Charter Promises Its Time Warner Cable Acquisition Won’t Hurt Net Neutrality

Charter office on San Fernando Road in Glendale, California, on
A Charter office in Glendale, California, on May 26, 2015.

Photo by Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times

Charter is trying to acquire Time Warner Cable, but the company wants everyone to know it isn’t like that other merger attempt. This one is wholesome, customer-centric, and respectful of net neutrality. At least that’s what Charter’s chief executive Tom Rutledge says.

Rutledge told the New York Times that the new Charter had no plans to “block, throttle or engage in paid prioritization of Internet traffic.” Net neutrality advocates will appreciate that claim, but they probably remember that other telecoms have made similar promises.

For example, a November Comcast blog post about the company’s support of net neutrality said things like: “No blocking. We agree—and that is our practice” and “No throttling. We agree—and that is our practice.” It sounded good, but the problem was that Comcast has totally blocked and throttled. At the time, Gizmodo went through the entire post to debunk Comcast’s statements point by point.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to find forums and other coverage indicating that Charter has probably engaged in throttling and blocking at various points, too. And as the Times points out, Charter and Time Warner Cable have relatively bad customer satisfaction ratings in surveys. Putting them together could create a whole new mess. Rutledge is optimistic. “I am not sure how the services will evolve, whether they will be sold in a big pack, a little pack or individually … we are open to all of that,” he said.

Whether the acquisition is approved or not, Charter is still subject to the FCC’s new policies meant to protect net neutrality, but left to its own devices (or if the FCC rulings get held up in court), who knows if the company would be true to its word?