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Image: Charter Communications

Charter Communications today confirmed a deal to acquire Time Warner Cable for $55 billion — or nearly $79 billion, including debt — following Comcast’s unsuccessful $45 billion Time Warner acquisition bid.

Along with a separate deal to acquire Bright House Networks, the acquisition of Time Warner will boost Charter to about 23 million customers in the U.S., compared with Comcast’s 27 million customers. Regulators are more likely to look favorably on this deal than they did on Comcast and Time Warner, because Charter is becoming a formidable rival to Comcast, and not creating a runaway market leader.

“With our larger reach, we will be able to accelerate the deployment of faster Internet speeds, state-of-the-art video experiences, and fully–featured voice products, at highly competitive prices,” said  Tom Rutledge, President and CEO of Charter Communications, in a news release announcing the deal this morning.

“In addition, we will drive greater competition through further deployment of new competitive facilities-based WiFi networks in public places, and the expansion of the facilities footprint of optical networks to serve the large, small and medium sized business services marketplace.”

The consolidation comes as cable companies face increased competition from online video services, fueled by a new generation of cord-cutters. Time Warner and Charter combined have about 34 percent of the U.S. cable broadband market, compared with Comcast’s 42 percent.

Charter, formerly controlled by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, is now controlled by Liberty Media’s John Malone.

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