When Time Warner Cable merged with Charter Spectrum last year, NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman made it clear the new Spectrum-TWC Frankenbaby would have to provide the "blazing fast" speeds its predecessor falsely promised, or else. After a lengthy probe, the Attorney General's office is now suing Charter and Spectrum-TWC, alleging that the company knew that "bottlenecks in its network would result in many subscribers routinely experiencing the very hallmarks of a poor Internet connection."
After a 16-month investigation into TWC's internet speeds, Schneiderman's office determined that Spectrum-Time Warner subscribers were "getting dramatically short-changed on both speed and reliability." His special advisor, Tim Wu, penned a letter to Charter, which acquired TWC for $78.7 billion, and warned the Connecticut-based company that they would need to provide premium internet service if they planned on continuing to charge premium prices.
Charter claimed they had "made significant investments in our core infrastructure which has enabled us to offer high-value products backed by a high-quality service organization throughout our footprint," but according to Schneiderman, it isn't enough.
The suit says that since January 2012, Spectrum-TWC (then just TWC) offered speeds up to 80 percent slower than what they promised, charging New Yorkers as much as $109.99 per month for subpar service. Indeed, Schneiderman says Spectrum-TWC didn't even have the hardware necessary to provide the kind of internet they were promising—executives knew this, Schneiderman alleges, but defrauded New Yorkers anyway.
"The allegations in today’s lawsuit confirm what millions of New Yorkers have long suspected—Spectrum-Time Warner Cable has been ripping you off,” Schneiderman said in a statement. "Today’s action seeks to bring much-needed relief to the millions of New Yorkers we allege have been getting cheated by Spectrum-Time Warner Cable for far too long. Even now, Spectrum-Time Warner Cable continues to offer Internet speeds that we found they cannot reliably deliver."
— Ilya Marritz (@ilyamarritz) February 1, 2017
Spectrum-Time Warner Cable has an estimated 2.5 million subscribers across New York State. According to today's announcement, Schneiderman's lawsuit seeks restitution for these customers, as well as "appropriate injunctive and equitable relief to end Spectrum-TWC’s longstanding deceptive practices."
Charter spokesperson John Bonomo told Gothamist in a statement that the AG's lawsuit was over TWC's old speeds, and not those offered by the new company, though the AG says the new company has thus far failed to invest in the kind of infrastructure that would provide the service they've promised.
"We are disappointed that the NY Attorney General chose to file this lawsuit regarding Time Warner Cable’s broadband speed advertisements that occurred prior to Charter’s merger," Bonomo said in an email. "Charter made significant commitments to NY State as part of our merger with Time Warner Cable in areas of network investment, broadband deployment and offerings, customer service and jobs...Charter has already made substantial investments in the interest of upgrading the Time Warner Cable systems and delivering the best possible experience to customers."
Well, we'll just let my buffering baby corgi videos be the judge.