Cash data limit.
Charter Communications has asked federal regulators for permission to restrict broadband users to data restrictions and to request connection payments from major online video providers starting next year.
Unlike other ISPs, Charter is not allowed to set data limits or limit interconnection payment fees due to the conditions for purchasing Time Warner Cable in 2016. The terms were imposed by the Federal Communications Commission for seven years and are expected to expire in May 2023. Last week Charter submitted a petition asking the FCC to instead expire on May 18, 2021. The FCC is asking for a public opinion on the petition.
Charter, which offers Internet, TV and telephone services under the brand name Spectrum, has frequently pointed out the lack of data restrictions as an example of a customer-friendly policy. When the FCC applied for approval of the merger, it informed the FCC that it offered the service "without data restrictions, usage-based prices or modem fees" and "was not involved in any significant traffic management disputes and has long practiced network neutrality."
When Charter was contacted by Ars yesterday, he said that he "currently" does not plan to introduce data restrictions or change his interconnection policy, but he wants the option to do so:
Once the terms expire, Charter will consider the options like any business decision, but is not even considering implementing data caps or interconnection fees and is not planning to do so. What Charter strives for is level playing field, so that we can continue to grow and offer our customers across the country a first class service.
In its FCC petition, Charter argued that conditions are no longer necessary to promote competition between online streaming video and cable television as online video providers have flourished in the past four years.
Charter's statement to Ars highlighted the company's gigabit speed, network investments, and broadband use in rural areas. "Charter's top priority is to deliver a superior product to our customers. This outcome [the FCC approves Charter's petition] gives us the flexibility to do just that in an ever-changing market," said Charter.
The FCC Republicans were against the conditions
The charter's petition is likely to be well received by the 3-2 Republican majority of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Pai voted against the terms when they were imposed under then-FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, an Obama candidate. Pai, who described the merger terms as an attempt to "manage the micromanagement of the Internet economy," was promoted from President to President by President Trump in January 2017. Republican Michael O & # 39; Rielly, who is also still a member of the FCC, approved the merger decision but partially contradicted the conditions for data restriction and interconnection.
Despite imposing the conditions for seven years, the Charter could request Wheeler FCC's merger decision in 2016 that the conditions be lifted after five years. For this reason, the Charter's application is tied to May 2021.
"Recognizing that the market has changed quickly and in a way that could make the conditions unnecessary, the Commission has provided a mechanism whereby these conditions will apply for five years instead of seven," the petition said in the Charter . "Indeed, the market has changed rapidly and dramatically since the conditions were imposed."
Instead of trying to harm online video providers, Charter is "actively working to improve subscribers' access to online video services". Eliminating the terms will "drive rather than thwart competitive gains and give Charter the flexibility it needs to best meet the data usage needs of all subscribers and configure their network to provide data in the most efficient manner possible, "said the company.
Consumer protection groups will certainly ask the FCC to reject the petition of the charter. "Charter's proposal to take a break from mediocre behavior speaks volumes about the company's intent and the honesty of its claims, both at the time of the merger and today," said Matt Wood, Free's vice president of policy and general counsel Press, to Ars. Wood, also said that "unjustified data restrictions are clearly a competitive advantage for a cable company that wants to prevent its old TV customers from cutting the cable, or at least to make sure that their Internet customers pay extra when they have the audacity to do it. " actually use their broadband connections to stream content. "
Charter's purchase of the giant Time Warner Cable and the smaller Bright House Networks made Charter the second largest cable company in the United States after Comcast. The FCC rules should prevent Charter from preventing online video providers from competing against Charter's cable television service.
The seven-year ban on data restrictions allows charter customers to use Netflix and other online video services without the possibility of an overcharge. The ban on certain interconnection payments prevents charter video providers directly connected to Charter's broadband network from imposing high costs. Time Warner Cable had previously requested interconnection fees from Netflix.
The merger condition is not a complete prohibition on interconnection payments. Instead, the requirement requires that charter companies that provide charter customers with a certain amount of traffic offer a free connection.