comscore Time Warner sale offers hope for better cable service | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Time Warner sale offers hope for better cable service

NEW YORK >> Time Warner Cable is going away, and that means you might have a new cable company to hate. But you might find one you like better instead.

Time Warner, the largest cable provider in New York, Los Angeles, Honolulu and several other markets, was just bought by Charter Communications Inc., which has mostly operated in the Midwest. The Stamford, Conn.-based company also bought Bright House Networks on Wednesday. That makes Charter the second-largest home Internet provider and third-largest video provider in the U.S. Over the next year and a half, Charter will phase out the Time Warner Cable and Bright House names in favor of its own brand, Spectrum.

In Hawaii, Time Warner operates as Oceanic Time Warner. When asked whether the Oceanic name would remain in Hawaii, Charter spokesman Justin Benech said the company will transition to the Spectrum brand “over time.”

Charter will face a challenge winning over customers.

“As consumers, we hate cable companies,” said Jorge Aguilar, executive director of strategy at the branding firm Landor. “If you look at the average satisfaction scores of the industry … they tend to be at the bottom.”

New Spectrum subscribers will probably like some things. Charter will continue trying to boost Internet speeds and won’t have usage-based billing or caps on how much data customers can use. Its prices are generally lower than Time Warner Cable’s, and Charter says it will use its size to negotiate better deals with channel owners.

Aguilar said Time Warner Cable in particular is seen as a static, distant company that doesn’t care about its customers. But Charter has an opportunity to change that now.

“If they marry the name with significant improvements in the customer experience, they could have something very interesting,” he said.

But that might be tough. Over time, cable bills are likely to keep rising. The merger means Spectrum will have even less competition to keep prices down. Many of Time Warner’s cheaper deals, which offer slower Internet speeds, will go away. Costs for cable companies are still rising because they pay high prices for the rights to carry channels on cable lineups, and those increases get passed on to consumers.

Those kinds of annoyances make complaining about cable companies a fact of life for a lot of people. From rising bills to unexplained outages to long hold times on the phone and lengthy and long waits for service, there’s always something to keep customers unhappy with their provider. Time Warner, which tried to merge with also-hated Comcast in 2015, had been acknowledging that lately. Its ads last year nodded toward typical cable company shortcomings, and in recent weeks the company has run an ad campaign that says it’s “Changing for Good.” The ads say its service has improved and 99 percent of its technicians arrive within the one-hour appointment window consumers are given.

Tom Sepanski, Landor’s regional director for North America naming and verbal identity, said Charter could reap big benefits if the name change comes with an improvement in customer service and other areas where Time Warner was perceived as falling short. But Sepanski, a former New York resident who called Time Warner Cable “terrible,” said that without those kinds of changes, a different name won’t matter much.

“A name change is going to be met with a lot of skepticism,” he said. “It’s not enough. They’re going to have to back it up.”


Star-Advertiser reporter Kathryn Mykleseth contributed to this report.

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  • “Time Warner sale offers hope for better cable service”>>> You keep telling yourself that. Meanwhile, in the real world, I know mainlanders who have a thing or two to say about this new “hope” company.

  • Not going to matter over the long term, as 4G/5G wireless, and other options like Google Fiber come into play. I hope HawTel can become nicer, better, to become a viable option, as it currently has customer service on par with Comcast.

  • There is nothing wrong with cable service. I can’t wait until we get continuous price increases because of “improved” cable service. Too bad, the whole thing isn’t operated by Oceanic alone. Oceanic always provided excellent customer service and support as well as fine programming.

  • I had to speak to THREE people before Oceanic was able to activate my own internet modem properly…and on top of that, they ended up charging me a fee as if they had to send a tech to the house. Seriously? They ended up correcting the modem install fee but still. Hopefully Charter has a better billing system that’s less confusing and what utility charges you before service is provided??? Electricity? Water? Cell? Gas? NO. Pay for only what’s owed AFTER service is provided.

  • Hawaii is a very small market and there is no real competition whether it be Oceanic or now Charter Communications Inc.
    Just the cost of basic cable has escalated over the past 5 years and this will not change with this new company.
    Just prepare yourself to continue to get hosed.

  • Charter will suffer the same problem as Time Warner, Comcast, Directv, or whoever has for decades … greedy Network like NBC, CBS, Fox, ESPN, HBO, Showtime. They’re the ones who drive prices up because of the outrageous fees they charge these distributors.

  • I’m currently getting 349 Mbps DL and 24 Mbps UL speeds but I also live pretty close to the gateway. (I have pretty large bandwidth requirements and yeah, it’s fairly expensive) If Charter can continue the service I’m receiving without a significant price increase, I’ll be fine. I don’t think I can do better in this town without a dedicated business connection and those are prohibitively expensive for me.

  • I’ve had Charter on the mainland and TWC on Oahu. Charter was better. Cheaper, less downtime, and less messing around with “introductory” rates. Whether that will hold true for Charter Hawaii is anyone’s guess. TWC was just awful.

  • I’ve always had good, prompt service from Oceanic. I hope that will continue however somebody has got to pay that $67B price tag and that usually means less customer service…

  • I left Oceanic for Hawaiiantel after 20+ years of being a customer. The prices kept rising, Internet service was slow, and their attitude was our way, or the highway. The minute I cancelled them, they tried to get me back with upgrades, lower prices, etc. Too late, Oceanic, you should have done that years ago. I ain’t going back even if your name changes.

    Good luck, Charter.

  • Hopefully they can figure out a way to open up an outlet in the Pearl Ridge area to serve the customers around there instead of having to drive all the way to Mililani or Ward to wait in the long lines there.

  • Hey Charter, I (and many others in Hawaii) world really like you to keep the Oceanic name and staff who provide excellent and courtesy customer service.

    • True. Turned in my old Oceanic’s first generation Scientific Atlanta cable box for an up to date HawTelCom’s Cisco cable box when I switched over to HTC, using HTC’s modern ethernet fiber system.

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