Time Warner Cable customers: Here’s what you need to know about Charter

Charter Communications has completed its purchase of Time Warner Cable, a merger that will give the company a stronghold in Ohio, where Time Warner Cable has 2.13 million customers, including 630,000 in southwest Ohio.

Charter intends to phase out the Time Warner Cable name, and instead market its products and services under the Spectrum brand.

“Current Bright House Networks and Time Warner Cable customers won’t see many changes right away, though in the coming months they will begin to hear more from us about the Spectrum brand,” Charter Chief Executive Tom Rutledge said in a statement Wednesday morning.

The company eventually will switch its billing system and make other changes, but those roll-outs are expected to take more than a year, a Charter spokesman said.

Explore>> Printing service company moves to larger Dayton location

“Customers in the Dayton area won’t see changes right away. Their bills and our service vehicles will have the Time Warner logo until we make all of the changes,” said Justin Venech, a Charter spokesman.

Venech said the company plans to convert all Time Warner Cable markets to digital, a process that could take up to 18 months. Once a digital conversion is complete, then Charter will introduce its products into that market. Dayton-area customers began changing to an all-digital format earlier this year.

Once Charter does launch its packages in the Miami Valley, people will be allowed to keep their current Time Warner package if they want, Venech said.

Charter plans to grow local work forces in the Time Warner Cable markets it takes over and bring back call center jobs that Time Warner sent overseas, Venech said.

“We’ve been growing our company for the past four years, adding 7,000 employees. With the acquisition, we now have more than 90,000 employees,” Venech said.

The overall value of the cash and stock deal reached about $71 billion — more than when the transaction was first announced in May 2015 because the value of Time Warner Cable increased during the past 12 months.

Charter now is the nation’s second-largest broadband Internet provider, behind Comcast, and the third-largest pay-TV distributor behind AT&T and Comcast. Charter clinched the deal to buy Time Warner Cable a year ago, after Comcast’s bid for Time Warner Cable ran into a regulatory buzzsaw. Charter had been eyeing the Time Warner Cable assets long before that, and Wednesday’s deal close marks the end of a more than two-year dance.

Charter also acquired Bright House, which serves more than 2 million customers. The company paid about $11.4 billion for Bright House.

Charter ended up paying about $60 billion for Time Warner Cable. It also assumes $21 billion in Time Warner Cable debt. Time Warner had more than 14 million customers.

Many Time Warner Cable executives and technicians will remain with the company, Charter officials have said.

WILL MY BILLS STILL GO UP?

Probably. Cable companies have been passing on to customers the higher prices they pay for rights to carry channels on cable lineups, and their costs are still rising. Still, Charter will use its bigger size to seek better deals with channel owners like Disney and Fox.

But the cable industry has been consolidating for decades, and bills have only gone up.

“Cost savings to the company don’t necessarily translate to cost savings to the customer unless the company has competition that forces them to offer it,” said John Bergmayer, staff attorney at public-interest group Public Knowledge. “I don’t see anything about this merger that changes that basic dynamic.”

Charter will be the only supplier of broadband speeds, as defined by the FCC, for two-thirds of the homes in areas where it operates, according to FCC data. But the FCC is requiring Charter to reach another 2 million homes with high-speed services; at least 1 million of those homes would be in competition with another broadband supplier.

Even if bills still go up, Charter said they won’t be as high as they would have been as separate companies.

There will be a $15-a-month Internet service for some low-income households.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.