Charter Communications has officially rolled out a $14.99-a-month, 30 Mbps broadband service aimed at seniors and economically disadvantaged families this week.
But progressive groups say the tier, which was promised in the regulatory run-up to Charter’s purchases of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, is being intentionally made inaccessible by the MSO.
According to consumer broadband watchdog group StopTheCap, as Charter rebrands its New York City area TWC footprint under the “Spectrum” brand, it's marketing three triple play plans, which differ mainly in the respective size of their pay-TV bundles.
“When we selected internet-only service, we were presented with only one option in New York City: 100 Mbps,” StopTheCap said on its website.
Responding to FierceCable in an email, Charter rep Justin Venech would only say, "Every Day Low Price internet is available in NY."
Charter announced that it would provide low-cost broadband services to seniors and the poor last December, in the regulatory run-up to its TWC and BHN purchases.
Eligible customers must prove they can qualify for the federally subsidized National School Lunch Program. Seniors over the age of 65 and qualifying for Social Security are also eligible. Charter originally said it would launch the product within 60 days of closure of its acquisitions. It closed its purchases last spring, however.
The service includes “all standard internet features; i.e. security, suite, mailboxes, etc.,” and the modem comes free of lease or purchase charges. Users must pay $5 a month, however, if they want to lease a Wi-Fi router.
“It’s important for cable and broadband providers like us to play a role in bridging the digital divide so that everyone has access to the information and tools they need to succeed in today’s economy,” Charter Chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge said in a statement.