Pin It

New York State just told Spectrum to get outta Dodge.  Charter Communications, which operates in New York as Spectrum, was given 60 days to submit a plan to transition cable service to another company.  What does that mean to me?

My first reaction was panic.  Because the largest cable company in the country is Comcast, and that is not going to be an improvement.  I have personally experienced some of the Comcast nightmare, and was thrilled when their takeover of Time Warner Cable was blocked, leading to the TWC merger with Charter Communications.  Not that Charter had great customer service ratings, but at least it wasn't Comcast, right?  And, like Time Warner, Spectrum didn't impose bandwidth caps, something that was becoming rare and troubling, especially as streaming video increasingly needs more bandwidth.

But as I surfed the news sites a number of analysts seemed to think that there is a good chance Spectrum will resolve its differences with the Public Service Commission (PSC) and get to stay here.  And when I read the actual PSC documents I saw that even if Spectrum does end up leaving the state, it is required to maintain its level of service until a new provider takes over.

So for 60 days (45 days left as of today) I could put off panicking.  Phew!  With three parents in a difficult phase of old age, there is enough stress in this household already!  But what about after 60 days?

If the PSC does its job it will either get Spectrum to live up to its commitments or find somebody who will.  There are three issues for Internet service: price, speed, and data caps.  With no data cap (unless you severely abuse the service), Spectrum also does well in our area on speed and price:  When I switched from TWC's Extreme plan (30mbps download speed, 5mbps upload at a special promotional cost of $65 a month, regular price $75) to Spectrum I got faster (100mbps) for less ($60 at first, which has risen to $65, still $10 a month less than the plan I had). 

On top of that, Spectrum sent a technician to my house on the 4th of July to fix my broken cable connection (and he did it -- a signal booster had blown out and he diagnosed and replaced it).  The technician showed up at the time Spectrum had set (3pm) for his visit.  So even though Charter is right down there with Comcast in customer service ratings, they are OK in my book.

We 'cut the cord' on cable TV, opting for streaming services instead.  I understand many local people are unhappy with missing channels in Spectrum's offerings.  That kind of problem is difficult to resolve with any cable company.  But the truth is that more and more people are dropping cable TV service, and in the near future I don't believe it will actually matter in the daily lives of most people.  By that time people will be dropping streaming TV for the next innovation, whatever that might be.  So while Spectrum apparently falls short in that department, it's not so different from any cable provider.

In the worst case scenario Comcast or some other company would replace Spectrum in New York, raising prices and imposing data caps, so they can charge you more if you want to use more data capacity.  Despite Spectrum's shortcomings -- and if they have failed spectacularly enough to tick off the PSC they have some serious problems -- they do seem like a good option for domestic consumers.    And provide customer service so bad it will make you want to punch a wall.

So I am hoping that Spectrum makes nice with state officials and fulfills the obligations they took on when New York allowed them to take over TWC.

Better yet, why does cable have to be a monopoly?  Isn't it a tenet of the philosophy of our country that monopolies are bad unless it is the Parker Brothers game (and some would say still bad)?  Isn't competition supposed to keep service and quality high while keeping prices low? I wouldn't mind paying $45 a month for 1,000mbps...

Pin It