Charter Communications boasts that its Spectrum Internet service features no contracts, includes no termination fees and provides new customers with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Such a straightforward approach can be mighty appealing, especially when internet plans tend to be anything but simple.
You get a choice of three different speed plans with Spectrum and the entry-level tier features a max download speed of 200 megabits per second, which is plenty fast for a provider's opening option. Comparatively, cable internet providers like Cox, Optimum, Xfinity and WideOpenWest offer plans that start at 25, 30, 50 and 100 Mbps, respectively.
- Straightforward pricing
- No data caps on any plans
- No contracts required for internet service
- Free access to Spectrum's nationwide Wi-Fi hotspots
- Competitive rates for cable, but pricier than many fiber providers
- Internet service is slightly below the industry average for customer satisfaction
Spectrum Internet services over 28 million customers in 41 different states, so there's a good chance it's available in your area or somewhere nearby. If so, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better cable internet provider, especially since Spectrum doesn't enforce a data cap like its two biggest competitors, Xfinity and Cox. But if a 100% fiber connection is also available at your address, you should strongly consider going with that instead of Spectrum for the faster upload speeds and a more reliable connection overall.
Spectrum speeds and plan costs
Spectrum offers three different plans at three separate prices. None of them include data caps, and none require you to commit to a contract. That said, after 12 months, your monthly bill will go up by $25. Here are the specifics:
Spectrum Internet plans and pricing
|Plan||First-year promo rate||Standard rate (after the promo period)||Max download speeds||Max upload speeds||Term agreement|
|Spectrum Internet||$50||$75||200Mbps||10Mbps||None required|
|Spectrum Internet Ultra||$70||$95||400Mbps||20Mbps||None required|
|Spectrum Internet Gig||$110||$135||940Mbps||35Mbps||None required|
Your internet speed will depend on the plan you select
For most of its serviceable areas, your options are download speeds of 200 megabits per second, 400Mbps or the Spectrum Internet Gig plan, which clocks in with max download speeds of 940Mbps. A Charter spokesperson tells CNET that approximately 85% of Spectrum's service area will see the 200Mbps plan as their starting option, with most other areas seeing a 100Mbps plan as the lowest tier.
A quick word on cable
Spectrum Internet relies mainly on hybrid fiber-coaxial cable connections to provide service to subscribers' homes. As you can tell by the three fast tiers offered by Charter, cable is a trusty method that offers download speeds better than those you'll get with DSL, fixed wireless and satellite. That said, fiber internet can provide faster downloads and faster upload speeds, too. With cable internet plans like the ones offered by companies like Optimum, Xfinity and Cox, your upload speeds will typically stay in the double digits at best.
According to a June 2020 report from the Federal Communications Commission, just under 1% of Spectrum's potential customer base is eligible for fiber. But according to our source, that's not true. While Charter does not release its fiber/HFC percentage publicly, the spokesperson said the FCC's info is outdated: "A sizable percentage of our network is fiber, from our facilities down to the neighborhood, and virtually all of the 53 million homes our network passes can access gigabit speeds."
Yet the issue isn't about gigabit speeds -- after all, other cable internet competitors, like Cox and Xfinity, can boast of their Gig plans -- but it's all about the symmetrical speeds and better performance of a 100% fiber network. And that's something Spectrum doesn't have.
Coverage across much of the country
Spectrum Internet is offered in 41 states across the country, so it's actually easier to list the states where Charter Communications doesn't operate: Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Iowa, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Utah (as well as Washington, DC). If you live anywhere other than that, then there's an above-average chance that you're in Spectrum's coverage map, or close to it.
That said, most cable internet providers struggle to offer service to rural areas with low population density, and Spectrum is no exception. If that's your situation, check out our rundown of the best rural internet providers.
Spectrum's strong suit: Straightforward terms
Charter tends to keep its Spectrum offerings fairly uncomplicated, but let's burrow down to see what else you can expect with your service.
Additional monthly fees
As noted above, Spectrum prides itself on taking a no data caps or extra fees approach. This is mostly accurate. On top of the lack of contracts or data limits, each Spectrum plan comes with a free modem. However, if you want to connect to Spectrum's network wirelessly over Wi-Fi, you'll need to pay an additional $5 a month for the Spectrum router. (Note: If you opt for Spectrum Internet Gig, the router is also included at no extra charge.) Fortunately, like many other ISPs, Spectrum allows you to skip that extra fee by using your own, Spectrum-compatible router, with the caveat that your equipment won't be eligible for Spectrum technical support.
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One-time installation fees
Spectrum temporarily suspended all in-home professional installations during the pandemic, but professional, in-home installation is once again an option. The standard in-home installation fee is $50 -- or a hefty $200 for the Internet Gig plan. However, most installations of Spectrum Internet can be done on a self-install basis. In those cases, you'll need to use a self-installation kit, which can be shipped to your address or sent to a Spectrum store for pickup.
You'll still need to pay a one-time charge of $10 for the self-installation activation and an additional $10 charge for the Wi-Fi activation fee.
No data caps
In contrast to some ISP rivals (we're looking at you, Cox and Xfinity, among others), Spectrum does not impose data caps on its customers. That means you won't have to track your data usage for fear of throttling issues once you hit some arbitrary threshold.
Free access to nationwide Wi-Fi hotspots
In addition to connecting at home, Spectrum Out-of-Home WiFi is available to customers for free whenever you're out and about. The company boasts more than 500,000 hotspots across its entire coverage map -- to connect when you're in range of a network, just sign in with your account username and password for unlimited access. Customers can also use the My Spectrum app for quick access.
Customer satisfaction scores could stand to improve
The good news? Charter's Spectrum service is doing better now with customers than it has since it acquired Time Warner Cable in mid-2016. But there's still work to do.
For example, when you look at the J.D. Power US Residential Internet Service Provider Satisfaction Study for 2021, Spectrum was consistently below US regional averages except in the West. Spectrum earned its highest score in the South region, nabbing 725 on a 1,000-point scale, but that still placed it behind AT&T and Xfinity in that same area.
