With all the quarterly earnings reports in, telecom analyst firm MoffettNathanson notes that the Pay TV industry lost about 113,000 subscribers on the quarter
. Cable operators lost 687,000 subscribers in Q3, and while telcoTV and satellite providers added 574,000 subscribers, it couldn't prevent the industry from seeing a net loss -- attributed to the slow and small but steady growth of cord cutters.
Calling this the "worst 12 month stretch ever," analysts Craig Moffett and Michael Nathanson also point out that the industry still isn't helping its case by refusing to seriously address skyrocketing prices:
"Of course, the fact that pay-TV revenue is still rising smartly is part of the problem. We have always argued that cord-cutting is an economic phenomenon, not a technological one. ... Pay-TV revenue growth reflects rapid pay-TV pricing growth and that is precisely the problem. Rapidly rising prices are squeezing lower-income consumers out of the ecosystem."
Moffett, who is a one-man news quote machine
for the telecom industry, has been much less bullish on cable in general since leaving Sanford Bernstein to start his own firm. His new firm has also noted that cable broadband growth is also running out of steam
“We continue to see steady gains to at least 80% penetration, but at current run rates that’s only three years away, and it must be noted that broadband is now nearly saturated among middle and higher income cohorts,” Moffett explained, noting that both Time Warner Cable and Cablevision Systems both reported broadband customer losses in the third quarter. “By contrast, every major TelCo save AT&T and Windstream gained subscribers, and all but Windstream and CenturyLink saw significant YoY improvements."
Not only is Moffett no longer bullish on cable at his new firm, he uncharacteristically did not use this week's news to pitch and promote cable metered billing -- something Moffett has been a fan of for years
. Regardless, don't feel too bad for cable: broadband growth is more modest but still strong, and they stand to make huge inroads in numerous broadband markets as AT&T and Verizon back away from massive swaths of territory
they aren't interested in upgrading, leaving cable with a much more potent monopoly in many areas.
Netflix has updated their rankings of ISP Netflix streaming performance
with October data. The Netflix ISP Speed Index pulls data from more than 37 million Netflix members viewing over 1 billion hours of TV shows and movies streaming from Netflix per month.
For much of the last decade Seattle has explored the idea
of building their own ultra-fast broadband network. Much of that motivation was fueled by the sub-standard service provided in the region by regional telco Qwest (now CenturyLink), which in turn resulted in regional cable operator Comcast not working very hard.
According to a CenturyLink press release
, the company says they'll be expanding the "pilot" for 1 Gbps service into Las Vegas. The announcement comes on the heels of a similar announcement that the company would be offering 1 Gbps service to a small subset of users in Omaha (the the back of old Qwest Choice TV infrastructure), though none of those users have been connected yet
CenturyLink appears to be doling out some notable speed increases to customers across the company's thirty-eight state footprint. According to this thread in our CenturyLink forum
, users on the company's 12 Mbps tier are seeing their service suddenly clock in at 15 Mbps.
Back in May CenturyLink announced plans to offer a small fiber to the home pilot in Omaha providing speeds of 1 Gbps. While Google Fiber's expansion hits competitively-challenged AT&T and Time Warner Cable hard in a few markets, their recent announcement of expansion into Provo, Utah
hit smaller, regional incumbent CenturyLink even harder
, since CenturyLink's aging copper infrastructure, strained coffers and history of pampered government protectionism
leaves them ill-prepared to seriously compete.
It's always rather amusing to watch some Wall Street analysts get "bullish" on rural telco stocks for companies like Frontier, CenturyLink and Fairpoint -- given those companies' utter lack of resources or willpower to seriously upgrade their networks any time in the next decade. As a result they're being beaten badly about the head and neck by cable operators that offer legitimate triple play services and significantly faster broadband. story continues..
Last week I noted
that CenturyLink had tacked on a new and absurd $1 "Internet Cost Recovery Fee" to user bills starting in July. The fee, like all fees of this kind, allows carriers to jack up prices using below the line fees while keeping the advertised price the same.
One of the benefits of having little to no competition in your markets is you can jack up prices and add all the little obnoxious fees you'd like with no repercussions, since most of your customers have no other options. One of the benefits of lobbying and enjoying regulatory capture in uncompetitive markets
is you can engage in this kind of behavior repeatedly and be confident that United States regulators simply won't give a damn.
CenturyLink users report that the company is suffering what appears to be a nationwide broadband outage across a significant portion of the company's 38 state footprint. Users in our forums
in locations ranging from Olathe, Kansas to Fort Hood Texas say they're unable to get any broadband connectivity whatsoever, and that the company's support lines have been busy for the last few hours.
As I noted last week
, CenturyLink has announced a very small trial whereby they plan to offer around 40,000 people in Omaha, Nebrasks fiber to the home connections. The trial, which appears to be piggybacking on older Qwest "Choice TV" discontinued hybrid coax trial technology, will run users $150 standalone, or $80 when bundled with existing television and phone services.
CenturyLink has announced plans to offer a small fiber to the home pilot providing speeds of 1 Gbps. While Google Fiber's expansion hits competitively-challenged AT&T and Time Warner Cable hard in a few markets, their recent announcement of expansion into Provo, Utah
hits smaller, regional incumbent CenturyLink even harder.
Google this afternoon officially confirmed that they'll be bringing Google Fiber to Provo, Utah. According to an announcement sent to reporters and a blog post
, Provo was selected because it's the home of hundreds of tech companies and startups.
Earlier this month CenturyLink confirmed to us
that the company now imposes usage caps of 150 GB for 1.5 Mbps lines, and caps of 300 GB for anything faster. Users who exceed those caps get on-screen warnings and are urged to upgrade to faster tiers or business-class service.
Comcast VP of public policy Rebecca Arbogast informed attendees of a Free State Foundation conference this week that the "alleged failing and falling state of U.S. broadband" is "based on misunderstood and misused statistics." According to Arbogast, the claim that the United States is 22nd in broadband is effectively a lie, used by critics to unfairly attack what is secretly a top ranked broadband infrastructure. Arbogast went on to argue that comparing the United States to markets in Asia is "silly at best" and that those criticizing United States broadband are just engaging in "hand wringing
(Arbogast said) the absolute price of broadband was essentially flat while speeds increase 900%. She pointed out that over the same time the cost of college has increased 72%.
CenturyLink has confirmed with Broadband Reports
that there are usage caps in place for residential users. A thread in our forums
contained more than a few users who were confused about the caps; some users saying they'd been warned and even disconnected -- while other heavy users had never been warned.
A controversial bill concocted by AT&T, Windstream and CenturyLink to prevent communities from wiring themselves with broadband
continues to move forward, despite heavy criticism from both locals and industry. The bill initially banned any town or city from deploying its own broadband services if just one
user in a zip code had a line capable of 1.5 Mbps.
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