What the Spectrum New York State Consumers Agreement Means – The Buffalo News



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Charter Communications will begin offering broadband Internet to more rural customers as a result of a preliminary deal announced Friday between the company and New York State regulators. If the final agreement was approved by the State Public Service Commission, the agreement would resolve allegations that Charter, which operates under the Spectrum brand, has not extended its rural broadband network adequately.

But how does this affect Spectrum's current subscribers? And who will have these new relationships? Below, find the answers to the most pressing questions on Friday's deal.

What did Spectrum promise in the preliminary agreement?

Under the terms of the new deal, Spectrum is to do two things: extend broadband broadband service to 80,173 other homes and businesses in the north of the state by September 30, 2021 and pay $ 12 million to expand the service. broadband to underserved areas.

As part of its merger with Time Warner Cable, Spectrum had previously agreed to expand its service to 145,000 new addresses by May 2018. Spectrum has made nearly 65,000 new connections to date, says the deal. leaving 80,000 for future installation.

Where are these new connections going?

Of these 80,000 new connections, Spectrum can install up to 3,500 connections to Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, Schenectady, Mount Vernon and Syracuse. But the bulk of the installations must take place outside of these cities, in the northern areas of the state without an Internet infrastructure capable of providing download speeds of 100 megabits per second or more. At the local level, this only affects rural communities such as Somerset, Hartland and Concord.

It is less clear who will benefit from the $ 12 million. Spectrum must also pay two separate funds for "differential construction". This money will be used to develop broadband networks in locations selected by the Department of the Public Service, in accordance with the agreement.

Will the agreement do anything about the "digital deserts" of western New York?

Not the worst, no. A December 2018 census report showed that more than half of households did not have Internet access in some neighborhoods in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Lockport. But experts say these low connectivity rates are related to cost, not availability. In fact, FCC records indicate that the vast majority of Erie and Niagara counties are already wired for 100 Mbps broadband.

That said, there are areas of Wilson, Royalton, Lewiston and Collins, in addition to the cities named above, that do not have this level of broadband service. They may be candidates for new connections.

Will this improve the service offered to existing Spectrum customers?

Probably not. Under the terms of this agreement, Spectrum can not count network upgrades to meet the needs of 80,000 connections. But Spectrum claims to have significantly improved service in New York since its merger in 2016 with Time Warner Cable. (Speed ​​test services still rank the spectrum among the slowest providers in the country on average.)

What other efforts are underway to get broadband in underserved areas?

Since its launch in 2015, the state's Newwide Broadband Program has invested $ 820,000 to expand access in Erie and Niagara counties, primarily through the Internet. by satellite. Erie County Executive, Mark Poloncarz, has also been promoting a $ 20 million plan to create a high-speed fiber backbone owned by a county, S & L. Extending from Grand Island to Sardinia.

What happens next?

This plan provides for a 60-day public comment period and a final review by the Public Service Commission. After that, Spectrum will start laying the cables: its first intermediate deadline is September 30th.

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