Over at the American Customer Satisfaction Index, Spectrum's 2021 numbers held steady with 2020, which was up by 7% over 2019. However, with a score of 63 out of 100, Charter Spectrum still ranked two points below the average for all ISPs and placed behind Verizon Fios, AT&T, Xfinity and Cox. Spectrum fared a little better with the ACSI for its internet equipment, notching a score of 69 out of 100, but that still trailed the same four providers: AT&T, Verizon Fios, Xfinity and Cox.
As for reliability, the site DownDetector.com tracks user outage complaints for various online services, including internet providers. Spectrum's history includes numerous instances flagged as outages, but that's on par with every major provider, most of which show a baseline of hundreds of outage complaints at any given moment.
Thus far in 2021, DownDetector has flagged 59 possible outages, where the site tracks a sustained spike in user complaints. Most of these spikes hit a peak of less than 1,000 complaints, indicating a small-scale outage in some nook of the coverage map, but others are much wider. On April 5, Spectrum's outage complaints shot up from 300 or so to almost 15,000, with the apparent outage lasting roughly 3 hours. An outage on Feb. 22 seemed even more severe, peaking at more than 17,500 complaints, though the issue seemed to be fixed within 90 minutes or so.
For comparison, Comcast Xfinity, a slightly larger cable internet provider than Spectrum, has seen 100 outages on DownDetector so far this year, though none of them have peaked any higher than 5,000 complaints. Meanwhile, Cox Communications, a cable internet provider with a customer base that's about five times smaller than Spectrum's, has seen almost double the number of outage reports in 2021, totaling 112 thus far for the year. That said, as with Comcast, none of Cox's apparent outages in 2021 have peaked any higher than 5,000 complaints.
To sum it up
Spectrum home internet offers three fast-speed tiers with unlimited data and no contracts. Customers are also spared some of the extra fees you might find with other ISPs -- there's no additional monthly fee for the modem, for example.
But one thing Charter Spectrum has in common with most providers is it does bump up your monthly price after the first year, so be aware of that pending change. Also, as a cable provider, Spectrum is able to provide fast download speeds, but the technology doesn't offer symmetrical upload speeds, which may negatively impact those who are working remotely from home.
Spectrum Internet FAQs
Is Spectrum the same as Time Warner Cable?
Essentially, yes. Charter Communications purchased Time Warner Cable back in 2016, right around the same time that Charter also acquired Bright House Networks. At the time, those two moves made Spectrum the second-largest US internet service provider and third-largest TV provider.
Are there Spectrum packages available?
There is an assortment of Spectrum packages available, including Triple Play (internet, TV and home phone) and Double Play (two of the aforementioned services) bundles. Most of the package options offer the 200Mbps plan, and those that feature Internet Ultra (the 400Mbps plan) are available only in certain areas. You can expect to save anywhere from $5 to $10 a month depending on the Spectrum package you select.
Is Spectrum Internet fast?
The quick answer is, it depends on what plans are available in your area. The Spectrum Internet Gig plan is plenty fast, at 1,000Mbps, but is not the fastest residential plan available across the US. (Xfinity, for example, offers a 1,200Mbps plan as well as a 2,000Mbps plan in select areas.)
Overall, when looking at ISPs across the country, Ookla determined that Spectrum was the fourth-fastest provider in the US, with an average Speed Score of 137.46 during the second quarter of 2021. That puts Spectrum behind Verizon (170.22), Cox (167.90) and Xfinity (154.69). It should be noted that Ookla's Speed Score does not represent straightforward Mbps, but rather a weighted scoring system that looks at download and upload speeds.
That said, when looking at Ookla's most recent Consistency Score -- a different metric that measures how regularly providers deliver broadband speeds to their customers -- Spectrum notched a first-place finish at 89.3%, just edging ahead of Xfinity's 89.0%.
Does Spectrum offer discounts for low-income customers?
Spectrum does have a program for eligible, low-income households. Spectrum Internet Assist features an affordable broadband plan (30Mbps download, 4Mbps upload) with similar terms as the other internet plans -- no data caps, no contracts and a free modem -- for a discounted rate of $18 a month. You'll need to apply to determine eligibility. For example, at least one member of the household needs to be a recipient of an assistance program, such as the National School Lunch Program.
Separate from that offer, Spectrum is also participating in the FCC's Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, which provides eligible households across the company's operating area a credit of up to $50 a month.
Will Charter Spectrum pay me to change from my current provider?
Spectrum does offer a Contract Buyout option for eligible new customers. You can get up to $500 toward the Early Termination Fee from your previous provider. As you might expect, there's some small print involved as well, but to our eyes the biggest restriction to this offer is it's not available to those looking just for internet service. Instead, you must order one of Spectrum's qualifying Triple Play or Double Play bundles.
Spectrum Coverage Map
Charter Spectrum was adopted as the name of Charter Communication’s residential services in 2014.
While it is often just referred to as “Spectrum®,” Charter Spectrum is the official trade name of Charter Communications.
Charter Communications acquired Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks in 2016, which now fall under the Spectrum brand.
Spectrum saw annual revenue of $48.1 billion in 2020, a 5.1 percent increase over 2019.
Overview of Spectrum’s Services
Since merging with Bright House Networks and Time Warner Cable in 2016, Spectrum has grown to become one of the top three largest Internet providers in the U.S. Their “Spectrum” coverage area includes 102.7 million residents and spans 44 states. They have the widest coverage in California, Texas, New York, and 41 other states and primarily deliver service via Hybrid Fiber-Coaxial infrastructure.
One of the defining features of Spectrum, when compared to other cable providers, is their easy-to-understand tiered pricing system, which offers the same price for similar plan speeds nationally. Digital TV and Phone bundles are also available from Spectrum.
Spectrum is mostly available in urban and suburban areas, including widespread coverage in major metro areas on the East and West Coasts such as New York and Los Angeles. Their coverage area increased dramatically after their merger with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Network in 2016, and while both older brands have been retired, many customers still refer to their service as “TWC” or “Bright House” in old non-Spectrum service areas.
Spectrum agreed to a variety of pro-consumer clauses in their merger agreement, including the requirement to build out Spectrum broadband service to “pass” 145,000 new residences in New York state and increase the minimum speed for all customers within the state to 100 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary). While Spectrum hasn’t been able to live up to all these promises, largely due to utility pole access disagreements, they have been required by the state of New York in this case to commit substantial funds ($13 Million maximum), released on a rolling basis for any future missed targets on building out service for new customers in low-access areas.
