Add former Washington Post owned CableONE to the growing number of cable companies that simply can't hold on to its video subscribers. New company owner Graham Holding's latest earnings
indicate that CableONE lost 14,100 TV subscribers during the third quarter. While that's less than the 14,700 subscribers lost one year ago and the 34,000 customers lost during the second quarter, Alan Breznick at Light Reading
points out the company has lost 15% of its subscriber base (85,000 users) in the last twelve months.
One reason may be the company's ugly retransmission fee fight with Viacom:
For much of the year, CableOne has been battling with Viacom over programming contract renewals. In April, the MSO made a splash when it dropped Viacom's 15-network bundle -- including MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central -- rather than pay the higher carriage fees that Viacom demanded. Justifying its decision, CableOne said then that its customers simply didn't value the Viacom networks that highly.
It's of note because there's a growing number of small to mid-sized cable companies that simply can't afford to be TV programmers any more under soaring retransmission fee rates, so they're looking to sell broadband only
. The negative flip side of that equation is that as many of these companies lose TV revenue, they'll look toward other ways to make up that money -- and usage caps and overages are high on the list. While CableONE has been adventurous on that front, the company eliminated usage fees from the equation
The Wall Street Journal
notes how some smaller cable operators, like Oklahoma's BTC Broadband, are backing away from offering TV services entirely as soaring programming costs erode their profit margins. This is, the report suggests, the beginning of a shift where only massive, mega-merged companies like Comcast/Time Warner Cable and AT&T/DirecTV can afford to offer programming, while smaller companies -- like BTC, Boycom Cablevision and CableOne focus on only offering pure data and voice services.
Back in 2010 News Corporation raised the retransmission fee dispute bar to a new level of annoying by blocking Cablevision broadband user access to their content on Hulu as well
. Interfering with broadband user access to online content has since also become a favored tactic of Viacom, who blocked access to their content on Hulu for everybody
just to make sure DirecTV customers couldn't get access to it
Viacom's now using the tactic in their fight with CableOne, who pulled 15 Viacom channels from their lineup April 1 over carriage fee hikes. Viacom has now blocked CableOne access to all free Viacom online video content, something American Cable Association president Matt Polka proclaims is a "flagrant attack
" on Internet openness:
“Viacom’s actions are a flagrant attack on Internet openness and a textbook replay of the vengeful action CBS took against Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks broadband customers during their well-documented retransmission consent dispute last August," said Polka. “All who care about ensuring access to content on the Internet should be outraged that Viacom is selectively blocking access to its public websites by broadband Internet subscribers served by smaller cable companies."
So far the FCC has declared that interfering with Internet access to generally-available content during business disputes to be a perfectly acceptable symptom of "boys being boys." "Cable One has chosen to no longer carry Viacom programming and, as a result, it is no longer available to Cable One customers in any form," is all Viacom has been willing to say publicly.
Back in June Cable One announced they would be boosting downstream speeds, eliminating overage fees, and greatly increasing bandwidth caps
. Now the company appears to be giving upstream speeds a little extra attention. According to a company press release
, their "Streaming" 50Mbps plan now has a 3Mbps upload speed; their "Premiere" 60Mbps Premier plan has been upgraded to a 4Mbps upload speed; and their "Ultra" 70Mbps Ultra Plan has been upgraded to a 6Mbps upload speed. Upstream speeds were previously 2 Mbps for all CableOne tiers.
Washington Post owned cable operator CableONE is promising a new round of $60 million in network upgrades
to shore up some of the company's network shortcomings. According to CableONE, the investment will "provide Cable ONE customers with enhanced speed, reliability, and quality in their internet, cable, and phone service." "We’re committed to delivering the best possible experience to our customers," said Cable ONE President and Chief Executive Officer, Tom Might. That commitment includes some of the most aggressive usage caps in this industry, like a 3 GB daily throttle cap on their base 5 Mbps tier, or a 50 Mbps tier with caps as low as 50 GB. The company also is the only carrier we know of that applies punitive lower usage caps for users who refuse to bundle
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.
