New York Slams Charter For Allegedly Lying About Broadband Deployments, Threatens Franchise Revocation

In the latest case of cable companies behaving badly, Charter has come under fire from the New York State Public Service Commission. Charter has been on a mission to expand its nationwide footprint, and to do so, it reached agreements to acquire both Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks earlier decade.

In order to gain regulatory approval for the acquisitions, Charter had to meet certain obligations with respect to building out its broadband network. Unfortunately for Charter, the Commission has found that the company has been untruthful about these efforts to expand service. The Commission says that Charter agreed to add 145,000 households and businesses within four years to its network, in accordance with a 2016 order approving the Time Warner Cable purchase.

charter communications orange truck

However, the Commission found that 14,000 passings were ineligible when Charter was audited for its December milestone. Because of these eligibility violations, Charter actually came up 8,000 passings short of its agreed upon December milestone goals. As a result of this shortfall, Charter is subject to an automatic $1 million fine.

Furthermore, Charter is alleged to have lied about its network expansion, as it said that 12,467 addresses had been added to its tally in New York City alone. However, there was already an existing franchise agreement in place with the city that should have included those addresses in Charter's purview -- in other words, Charter was using fuzzy math to make its deployment numbers look better.

The Commission also performed detailed audits of 490 addresses that Charter alleged were receiving service for the first time. While Field Inspectors were unable to gain access to 28 addresses, it found that 462 of them were disqualified as they were already served by Charter or another provider.

"In a more egregious example, Charter also listed the Reuters Building as countable toward the December 2017 target in Charter’s January 2018 filing, which has a listed address of 3 Times Square," the Commission added. "Staff could not find any photos of the building prior to 2014 beside aerial views, but construction was completed in 2001, well before the effective date of the current franchise agreements."

Needless to say, the Commission isn't too thrilled with Charter at this point, or its attempts to "beat the system". In fact, the Commission is contemplating revoking its license to operate in New York City.

"For the reasons stated herein, it is determined that Charter should show cause why the Commission should not begin proceedings to revoke its NYC cable franchises in connection with apparent material breaches of its franchise fee remittance and buildout requirements," wrote the Commission.

Charter has been given 21 days to respond to the Commission’s findings. In a statement to Ars Technica, the company disputes the findings. "Charter is committed to bringing more broadband to more people across New York State," said the company in a statement. "We exceeded our last buildout commitment by thousands of homes and businesses. We've also raised our speeds to deliver faster broadband statewide. We are in full compliance with our merger order and the New York City franchise, and we will fight these baseless and legally suspect actions vigorously."