Terms of Service/Policies

Network Management Practices

Charter's Acceptable Use Policy (the "AUP") and the practices outlined herein, describe how Charter monitors the overall traffic on its network as key segments approach peak utilization levels (described below). When congestion occurs Charter will temporarily manage usage activity to maintain quality of service for all customers and to enable all users to access a "fair share" of the network capacity.  Charter does not target specific protocols.  Charter's experience is that under these management techniques, incidents of noticeable congestion have been rare under normal operating conditions.

Technical detail

Charter's network software continuously examines aggregate traffic usage data for individual segments of the network.

Each cable modem on Charter's network is connected to the CMTS through the ports on the CMTS. These ports can be either "downstream" ports or "upstream" ports (the term "port" also applies to virtual channels, also known as "bonded groups," in a DOCSIS 3.0 environment).  If overall usage of a CMTS upstream or downstream port reaches a near congestion threshold for a defined period of time, then Charter's software examines bandwidth usage data for subscribers in the affected network segment to determine which subscribers are using a disproportionate share of the bandwidth. If the software determines that one or subscribers have been the source of high volumes of network traffic over a particular time interval, traffic originating from those subscribers will be assigned a lower priority status temporarily.  If the affected network segment does not actually become congested, traffic assigned a lower priority status will not be delayed.  If such network segment becomes congested, lower priority traffic could be delayed compared to higher priority traffic.  The corresponding subscriber's traffic returns to normal priority status once his or her bandwidth usage drops below a set threshold over a particular time interval.

Charter currently uses the following settings for congestion management:

These settings may change over time.

Charter generally designates traffic as either "priority best effort" traffic or "best effort" traffic. Most modern cable modems attached to Charter's network include a "bootfile" which includes information about the subscriber's service account to ensure that the service functions properly.  This bootfile contains information that supports these different priorities for Internet traffic going to and from the cable modem.  Priority best effort is the normal priority.  If congestion management has been triggered and traffic to a particular modem has been designated best effort, traffic could be delayed compared to higher priority traffic.  CMTS ports have what is commonly called a "scheduler" that puts all the packets coming from or going to cable modems on that particular port in a queue and then handles them in turn. A certain number of packets can be processed by the scheduler in any given moment; for each time slot, priority best effort traffic will be given priority access to the available capacity, and best effort traffic will be processed on a space-available basis.  A rough analogy would be to busses that empty and fill up every two milliseconds. As empty busses arrive, the waiting packets fill up the "seats" on the bus. During non-congested periods, the bus will usually have several empty seats, but during congested periods, the bus will fill up and some packets may have to wait for the next bus. In congested periods, best effort packets might have to wait for the next bus if all seats are first filled by priority best effort packets.  This all takes place in two millisecond increments, so even if the packets miss 50 "busses," the delay only will be about one-tenth of a second.

Congestion can occur in any IP network, and, when it does, packets can be affected, delayed, lost, or dropped. Because of this, IP applications and protocols have been designed to deal with delayed or dropped packets. 

Typically, a user whose traffic is in a best effort state during actual congestion may find that a webpage loads sluggishly, a peer-to-peer upload takes somewhat longer to complete, or a VoIP call sounds choppy.  Of course, the same thing could happen to the customers on a port that is congested in the absence of any congestion management; the difference here is that the effects of any such delays are shifted toward those who have been placing the greatest burden on the network, instead of being distributed randomly among the users of that port without regard to their consumption levels.

Charter's AUP prohibits certain misuse of the service and does not permit a customer to operate a web server, FTP server, file server or game server or to run any other server applications or to provide network or host services to others from a residential account.  Charter is currently retiring DOCSIS 1.0 modems because they are no longer compliant with our network specifications and network performance specifications, and may in the future retire other equipment that impairs the ability of our network to perform. 

Our statements regarding CableCARD use as outlined in our Annual Notice describes Charter's support for CableCARD devices.


