NY Gov. Cuomo orders review of Time Warner-Comcast merger after massive Internet outage
By RYAN GORMAN
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered an investigation into Time Warner Cable's Internet outage and possible merger with Comcast.
Cuomo made the announcement in a Wednesday afternoon press release following the nationwide service interruption that affected millions of customers for about 90 minutes ending at 6:00 a.m. EST.
Time Warner blamed the outage on a problem during system maintenance, but the governor was non-plussed and says there needs to be more oversight into the industry as Time Warner looks to merge with rival Comcast.
"Today's widespread Internet outage that has apparently impacted more than 11 million customers at Time Warner – which is based in New York – is a stark reminder that our economy is increasingly dependent on a reliable broadband network," said Cuomo.
The governor cited this as a reason for wanting a standards review earlier this year.
"I have directed the New York State Department of Public Service to investigate this outage as part of its review of Comcast's proposed merger with Time Warner," Cuomo said. "The Department will also review whether the outage affected Time Warner's provision of telephone service in any way."
Time Warner provides cable television, Internet and digital phone service as part of a "Triple Play" bundle, a practice common among cable operators.
Cuomo also said increased scrutiny will lead to the exploration of "changes to the regulatory landscape" of companies providing telephone, Internet and cable services.
"Dependable Internet service is a vital link in our daily lives and telecommunications companies have a responsibility to deliver reliable service to their customers."
Cuomo's terse statement came as the company said it is still investigating the cause of the problem. Time Warner earlier in the day claimed its Internet backbone which links all networks together, was to blame.
Tim Farrar, an analyst at TMF Associates told the Associated Press there are major outages of at least one telecom provider every year, although typically they aren't fully national.
"AT&T had a major outage back in April, Comcast had one last October. Verizon Wireless had several national outages on its 4G network back in 2012," he said. "Usually it is related to bugs in new technology, and occasionally to routine maintenance where someone did something wrong."
A $45 billion purchase of Time Warner by Comcast is currently under federal review. Time Warner has about 11.4 million high-speed data subscribers in 29 states across the nation. Both companies routinely rank among the most-hated by American consumers.
The FCC said Tuesday, only one day prior to the outage, that Time Warner Cable would be fined $1.1 million over previous outage reporting violations after ruling the cable company did not report such disruptions in a "timely manner."
It was required to submit a three-year compliance plan as part of the ruling.
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