The Federal Communications Commission is preparing to eliminate a requirement that Charter Communications compete against other ISPs with new broadband deployments spurred by its purchase of Time Warner Cable.
The FCC’s approval of the merger last year required Charter to deploy broadband with download speeds of 60Mbps to at least 2 million residential and small business locations, of which at least 1 million must be in areas served by at least one other high-speed provider. Then-FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who was frustrated by cable companies’ unwillingness to compete against each other, argued that having two high-speed providers in cities and towns would lower prices and give consumers more choice. ISPs often avoid each other’s territories because it’s easier to get customers in unserved areas.
But lobby groups for small and medium-sized ISPs objected to the merger requirement and asked the FCC to eliminate it. Newly appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is ready to oblige, as multiple news reports say he has circulated an order to fellow commissioners that would eliminate the “overbuild” requirement.