FCC Officially Gives Green Light To Merger Of Time Warner Cable & Charter

A couple weeks back, both the FCC and the Justice Department made it clear that they were not going to challenge the massive merger of Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications (and the third wheel of the merger á trois Bright House) after putting some conditions on the deal. Today, the FCC officially confirmed that it has given its blessing to this marriage of inconvenience.

While the Commission has yet to reveal the vote breakdown on the decision, it is known that at least one of the five commissioners, Ajit Pai, voted against approving the deal — not because he didn’t support the merger, but because he opposes the conditions placed on the merger by FCC Chair Tom Wheeler and others.

“The FCC’s merger review process is badly broken,” a Pai spokesperson told The Hill yesterday. “Chairman Wheeler’s order isn’t about competition, competition, competition; it’s about regulation, regulation, regulation… It’s about imposing conditions that have nothing to do with the merits of this transaction. It’s about the government micromanaging the internet economy.”

While Pai might be bemoaning the regulations put upon the merger, the 23 million customers of “New Charter” will enjoy at least one aspect of those conditions: no data caps.

MORE: 5 Things You Should Know About The Approved Merger Of Time Warner Cable & Charter

Under the deal accepted by the companies, New Charter will no enact any sort of data limits or usage-based pricing for at least seven years.

That means that while Comcast and other internet service providers rush to cap users’ monthly data allotments, New Charter customers won’t be burdened with such concerns — at least until after 2023.

What they will be burdened with is a merged company where both the old and new owners have, at best, subpar reputations for providing reliable customer service.

The merger still faces a not-small hurdle in the form of the California Public Utility Commission, which has yet to sign off on the merger. The CPUC must approve the deal in order to allow TWC to hand over its substantial franchises in the state (for example, much of Los Angeles) to Charter. If the state regulator has concerns about the merger, it could try to impose additional conditions on the deal or deny the swap of the California franchises, which would likely lead to a courtroom battle.