​FCC nixes terms of Charter merger that forced competition

In the latest rollback of Obama-era regulations, the agency does away with requirement that Charter compete with ISPs in certain markets.

Michelle Meyers
Michelle Meyers wrote and edited CNET News stories from 2005 to 2020 and is now a contributor to CNET.
Michelle Meyers
2 min read

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, shown here testifying before a Senate committee in 2016, has led the reversal of yet another Obama-era regulation.

CQ-Roll Call,Inc.

The Federal Communications Commission on Friday reversed a major condition of last year's $65 billion merger between Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks that would have required the new company to compete against ISPs in certain markets.

It's just the latest move by President Donald Trump's FCC to reverse Obama-era regulations.

The former condition required Charter, which acquired the other two cable companies, to provide broadband access to 2 million additional households, and 1 million of those homes had to already have broadband access through a competitor.

The new order, approved on Friday, eliminates the requirement that Charter "overbuild" in areas where competitors operate, according to Reuters, which first reported the vote. It still requires build-out to 2 million homes, except now all 2 million must be to unserved customers.

So while the move could be seen as a blow to competition, it could also be seen as a win for the build-out of rural broadband.

"My top priority is making sure that any American who wants high-speed Internet access is able to get it. Today, we take another step toward achieving that goal," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said Monday in a statement.

In other rollbacks to Obama's FCC rulings: Both the House and Senate have passed bills to kill internet privacy regulation adopted by the FCC last year that would have required broadband companies to ask your permission before sharing your sensitive information. Pai has also closed consideration of rules to reform the cable set-top box market. And he's begun chipping away at controversial net neutrality regulation.