With ISPs so relentlessly eager to move from flat rate to usage-based billing, you would think that they would have made sure they had the technical skills to do so first. Again and again however we've noted how U.S. story continues..
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.
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.
According to user discussion in our forums
, Washington Post-owned cable operator CableOne is preparing to launch a new 50 Mbps tier. We've been given the new rate card
(pdf) for the service changes, and what caught my eye is that the new tier comes with a low 100GB cap if you bundle three services -- and in a rather obnoxious move -- an even lower 50GB cap if you only choose to bundle two services
or choose standalone broadband. Whatever you choose, you'll be paying fifty cents for every gigabyte over the cap you travel. Punishing users with a lower cap if they don't sign up for your triple play is a new one for us, though CableOne has a rather long history of tinkering with low caps and often confusing pricing plans, including imposing different usage restrictions at different times of the day
. If you don't like the caps, the company offers an uncapped 5 Mbps plan for $50 a month.
Washington Post owned cable operator Cable One is taking some heat over at the Consumerist
for their apparent lack of tact after a recent significant fire in a Fargo apartment complex. According to the Consumerist, the cable company decided that immediately after the fire was a good time to make the rounds and demand $500 from each apartment dweller for lost DVRs, telling local news outlets
that "we've been hurt too." While CableONE clearly has a right to be concerned about expeditiously recouping losses, timing and tact in these situations is kind of important
. If you recall, AT&T found itself in a similar circumstance after a CSR demanded $300 from a wildfire couple that failed to make saving their DVR a priority. AT&T ultimately gave the couple a break
after clarifying that being insensitive is not company policy, and it seems likely CableOne will do the same -- but only after news outlets make them look silly.
You might recall that before snoopvertising agency NebuAD flamed out spectacularly
, a number of ISPs tested the user-tracking technology on their customers -- in many cases without telling anybody about it
. When asked by the press about the tests, many of these ISPs simply wouldn't comment.
Users in our Cable One forum
point out that the cable operator is tinkering with some of their speeds, adding a 12 Mbps downstream, 1.5 Mbps upstream plan to their lineup
. In a sign they're falling a bit behind the times, CableOne's previously fastest tier was 10 Mbps downstream 1 Mbps upstream.
by iansltx 12:42PM Monday Jul 20 2009
CableOne, the cable provider infamous for its noon-to-midnight caps, has raised its residential speeds and reworked its capping policy. On the good news side, their business tiers (topping out at 10 Mbps down and 2 Mbps up, with an 8/1 plan for the faint of wallet and an 8/2 plan for the in-between) are ostensibly cap-free now. story continues..
Back in November, NebuAD and several of the ISPs who were doing business with them (Embarq, WOW, Centurytel and Cable One) were sued
over their plan to sell subscriber browsing histories without giving customers a functional opt-out mechanism. As we've stated in the past, NebuAD's system opted users out of receiving the system's targeted ads, but it didn't opt them out of data collection and sales
by KathrynV 11:36AM Saturday Dec 01 2007 story continues..
CableOne customers who just saw
their broadband tier rates go up in September are about to see another increase
in the company’s cable prices. CableOne says that this is their first television rate increase in several years and that it’s necessary due to the increased cost of programming.
Earlier this year Arizona-based Cable One
launched new bandwidth caps
, and then imposed a rate hike on customers. This week they're informing them that the free (albeit limited) newsgroup service they've provided customers will be discontinued as of December 31
. The alert sends users to a handful of free alternative services. "Their recent caps, frequent service outages, and incessant rate hikes are the antithesis of a customer-oriented company,"
complains a user in our forums
The CEO for Arizona-based Cable One
greets users to the company's website
by insisting the company wants to be "America's Best Cable Company."
They've decided to accomplish this goal by implementing tougher usage caps
for broadband customers. Their website still uses the word "unlimited"
when discussing their broadband service.Customers are allocated a certain amount of bandwidth to from noon until midnight.
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