Spectrum Hybrid Fiber-Coaxial Cable Network
Spectrum uses what’s known as an HFC (Hybrid Fiber-Coaxial) network for the delivery of wired broadband services. In essence, this means that data on their network travels over fiber lines for most of the journey to subscribers, but switches over to older, cheaper coaxial cable lines for the short distances within neighborhoods. The distance of this coaxial “hop” varies, but the overall effect is that download speeds come in the 50–500 Mbps range, with upload speeds around 10–25 Mbps. Compared to fiber’s 1,000 Mbps “gigabit” benchmark, this is slow. But compared to the 15 Mbps average offered by DSL, it’s blazing fast. This balance of performance and affordability is what makes cable the most common way American consumers connect to the Internet.
The main caveat with HFC or “cable” networks is bandwidth sharing, which is the byproduct of multiple residences being connected to a single fiber “node” in the area. Think of it as branches in a tree getting smaller as they spread out — if one branch needs more water, the tree might send more to that branch at the expense of other branches. You can see this in action during “peak use” hours of the late afternoon and evening, when most customers see a reduction in speeds due to the high volume of streaming on OTT services like Netflix.
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Spectrum Low-Income Internet Access Program
Low-cost and reduced-cost Internet access plans from Spectrum are available for low-income consumers who meet certain eligibility requirements. As of 2018, those requirements are that the applying customer already participates in one of the following governmental assistance programs:
– The National School Lunch Program (NSLP); free or reduced cost lunch
– The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) of the NSLP
– Supplemental Security Income ( = age 65 only)
Spectrum Customer Satisfaction Poll
Among the 65,660 customer reviews we’ve collected for Spectrum, 50.0 percent of subscribers recorded a favorable rating for Spectrum as a provider.
Spectrum ranks close to the top of the charts for Netflix users, with a ranking of No. 5 as of 2018. They’re also well-regarded by OTT (Over the Top) video customers since they don’t currently use usage-based billing, which means that subscribers can stream as much video content as they like without running into steep fees for extra data use or throttling, even if they don’t subscribe to any Spectrum TV® services.
Spectrum Customer Service
Spectrum’s residential customers have a few ways to contact customer service: via phone at (855) 707-7328, the online chat feature on spectrum.com/contact-spectrum/contact-us, or via the My Spectrum Support app available for iOS and Android devices. Spectrum’s business customers can contact (844) 684-0658 for support or use the resources provided on spectrumbusiness.net/support.
Charter Communications Mergers and Ownership
The brand name “Spectrum” is used by Charter Communications, Inc. to market their consumer and business broadband products and services. The company’s merger with Bright House Networks and Time Warner Cable in 2016 makes them the second- largest Internet provider in the U.S. today. Spectrum is reportedly currently undergoing talks with other major Internet, TV, and phone providers with an eye towards further acquisitions in the telecom space, and it is expected that the corporate structure of Spectrum will continue to change over coming years as the company works to position itself as a major media source.
As a condition of their 2016 merger, the FCC required Spectrum to:
- Not implement data caps
- Not attempt to impact the OTT industry
- Expand service to 2 million customers in underserved markets
- Not charge for interconnections
Spectrum Merger Billing
While network investment and expansion have overall improved the Spectrum network from a user perspective, billing changes from the merger with TWC and Bright House have been problematic for some customers. The main culprit here is “promotional pricing” or “loyalty rates,” a common practice with both TWC and Bright House Networks. Spectrum is moving to standardize pricing across the board, which means that customers are “grandfathered” on reduced rates, thereby alleviating billing negotiation. This has pros and cons, but the bright side is that the billing is simple to understand, has few fees compared to other cable providers, and is consistent in all Spectrum service areas.
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American cable services provider
Charter Communications, Inc., is an American telecommunications and mass media company with services branded as Spectrum. With over 26 million customers in 41 states, it is the second-largest cable operator in the United States by subscribers, just behind Comcast, and third-largest pay TV operator behind Comcast and AT&T. Charter is the fifth-largest telephone provider based on number of residential lines.
In late 2012, with longtime Cablevision executive Thomas Rutledge named as their CEO, Charter relocated its corporate headquarters from St. Louis, Missouri, to Stamford, Connecticut, though kept many of its operations in St. Louis. On May 18, 2016, Charter finalized acquisition of Time Warner Cable and its sister company Bright House Networks, making it the third-largest pay television service in the United States. Charter ranked No. 70 in the 2019 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.
Charter Communications CATV systems was founded in 1980 by Charles H. Leonard in Barry County, Michigan. The original Charter system headquarters and offices were located at 1001 Payne Lake Road, Yankee Springs Township, Michigan. Leonard began a corporate partnership with Gary Wilcox and Gerry Kazma, both from Naperville, Illinois, during which Spectrum Communications (Kazma) merged with Charter Systems (1981–1983).
Through continued mergers and acquisition, Charter was consolidated in 1993 by Barry Babcock, Jerald Kent and Howard Wood, who had been former executives at Cencom Cable Television in St. Louis, Missouri. It was also incorporated in the state of Missouri in 1993.
In 1995, Charter paid about $300 million for a controlling interest in Crown Media Holdings and acquired Cable South.
In 1997, Charter and EarthLink worked together to deliver high-speed Internet access through cable modems to Charter's customers in Los Angeles and Riverside, California.
In 1998, Paul Allen bought a controlling interest. The company paid $2.8 billion to acquire Dallas-based cable company Marcus Cable. Charter Communications had 1 million customers in 1998.
1999–2008: NASDAQ listing and acquisitions
In November 1999, the company went public, trading on the NASDAQ stock exchange. At the time, it had 3.9 million customers.
Charter completed more than 10 major acquisitions in 1999 when it:
- Added 68,000 subscribers in Southern California with the purchase of four cable systems from American Cable Entertainment of Stamford, Connecticut.
- Acquired 400,000 InterMedia Partners subscribers, primarily in the Southeast. As part of the deal Charter would turn over about 140,000 of its subscribers to TCI in cable system swap.
- Merged with Marcus Cable
- Acquired cable systems serving 460,000 subscribers from Rifkin Acquisition Partners and InterLink Communications.
