Charter would follow many net neutrality rules as term of merger

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Charter Communications said Thursday it would abide by many new net neutrality rules as a term of its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable.

Charter made the three-year commitment in a 362-page filing with the Federal Communications Commission pushing for the multi-billion dollar deal. 

{mosads}The company said it would adhere to rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization of Internet traffic — the three bright-line rules included in the new regulations. 

It also said it would not impose discriminatory terms in its interconnection deals and would not engage in zero-rating — a business model more important to mobile service providers that excludes certain websites from customers’ monthly data caps. 

Charter has previously called the FCC’s new rules “outdated and overly broad.” It belongs to trade groups that are currently suing to kill the new rules, which reclassify Internet access under authority governing traditional telephones. Regardless of the outcome, the company said it would abide by its terms for three years. 

Marvin Ammori, who has represented a number of groups supporting the new net neutrality rules in court, signed on as an adviser with Charter, he announced Thursday. He highlighted a number of the terms in an op-ed in Wired

Charter announced the deal in May after regulators raised objections to Comcast’s own attempt to purchase Time Warner Cable. Many of those regulator concerns, which scuttled the deal, focused on the potential harm to the online video market. 

In its filing Thursday, Charter noted that after the merger, it would still have 2.5 million fewer broadband subscribers than Comcast has today. It also said its future business model is focused on broadband rather than the video business. 

Still, the merger would make the new company the second-largest Internet provider and the third-largest video provider in the country. 

The company argued the merger would be good for customers. It said it would raise the minimum broadband speeds for customers to 60 Mbps and would sell stand-alone broadband. The FCC classifies broadband as 25 Mbps. It said it would also increase investment in Wi-Fi networks. 

The advocacy group Public Knowledge said Charter had made some “promising statements” but remained wary of how the consolidation could harm the market in different ways. 

“Charter has been at pains to emphasis how it is different than Comcast. But this merger must be judged on its own merits — it can’t get a free pass simply because other, failed mergers would arguably have been worse,” the group said in a statement. 

Tags Charter Communications merger Time Warner Cable
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