INCOMPAS warns lifting FCC rules for Charter could hurt ‘streaming revolution’

Charter's updated logo
(Charter Communications) in a filing last month, Charter argued that online video distributors have flourished in recent years despite Charter’s peers being allowed to institute data caps and interconnection agreements.

INCOMPAS, a trade association focused on broadband network competitiveness, is urging the FCC to deny Charter’s petition to lift rules attached to the cable company’s Time Warner Cable acquisition.

Charter has asked the FCC to sunset two merger conditions surrounding data caps and settlement-free interconnection by May 2021 – the company was originally meant to be under the conditions until 2023.

In an FCC filing, INCOMPAS argued that Charter hasn’t sufficiently proved that lifting the conditions early would be in the public interest.

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“As a result, Charter should still be required to keep the promises it made not to impose data caps and usage-based pricing and interconnection access charges. Interconnection helped launch the streaming revolution, and streaming brings greater choice, lower prices, and more opportunities for consumers and creators,” the group wrote.

RELATED: Charter asks FCC for early release from 2 OTT video restrictions

Charter accepted the conditions in 2016 when the FCC signed off on the company’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House. However, in a filing last month, it argued that online video distributors have flourished in recent years despite Charter’s peers being allowed to institute data caps and interconnection agreements.

“With no such Interconnection Condition imposed upon them, broadband providers other than Charter have voluntarily entered into interconnection agreements with OVDs in ways that have not inhibited OVD growth in any way; quite the opposite,” wrote Charter.

INCOMPAS argued that Charter’s petition is not based on a showing of changed circumstances but rather “direct repudiation” of the company’s advocacy and support for the merger.

“It is now requesting that the Commission allow Charter to shift from its customer-friendly practices that promote the use of high-speed broadband and access to online content and competitive services. Rather, it would now like to be free to adopt TWC’s prior practices of data caps and access charges at interconnection—creating scarcity that would allow Charter to charge more money that customers and interconnecting parties ultimately will have to pay. Neither of these practices is customer-friendly,” INCOMPAS wrote.

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