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Suddenlink acquired by global telecom company, future plans unclear

Atlice%2C+a+global+communications+company%2C+has+purchased+a+large+share+of+Suddenlink
Vanessa Pena

Atlice, a global communications company, has purchased a large share of Suddenlink

Global communications company Altice recently announced it purchased a controlling share of Suddenlink, the seventh largest cable operator in the U.S. and the major cable and internet provider of the Bryan-College Station area.

 

According to an Altice press release on May 20th, the European group agreed to acquire 70% of Suddenlink, which includes over 1.5 million residential customers and 90,000 business customers in Texas, West Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas and Arizona.

 

For now, it’s uncertain what this means for Texas A&M students and employees who depend on Suddenlink’s service. Gene Regan, senior director of corporate communications at Suddenlink, said the acquisition is in its early stages and Altice’s plans for the company and the areas it serves are unknown.

 

It will be several months before the acquisition is completed – which is not expected until later this year or early next – and Altice’s plans for the company will come together during and after that time frame,” Regan said.

 

James Cho, communication doctoral student, said there have been reports that Altice is expected to cut costs and focus on profits, but it’s still too early to tell what the company actually plans on doing.

 

“Honestly, it’s a European company and we don’t actually know very much about what it’s going to do,” Cho said. “Whether that means cutting costs in terms of work force or focusing on profits by increasing subscription costs, we don’t know that.”

 

Regan said it’s important to remember Altice doesn’t have any previous operations in the U.S., and will need domestic employees to operate and grow the company.

 

While the process will be vetted and scrutinized, it’s improbable the deal will be stopped by regulatory forces, Cho said.

 

“This isn’t likely because Suddenlink is not the biggest player, and Altice is also not a large player in the U.S. market as well,” Cho said. “The most likely scenario in which the deal would fall apart is if the FCC were afraid they were going to create a monopoly, which doesn’t happen to be the case.”

 

Lucas Aranda, a kinesiology junior at Texas A&M, has been a suddenlink customer since he first came to College Station over two years ago.

 

“They’re a pretty good company,” Aranda said. “I haven’t had any problems with them or anything — I’ve had good experiences with them.”

 

Aranda said it’s too early for him to tell if the acquisition will result in trouble.

 

“If they’re just changing ownership I don’t think it should be a problem,” Aranda said. “If they mess with how it works it could be a problem but, who knows, maybe they could make it better.”

 

Shawn Laster, a recreation, parks and tourism sciences senior, said the acquisition could result in positive changes for Suddenlink.

 

“The cable side of Suddenlink, I think, is overpriced for what you get,” Laster said. “I would like to get channels they got rid of, such as Comedy Central.”

 

Laster said Suddenlink is decent as an internet service provider, but he would like to see an end to internet usage limits.

 

In response to Altice’s announcement, Suddenlink Chairman and CEO Jerry Kent said in a statement the acquisition will allow Suddenlink to become a more impactful player in the U.S.
“While our strong performance has afforded Suddenlink ready access to growth capital, the backing of Altice will better position the company to gain critical scale as a major consolidator in the U.S. cable industry,” Kent said.
Cho said this reflects the cable industry’s attempts to stay competitive with online streaming services, such as Netflix and Hulu.

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