Featured ContentNote: We're able to pay for good user-contributed content
Last summer, cable operator Suddenlink decided to impose caps and charge their users overages -- before bothering to ensure that their usage meters worked. The result was a large number of complaints
from users about meters that weren't reliable, and even tracked phantom subscriber usage when the power went out or modems were off. Suddenlink then suspended the usage meter and overage plans
, first insisting their meters were accurate -- then acknowledging they did find problems. Some seven months later and users in our forums point out that the meters have returned
, though Suddenlink hasn't returned to its plan to charge overages -- yet.
Suddenlink Communications has had a rough week when it comes to protecting its infrastructure from vandalism. The ISP has suffered through four different outages this week alone, all of them thanks to someone breaking into Suddenlink's vaults and severing fiber optic connections. story continues..
It has been about half a decade now that I've been pointing out that most of the meters used by ISPs to track and bill consumers for usage aren't accurate. Customers of Canadian cable operator Cogeco have long complained the company's meter is inaccurate when users can load it at all
, and every so often the meter simply goes mad -- like last Spring when the meter was horribly confused by leap year
FCC boss Julius Genachowski has been busy lately paying lip service to Silicon Valley, most recently telling a bunch of Silicon Valley conference attendees that caps were something we should be "concerned" about
, after telling cable companies just a few months earlier he thought caps and overages are nifty and innovative
. Speaking again to Silicon Valley folks yesterday at a speech
at Vox Media headquarters, Genachowski hashed out his muddy position a little further, again insisting he was "concerned" about caps -- sort of -- maybe:
(Growing usage) presents challenges for broadband providers in managing the growing loads on their networks while earning returns to drive capital investment in network upgrades and expansion.
Last week we pointed out
that for months Suddenlink has been charging users usage overages despite a constant stream of complaints by those users that the meters they're using aren't accurate. Users have consistently reported phantom usage that doesn't match their own logs, even in instances when the power is out
Last October we received early word that cable operator Suddenlink was going to start capping users and charging overages
, a leaked memo highlighting that the effort was only "equitable." After apparently needing some time to get their billing and metering systems in order, Suddenlink appears to now be imposing the limits on all users. An e-mail being sent out to users informs them that to "further enhance your experience, a monthly usage allowance will be put into place for all residential (non-business) Suddenlink Internet accounts" starting sometime later this month.
It has been a fairly ridiculous few years
in terms of retransmission fee disputes, with customers facing content blackouts, endless bickering, and ultimately winding up with higher cable bills anyway. Suddenlink and AMC are the latest two companies to fight over the higher fees being demanded by channels, with Suddenlink customers being warned via tickers and a new website
that they could lose access to AMC, IFC, Sundance and We TV. The channels will go dark on March 14 at midnight if a new deal isn't hashed out. Suddenlink's website
insists that AMC is looking for a 50% increase over what the broadcaster was paid last year. After a significant hiatus, AMC's top show Mad Men returns March 25.
Anybody who warns of an unavoidable capacity crisis on wireline or wireless networks is lying in order to sell you something. That may be a blunt assessment to some, but it's the only conclusion you can draw as we see time and time again that claims about a looming network apocalypse (remember the Exaflood
?) violently overestimate future traffic loads and underestimate the ingenuity of modern network engineers.
Earlier this year story continues..
Netflix began ranking the quality of video streaming performance for each of the nation's largest ISPs. HD streams have variable bitrate but can potentially top out at around 4800 kilobits per second, and the data provides a bird's eye view by ISP of sustained throughput available from a given ISP over time.
Last week we noted that Suddenlink would be joining companies like AT&T in imposing usage caps
and then charging users overages should they consume more than their set monthly allotment. Suddenlink has since clarified what those usage caps will be
, and they'll be largely identical to the caps imposed by AT&T earlier this year (the two companies compete in several markets).
