Internet is at the heart of Charter-Time Warner Cable merger review

Regulators weighing Charter Communications’ $55.1 billion bid for Time Warner Cable are focusing on how the merger would affect Internet service.

Requests for information were sent by the Federal Communications Commission to companies such as top telephone providers AT&T and Verizon Communications, largest cable provider Comcast, online video leader Netflix and Internet traffic carrier Cogent Communications Holdings.

This is the second time the FCC has asked questions related to the merger’s effect on broadband service. The agency last month asked Charter for documents about its customer gains or losses to Web video and whether that has slowed or blocked access to rival services. The FCC is in the early stages of its review, having reached the 32nd day toward its informal 180-day deadline for deciding the merger.

Questions from the agency, in the requests sent Oct. 9, included whether AT&T and Verizon plan to offer faster Internet service and how those companies and Comcast use data caps. The letters also asked Cogent and Netflix to offer comment on Charter’s pledge not to charge for accepting traffic onto its network.

Charter in June said it wouldn’t block or degrade Web traffic or favor its own online content ahead of others or create Internet fast lanes for a fee — adhering to the notion of net neutrality. The company also said it wouldn’t impose caps on customers’ Internet usage or charge higher monthly rates if they consumed more bandwidth.

Bloomberg News