- Acquired 173,000 subscribers, mostly in central Massachusetts, from New Jersey-based Greater Media Inc.
- Acquired Renaissance Media Group, a New York partnership serving 130,000 customers near New Orleans, western Mississippi, and Jackson, Tennessee.
- Acquired New Jersey-based Helicon Cable Communications. The systems served about 171,000 customers in eight states in the Southeast and Northeast.
- Acquired Avalon Cable TV, adding 260,000 subscribers primarily in Michigan and Massachusetts.
- Acquired Vista Broadband Communications in Smyrna, Georgia, adding 30,000 more customers.
- Acquired Falcon Cable TV of Los Angeles. Falcon was the eighth-largest cable operator in the United States with about one million subscribers in 27 states in primarily non-urban areas.
- Acquired Fanch Communications Inc. of Denver. Fanch had 547,000 subscribers in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Wisconsin.
Charter also began swapping customers with other systems to improve the geographic clustering of its systems. In December 1999, it signed a letter of intent with AT&T Corporation to swap 1.3 million cable subscribers in St. Louis as well as in Alabama, Georgia, and Missouri. In 2000, Charter Communications bought select AT&T cable markets, including Reno, Nevada, and the City of St. Louis.
In 2001, MSN and Charter signed an agreement to offer MSN content and services to Charter's broadband customers. In the same year, Charter received awards, including the Outstanding Corporate Growth Award from the Association for Corporate Growth, the R.E. "Ted" Turner Innovator of the Year Award from the Southern Cable Telecommunications Association, and the Fast 50 Award for Growth from the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association.
In 2008, Charter stock failed to meet NASDAQ standards and was given warning to comply by October 13 or request an extension.
Also in 2008, it acquired the cable-television franchise and service for the Cerritos and Ventura, California, areas from Wave Broadband.
2009: Bankruptcy and emergence
In February 2009, Charter Communications announced that it planned to file for Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code on or before April 1, 2009. The action would allow Charter to pay its debt obligations, and cancel its obligations to shareholders.Private equity firm Apollo Management expected to own most of Charter's shares after the bankruptcy. Charter filed for a prearranged bankruptcy on March 28, 2009. The company expected the financial restructuring to reduce its debt by $8 billion, as well as adding $3 billion of new investment, and refinancing other debt.
On November 30, 2009, its bankruptcy plan was approved, which extinguished its stock and cut approximately $8 billion in debt. That day, Charter emerged from bankruptcy despite many of its creditors' objections over its bankruptcy plan.
2010–2012: NASDAQ re-listing; leadership change
On September 14, 2010, Charter Class A common stock was re-listed on NASDAQ under the symbol "CHTR".
In 2011, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen stepped down as chairman and from the board of directors' seat, but at the time remained the largest single shareholder. Also in that year, Charter signed a multi-year deal with TiVo to deliver content via its platform.
Thomas M. Rutledge was appointed as a director and president and chief executive officer effective February 13, 2012.
The same year, Charter priced $1.25 billion senior debt, offering to pay down short- and long-term debt.
2013–2014: Purchase of Optimum West; Liberty Media investment
On February 8, 2013, Charter announced an agreement to acquire some former Bresnan Communications systems from Cablevision in a transaction worth US$1.63 billion. The deal brought Charter cable systems to 375,000 customers in Colorado's mountains and Western Slope, as well as in Utah, Wyoming and Montana.
Approximately one month later, on March 19, 2013, Charter announced that Liberty Media, a company controlled by former TCI CEO John C. Malone, would be acquiring a 27.3% ownership interest in the company, making it the company's largest single shareholder, largely through the purchase of interests held by investment funds following Charter's 2009 restructuring. In November 2014, Liberty's holdings in Charter as well as a small minority interest in Time Warner Cable were spun off as a separate holding company named Liberty Broadband Corporation, which as of early 2015 was 47.1% controlled by Malone.
2014–2017: Acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks
On January 13, 2014, Charter Communications said it was interested in buying its larger rival Time Warner Cable. After three previous attempts to buy and merge with the company, all of which failed, Charter's chief executive officer Thomas Rutledge wrote in an open letter to Time Warner Cable's chief executive officer Robert Marcus stating, "I believe we have a significant opportunity to put our companies together in a way that will create maximum, long-term value for shareholders and employees of both companies". The $132.50 per share offer, just above TWC's closing price at $132.40 on January 13, was rejected.
On February 13, 2014, Time Warner Cable accepted an offer of $158.82 per share from Comcast, avoiding a hostile takeover situation from Charter.
On April 28, 2014, Comcast and Charter announced that, assuming Comcast's merger with Time Warner Cable was successful, Charter would acquire 1.4 million Comcast/Time Warner Cable customers, bringing Charter's subscriber total to 30 million and making Charter, by its own count, the second-largest cable operator in the country. In addition to the 1.4 million divested subscribers, Comcast also agreed to swap 1.6 million subscribers with Charter in an even, tax-efficient exchange whose intent is to improve the geographic spread of both companies. In a third part of the agreement, Comcast would spin off 2.5 million subscribers into a new publicly traded company in which Charter would hold a 33% stake – with an option to eventually own the whole company – and former Time Warner Cable shareholders would hold a 67% stake.
In late March 2015, Charter announced plans to purchase Bright House Networks from Advance/Newhouse for $10.4 billion in a combination of cash and equities convertible to Charter stock. The deal was contingent on, among other approvals, the completion of Charter's transactions with Comcast, and the expiration of Time Warner Cable's right of first offer to buy Bright House itself (which was not expected to be exercised in light of the merger with Comcast). However, facing potential difficulties in reaching regulatory approval, Comcast called off its merger with Time Warner Cable in April 2015.
On May 26, 2015, Charter and Time Warner Cable announced that they had entered into a definitive agreement for Charter to merge with Time Warner Cable in a deal valued at $78.7 billion. Charter also confirmed that it would continue with its proposed acquisition of Bright House Networks under slightly modified terms. The deal was subject to regulatory approval, although the deal was expected to face less scrutiny from the FCC than the Comcast/TWC deal, as the companies were relatively smaller, and their media holdings are not as extensive as those of Comcast. The TWC and Bright House systems were to be migrated to Charter's Spectrum brand following the conclusion of the merger.
