Less than a month after completing its long-awaited merger with Time Warner Cable, a representative for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman fired off a letter to Charter Communications chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge chastising him for what he called subpar broadband service.
Charter completed its $78.7 billion deal to purchase Time Warner Cable on May 18. The deal gave the new company 17.3 million video customers, making it the third largest multichannel video programing distributor (behind AT&T and Comcast) in the country.
The AG's office launched an investigation in October, asking TWC, Verizon and Cablevision customers whether they were receiving advertised speeds and about other aspects of service. According to the preliminary results, TWC customers regularly complained of sluggish service that resulted in lost data and frazzled nerves.
"What we have seen in our investigation so far suggests that Time Warner Cable has earned the miserable reputation it enjoys among consumers," wrote Tim Wu, senior enforcement counsel to Attoney General Schneiderman, in his letter.
Wu added that problems seemed to get worse during prime time, exactly the time customers were apt to use the service the most. He also complained that TWC advertised its WiFi service in a manner that "defies the technology's technical capabilities."
According to the letter, congestion at times was so heavy on the network that large volumes of data were lost or discarded, translating into degraded service.
"The results we received from Time Warner Cable customers were abysmal," Wu wrote, adding that the cable company generally performed worse than other broadband providers in the New York region.
Wu closed the missive hoping that Charter would take the opportunity to work with the AG's office "to clean up Time Warner Cable’s act and deliver the quality Internet service New Yorkers deserve and have long been promised. We will be in touch soon to propose next steps."
Charter said that it has invested heavily in infrastructure and will do the same for its recently acquired properties.
"Charter has made significant investments in our core infrastructure which has enabled us to offer high-value products backed by a high-quality service organization throughout our footprint," Charter said in a statement. "As we progress with the integration of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, we will continue to do the same, bringing all TWC and BHN systems all-digital so that Charter can provide its advanced Spectrum products and services, bringing greater value and more consumer friendly policies, such as minimum speeds of 60 mbps, no data caps, no usage based billing, and no modem lease fees to all our customers. In addition, Charter's interconnection policies have been lauded by companies such as Netflix as a real benefit of these transactions for consumers. We look forward to bringing all these enhancements to customers in NY and redefining what a cable company can be."