Sen. Metzger urging FCC to deny Spectrum’s request to cap data usage, change fees

Photo by Ruthson Zimmerman, via Wikipedia Commons

State Sen. Jen Metzger is asking the Federal Communications Commission to reject Charter Communications’ request to set data caps and charge its customers based on usage – two conditions of their merger agreement they want to sunset two years early. 

Internet and cable provider Charter Communications, more commonly known by its trade name Spectrum, merged with Time Warner Cable in 2016 and at that time, stated in its Public Interest Statement that it had no intention to engage in data capping or usage-based pricing, according to Metzger.

Charter stated at the time that avoiding these practices was  “key aspect” of its business model in the United States.

Now, Metzger and other lawmakers are calling on the FCC to reject Charter’s request, especially as more families are working and attending school from home, requiring near-constant Internet usage.

If the FCC allows the change, Spectrum would be able to set data caps and charge customers based on their specific data usage. This agreement is supposed to last until May 18, 2023, a full seven years after it went into effect on May 18, 2016.

Metzger claims that if the company were to go ahead and raise prices while providing the same services, they would actively be ignoring “the struggles of everyday Americans during this challenging time.”

“Millions of New Yorkers and other Americans are struggling financially as a result of the pandemic and economic contraction, and simply cannot afford any new costs,” Metzger stated in a letter addressed to the Federal Communications Commission’s Chairman, Ajit Pai. 

Pai was appointed chairman by President Donald  Trump in January 2017.

U.S. Congressman Anthony Brindisi also spoke out against Charter, asking the FCC to reject their request.

“No worker should have their internet access crawl to a stop because they hit their data cap,” Brindisi said. “No family should be put in the position of having to pay their Internet Service Provider more so their eight-year-old can participate in their third grade class.”

The statements made by Senator Metzger and Congressman Brindisi emphasize how abandoning the merger agreement would be detrimental in the times of COVID-19. 

“Even if there were legitimate reasons for sunsetting these provisions, which there are not, the timing of this request by Charter could not be worse for customers,” Metzger said.