Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Time Warner Cable (TWC) is owned by Charter and going away forever

Charter has completed its purchase of Time Warner Cable, combining the two companies and forming the United States' second largest cable operator, just behind Comcast. Charter also completed its acquisition of the smaller cable provider Bright House Networks. With the three companies combined, Charter now serves over 25 million customers in 41 states.

The acquisition ultimately had Charter paying $55 billion for Time Warner Cable and $10.4 billion for Bright House Networks, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Charter claims the acquisition will allow it to improve its broadband network throughout the country, leading to faster speeds and better video products.

This is also the beginning of the end for Time Warner Cable. Though the brand still exists today, Charter tells Bloomberg that the name will be phased out. "While Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks customers will not see any immediate change, the company will be called Charter and the products and services will be marketed under the ‘Spectrum’ brand," a representative said. It's a PR move, meant to counter the fact that Time Warner Cable customers don't have a very bright view of Time Warner Cable.

Charter announced its intention to purchase Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks a year ago next week. In the time between then and now, regulators investigated whether the deal would harm consumers and competition. Ultimately they decided it wouldn't — for the most part, at least. The FCC and Justice Department mandated that the new Charter agree to seven years worth of conditions.

Those conditions prevent Charter from imposing data caps or usage-based pricing, from charging interconnect fees to heavy data users like Netflix, and from making TV exclusivity deals that would harm online video providers. The data caps rule is huge for consumers, as Comcast now appears to be moving in that direction for all customers; but taken together, all three rules are meant to ensure that Charter, which offers both internet and TV service, doesn't prevent online TV services from competing.

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