After FCC rolls over in court, Congressman warns that FCC action could result in higher bills
After blowing the whistle on Spectrum’s attempts to implement costly data caps, U.S. Congressman Anthony Brindisi took new action today on behalf of Spectrum customers. Brindisi called on the Federal Communications Commission to stop rolling over for Spectrum and instead defend customers from Spectrum data caps.
On Aug. 14, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down two of the four commitments Spectrum made to the FCC when it merged with Time Warner Cable. Shockingly, the FCC did not even argue the case, and the Court reached this decision because of “the FCC’s refusal to defend on the merits.”
“The FCC’s complete disregard for Spectrum customers is appalling,” Brindisi said. “They rolled over in court, but now they must stand up to Spectrum and say ‘no’ to costly data caps. The American people need the FCC to be a watchdog, not a lapdog.”
Brindisi submitted comments to the FCC calling on them to keep the prohibition on data caps in place. Charter Communications, Spectrum’s parent company, has claimed that they have no intention of instituting data caps, despite asking the FCC for permission to do so. The FCC will make its decision on data caps in the coming weeks.
“The claims by Charter that they would not institute data caps, but only want the option to do so, should be met with intense skepticism,” Brindisi wrote to the FCC. “Their stance is like a teenager asking for his father’s credit card number, but promising that he would never use it. The fact that Charter is asking for permission to use data caps indicates that they intend to implement them.”
In Congress, Brindisi has held Spectrum’s feet to the fire. The first bill he introduced, the Transparency for Cable Consumers Act, would provide better oversight of cable and internet providers and hold companies accountable that are fined by a state Public Service Commission like Spectrum. In November, Brindisi slammed the cable company in a district-wide opinion piece outlining his dogged efforts to hold the cable company accountable regardless of the consequences in Washington.
Last month, Brindisi revealed the results of his first-of-its-kind broadband survey. The survey showed NY-22 has the slowest internet in New York state.
Brindisi’s full letter to the FCC is below:
Dear Chairman Pai and Commissioners O’Rielly, Carr, Rosenworcel, and Starks,
Thank you for announcing an additional comment period for the petition filed by Charter Communications (Charter) to sunset two conditions of its merger agreement on May 18, 2021. The FCC’s decision in this matter is especially important in light of the D.C. Circuit Court’s decision in Competitive Enterprise Institute v. FCC. I once again strongly urge the FCC to reject Charter’s request and require them to abide by the terms of the merger for the full seven years.
While I disagree with the Court’s decision, I respect their judgement in this case. However, I was dismayed to see that the reason why the Court vacated two of the four merger conditions was “the FCC’s refusal to defend on the merits.” The FCC is the nation’s top telecommunications regulator. As such, you should be the public’s foremost advocate while you pursue the goal of universal service. When the Court was prepared to consider the FCC’s basic power to protect the public interest when approving telecom mergers, the FCC rolled over and mounted no defense.
Now the dispute over the use of data caps rests entirely with the FCC. The claims by Charter that they would not institute data caps, but only want the option to do so, should be met with intense skepticism. Their stance is like a teenager asking for his father’s credit card number, but promising that he would never use it. The fact that Charter is asking for permission to use data caps indicates that they intend to implement them.
I also hope that the FCC will consider the current realities facing American families when considering Charter’s request. With schools reopening with distance learning and millions of Americans still working from home, it would be disastrous to allow Charter to institute data caps on their customers as early as next year. No family should be forced to cut an extra check to their Internet Service Provider just because their child needs to attend class. With millions of households making sacrifices in the middle of a global pandemic, Americans need our support. The FCC must stand on the side of American families, not with corporate behemoths trying to raise their bills.
Given Charter’s record and the current realities facing our nation’s families, I once again ask that the FCC reject Charter’s request to terminate the terms of their merger. The FCC should require Charter to continue to abide by the merger agreement for the full seven years. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this matter.
Sincerely, Anthony Brindisi, Member of Congress