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Massive company's Internet speeds 'abysmal'

Massive company's Internet speeds 'abysmal'
PHOTO COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK

You pay a lot of money every month so that your family can have really fast Internet connections and a wide selection of TV networks to watch. Those bills can be much more than $100. But it's worth it, right?

As it turns out, no. Not if you're a customer of the world's second largest cable TV and Internet company.

In fact, the attorney general's office in New York just ordered this cable company to make major improvements to its Internet speeds, which are advertised as being "blazing" fast.

But the AG says those speeds are abysmal. This affects you if you're a Time Warner Cable customer, a Charter Communications customer, or a Bright House Networks customer.

Note: Charter just bought Time Warner and Bright House for $79 billion. The new company will be called Spectrum.

In a letter to Charter, the attorney general's office harshly criticized Time Warner Cable for its Internet speeds. (See the whole letter on the next page. It was written by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's senior enforcement counsel Tim Wu.)

Here's part of what the letter said:

"In short, what we have seen in our investigation so far suggests that Time Warner Cable has earned the miserable reputation it enjoys among customers.

"In advertisement after advertisement, Time Warner Cable promised a 'blazing fast,' 'super-reliable' Internet connection. Yet it appears that the company has been failing to take adequate or necessary steps to keep pace with the demand of Time Warner Cable customers."

In their investigation, the AG's office said that Internet speeds got so bad that customers like you lost data or experienced frozen Netflix movies. Worse, some of Time Warner's ads for Wi-Fi made promises that aren't even possible with current technology.

The good news here is that this investigation is the result of the cable companies' merger. New York's Public Service Commission is requiring Charter to make improvements for customers in the state, including implementing broadband speed improvements by 2019.

In their defense, Charter Communications executives wrote, in part: "[We will make] 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 our customers."

Here's the contents of the letter from the New York Attorney General's office to Charter Communications.

STATE OF NEW YORK
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN DIVISION OF ECONOMIC JUSTICE
ATTORNEY GENERAL
120 BROADWAY, NEW YORK, NY 10271 ● PHONE (212) 416-8160 ● FAX (212) 416-8369 ● WWW.AG.NY.GOV

SENT VIA COUNSEL

June 8, 2016

Tom Rutledge
President, CEO
Charter Communications, Inc.
400 Atlantic Street
Stamford, CT 06901

Dear Mr. Rutledge,

You recently wrote to Time Warner Cable customers to announce the rebranding of the
Charter Communications, Inc. (“Charter”) subsidiary as “Spectrum,” following your company’s
acquisition of Time Warner Cable. We write now to underscore our hope and expectation that
this announcement reflects more than mere branding—and signals your intent to substantially
improve the reliability, performance, and speed of the Internet delivered to customers, as well as
how Time Warner Cable markets its services.
Several months ago, the Office of the New York Attorney General commenced an
investigation of Time Warner Cable and the company’s apparent failure to deliver the reliable
and fast Internet it promised to New York consumers. We appreciate Charter’s willingness to
engage with us prior to the acquisition and its promise to continue to cooperate in the
investigation post-acquisition.
As we have explained, the preliminary results of our investigation are troubling. In
advertisement after advertisement, Time Warner Cable promised a “blazing fast,” “superreliable”
Internet connection. Yet it appears that the company has been failing to take adequate
or necessary steps to keep pace with the demand of Time Warner Cable customers—at times
letting connections with key Internet content providers become so congested that large volumes
of Internet data were regularly lost or discarded. This translates into degraded performance for
customers, including those using popular on-demand video services, like Netflix—despite
specific promises from Time Warner Cable that they could stream video content reliably and
with “no buffering.” The problems appear to have been particularly acute at primetime, precisely
when many customers log on or tune in. Customers have been frustrated, as movies freeze, websites load endlessly, and games become non-responsive. In addition, it appears that Time
Warner Cable has been advertising its WiFi in ways that defy the technology’s technical
capabilities and has been provisioning some of its customers with equipment that simply cannot
achieve the higher bandwidths the company has sold to them.
We recently called on New York customers of major broadband providers to use opensource
tools to test the Internet speeds they were experiencing. The results we received from
Time Warner Cable customers were abysmal. Not only did Time Warner Cable fail to achieve
the speeds its customers were promised and paid for (which Time Warner Cable blamed on the
testing method), it generally performed worse in this regard than other New York broadband
providers.
In short, what we have seen in our investigation so far suggests that Time Warner Cable
has earned the miserable reputation it enjoys among consumers. Overcoming this history will
require more than a name change; it will require a fundamental revolution in how Time Warner
Cable does business and treats its customers.
With new management comes a fresh opportunity at meaningful reform, as your letter to
customers made clear. You promised to “redefine what a cable company can be.” We hope your
company will take the opportunity to work with NYAG 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.
Sincerely,
Tim Wu
Senior Enforcement Counsel and Special Advisor
CC Richard R. Dykhouse, Charter Communications, Inc.;
Christopher J. Clark, Latham & Watkins

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Source: USA Today
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