BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Time Warner Cable, now called "Spectrum,” is the City of Buffalo's only provider of high-speed internet.
After New York’s Attorney General announced a lawsuit against the provider, accusing the Charter subsidiary of charging customers for speed it couldn’t provide, Channel 2 wanted to know if the city would consider a new provider.
Common Council President Darius Pridgen said change is possible, but it won’t be easy.
The City of Buffalo has a non-exclusive franchise agreement with Spectrum, making it the only high-speed cable and internet provider within city limits.
A city spokesperson said Wednesday night that the agreement has actually expired and is currently in a holdover.
Pridgen said he’d like to someday see more competition in Buffalo, and that perhaps more than one provider competing for customers would encourage them to stay honest.
"When you're talking about a city that has a high poverty rate, yet the average person has to be paying over $130-$140 dollars if they want the phone and the internet, there is some concern,” said Pridgen.
Pridgen says before the agreement with Spectrum is re-negotiated, there would be physical obstacles to consider.
He said that Spectrum owns a lot of the city’s cable and internet infrastructure, like the lines that run house to house, and that Spectrum would have to be willing to sell those lines to a new provider, or, a new provider would have to start from scratch.
"And so I think that it's very important for people to know that it's not as simple as you get rid of a company in the morning because they've done wrong. There are agreements in place, and to change those agreements, it is a heavy lift."
The speed issue is most obvious with streaming video, which uses higher bandwidth than web browsing.
But with the increased dependability on the internet for everyday life, it's a problem if we can't keep up.
Groups like City of Light 2.0 have been advocating for city-wide broadband for a while now, and Pridgen said if Spectrum is proved guilty of overcharging customers, perhaps that decision could increase momentum for conversations about broadband.