Charter can gobble TWC for $78.7bn ... if it bins monthly download caps

There's always a catch

FCC boss Tom Wheeler has put out the terms for his watchdog's approval of Charter Communications' $78bn acquisition of Time Warner Cable.

Wheeler said Monday that he has passed along a proposed approval order and conditions for the other four FCC commissioners to vote on.

"As proposed, the order outlines a number of conditions in place for seven years that will directly benefit consumers by bringing and protecting competition to the video marketplace and increasing broadband deployment," Wheeler said in his statement.

"If the conditions are approved by my colleagues, an additional two million customer locations will have access to a high-speed connection."

Those conditions include a seven-year ban on the use of data caps limiting customers' monthly bandwidth use, and a moratorium on interconnect charges that "New Charter" would charge backbone network providers (such as Netflix video carriers) to directly hook their networks into New Charter's own relay stations.

At the same time, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) has said it will approve the deal so long as New Charter agrees not to use its market clout to block online video distributors from licensing content.

Wheeler said that those conditions would help to ensure that the newly minted cable giant would not be able to use its huge market share to impact the quality of internet service it delivers to end users.

"Importantly, we will require an independent monitor to help ensure compliance with these and other proposed conditions," Wheeler said.

"These strong measures will protect consumers, expand high-speed broadband availability, and increase competition."

Charter has already said it will agree to the FCC and DoJ terms on the deal.

"The conditions that will be imposed ensure Charter's current consumer-friendly and pro-broadband business practices will be maintained by New Charter," the company said via statement to El Reg.

"We are confident New Charter will be a leading competitor in the broadband and video markets and are optimistic that we will soon receive final approval from federal regulators as well as the California PUC."

Should the FCC sign off on the order, the merger would be all but finalized, having cleared all regulatory hurdles. ®


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