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Attention, Time Warner Cable customers: Change is coming

Updated: Mar. 14, 2017 at 6:18 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (Rick Rothacker/The Charlotte Observer) - It's the beginning of the end for the Time Warner Cable name.

Starting Tuesday, Charter Communications, which bought the cable provider in May, is debuting its Spectrum brand Internet, TV and phone services in the Charlotte area.

Customers may already have noticed new trucks and billboards touting the Spectrum name, and starting Tuesday the brand will begin showing up on subscribers' TV guides. Customers can also now use the Spectrum app on their phones.

For now, cable charges will stay the same, but in coming months Stamford, Conn.-based Charter will start rolling out new pricing options, based on its uniform national rates, said Patrick Paterno, director of public relations for the Carolinas. Customers can also choose to keep their current Time Warner Cable packages, he said.

Charter is rebranding Time Warner Cable, which has said it has around 500,000 customers in the Charlotte area, at a time when it faces increased competition from rivals AT&T and Google Fiber. Both companies have been building high-speed Internet networks that offer speeds up to 1 gigabit per second.

In 2015, Time Warner Cable began rolling out upgraded speeds in Charlotte ranging from 50 megabits per second to 300 megabits per second. Spectrum, Paterno said, offers two Internet speeds: 100 megabits per second and 300 megabits per second.

"Spectrum provides customers with superior products, including the most HD, the fastest internet Speeds, and a full featured voice product, at highly competitive prices combined with outstanding service," Paterno said.

Charter completed its $55.1 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable in May 2016, a little more than a year after Comcast's planned purchase of Time Warner Cable collapsed amid government opposition. Charter also closed its purchase of cable provider Bright House Networks at the same time, creating the nation's second-largest cable provider with more than 25 million customers in 41 states.

Charlotte customers aren't likely to miss the Time Warner Cable name. The company has long finished near the bottom of customer satisfaction rankings.

In the latest study by the American Customer Satisfaction Index in 2016, Time Warner Cable received the second-lowest score among providers for television service: a 59 out of a possible 100. But Charter was only slightly better with a score of 60.

For Internet service, however, Time Warner Cable was fourth best with a score of 66, better than Charter's 63.

Charter has said it is investing in its service, takings steps such as bringing back jobs from overseas call centers. Overall, the company says it plans to add 20,000 jobs, the majority directly serving customers.

The company made its most high-profile name change in Charlotte in August, when it christened the city's uptown arena, home of the Charlotte Hornets, the Spectrum Center.