New York State has approved Charters proposed merger with Time Warner Cable, thanks in part to some new conditions the state says translate to $1 billion in investment and consumer benefits.
Charter hailed the approval as putting it in a "strong position" as it tries to get the FCC to follow suit.
The commission has paused the informal shot clock on its review of the merger, but that appears to be related to the holidays and time to review new document submissions rather than a signal of any issue. Stoppages of the 180-day clock are not unusual in merger reviews.
New York's approval comes with new commitments on high-speed broadband--60 Mbps as a minimum offfering 300 Mbps throughout the state, building out more unserved residential and commercial areas, and investing in and improving customer service, Charter said.
“This is a significant step forward, not only for Charter but also for our future customers, and we are very happy to have obtained this approval from the New York State PSC,” said Tom Rutledge, president and CEO of Charter, in a statement.
The New York State Public Service Commission said that the merger will translate into $1 billion in direct investment and consumer benefit, as well as requiring broadband speeds to double for two million customers by 2018, and six-fold by 2020.
Specifically, said the commission:
"145,000 homes and businesses currently without broadband will be offered high-speed access;
"Affordable high speed program will be offered to low-income consumers; free connection and service offered to underserved community centers;
“Broadband is crucial to driving growth, improving our education system, and connecting New Yorkers to the 21st century global economy – so ensuring that every household has access to high-speed Internet has never been more important," said New York governor Andrew Cuomo. "The merger of Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications will result in a historic investment in New York’s Internet landscape that improves quality, reliability, speed and affordability for all New Yorkers. Alongside our New NY Broadband Program, we are bridging the digital divide for underserved communities and guaranteeing our position as a national leader in opportunity, cutting-edge technology and innovation.”
Cuomo linked the approval to what the commission called a "signature proposal" Cuomo also unveiled Friday to create "the largest and most ambitious state broadband initiative in the nation to ensure every New Yorker has access to high-speed Internet by the end of 2018."
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.