News tagged: Time Warner Cable
The Wall Street Journal
notes that Time Warner Cable's existing relationship with Bright House Communications complicates Comcast's proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable. Bright House is currently its own company, but Time Warner Cable has an ownership interest and historically handles programming, some engineering and technology acquisitions for the company (they even historically shared the "Road Runner" branding).
The catch? If Comcast buys Time Warner Cable and takes over programming for Bright House, they'll derail divestment promises intended to calm regulator concerns about their massive size:
To assuage concerns about its size, Comcast said when it struck the TWC deal in February that it would divest itself of subscribers to keep it below 30% of the pay TV market. It subsequently reached agreements to divest itself of 3.9 million subscribers across the country, more than it originally proposed.
If Comcast continues handling Bright House's programming negotiations, Comcast would be buying programming for 32 million customers, or nearly 32% of the pay TV market, which SNL Kagan estimates to total 101 million homes. It would extend Comcast's influence in broadband to the 1.9 million Internet customers served by Bright House.
Comcast's getting around this by insisting that even though they'd be in charge of programming and some technical aspects of Bright House, the Newhouse family would still technically be in charge:
In the June filing, Comcast noted that even assuming "existing contractual arrangements remain in place without alteration," the Newhouse family would still manage Bright House's systems, not Comcast. Therefore Comcast's total number of "managed" subscribers would still remain below 30% of the pay TV market.
In short, if regulators approve the deal with Bright House included Comcast's power will be greater than even forecast. If they block that aspect of the deal, Bright House is suddenly tasked with programming negotiations as a much smaller company with less leverage, driving up costs for Bright House users.
Earlier this week Comcast stated they were "insulted
" by concerns that the company (alongside Time Warner Cable) was helping to fund a dinner to honor an FCC Commissioner currently deciding on the fate of their planned merger. Comcast was contributing $110,000 and Time Warner Cable was contributing $22,000 to sponsor the Walter Kaitz Foundation’s annual dinner, which promotes diversity in the cable industry.
Syracuse, New York is the perfect example of a broken American broadband industry. On the one hand, Verizon has refused to install FiOS in the city itself -- leaving the majority of the city's customers on outdated and very expensive DSL lines. story continues..
While Verizon's legal victory over the FCC did gut the agency's net neutrality rules, it kept some of the FCC's authority over ISPs intact -- specifically the agency's transparency rules
-- which require that ISPs be straightforward about the "network management practices, performance, and commercial terms" of their broadband services.
In a statement issued today
, the FCC "reminded" wireline and wireless ISPs alike that those rules are still intact and need to be adhered to, lest the agency lightly slap a wrist or two -- maybe.
Back in 2011 the FCC began collecting real-world user broadband data from customized routers, then issuing reports on which ISPs were failing to deliver advertised speeds. It's one of the few FCC policies in recent years that has truly paid dividends for consumers. story continues..
New Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus, who stands to make upwards of $80 million for a few months of work
should the Comcast merger be approved, is looking for regulators to approve the deal before the end of the year. Calling the Comcast deal a "a dream combination" and a "very special value creation opportunity," Marcus stated he's "still hopeful hat we can attain those approvals by year-end." Most analysts believe regulators will approve the deal, largely because Comcast and Time Warner Cable don't directly compete. Consumer advocates warn that the threat of 80% of the country being usage capped
and Comcast's use of scale as an anti-competitive weapon are the bigger threats.
Time Warner Cable this week announced that the company has launched a new portal for its broadband customers that lets them register their Wi-Fi devices, allowing them to auto-connect when a Time Warner Cable hotspot is in range. According to a blog post
and press release
, the company's new www.twcwifi.com
portal will also show users how much money they're saving by using Wi-Fi instead of connecting to their company's cellular network.
As we've recently noted
, Austin is starting to resemble the kind of competitive market most of us only dream about. Thanks to Google Fiber, AT&T is now planning to offer $70, 1 Gbps connections in the city -- recently joined by Grande Communications, who says they too will offer 1 Gbps lines for $65 a month
The latest American Consumer Satisfaction Index once again confirms that Time Warner Cable and Comcast are among the least liked companies not only in the pay TV sector -- but across all industries
. The full report
(pdf) notes that overall consumer satisfaction with the pay TV sector continues to fall, beaten out in annoyance and dissatisfaction only by the broadband sector.
The writing has pretty clearly been on the wall as Comcast slowly but surely has expanded their usage-cap trials throughout less competitive Southern markets
. Speaking at the MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit today in New York City (see transcript
via Fierce Cable
), top Comcast lobbyist David Cohen was asked whether or not he sees a future where users only have a choice of capped plans.
