Tag Archives: ISP

Elected Officials Push For Countrywide Performance Equality of Broadband Providers

NCC Logo

As advertisements promoting increasing broadband speeds circulate around the internet, elected officials in cities throughout the United States are coming together to ask for a system that gathers performance information across providers. This collective of elective officials, including some mayors, is known as Next Century Cities (NCC), an advocacy group which aims to bring reliable and affordable broadband internet to everyone in the country. Formed last September, the mission of this group is to make available to any community in America fiber broadband with speeds of 1 Gbps.

There are large urban areas included in the NCC, such as Boston, Massachusetts, Seattle, Washington, and Kansas City, Kansas. Overall, there are 35 members of the group, not all of which are large or urban areas, as seen by member communities like Salisbury, North Carolina, which has a population around 33,000, and Yellow Springs, Ohio, which has a population around 3,500. In a letter to the FCC, these city leaders stressed the need to find ways to measure the cost, the reliability, and the speed of broadband internet. The current procedure does not require a standard measurement method for providers, so for the consumer shopping around, the situation is a bit like comparing apples to oranges. Furthermore, the NCC wants the reports produced through these new standard measurement rates to be easily understood, by both government officials and citizens, in the hope that they will be more empowered when selecting a broadband provider.

The member cities of the NCC have gained considerable backing from recent findings published by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). A GAO report suggested two changes to the current FCC policy. The first change involves the FCC publishing resources on broadband performance that are accessible to the general public while still including the pertinent reliability and speed information about the ISPs. The second suggested change involves ISPs adopting a universal standard to measure their broadband speeds but also adding relevant information from consumer reports and research to these findings to make them more inclusive.

Methods for implementing these suggestions have already been developed. The NCC is stressing the need for an advisory panel of local and state officials, in addition to community organizers, to take the new broadband information and present it to cities and individual customers. To ensure that this process goes smoothly, a centralized and accessible database will be created that allows users to track the standardized performance reports for all providers according to geographic region. Finally, there will be measures and assessments made of the general public to ensure that the database meets their needs and that the advisory panel is conveying effectively the pertinent information.

FCC Reclassification, Broadband Access, and OTT: Does it Mean Anything?

Collection of rainbow-colored internet cables

One of the biggest hassles that people experience when they move is finding new cable and internet providers. While there are a bevy of cable packages to choose from, the options for broadband providers are not always as plentiful. With the recent FCC decision to reclassify broadband as a Title II utility, coupled with its change in what constitutes broadband, services with speeds of 25 Mbps or higher, the process of selecting a provider by a new homeowner has gotten even harder. The issue at hand is that for the vast majority of American households, there is only one, if any, Internet Service Provider (ISP) that can supply true broadband. The latest statistics are that 19.7% of American households do not have access to an ISP offering the 25 Mbps speed, while 54.3% have access to only one such ISP.

 

While the broadband provider issue appears to be changing with the development and expansion of fiber networks throughout the country, Roger Lynch, CEO of Sling TV, is stressing that consumers may see an increased strain on their finances as they purchase internet access. In particular, Lynch believes that those consumers who are broadband-only subscribers, the type who thrive in the expanding Over the Top (OTT) ecosystem of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Plus, will feel the pinch as cable companies attempt to offset their loss of TV subscribers by raising the price on single-use consumers. While OTT-only dwellings remain a small part overall, the percentage is growing and has now reached 10.5 million households, up over 15% from 2012. This expansion is occurring at the same time that pay TV subscriptions have declined over 0.5% since the start of 2015, the largest decline ever recorded.

 

Although Lynch’s claims must be taken with a grain of salt, considering that Sling TV is a subsidiary of Dish Network and a competitor to the cable companies, there is no denying that the new OTT offering is seeing early growth. Since its February 2015 launch, the $20 per month service has expanded to over 250,000 customers. While this is a fine showing, it is not a surprise to industry analysts who predicted a fast start but see Sling TV’s subscription numbers slowing down quickly. With its focus on offering smaller channel bundles and the option to add other thematic bundles for an additional cost per month, Sling is trying to develop its own niche, no doubt assisted by the existing relationships that Dish Network enjoys with broadcasters. However, Sling’s sustained growth, especially from those consumers interested in a variety of sports offerings, of which the OTT service has limited access, remains the question.

 

Ultimately, all of the talk about falling pay TV customer totals, increasing costs for broadband-only subscribers, and the increase of OTT offerings means that consumers need to be aware of what services are available in their area before they sign a lease or close on a home.

Verizon: “We Could Offer 1Gbps, But You Don’t Need It”

Verizon is criminal of a lot of anti-consumer activity, but one of the worst crimes (and Verizon aren’t the only ISP) is telling customers what they do and don’t need, regardless of offering the choice.

Time Warner Cable was the first to sprout this complaint – claiming users don’t want high-speed fiber, despite evidence of Google Fiber’s growth showing customers want to buy into 1Gbps Internet.

