Charter Seeking FCC Approval To Buy Astrea

Jan 26, 2024

By Ted Hearn, Editor of Policyband

Washington, D.C., Jan. 26, 2024 – Charter Communications is seeking federal approval to acquire a small telecommunications company that provides video and Internet service in dozens of rural communities in Wisconsin and Northern Michigan.

Charter said it reached an agreement to acquire Astrea last November, according to a filing posted today on the website of the Federal Communications Commission.

“As a result of the transaction, all of the assets relating to the telephone, cable television, and Internet business of Astrea in Michigan and Wisconsin and Astrea’s existing customers will be transferred to … Charter …,” Charter said in the Jan. 25 filing. “Astrea’s customers will continue to receive service on the same terms and conditions from … Charter without interruption or disruption.”

Charter said the two sides reached an asset purchase agreement on Nov. 17, 2023. The transaction requires FCC approval to transfer to Charter certain assets and FCC authorizations held by Astrea.

In the filing, Charter did not disclose many details about Astrea, such as the company’s video and Internet subscriber counts. Charter has 30.6 million broadband and 14.3 million video subscribers.

“Since 2007, [Astrea] has provided advanced communication services, including telecommunications, high-speed Internet, video, and VoIP services, to residential and business customers in more than 60 rural communities in Wisconsin and Northern Michigan under the Astrea brand name and predecessor brands,” Charter said.

Messages to an Astrea executive were not returned by deadline. Astrea is based in Iron Mountain, Mich.

Charter is asking for prompt approval of the transaction, saying the deal “will offer substantial public interest benefits without any material countervailing harms.”

Citing federal law, Charter acknowledged that a cable operator may not acquire more than a 10% financial interest “in a local exchange carrier providing telephone exchange service in the cable operator’s franchise area.”

Charter claimed this prohibition is not implicated because “Astrea business and its assets are used to provide competitive telecommunications services and are not affiliated in any way with any incumbent local exchange carrier.”