Comcast is promising regulators and the public that acquired Time Warner Cable customers in Los Angeles and New York will get the company's new X1 set top box within a year of being acquired. "We'll be within the first markets in a year," Neil Smit, president and chief executive of Comcast's cable unit, tells Reuters
. In addition to the set tops, Comcast is promising to deliver "considerably higher Internet speeds to Time Warner Cable customers" in those cities. That shouldn't be that
hard; Time Warner Cable is already targeting NYC and LA as locations for the company's new "Maxx" upgrades, which aimed to provide faster broadband speeds and improved TV services
. The timing for other markets has long been less certain.
Cable executives gathered this week at The Cable Show in Los Angeles, and a big topic of conversation was of course Google Fiber, and whether cable operators plan to start offering speeds up to 1 Gbps anytime soon. Some cable operators like Cox ambiguously claimed they had 1 Gbps offerings in the works
, though others, like Time Warner Cable, tried to downplay the $70, symmetrical 1 Gbps service Google Fiber is offering.
As rumors have suggested for month, Comcast and Charter have struck a deal that would offload a significant number of freshly-acquired customers to Charter in an attempt to sell regulators on Comcast's $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable. According to an announcement
, once (if) the deal goes through, Charter will acquire around 1.4 million customers, and Comcast and Charter will swap around 1.6 million users based on geographic area.
Time Warner Cable's earnings
indicate that the company continues to bleed basic cable subscribers, though the company is quick to point out that the 34,000 accounts lost on the quarter was the lowest quarterly loss they've seen in five years. Still, they've lost 748,000 video subscribers year over year as users move to satellite, telcoTV or cut the cord entirely.
Last November we noted
that Time Warner Cable, historically a bit sluggish when it comes to next-gen broadband upgrades, was considering a brand refresh named "Maxx" that would include significant speed and TV improvements. A blog post
and press release
by the company last January shed a little more details on these improvements, which the company say will first be coming to the New York City and Los Angeles markets -- "transforming their service as they know it."
This week the company announced that those upgrades are now underway for LA and NYC customers. According to a press release
, the company is now offering 300 Mbps in "several" communities in both cities, including Costa Mesa and West Hollywood in California and portions of Woodside, Queens and Staten Island in New York City.
Users in those communities will see the company's Standard Internet plan bumped from 15 Mbps to 50 Mbps, and the company's Ultimate plan bumped from 100 Mbps to 300 Mbps -- for the same current pricing.
According to Time Warner Cable, the speed bumps arrive "on the heels of a top-to-bottom network evaluation and upgrade in these areas to ensure optimum performance and rock-solid network reliability." They also arrive as Comcast attempts to get regulatory approval for acquiring Time Warner Cable, meaning it's unclear just how many users will see these upgrades before an ownership switch.
Time Warner Cable has announced that they've enabled Hotspot 2.0 functionality across the company's growing network of Wi-Fi hotspots, allowing Time Warner Cable customers to seamlessly log into those networks without entering usernames and passwords, or navigating login screens. According to a company press release
, the new network option is available on nearly all of Time Warner Cable's 33,000+ Wi-Fi hotspots throughout Southern California, New York City, Austin, Charlotte, Kansas City, Myrtle Beach and Hawaii. While Boingo began tinkering with Hotspot 2.0 back in February at some airports, Time Warner Cable's implementation is now the largest Passpoint-enabled Wi-Fi network in the country to date.
The same Time Warner Cable executives who are getting massive, multi-million dollar golden parachutes from the Comcast merger
are asking the company's employees to contribute to the cable operator's political action committee (PAC), even if the company may not even technically exist one year from now.
A Reddit user has posted a letter
they received from Time Warner Cable, stating that while getting the Comcast merger completed is their "top priority," they'd still like it very much if employees would contribute to the company's Federal PAC:
Cable is a highly regulated industry and the outcome of current debates in Congress over video reform, Internet taxation and net neutrality will greatly impact the success of our business and our ability to serve our customers.
Charter's hopes to acquire Time Warner Cable were squashed when Comcast made a higher offer for the company, but falling Time Warner Cable stock price since the merger announcement has left the door open for a Charter counterbid. Executives are still considering such a play, anonymous sources tell Bloomberg
, though the company is way of a bidding war that would result with them getting nothing at all. The company is apparently worried that they could annoy Comcast executives too much with an ongoing fight, resulting in them failing to even get the 3 million Time Warner Cable customers Comcast plans to divest as part of a merger condition.
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