Liberty Broadband will invest a further $5 billion in Charter and will ultimately hold about 20% ownership in the combined entity. Advance/Newhouse will own about 14%, and other current Time Warner Cable shareholders are expected to hold a combined 44% stake. The merger was approved by the Department of Justice and FCC on April 25, 2016; it is subject to conditions, including a requirement that Charter must not implement usage-based billing, nor use its dominant position in the market to impact the online video industry – which includes a prohibition on charging for interconnections. Charter was also required to expand its services to 2 million new households, with at least 1 million being in markets where competing providers operate.
The merger was completed on May 18, 2016. The purchase made Charter the third-largest pay television company in the United States, behind AT&T and Comcast (the former having completed its merger with DirecTV in mid-2015).
2017–present: Post-TWC acquisition
On January 26, 2017, it was reported that Verizon Communications was in talks with Charter to discuss a possible buyout. President and CEO of Liberty Media, Greg Maffei said that they were not interested in the deal. The deal was rejected around the end of May 2017. Charter claimed that the deal was too low for them to accept, and Charter's largest shareholder Liberty Media stated that they were not ready to sell.
In March 2017 under new FCC leadership, Charter's regulatory conditions were changed to require that Charter expand its services to 2 million households that are not currently served by any broadband provider, as opposed to requiring one million of these households to be in areas served by a competitor. The decision was made under goals by new chairman Ajit Pai to increase the availability of broadband in rural areas not served by high-speed Internet, but was criticized for maintaining oligopolies rather than encouraging wider competition.
In May 2017, it was reported that Charter and Comcast had entered into an agreement to "explore working together in a number of potential operational areas in the wireless space" in respect to mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs); both providers have agreements with Verizon Wireless to re-sell its services, and Comcast announced that it would begin to do so under the brand Xfinity Mobile later in the year. The agreement includes a provision, lasting for one year, that requires the companies to receive consent from each other before performing wireless-related acquisitions or mergers.
On June 21, 2017, it was reported that Charter was in talks to buy Cox Communications.
On March 28, 2017, IBEW Local 3 went on strike, representing 1,800 employees. The company has proposed moving independently managed health and pension benefits to its own company plans, which union members consider would include drastic cuts for them and their families and loss of job security. No significant progress has been made, and the strike continues as of late December 2018.
On March 12, 2018, it was reported that Softbank had purchased 5% of Charter's stock on the open market.
Threatened revocation of New York cable franchises
In June 2018, the New York Public Service Commission fined Charter $2 million for failing to meet obligations it agreed to as conditions of its acquisition of Time Warner Cable. Charter was required to expand broadband service to at least 145,000 unserved or underserved residential units over 4 years, with a minimum of 36,250 new units per-year. The company was accused of making false statements in its progress reports, with an audit finding that Charter fraudulently declared at least 14,000 addresses already served by the company as being "new" deployments. The commission threatened the possibility of further regulatory remedies, including revocation of its cable franchises.
On July 27, 2018, the NYPSC voted to retroactively reverse its approval of Charter's acquisition of TWC, thus revoking its franchises in the state of New York. The commission cited Charter's repeated failures to meet deadlines on expansion promised as part of the TWC purchase, "attempts to skirt obligations to serve rural communities", and "purposeful obfuscation of its performance and compliance obligations to the Commission and its customers." Within 60 days, Charter was to submit a plan to divest and migrate its New York state cable operations (which serve around 2 million customers) to new owners.
Charter CEO Tom Rutledge threatened legal action against the commission. The company was later granted repeated extensions of its deadline.
In April 2019, Charter agreed to new conditions, under which it must complete its expansion of 145,000 new premises by September 30, 2021 (being credited for 64,827 premises up until December 2018), all of which must be outside of New York City, and are subject to milestone requirements. Charter must also contribute $12 million to a fund "for broadband expansion projects at locations to be selected by the Department and the Broadband Program Office", with half of this funding to be provided to either Charter or a competitor via a competitive bidding process.
Charter Communications offers service to an estimated 25 million people in 41 states with significant coverage in 48 states.
In November 2013, the company announced the re-branding of its residential services to Charter Spectrum which encompassed an upgrade to an all-digital network for its video, voice and broadband services. The company relied heavily on a predominantly coaxial cable-based network. The newer fiber-optic service-delivery system provides higher bandwidth speeds than are available with its coaxial cable infrastructure.
On May 2, 2006, the company announced it would restructure seven of its call centers in the United States in the following locations:
- St. Louis, Missouri – Residential HSI/Phone Support, July 31, 2006; converted into a Charter Phone service call center
- Bay City, Michigan – September 2006; converted into a Charter Dispatch center
- Birmingham, Alabama – December 2006; converted into a Charter Dispatch center
- Fort Worth, Texas – December 1, 2006; shuttered
- Irwindale, California – December 2009; restructured
- Brookfield, Connecticut – March 2007; restructured
- Kingsport, Tennessee – March 2007; converted to Dispatch Center with location change
- Amherst, Nova Scotia – December 2010; third-party contract, Teletech, not renewed
- Louisville, Kentucky – Residential HSI/Phone Support, Charter Business technical support, Network Operations Center
Orders completed online or through retail partners with Charter Communications are directed to a call center located in Tempe, Arizona, operated by Teletech (Direct Alliance). This call center has inbound/outbound sales agents, as well as online chat agents. Outsourced call centers were implemented in 2006 and are located in Canada, Honduras and the Philippines.
Charter-owned call centers are located in St. Louis, Missouri (telephone service support center); Billings, Montana; Greenville, South Carolina; Vancouver, Washington; Fond du Lac, Wisconsin; Walker, Michigan; Rochester, Minnesota; Worcester, Massachusetts, and Louisville, Kentucky (the largest call center across the company), with Heathrow, Florida, handling the bulk of video, high-speed data, and telephone billing and customer service contacts.
In 2016, Charter announced that it would be adding 20,000 United States-based jobs, with many of these jobs being call center jobs.
On March 27, 2006, Charter announced that it would sell cable systems serving approximately 43,000 customers in Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah to Orange Broadband Holding Company (since renamed Baja Broadband).
Charter also sold cable systems in West Virginia and Virginia to Cebridge Connections (now known as Suddenlink Communications) and cable systems in Kentucky and Illinois to New Wave Communications. The company eventually returned to those areas (excluding Illinois) in 2016 when it acquired Time Warner Cable.
