What just happened? The New York State Public Service Commission has reached a deal allowing Charter Communications, also known as Spectrum, to continue operating in the state of New York. This is despite Charter's previous transgressions regarding its promises to the state regarding its merger with Time Warner Cable. With new promises on the table, and hopefully more enforceable consequences, time will tell if the ISP will deliver this time around.
Last April, Charter Communications and the State of New York struck a tentative deal, allowing Charter-Spectrum to remain operational. At the time the deal was made public, it was pending approval from New York's Public Service Commission and was subject to a 60-day review period. Now, it seems Charter has received its final approval to remain in the state.
Per the final settlement, Charter will fulfill its original commitments to broadband expansion by building out its network to serve 145,000 homes and businesses based in Upstate New York. According to the PSC, Charter has reached approximately 65,000 of those addresses to date.
Additionally, Charter will make a $12 million payment to "expand broadband service to additional premises." Of the $12 million, $6 million will go directly to the New York State Broadband Program Office, with the remaining being placed into an escrow fund that will be used for work to be completed by Charter, as directed by the state.
The new settlement also comes with "a schedule providing frequent interim enforceable milestone requirements, with corresponding reporting and accountability." Should Charter not meet these milestones, it will pay a $2,800 fine on a per address basis, with the money going into the aforementioned escrow account.
In complying with the settlement, the Department of Public Service estimates that Charter will invest more than $600 million in the State of New York. Charter's build out must be completed by September 30, 2021.
Charter was originally banned from New York after failing to meet several conditions for its Time Warner merger approval. All things considered, this is a relatively unsurprising outcome. New York would like to avoid the time and cost of litigation, not to mention the disruption of broadband access to thousands of residents. More to the point, given the anti-competitive landscape, there isn't a line of ISPs waiting to take Charter's place.
Still, even with Charter's concessions, New York is placing a lot of faith in Charter to do what it failed to do previously.