Time Warner Cable Is In Hot Water Over Residential Network Speeds; Partners Say Business Services Are Steady

Residents of New York claim that Time Warner Cable isn't delivering its promised internet speeds, but business customers aren't feeling the same, according to partners.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating Time Warner Cable (TWC) after hearing from "thousands" of residential customers from the Empire State, according to a report from the Washington Post.

In letters to the attorney general, TWC's residential customers noted slow-loading movies and websites, and lagging online video games. But TWC partners say that while some consumers say they aren't receiving the download speeds they are paying for, business customers aren't experiencing the same impact.

[Related: Justice Department, FCC Approve Charter-Time Warner Cable Deal -- With Some Conditions]

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One TWC channel partner executive who requested anonymity said TWC Business Class offers a different suite of services than the services that consumers receive.

"That could support why we are not hearing, really, complaints about their business services, since they truly do have [service-level agreements] for business customers," the exec said.

TWC did not respond to CRN's request for comment regarding download speeds for its business customers.

Patrick Oborn, co-founder of Sandy, Utah-based master agent and TWC partner Telarus, agreed with the TWC partner executive, saying Telarus rarely receives complaints on any business-grade coax-based services offered by cable providers. Networks for residential use, however, are oversubscribed and are often heavily used for real-time video, a bandwidth-hogging use case, he said.

"For businesses, which are much more concerned about things like email working, access to web portals, cloud servers, chat, and an occasional video conference during business hours, the difference between 100 MB and 50 MB download isn't ... felt as pronounced," Oborn said. "Home users are the bandwidth hogs of the network, where the vast majority of their usage is for entertainment purposes, [including services such as] NetFlix, YouTube and Amazon Video."

Charter Communications, based in Stamford, Conn., acquired TWC in April for $78 billion. The provider also acquired Bright House Networks for $10.4 billion in the same month.

On Wednesday, Schneiderman sent a letter to Charter urging the provider to "clean up TWC's act."

"In advertisement after advertisement, [TWC] promised a 'blazing fast,' 'super-reliable' Internet connection. Yet it appears that the company has been failing to take adequate or necessary steps to keep pace with the demand of … customers," reads Schneiderman's letter.

The newly combined company is the second-largest cable provider in the country behind Comcast. The company will brand its consumer-facing cable TV and broadband services as "Spectrum." However, Schneiderman said, the company may need more than a name change to overcome its history with consumers.

In the meantime, Telarus' Oborn said the combined Charter/TWC channel leadership teams are in the process of synthesizing the two separate product lines into one portfolio.

"This will be interesting because today, Charter offers almost double the bandwidth, with no contract, than TWC," he said. "That means that we expect legacy [TWC] customers to be able to eventually be raised to Charter’s level in terms of both speed and cost per [megabit]."

A second TWC channel partner executive that asked not to be named said that the introduction of throttling, or the practice of slowing internet services intentionally by a provider to regulate network traffic, is becoming a problem for all cable providers and telecoms -- not just TWC. The implementation of SDN within service provider networks could remedy this issue in the future, the partner said.

"This is why we have to implement SDN -- that solves our problem globally," the executive said. "It puts in place quality of service."