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Time Warner Cable: The Devil We Know

“Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”

This adage couldn’t be truer than when referring to the proposed merger between Time Warner Cable and Comcast, initiated in February 2014.

Since Time Warner Cable took ownership of Insight Communications, all of us have gotten to know the company and its services very well.  It’s pretty much been a love-hate relationship from the beginning.

Some aspects of Time Warner we’ve despised:

  • the botched email transition process from Insight email to TWC email,
  • modem configuration issues requiring Tier 3 tech support to correct,
  • flaky reliability at times for Internet, phone and television services,
  • horrendous telephone technical support with inept “technicians,” and
  • ever-increasing monthly bills.

TWC did bring some positive changes, such as:

  • faster Internet speeds up to 50-meg,
  • the ability to set your DVR from your smart-phone, and
  • mobile apps allowing you to watch your favorite shows from anywhere.

When Comcast proposed buying out Time Warner for $45 billion last year, I knew it probably wouldn’t be good for consumers.  I had heard about some major issues with Comcast’s services from fellow computer professionals across the country.  But we wouldn’t really know how it would turn out for us unless the deal went through.

TWC Comcast MergerIndustry analysts initially believed the merger would be approved by the FCC, which prompted me to warn about possible upcoming changes and actions you should take back in December.

But serious opposition, citing compelling arguments, arose prompting the FCC to take a closer look at the deal – its terms and effects it would have on consumers.  If approved, Comcast would control nearly 57 percent of the broadband Internet and 30 percent of pay television in the United States.

“Giving one company control over so much of America’s communications is neither pro-consumer nor pro-competition.  Everybody knows that,” said Craig Aaron, CEO of the public interest group Free Press.

As a result, the FCC recommended the deal be sent to an administrative hearing, which would leave the decision to approve or deny it in the hands of an administrative judge.

This hearing, as most government processes, would most likely drag out for months.  It would also create significant amounts of work for the cable company executives and lawyers, increasing their costs, and most likely not result in their desired outcome based upon the evidence the FCC would present.

On Thursday, news leaked from insiders that because of this turn of events, Comcast had decided to abandon the merger.  An official announcement was expected Friday.

So for now, we’re still stuck being served by the nation’s most unpopular company, Time Warner Cable, which placed last on the University of Michigan’s American Consumer Satisfaction Index in 2014.

But at least it’s the devil we know.   Until the next proposed merger.