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Altice USA lays off 'small percentage' of workforce

Altice USA confirmed that the effects of the ongoing pandemic has forced the company to lay off a "small percentage" of employees in recent weeks and that it is also seeking voluntary layoffs for some workers at the Altice Technical Services (ATS) unit.

According to Multichannel News, the initial layoff affected about 200 workers in Altice USA's New York, New Jersey and Connecticut service areas, or less than 2% of its total workforce, but didn't know if any employees were let go in the company's Suddenlink service areas in more rural parts of the country. Additionally, Altice USA's Cheddar news business reportedly shut down its Los Angeles studio as part of a plan to consolidate Cheddar's two news networks.

Altice USA more recently has pushed forward with a "voluntary option" within ATS whereby employees could opt in to receive severance or remain in their current roles.

Per a company memo obtained by Multichannel News, that request for volunteers includes people involved in the cable op's field services and outside plant activities and the company's fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) initiative. That option would take effect on May 12, 2020, the pub added.

That option coincidentally comes about as Altice USA has been forced to slow down its FTTP buildout in the Optimum region (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) because of delays in permitting linked to some local restrictions put in place during the pandemic. That has likewise caused Altice USA to reduce its 2020 capex outlook to sub-$1.3 billion, but the FTTP program is still considered a priority for the company.

"As we discussed on earnings last week, Altice is well positioned in this environment given the increasing reliance on our network and services and we have been prioritizing our response efforts on delivering to our communities the essential connectivity and news services they need," Altice USA said in a statement. "[T]he pandemic and its impact on society have prompted us to evaluate the way we do business, including how we are managing our workforce to best support the immediate needs of our customers while also preparing for how we will operate in the future as consumers' needs evolve."

Altice USA last week posted solid broadband subscriber growth alongside wider pay-TV subscriber losses for the first quarter of 2020.

The company recently created a $10 million community relief program to assist local communities in their recovery efforts during the pandemic, and announced increased pay for customer-interfacing field service and retail employees that is retroactive for the week starting March 28.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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