Continue reading Verizon: “We Could Offer 1Gbps, But You Don’t Need It”

7 Colorado cities attain right to create their own broadband

In the fight against big telecom, Colorado just gained a lot of ground. 7 cities in Colorado won the right to create their own broadband network – something Internet service providers have been trying to outlaw over the past decade.

The vote on Tuesday signified a big surge in the popularity of new broadband options. Colorado have a different type of law regarding the legality of municipal broadband, in that if an election is called and the majority vote against the law, it will be removed.

Continue reading 7 Colorado cities attain right to create their own broadband

Fifth of Home Buyers Would Pay More For Fast Internet

How much does fast Internet speeds mean to you? In the U.K, one-in-five Britons would pay more for a house, if it had fast Internet. In the same survey, a fourth of all people questioned would negotiate for less, if the house had slower Internet speeds.

In 2014, Internet is a big deal breaker. It is part of why urban areas are becoming incredibly popular in developing countries, because of the large amount of jobs and higher Internet speeds, when compared to rural areas.

In the U.K, Internet is not as big of a deal as in the U.S., but people still want the best speeds. The three major broadband providers, BT, Virgin Media and Sky, all provide packages from 5Mbps to 150Mbps.

Fast Broadband 

What exactly is “fast broadband”, well, according to most, it is fast enough to stream Netflix and play YouTube videos at 720p. It is fast enough to scroll down Facebook without seeing the loading sign, and fast enough to open more than two tabs at once.

This would come to about 30Mbps – the favorite package on Virgin Media is 50Mbps. On Sky and BT it is a little lower. On some other ISPs it is much lower, like Talk Talk, PlusNet, and EE.

In rural areas, it is hard to even obtain a quarter of that speed – and the U.K has a lot of rural land. This is one of the big pushes in the next ten years, to get broadband across 99 percent of the U.K and into all homes.

Can Comcast fix their customer service with new VP?

Comcast recently announced a new Vice President of Customer Service, with the goal of changing the customer service experience for the better. Currently, Comcast are rated as one of the worst companies for customer service and support.

Charlie Herrin will be the new “VP of Customer Experience” and his job is to fix Comcast’s terrible support. Comcast Executive VP Neil Smit talked about how it might take a few years, but it is a top priority.

There are plenty of reasons to dislike Comcast’s customer support. They have aggressive tactics to keep you on board, bring up random bills without notifying the customer and offer almost no response, unless you manage to get your case viral on social media.

Changing the Experience

Comcast didn’t list any major points they want to change, just flat out stating the experience between staff and support would get better. This does not make us too confident it is a number one priority, but lets remain neutral.

The first order of business will be establishing a better way to contact support and get the help needed. Not everything requires a technician at your door, but it would be nice to have one available within a few days.

Bills, cancellation and subscriptions need to be sorted and transparent. This is one area Comcast really needs to improve. No more $1k bills for turning in your equipment to Comcast and no more waiting a month to be disconnected from their Internet service.

Overall, Comcast just needs to be more transparent and down-to-earth with customers. They need to support and help customers, not push them around and force them into signing more expensive deals.

More Than Just Support

comcast-infograph

The problem for Comcast is it’s more than just support. People want options, better plans, a more direct split between phone, Internet and TV, but Comcast will not be willing to change their plans.

Changing the support structure might work for some people, but when you are on 27Mbps down for $150, it might not matter how nice the support staff is on the other side of the phone.

Image Credit: LatentView

AT&T using Comcast merger as leverage for DirecTV acquisition

DirecTV shareholders recently accepted the acquisition deal by AT&T, valued at $48.5 billion and it appears the public is fine with this deal.

In a statement to the FCC regarding the Comcast merger, AT&T said it would be hard for them to compete, unless they were able to acquire DirecTV for pay-TV market share and hold of the satellite market.

It is interesting about the public’s reaction to the AT&T and DirecTV acquisition, something that could be more devastating than the apparent Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger, currently being debated by the FCC.

twc_comcast_map

Comcast and Time Warner Cable do have lower customer satisfaction rates, along with Comcast known as one of the worst companies in the United States for aggressive business tactics and pathetic customer support.

The merger has also shown Comcast will take control of all of Time Warner Cable’s markets. This wouldn’t be so bad if they were competing with one another, but all this does is give Comcast another 20 or so states to ruin.

In the FCC filing, Comcast said they have had overwhelming support for the merger. It feels like Comcast is living in a dream world or pushing their lies so hard, just to see how fickle the FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is at saying “no” to corporations.

We will have to wait and see what the FCC says. If they say no, Comcast will undoubtably try again and again, and if FCC repeatedly deny it, they might start threatening them with worse service.

This would be great for Google Fiber, Cox Communications and other broadband providers who have decent customer service. We might also see the introduction of more municipal broadband, to curve Comcast’s reach.

Both acquisitions are bad for the industry. We would advise you write to your state representative, to try and push the government away from AT&T and Comcast gaining more control.