Charter Agrees to $13M Fine Related to Time Warner Acquisition

Carl Weinschenk

The New York State Public Service Commission has settled with Charter Communications for the cable company’s failure to build out its cable networks as quickly as it agreed to when its acquisition of Time Warner was approved last year.

The settlement, according to a press release referred to at The Ken-Ton Bee, was the largest with a cable company in New York State history and possibly in the history of the United States.

Charter agreed to conditions when the acquisition was approved on January 8, 2016, including a network extension timetable. During the first year, it pledged to pass 36,250 premises. It only completed 15,164 premises. The company can earn back as much as $1 million each time it meets a six-month build-out target. It forfeits that incentive, however, if it misses those deadlines.

Rural Telecom Revenue Up, Operating Income Down


The Telergee Alliance, which releases annual studies of small rural telecommunications companies, found that revenues increased 2.8 percent between 2015 and 2016 but that operating income dropped an average of 3.9 percent.

Telergee is comprised of a number of accounting firms. The story on the results at Telecompetitor points out that the 172 small telcos upon which the study was based represent a high percentage of the approximately 800 in this category nationwide.

The analysis of the results suggests that regulated revenues are flat or declining, which pushes the telcos to unregulated lines of business. The study found that 64.5 percent come from regulated businesses and 35.5 from unregulated. “Those two numbers have been coming closer together over the last 10 years,” the story said.

T-Mobile/Sprint Can’t Quit Talking

It doesn’t usually make sense to talk about mergers and acquisitions until they are announced, but attention should be paid to the recurring rumors of the teaming of the Sprint and T-Mobile. CNBC reported that the two again “are in active talks about a merger.”

The story says that it will be weeks before any deal would emerge, dutifully reporting that neither carrier would comment. It points to the billions of dollars in cost synergies that make the combination attractive. Any deal would be complex because of the ownership of the two companies. Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son reportedly was willing to sell Sprint to T-Mobile the last time the parties negotiated:

This time, given the all-stock nature contemplated, Softbank would emerge as a large minority holder in any combination. While T-Mobile CEO John Legere is expected to lead any combination that results from a merger, Son has made it clear he wants a say in how the company is run. That desire adds another layer of complexity to an already difficult transaction.

Itron Acquiring Smart City Firm Silver Spring

The race to serve smart cities is very important. This week, Itron announced that it is acquiring Silver Spring Networks in an effort to establish a strong position in the use of the Internet of Things (IoT) in this burgeoning sector.

The $830 million deal will provide Itron with what Silver Spring calls its Internet of Important Things capabilities. The press release mentions utilities and cities as key drivers of the deal, but sticks mostly to the financial details of the deal.

Smart cities provide a challenge to the IoT. Many elements of a city will simultaneously use IoT capabilities. They will overlap: For instance, first responders will be linked to utility maintenance since many emergencies involve both entities. This means that close cooperation and management are needed.

The use of the IoT in such diverse and dense environments is far more intense than one-off consumer or business utilizations. Silver Spring is one of the major players in the sector. It has delivered more than 26.7 million devices and has relationships with many utilities.

The New Network Topography

The types of services made possible by 5G and ever faster wired approaches will lead to a new and fundamentally different approach to network design in which more computing power is located at the edge of the network. Locating all the intelligence at the core of the network is no longer fast enough.

This is a profound change. Not only are the requirements at the edge far greater, but a means must be found to balance and integrate what is happening in both places.

Realm, a company that is backed by Ericsson Ventures, has a platform that, “focuses on providing real-time support for instantaneous delivery of applications supported by iOS, Android and a variety of cloud environments,” according to RCR Wireless. The story offered virtual reality and mining as consumer and business examples of the heightened flexibility necessary as task complexity increases and latency tolerance shrinks:

The big picture here is the simultaneously centralized and decentralized architecture 5G will likely require. Think of a mobile augmented or virtual reality experience. Given the latency requirements of providing that experience in a manner that keeps up with a human’s ability to process imagery–it’s got to be fast otherwise lag can make a user feel nauseous–means a centralized cloud isn’t enough. That processing power has to be at the network edge.

In the mining example, edge gateways can “collect, process and analyze data more quickly than if that same data were transported back to an off-premise cloud.”

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.


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