On October 14, 2008, the Fairmont Sentinel reported that Charter was selling parts of their system to Midcontinent Communications, including Charter's offices in Bemidji and International Falls, Minnesota. Starting February 1, 2009, Midcontinent took over some of Charter's cable system in Minnesota including Balaton, Bemidji, Canby, Ely, Fairmont, International Falls, Littlefork, Sherburn, and surrounding communities. Other areas in Minnesota would have sold to Comcast, but the deal fell through.
On October 22, 2010, Charter sold 32 head-ends serving 65,000 customers in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, and Texas to Cobridge Communications.
In 2007, PC World ranked Charter's cable Internet service as the worst among 14 major Internet service providers. In addition, Charter High-Speed was rated 19th out of 22 cable ISPs on dslreports.com, and Consumer Reports indicated in its February 2008 issue that Charter's television/Internet/telephone bundle collectively was the worst of all major national carriers.
It was reported by Tony Bradle on about.com that Charter Communications redirected error pages and Windows Live Search results to a Charter search page without notifying customers. Users may opt out of redirection by clicking a link from the Charter search page; however, the opt-out link saves a cookie on the customer's computer, so deleting cookies will require the user to opt out again. Other providers such as Cox and AT&T have a similar page as well.
It was reported that on January 21, 2008, during a routine sweep of inactive accounts, Charter accidentally and irretrievably deleted the email accounts of approximately 14,000 customers. The company since decided to give a $150 account credit to each affected user. In May 2008, Charter announced that it planned to monitor web sites visited by its high-speed Internet customers via a partnership with targeted advertising firm NebuAd. Charter dropped the program in June following public backlash.
In 2002, the United States Department of Justice investigated the company, leading to the indictment of four former executives in 2005 for improper financial reporting related primarily to the inflation of cable subscriber numbers to improve financial figures.
In 2004, Charter settled a class-action lawsuit concerning the questionable financial reporting associated with the U.S. Department of Justice's 2002 investigation and subsequent indictment of four former executives. Current and former shareholders (and their attorneys) were awarded $144 million as well as an agreement from Charter to maintain and implement proper corporate governance measures.
In June 2010, Charter settled a class-action lawsuit for $18 million concerning wage and overtime claims for current and former field technicians in California, Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Nevada, Washington, Oregon and Nebraska.
In December 2013, a complaint was filed by Steelhead Licensing LLC for patent infringement of U.S. Patent 8082318; it is described as "Controlling service requests transmitted from a client to a server".
In January 2016, the National Association of African-American Owned Media and Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios filed a $10 billion civil rights lawsuit against Charter, claiming discrimination for Charter's refusal to pick up Allen's eight-channel suite of networks (which mainly carry ES content already syndicated through local television stations and paid programming); Allen and the NAAAOM (which has an Entertainment Studios executive as its head) have already filed the same type of suit against several other providers.
In May 2016, Charter reached a settlement with the FCC regarding allegations by Zoom Telephonics that, in 2012, following the introduction of new rate plans and the introduction of DOCSIS 3.0, it had begun to bar new subscribers or those switching to the new plans from utilizing customer-purchased modems. Although Charter ended this practice in 2014 and began to allow certain certified modems to be used, Zoom argued that the company was still deliberately limiting options by requiring the modems to undergo a testing protocol concerning factors beyond whether they cause interference or unauthorized receipt of service (the only two factors which providers may use to restrict allowable modems under FCC policy). Charter paid a $640,000 fine, and agreed to use a shorter testing process allowing the use of any DOCSIS 3.0-compatible modem, and send compliance reports to the FCC every six months and whenever a modem is blacklisted.
On February 1, 2017, Charter was sued by the Attorney General of New York for failing to provide its advertised Internet speeds to customers in areas that Charter acquired by the purchase of Time Warner Cable. The company agreed to a $174.2 million settlement, including both refunds of $75 to affected subscribers (with an additional $75 to those who rented the defective modem hardware for at least 24 months), and offers of complimentary subscriptions to services such as HBO (3 months) or Showtime (6 months) to all subscribers with an internet and television bundle.
On August 28, 2017, Charter agreed to a $225,000 settlement in the state of Missouri over violations of telemarketing and No-call list laws.
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Spectrum (TV service)
Brand of Charter Communications used to market communications services
For the defunct Chicago, Illinois television subscription service, see Spectrum (TV channel).
Spectrum is a trade name of Charter Communications, used to market consumer and commercial cable television, internet, telephone, and wireless services provided by the company.
The brand was first introduced in 2014; prior to that, these services were marketed primarily under the Charter name. Following the acquisitions of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks by Charter, these operations also assumed the Spectrum brand.
Spectrum TV offers cable television service in three tiers:
Spectrum TV Choice: includes the major local broadcast channels and allows a choice of 10 (out of 72) additional cable channels to create a customized channel lineup for $34.99/month ($24.99/month for new customers). Premium movie channels can be added for an additional fee.
Spectrum TV Stream: offers a set lineup of 25 cable channels plus the major local broadcast channels for $34.99. News, sports, and premium movie channels can be added for an additional fee.
Spectrum TV Essentials: offers a set lineup of 62 cable channels (but no local broadcast or sports channels) for $19.99/month.
The TV Stream and TV Essentials options require Spectrum Internet service and must be used with Spectrum's apps for either Roku, Apple TV, Xbox One, Samsung Smart TVs, internet browser, or iOS or Android devices. The TV Choice option can be used with either the Spectrum apps or with traditional cable boxes or CableCARD devices.
Though legacy Time Warner Cable systems often have had the same channel map across most of their service territory since the early 2010s (with standard definition networks from channels 1-999 and HD networks on channels 1001 and above and certain channel groups per group of 100 channels), legacy Charter systems often do not, and in both cases, channel maps have changed as networks have been added and subtracted over the years and due to regional or local differences emphasizing certain networks over others; often, pre-digital cable systems have retained the same channel map below channel 100 since the mid-90s to avert customer complaints about changes as channel drift sets in across individual networks. Currently, the only universal channel numbers across all legacy Time Warner and Charter systems are channel 1 for the local Spectrum News channel, channel 999 for video on demand access, and channel 2495 to add new premium services.
