As of May 13, 2016, the Time Warner & Charter cable merger is about to be finalized. If you happen to live in an area where Time Warner is one of the only cable providers, such as myself, here are some things you’re going to want to know about going forward. Even though we personally don’t subscribe to Time Warner’s cable service, We are one of their Internet customers. This is only because we really only have two choices, which is either Time Warner cable, or Verizon DSL. We’ve tried the DSL route before and it’s horrible. Here’s a little research we’ve done to see what’s going to change when this merger finally ends up going through.
How big is Time Warner and Charter about to get?
This mega merger will total about 17 million cable subscribers and about 19 million Internet subscribers to Time Warner and Charter total. This puts them second behind Comcast which is currently the largest cable provider in the United States. If you recall, in 2014 Comcast tried to purchase Time Warner Cable but failed due to regulations. After all is said and done, Comcast and New Charter will own about 80 to 90% of the entire Internet broadband market in United States alone.
The seven year rule
As part of this merger, Charter communications will not be able to charge video streaming companies extra money to improve the delivery of their video content. This includes streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon video streaming. This rule is in effect for seven years from the date of the merger. Charter will also not be able to come up with any policies that will inhibit these video providers from delivering content to their subscribers. Charter will also not be able to institute data caps on their Internet service.
A name is a name is a name
After the Time Warner and Charter cable merger goes through, Charter Communications will name itself “New Charter.” We can probably assume that the name Time Warner will probably just fade away.
Will there be any hidden costs?
As far as we can see, the rates for Cable services and Internet services from the New Charter company should not go up in the short term. In a merger of this size and scope, it would be beneficial for the New Charter to be on it’s absolute best behavior for the next couple of years as the dust settles. They are also committed to providing the best customer service, which is supposedly better than the customer service Time Warner currently offers. As far as price increases in the future, this is probably inevitable and will eventually be something that new charter will rollout. We’re still unsure about things like Internet modem fees, which can currently be avoided by buying your own equipment as we talked about here.
Filling in some Internet access holes
Under this new merger of Time Warner and Charter Communications, a number of low income households will now have access to high-speed Internet. Recent research states that seven out of 10 teachers assign homework that needs to have Internet access. One third of school-age children are unable to get online due to financial concerns. This should change with new plans being offered by this cable giant that will bring down rates for people who currently can’t afford the high rates.
What were also unsure of are the plans for fiber Internet service from this cable giant. In the past Charter has been very vocal about not providing higher speed fiber-optic networks to cities due to the cost and technical hurdles to bring the service to more homes such as Google fiber. As more high definition video content becomes available, consumers are going to be requesting more options to access this content, such as high speed fiber Internet.
It’s still too early to see what the final ramifications of the cable merger of this size will cause, but we will be keeping our eye on it as we are also Time Warner customers. Hopefully by combining these two companies, this will encourage competition between Comcast and New Charter and bring better service for all of those involved.