Charter uses a number of different methods to help protect the security of our customers and network and the availability of our service.  We block the usage of certain ports that are associated with known vulnerabilities; restrict access to private, internal and management IP space; and take steps to limit the amount of unsolicited emails you receive at your Charter email address.  In addition, we look for devices that are scanning or attacking our network and, when they originate from our network, we contact our customers to help them secure their device but in some instances we may have to suspend or terminate their service.  To help prevent our network from being overwhelmed, we limit the frequency and volume of certain transactions, such as DHCP requests, email recipients and SMTP sessions.  We modify our security practices from time to time to adapt to new or changed security threats.  Finally, Charter customers that use the Charter Security SuiteĀ® can, for example, establish their own firewalls, scan to help identify and remove spyware and viruses, block harmful websites and implement parental controls.  For more information about the Charter Security Suite or to read our security educational materials, please visit www.charter.com/security.

Charter provides a wide variety of Internet services with different speeds and features. Click here [http://www.charter.com/] for details and typical uses.  Actual uses will vary by customer.  Charter Internet is rated for the speeds indicated, but individual experiences may vary depending on factors such as source and route of traffic outside of our network and periods of peak usage of our network.  Charter is a volunteer currently participating in national performance tests sponsored by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In its 2011 report, the FCC reported that Charter's national average sustained upload and download performance exceeded advertised speed met advertised speeds over a 24-hour Monday-Sunday basis

and was greater than 95% of advertised speed during the "busy hour" between 7:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. on weeknights.  The FCC specifically tested selected downstream and upstream tiers, and recorded performance during the "busy hour" as shown in the table:

Performance Characteristics


Mean during
Busy Hour

Latency during Busy Hour

12 Mbps DS

12.04 Mbps

29.27 ms

18 Mbps DS

16.29 Mbps

29.08 ms

25 Mbps DS

21.46 Mbps

31.33 ms

1 Mbps US

1.09 Mbps


2 Mbps US

2.13 Mbps


3 Mbps US

3.22 Mbps


Individual performance may vary.

Like Charter's Internet services, Charter Phone service is based on internet protocol, but the provision of Charter Phone service should not have any discernible effect on your Internet services.  As Charter develops other Internet protocol services, Charter intends to manage them so that they should also have no discernible effect on your Internet services.

Commercial Terms

Charter provides a wide variety of Internet services at different prices. Extras are also available for additional charges.

Charter's AUP and the practices outlined herein describe certain usage limits, under which residential service usage for customers should not exceed a certain number of Gigabytes of data per month, depending on the service level.

Sometimes Internet service, or a bundle including Internet service, is offered with a price guaranty for a term, and a prorated early termination fees will apply if the offer is terminated by customer before the end of the 24-month term.  The terms of service for each offer describe each early termination fee.

Charter monitors network traffic patterns for business analysis and network planning.  Charter maintains records of the assignment of IP addresses to subscribers and a temporary record of recent traffic to assist with troubleshooting. Charter's Internet services employs technology to respond to subscribers who mistype or otherwise enter an invalid web address and directs the subscriber to a message page which suggests potential links that the user may have been looking for.  Unless required by valid legal process, Charter does not store other traffic records unique to a household or share them with any third-party. From time to time, Charter may provide our aggregated traffic analysis with outside technical consultants with the expertise to assist us with traffic analysis. As part of our Terms of Service, Charter reserves the right to monitor individual traffic.

Redress Options

Charter customers who have questions or concerns regarding our network management practice, planning, or traffic controls, should contact us at the number shown on your monthly bill.  If the question cannot be resolved by customer service representatives, the inquiries or complaints will be handled in accordance with our standard customer complaint practices.

If you are an edge technology or service provider with questions or concerns, please contact us at is PriorityEscalationTeam@chartercom.com. Personnel with the appropriate knowledge to address such issues will seek to resolve your inquiries or complaints or escalate them for resolution.