement is a form of rate regulation and is preempted by federal law. The preemption question will be at the heart of the case, but Charter also told the court that its no-refund policy prevents its prices from rising even more than they usually do.

"Charter's decision not to provide a partial-month rebate for cancelling subscribers reflects the fact that Charter's service is sold on a monthly basis," the company, which operates Spectrum TV service, said in its complaint against the state government. "It also reduces administrative costs and thus ultimately reduces the upward pressure on rates for Charter's continuing subscribers."

Charter further said that its policy minimizes price increases "for continuing subscribers by reducing costs associated with implementing pro-rata rebates for mid-month cancellations." Charter said that subscribers who cancel in the middle of a monthly billing period can continue to receive the service until the end of the month.

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Posted in Charter, Maine, Policy, spectrum | Comments (0)