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Charter reaches deal to keep Spectrum business in New York

The Public Service Commission announced Friday that it has reached a compromise with Charter Communications to keep its Spectrum cable television and internet operations in New York State.

According to a statement from the commission, "Charter would expand its network to provide high-speed broadband service to 145,000 residences and businesses entirely in upstate New York; the network expansion would be completed by September 30, 2021, in accordance with a schedule providing frequent interim enforceable milestone requirements; and Charter will pay $12 million to expand broadband service to additional unserved and underserved premises."

The deal reached Friday appears to have ended a contentious spat between one of the nation's largest cable companies and state regulators over whether Charter has lived up to its earlier agreement with the PSC to expand its service in rural areas of the state. The disagreement goes back to when Charter first struck a deal with the PSC two years ago to gain approval of its purchase of Time Warner Cable.

Under that agreement, Charter was required to add more than 58,000 homes to its network by May 2018. While the company said it had expanded its network to more than 86,000 new homes, state regulators insisted that the figure was inflated and that it included subscribers in New York City, not just rural areas in the state targeted in the merger approval agreement.

In July 2018, the PSC gave Charter six months to come up with a plan to sell off its operations in New York State. But the two sides have been holding talks in search of a compromise settlement that would meet the PSC's demands for expanded service and would allow Charter to continue operating in the state.  Since then, the PSC also granted extensions for Charter to file a plan to exit its New York operations.

The company issued a statement following Friday's agreement that said both Charter and the New York State Department of Public Service believed it to be an important step forward in making high-speed broadband available to all New Yorkers.

"It allows the parties to move forward with the critical work of expanding access to broadband by resolving their disagreements without the need for costly litigation. As a result, Charter will invest even more money in New York State than originally planned, bringing the educational, economic and social benefits of high-speed broadband to areas where access is often limited," the statement read.

Meanwhile, there will be a 60-day public comment period and the final agreement is subject to review by the PSC.

Spectrum, which operates throughout Western New York, is owned by Charter Communications.

[Related: You asked, we answered: What happens to New York State Spectrum customers?]

 

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