Further information: List of Spectrum original programming
On June 26, 2018, it was announced that Charter Communications had given L.A.'s Finest a series order for a first season consisting of thirteen episodes. The series premiered as the cable service's first original series on May 13, 2019, marking Charter's first foray into original programming.
In August, Curfew and E Is for Edie received pickups. On March 6, 2019, the service picked up a 12-episode eighth season of the 1992-1999 NBC sitcom Mad About You which premiered six of the episodes on November 20, 2019.
On June 11, 2019, it was announced that a series titled Paradise Lost received a pickup. On February 19, 2020, it was announced that the series would premiere on April 13, 2020.
On June 26, 2019, it was announced that the DirecTV Latin America original series Todo por el juego (Everything for the Game), would premiere on Spectrum Originals on July 15, 2019. The original series would be offered, along with an English dubbed version entitled Side Games.
On January 18, 2020, it was announced that Manhunt: Unabomber would return as Manhunt: Deadly Games and premiere on February 3.
On February 13, 2020, it was announced that the Sky One series Temple would premiere on March 9, 2020.
Spectrum Latino Plans
Spectrum also offers its TV tiers with Spanish channel lineup (Up to 75 Channels).
|Mi Plan Latino TV||140+|
|Mi Plan Latino TV Silver||200+|
|Mi Plan Latino TV Gold||250|
Time Warner Cable first launched what would become Road Runner with a 1995 market test in Elmira, New York, under the banner Southern Tier On-Line Community. Later it became known as LineRunner (a moniker subsequently employed by VoIP service), before Time Warner Cable adopted the Road Runner brand name.
Road Runner High Speed Online employed the Road Runner character from the Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote cartoons distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures as its mascot and brand name. However, in 2012, it was rebranded as simply Time Warner Cable Internet, dropping the Road Runner branding that Time Warner Cable had to license from the now-unaffiliated Warner Bros. With Charter's acquisition of Time Warner Cable in May 2016, the service was rebranded as "Spectrum Internet" on September 20, 2016.
With the completion of DOCSIS 3.0 rollout in 2012, Time Warner Cable Internet has standardized the Internet tiered service data rates across most of its franchises, although some minor regional variations might still exist. The maximum advertised speeds for these services are:
- Everyday Low Price: 3 Mbit/s / 1 Mbit/s
- Basic: 10 Mbit/s / 1 Mbit/s
- Extreme: 50 Mbit/s / 5 Mbit/s
- Ultimate 100: 100 Mbit/s / 20 Mbit/s or 100 Mbit/s / 5 Mbit/s
- Ultimate 200: 200 Mbit/s / 20 Mbit/s
- Ultimate 300: 300 Mbit/s / 20 Mbit/s
- Ultimate 400: 400 Mbit/s / 25 Mbit/s
- Spectrum GIG: 940 Mbit/s / 35 Mbit/s
The tier was intended as a low-cost, low-speed (1 Mbit/s or less) cable Internet alternative to dial-up Internet service. The Lite tier was retired from Time Warner Cable's Internet lineup for a time, but in the summer of 2013 it returned to Time Warner Cable's Internet offerings. In late 2013, it was upgraded from 1.0 Mbit/s download to 2.0 Mbit/s and rebranded as Everyday Low Price.
The Standard service tier was Time Warner Cable's base package. At 3.0 Mbit/s download, it was the only speed offered when the Road Runner service was created. It was upgraded to 4.0 Mbit/s later on, then to 5.0 Mbit/s in 2005, 7.0 Mbit/s in 2009, 10.0 Mbit/s in 2011, and 15.0 Mbit/s in 2012. The pricing for the Standard service started at $39.99/month, and gradually increased to $59.99/month as of 2016, although promotional and bundle pricing are available. The Standard tier as the base package was renamed to the Extreme tier under the TWC Maxx speed levels.
Premium was Road Runner's first foray into faster-tiered service levels, introduced in 2004 by Time Warner Cable. It offered 6.0 Mbit/s download speeds, compared to the Standard speed of 4.0 Mbit/s. It was later increased to 8.0 Mbit/s in 2005, when the Standard speeds increased. The Premium tier was later renamed to Turbo, and the speeds it offered continued to increase, as the Standard speeds continued to increase. Turbo was also the first service tier to receive the PowerBoost technology. Turbo Plus was a previously offered tier that was at a faster speed tier than Turbo, but slower than the future DOCSIS 3.0-based tiers. As Extreme and Ultimate tiers became available, the Turbo Plus name was retired.
The Extreme and Ultimate service tier offerings were created in 2009 at 30 Mbit/s and 50 Mbit/s download, respectively, and gradually became available in all markets over several years as Time Warner Cable rolled out DOCSIS 3.0 upgrades nationwide. In late 2013, the Ultimate tier was extended to include Ultimate 75 and Ultimate 100.
PowerBoost was a technology licensed from Comcast that allowed Road Runner customers to temporarily experience download speeds significantly faster than their current speed at no extra cost. PowerBoost was launched in New York City in 2008, and eventually was rolled out nationwide. PowerBoost was first included only with Turbo service, but eventually was extended to Standard service also in 2009. As of 2012, Time Warner Cable Internet's service offerings no longer make any mention of PowerBoost, though it may still be available with some service tiers on a regional basis. Time Warner Cable does not support PowerBoost on DOCSIS 3.0.
As of August 7, 2013, Time Warner Cable appears to have discontinued the PowerBoost feature as it upgrades more customers to DOCSIS 3.0 cable modems. To compensate for the reduction in average Internet speeds caused by the abandonment of PowerBoost, Time Warner Cable increased Internet speeds across the Standard or higher tiers of service by 10%, though it has yet to officially advertise these speed increases.
Time Warner Cable Internet previously provided the cable modem and modem maintenance to its subscribers as part of their service fee. Beginning in late 2012, they began charging a modem rental fee of $3.95/month for this service. Alternatively, subscribers can buy their own approved modem.
In August 2013, Time Warner Cable raised the modem rental fee to $5.99/month.
In January 2015, Time Warner Cable once again raised their modem rental fee, to $8.00/month. That represents a 100% increase in just over two years, from late 2012 when they created a billing line item for company-owned Internet modems. In April 2016, Time Warner Cable once again raised the modem rental fee, to $10.00/month.
