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Let's go live to the 3rd circle of Hell – and see what Comcast and Charter are screwing up

Allegations of digging up rivals' cables, breaking promises

By Shaun Nichols, 22 Jun 2017

A Texas telco says Comcast sabotaged its cable network after it refused a buyout offer.

Telecom Cable, which provided services in and around Houston, claimed Comcast agents dug up and destroyed its lines in 2015, forcing the company out of business and driving its owners out of the Lone Star State.

Now, Telecom's former owners are suing Comcast in the Texas Harris County court for over $1m in damages. Comcast denies it engaged in any foul play.

Telecom alleges in court documents that in 2013 and 2014 Comcast had attempted to acquire Telecom Cable and its 229 cable and internet service customers in east Texas from the Luna family. During those talks, which ultimately ended without a deal having been reached, Comcast was able to obtain a map of Telecom Cable's lines in the area.

One year later, according to the lawsuit, Comcast and its contractors moved into the area and began laying their own lines. In the process, Telecom claims, they deliberately dug up and damaged the small telco's own cables, which had been clearly marked.

"Defendants paid no notice to Telecom's markings and continued to destroy Telecom's lines, and Telecom's complaints fell on deaf ears," the filing reads.

"One would like to believe that the destruction was accidental, but the comprehensiveness of it – coupled with Comcast's prior interest in Telecom – renders such a conclusion doubtful."

The suit claims that, with their lines cut, Telecom was unable to provide service to their customers, who then defected to the newly offered Comcast cable services. As a result, Telecom went under and the Luna family, having lost their business, was forced to move to New York to find new jobs.

"We disagree with Telecom's claim and will vigorously defend ourselves," a Comcast spokesperson told The Register.

Charter fight

Comcast is not the only cable giant dealing with nasty legal claims. Charter Communications has just struck a $13m settlement deal with the state of New York over allegations that it failed to deliver on promises made in its 2016 acquisition of Time Warner Cable.

The New York Department of Public Service says that part of the approval deal called for Charter to expand its cable service to 145,000 new customers in New York, a commitment the cable giant has not yet delivered on.

"The commission conditioned its approval of the merger on Charter's agreement to undertake several types of investments and other activities," said [PDF] public service department CEO Gregg C Sayre.

"While Charter is delivering on many of them, it failed to expand the reach of its network to un-served and under-served communities and commercial customers in the time allotted."

To settle the matter, Charter will pay the state $1m in grants for new cable services and another $12m that will be earmarked to cover the costs of expanding its network to the agreed-upon 145,000 new customers by May of 2020. ®

The Register - Independent news and views for the tech community. Part of Situation Publishing