So it looks like the State of Hawaii has no problem with Charter Communications taking over Oceanic Time Warner Cable’s franchises. The proposed merger will affect about six million cable customers (200,000 of which are in Hawaii. The deal is worth nearly $80 billion.
“After an extensive review of the merger transaction application, which included statewide public hearings, we determined that the proposed transfer of Oceanic’s Hawaii cable franchises to Charter, with the conditions imposed on by the state, is in the public’s best interest,” said Ji Sook “Lisa” Kim, administrator of the state Dept. of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ (DCCA) Cable Television Division, in a Dec. 18 news release. “As outlined in the Decision and Order, Charter is committed to improving cable networks in Hawaii and providing a low cost broadband service for Hawaii’s low-income consumers.”
Of course, the DCCA said its approval is “conditional” on Charter doing the following:
• Provide a broadband service for low-income consumers in Hawaii (providing families with children participating in the National School Lunch Program and seniors, age 65 and older who are eligible and receive federal Supplemental Security Income benefits, with broadband service initially for $14.99/month, at speeds up to 30 Megabits per second (Mbps) download, and 4 Mbps upload) within three years of the close of the merger transaction.
• Invest $10,000,000 to build out its networks in Hawaii; and build out 1,000 new line extensions of its networks to homes in its Hawaii cable franchise areas within three years of the close of the merger transaction.
• Provide 1,000 new public WiFi access points within three years of the close of the merger transaction, 100 of these new access points to be deployed at public parks, civic and community centers, and other public open areas and gathering places at the direction of DCCA.
• Within 30 months after the close of the merger transaction, transition virtually all of OTWC’s cable systems to all-digital networks and, upon the conversion, Charter/OTWC shall provide, among other things, subscribers two (2) digital transport adaptors or “basic boxes” free of charge for a period of two (2) years and make them available at OTWC’s customer service centers and delivery by mail (including pre-paid return service).
• Promote and make available energy efficient set-top boxes (within three years of close of merger transaction, at least 90% of newly deployed boxes shall meet energy star requirements), and Charter/OTWC is encouraged to: (1) partner with community organizations to educate and promote the use energy efficient set-top boxes; and (2) develop an economically feasible program to trade out old boxes with efficient ones.
That’s a lot to ask for–especially the 30 Mbps download speed requirement (here on Maui, we average about a tenth of that). What’s more, it’s the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that has ultimate say over the deal. According to the DCCA, they’ve now been reviewing the merger for 98 days.
Photo of an old Philco television set: Fourandsixty/Wikimedia Commons