The Federal Communications Commission ruled last month in
favor of Orange County, Fla., in its rate complaint against Time Warner Cable.
But the operator is not giving up: It has petitioned the
FCC for a reconsideration, arguing that its rates were calculated fairly. A final decision
is expected this month.
Orange County regulators filed a rate appeal on basic --
known as standard service there -- in response to consumer complaints when rates went up
for the 75,000 customers in the unincorporated territory in the county.
Jim Evans, the regulatory-enforcement coordinator in the
county's division of information technologies, said he stopped counting complaints
after he got the four that he needed to file the rate case. The calls and letters came in
after Time Warner raised its rates by 20 percent (to $22.01 per month) in one community
and by 9 percent (to $20.15) in another portion of the system.
The FCC ruling would require Time Warner to roll back basic
rates by between 45 cents and 51 cents, depending on the area of the county. Further, the
order would require Time Warner to refund customers between $2.33 and $2.53 per home for
the overcharge while the dispute was pending. The refunds will cost Time Warner an
estimated $180,000, according to the county.
The order does not include county properties that
Cablevision Systems Corp. recently bought from Time Warner. But Evans vowed to appeal if
the county sees any jump in rates as Cablevision upgrades those systems.
Time Warner is the biggest operator in the county, followed
at a distance by Adelphia Communications Corp. Because of its size, any action by Time
Warner causes more than a ripple in its communities, Evans said.