Back in March Suddenlink gave users a new usage meter
in order to help better "educate" users about their bandwidth consumption. Now, a leaked company memo
(via Stop the Cap
) confirms the company is preparing to impose hard usage caps and high per gigabyte overages.
For several years now PC Magazine has been conducting a somewhat controversial ranking of broadband ISPs by speed, using the PC Magazine Surfspeed
application. Criticism over the years has grown about the magazine's methodology, and their decision to rank ISPs based on browsing speed
in the age of 100 Mbps connections and Internet video.
West Virginia-based FiberNet this week filed suit against Suddenlink Communications, alleging that three ex-FiberNet employees hired by Suddenlink took confidential information with them, allowing Suddenlink to more easily gobble up FiberNet customers. According to the Charleston Gazette
, the FiberNet complaint alleges that the ex-employees are "giving erroneous information" and "coaching" customers, trying to persuade them to transfer their accounts to Suddenlink. The suit claims the employees signed confidentiality and non-solicitation agreements restricting them from soliciting FiberNet employees for twelve months. Suddenlink tells the Gazette they have another explanation for FiberNet's recent spate of subscriber losses: FiberNet's services simply aren't very good and have been prone to significant outages in recent months.
Cable operator Suddenlink Communications hasn't yet imposed metered billing, but users in our Suddenlink forums
note that the company has provided a new usage meter aimed at "educating" paying customers about their usage. Like most of these education campaigns, the meter provides users with a monthly stat-shot of their usage compared to other customers, and if they're heavy users -- sends them this warning
suggesting they're either infected with a virus, need to pay close attention to their P2P programs, or have a household member who is leaving a streaming music player running that "consumes bandwidth without anyone benefiting from it."
Suddenlink argues the average user consumes 78GB a month, though they also suggest that around 25 GB of monthly consumption is a reasonable limit.
Yesterday we noted
that Time Warner Cable and Sinclair Broadcasting were having a retransmission fight that will likely result in customers losing access to 58 stations in 35 markets on Friday. Suddenlink is engaged in a quieter but no less annoying retransmission dispute with Viacom, which could result in Suddenlink losing access to a large number of major channels Friday night, including Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Spike, VH1 and Nicktoons. According to this message on the Suddenlink website
, the company is promising refunds for impacted customers. "In the unusual event these negotiations are unsuccessful and Viacom removes its channels, we reiterate our pledge to reduce customer prices by the cost of the affected channels for whatever length of time they are unavailable."
Back in July Suddenlink announced that they'd begin offering their TV customers cobranded TiVo DVRs late this year. Right on schedule, the company has announced the launch of TiVo
in two markets: Lubbock and Midland, Texas. "TiVo and Suddenlink share a common goal: to deliver a unique product that offers customers the only cable solution that combines linear channels, cable video on demand and Web entertainment all in one device," said TiVO CEO Tom Rogers in a statement. Oddly, the new co-branded Suddenlink TiVo blocks the ability to use Netflix streaming, something Suddenlink says is currently prohibited by some Netflix contracts with copyright holders
, something that Netflix appears to confirm
Bresnan Communications (see our user reviews
) is the nation's thirteenth largest cable operator, serving customers in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, and Utah. According to Multichannel News
, an auction to buy the company has entered the second round, and Knology, Suddenlink and former cable entrepreneur Steve Simmons are among the six parties interested in buying the company (the other three are private-equity funds). SuddenLink has roughly 1.3 million subscribers in Texas, West Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas, North Carolina and Oklahoma. Knology, has roughly 234,000 customers predominately located in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and South Dakota.
Most carriers realize that speeds faster than 50 Mbps aren't really necessary for most people (yet). But that hasn't stopped carriers from pushing their higher-end tiers beyond 100 Mbps in order to gain some press attention and bleeding-edge nerd cred. story continues..
·more stories, story search, most popular ..
Recent news contributorsJKukiewicz , Karl Bode , swintec