Spectrum internet plans do not charge a separate modem rental fee, but do charge a $5/month Wi-Fi fee for modems/gateways that have built-in Wi-Fi capabilities, or for a stand-alone router.
Despite raising prices of its Internet service within the previous year, Time Warner Cable announced in February 2009 that it would expand its bandwidth caps and overage fees into four additional markets by the end of the year.
On April 1, 2009, the cities to have metered billing were announced. In addition to Beaumont, Texas, the cities would be Rochester, New York; Austin, Texas; San Antonio, Texas; and Greensboro, North Carolina.
These metered based billing plans were canceled according to Time Warner Cable "due to customer misunderstanding".
Caps would range from 5 GB to 100 GB with no unlimited option. The bandwidth will include downloads and uploads. If a user goes over, they will be charged $1 per additional gigabyte. Time Warner Cable announced they would provide a meter for users to monitor their usage. The new plan was set to begin in the summer of 2009, however due to protests they had decided against the bandwidth caps. Currently, users have unlimited bandwidth usage given that it does not exceed the predetermined data service maximum as given in the "master agreement". Time Warner Cable would have offered unlimited data for $150/month had the plan continued.
Glenn Britt (1949–2014),CEO from 2001 until December 2013, justified the new billing plans by claiming that the infrastructures had to be continuously upgraded and users would pay for how much they use. In February 2015, a Huffington Post article alleges a 97% profit margin on Time Warner Cable's Internet service.
Facebook groups have been created in protest in addition to an online petition and a Web site dedicated to stop the movement. Other Web sites have been recently following the Time Warner Cable cap plans that were already following broadband Internet providers metering and capping plans.
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer and Congressman Eric Massa, both of whom represent portions of the Rochester, New York market that would be affected by the changes, announced their opposition to the plan and even went as far as to threaten legislation to ban such a scheme. On April 16, 2009, Time Warner Cable abandoned the plan.
As a condition of the merger with TWC, Spectrum agreed to not impose any bandwidth usage caps for seven years post-merger.
Time Warner Cable Maxx
This article needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(November 2018)
On January 30, 2014, Time Warner Cable announced its new TWC Maxx initiative in New York City and Los Angeles which substantially boosted service speeds at no additional cost compared to the existing speed tiers, with the highest speed tier tripling from 100 Mbit/s to 300 Mbit/s.
As of mid 2016, TWC Maxx upgrades have been completed in New York City up the Hudson Valley, Los Angeles, Austin, Kansas City, Dallas, San Antonio, Raleigh, Hawaii, and Charlotte. Rollouts of TWC Maxx were in progress in San Diego, Greensboro, and Wilmington and were completed in early 2016.
After the TWC acquisition by Charter in June 2016, TWC Maxx upgrades have indefinitely been put on hold.
After its merger with TWC and Bright House Networks, Charter Spectrum offering broadband Internet plans across its entire service area. In December 2017, Charter began its rollout of DOCSIS 3.1, initially in early TWC Maxx markets, which increased speeds and added a gigabit tier. As of April 2020, most of the Spectrum footprint has Spectrum Internet Gig available and starting base speeds depend by area which at one point will all be upgraded to 200/10 Mbit/s in the near future.
Spectrum offers landline VOIP telephone service branded as Spectrum Voice; the service utilizes a telephone cable modem to provide the service, either alone or combined into a household's main cable modem box.
Road Runner Mobile (defunct)
In late 2009 after split off from Time Warner (now WarnerMedia), Time Warner Cable began reselling Clearwire mobile WiMAX service as Road Runner Mobile, bundled with the company's existing broadband, TV and VoIP services. In October 2009, the company indicated that they'd be launching their incarnation of the service starting December 1 in Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Chapel Hill, Charlotte and Greensboro, and later, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Honolulu, and Maui. Pricing for the "up to 6 Mbit/s" service ranged from $39.95 a month to $79.95 a month depending on the chosen bundling options, and came in three flavors:
- Road Runner Mobile 4G National Elite: gave customers unlimited access to both Time Warner Cable's 4G Mobile Network and Sprint's 3G EVDO network for $79.95 if the customer was a Roadrunner Standard or Turbo customer.
- Road Runner Mobile 4G Elite: gave customers unlimited access to the Time Warner Cable 4G Mobile Network for $49.95 if already a Roadrunner Standard or Turbo customer.
- Road Runner Mobile 4G Choice: gave customers access to the Time Warner Cable 4G Mobile Network for $39.95 if the customer was already bundling at least two Time Warner Cable services. The tier also capped usage at 250 MB per month.
Users received additional discounts if they were triple play customers.
As of late 2011, Time Warner Cable stopped signing up new Road Runner Mobile customers under resold Clearwire WiMAX service. Existing WiMAX customers could continue to use the service, but TWC began signing up new Road Runner Mobile customers under resold Verizon Wireless 4G LTE services. As of late 2012, however, all mention of Time Warner Cable-branded mobile broadband services have been removed from Time Warner Cable's website and most regional franchises, and eventually those customers were transitioned directly to Verizon.
On June 30, 2018, Charter launched Spectrum Mobile, a mobile virtual network operator service. Spectrum utilizes their service area's Wi-Fi network for extended network coverage, while Verizon Wireless provides the network Spectrum Mobile utilizes for mobile service. The service costs $45 for unlimited mobile data, or $14 per gigabyte of mobile data (along with traditional device purchase/financing options), and requires a Spectrum internet subscription.
New York State
In 2018 Charter agreed to a $174 million fine with the state of New York, in lieu of the state completely revoking its franchise to operate throughout the state, which would have inconvenienced much of the state's residential and commercial operations. According to New York State, Charter failed to roll out high-speed internet services to more homes as was promised in their agreement to merge with Time Warner Cable.
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Communications spectrum charter
No need. I'm fine. All right.Network Operations
Olya, don't be a child, he said how Andrei cut off. This is your health. - It's your birthday today. Olya clung to a straw of salvation.
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He caressed his tongue, swallowed a little and again a wide river of excitement rushed over me. I sucked him greedily and jerked off at the same time. I finished quickly. But a new object of excitement constantly stood before my eyes.