Questions linger about cable firm’s sale

Local cable television customers were probably just getting used to the new brand name Optimum when it was announced last week that they’ll need to prepare for yet another rebranding of their TV provider.

Quickly growing cable giant Charter Communications announced the company is buying Optimum West, the former Bresnan system of about 304,000 cable TV customers in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah.

Bresnan was bought by Cablevision in 2010 for about $1.4 billion, which turned around and sold the newly rebranded Optimum West to Charter last week for $1.6 billion.

“After the sale closes sometime during the 3rd quarter of this year, the brand will change to Charter,” Charter spokesman John Miller said in an email. “We hope to make the process very seamless for the customers and employees, however. Optimum West customers will be apprised of any updates as they develop.”

Miller said it was “too early in the process to identify any specific changes in service for Optimum West customers,” but that Charter offers many of the same “bundles” of service that customers received through Optimum — cable TV and high-speed Internet, home phone and Internet, and other popular combinations of services.

Charter — like Optimum — also offers non-residential services, like business-to-business Internet access, data networking, business telephone and video and music entertainment services, Miller said.

While it’s premature to say if customers will see a difference in the amount they pay per month for cable TV or home Internet service, or whether customers will need to upgrade or change equipment, it is certain that new Charter customers will inevitably interface with the company’s customer service department at some point.

That may not be an improvement. The most recent J.D. Power customer satisfaction surveys list Charter near the bottom for both television service as well as residential Internet service.

Charter is ranked much higher in terms of overall customer satisfaction in the category of business telecommunications services — right behind J.D. Power’s award recipient in the category, Optimum Business.


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