The cable industry has historically found itself at the very bottom of customer satisfaction rankings across nearly all industries
, in large part because of the constant rate hikes
, but also because quality customer support never scaled with their merger and acquisition ambitions. Comcast is no exception, and has spent most of the last decade trying to, as they put it, "combat consumer perceptions" that they're not very good at actually making their customers happy.
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts has been making the rounds discussing the company's fiftieth anniversary. Speaking to Marketplace
) about the company's bad reputation, Roberts calls their bad reputation a "fair criticism," then proceeds to insist the problem is one of scale:
"What unfortunately happens is we have about
350 million interactions with consumers a year, between phone calls and truck calls. It may be over 400 million, and that doesn't count any online interactions which are over, I think, a billion. You get one-tenth of one-percent bad experience, that's a lot of people — unacceptable. We have to be the best service provider or in the end, this company won’t be what I want it to be."
Granted the company's poor satisfaction performance is something Comcast has said they're trying to fix for the better part of this decade, with modest to little change. How precisely does a company the size of Comcast NBC Universal finally accomplish this?
According to the latest Speedtest.net data from Ookla
, the United States has fallen to 31 in mean downstream broadband speed, behind such countries as Uruguay, Estonia, and Latvia. Ookla notes they collect the data from millions of user connections, measuring the "rolling mean throughput in Mbps over the past 30 days where the mean distance between the client and the server is less than 300 miles." Lack of competition plays a role in the poor U.S. showing, as does the country's significant geographical mass (Russia is ranked 35, Canada is ranked 37). As our commenters are quick to note, many users also may not subscribe to the fastest connection available, often due to cost.
UK budget broadband provider TalkTalk, added 47,000 fibre customers over the previous quarter, financial results released by the company lasy week
(pdf) show. TalkTalk fibre has grown sluggishly over the past few years, fueling speculation that budget-conscious UK consumers were going to seriously impede the network's take-up and therefor stifle potential additional investment in the fiber optic service.
Tablets are among the coolest and most widely-used handheld devices ever created, right up there with electric razors, cordless drills and digital cameras. A Pew report this past summer
revealed one in three adults in America own a tablet. The tablet – just one of many sci-fi items that made its way to reality – made fictional debuts in films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey
, novels such as Isaac Asimov's Foundation
, and in several episodes of Star Trek
, in many shapes and forms.
It's cool that tablet technology is here.
Last week telecom analyst firm MoffettNathanson estimated that pay TV providers lost 113,000 TV subscribers last quarter
something they argued was thanks in part to a refusal to seriously compete on price. The latest data from the Leichtman Research Group
puts that estimate smaller, at just 25,000 net subscribers lost last quarter -- down from 50,000 this time last year.
AT&T has announced that the company's U-Verse service now has 10 million subscribers, with 60% of all AT&T broadband customers now on U-Verse. AT&T credits the strong growth to AT&T’s "Project Velocity IP," a U-Verse expansion effort
that has AT&T filling in U-Verse deployments in areas previously blocked by various reasons (like in San Francisco, where the city fought against ugly VRAD cabinet placement
). In the announcement AT&T reiterated plans to offer 75 and 100 Mbps speed tiers sometime down the road.
One of the most notable bits in Sandvine's recent study on bandwidth and Internet traffic
is that the doomsday bandwidth apocalypse scenarios breathlessly predicted by numerous analysts, lobbyists, and ISPs never materialized. While peak bandwidth usage is still healthy and growing at 40%, overall bandwidth growth continues to slow substantially, continuing to be manageable with only modest network investment.
According to Sandvine’s latest Global Internet Phenomena Report
, Netflix and YouTube alone account for more than 50% of all Internet traffic across North America. The study, which compiles data from more than 250 ISPs, also noted that P2P's share of overall network data continues to plummet, with peer-to-peer filesharing falling below 10% of total North American traffic (down from 60% 11 years ago).
Charter's third quarter earnings
indicate that the cable operator's third-quarter net loss shrank to $70 million, down from $103 million one year earlier. Video losses also slowed, Charter losing 27,000 TV subscribers down from 71,000 last year.
Apparently not satisfied with the more formal PRISM data collection arrangement
the NSA had with many websites and service providers, new Snowden leaks reveal that the NSA has been secretly tapping into the data centers of companies like Yahoo and Google to collect yet more information on subscriber activity. A Washington Post
report offers detail on the NSA effort, code-named "MUSCULAR," which includes collection of metadata -- and everything else.
Almost two thirds of UK homes can now access "superfast" broadband, according to Ofcom's annual infrastructure report, which was released today
. The UK communications regulator also found an increase in public Wi-fi availability and in the number of regular users.
Akamai's second quarter State of the Internet report
, which collects data from 752 million unique IPv4 addresses across 242 unique countries, found that the global average connection speed has risen 5.2% to 3.3 Mbps. According to Akamai's latest data, the United States ranks eighth in terms of average connection speed at 8.7 Mbps, tenth in what Akamai refers to as "high broadband" or % of connections above 10 Mbps, but the US has dropped out of the top ten in terms of peak connection speeds globally.
US Cellular today belatedly joined AT&T and Verizon in killing unlimited data plans for new users, instead offering mobile shared data plans that offer one pool of data for all devices on a subscription. According to a US Cellular press release
, customers can add up to ten devices to the new creatively-named "Shared Data plans," which offers data allotment buckets starting at 300 MB a month for $40 -- going up to 75 GB per month for $560.
According to Google's latest IPv6 deployment metrics
, roughly 2% of Google's user base are now accessing Google services using IPv6. Google offers an interesting breakdown of IPv6 adoption by country, noting that Switzerland (8.94%), Romania (7.75%), France (5.08%), Germany (4.28%) and the United States (4.19%) lead the way when it comes to overall IPv6 adoption by residents and businesses. "This is still a relatively small percentage of course, but it is important as a measure of increased usage of IPv6 globally," ISOC said in a statement
A new study
by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 44% of consumers want an a la carte system where they can pick and choose the channels they want. 73% of consumers would prefer a la carte -- or some kind of innovation in channel pricing and bundling -- than cable operators currently offer.
The London School of Economics and Political Science has issued a new report
arguing that filesharing is helping creative industries more than it is hurting them, urging government leaders to look beyond the traditionally-myopic lobbying by the entertainment industry when drafting copyright and other policy. "Despite the Motion Picture Association of America's (MPAA) claim that online piracy is devastating the movie industry, Hollywood achieved record-breaking global box office revenues of $35 billion in 2012, a 6% increase over 2011," the study's authors state. "Contrary to the industry claims, the music industry is (similarly) not in terminal decline, but still holding ground and showing healthy profits," it adds.
The cable industry this week announced
that their creatively named joint "CableWiFi" initiative now offers access to more than 200,000 hotspots if you're a paying customer of Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Bright House Networks, or Cox Communications. That number is up from the 150,000 hotspots offered back in June, and the 50,000 hotspots offered back in May of 2012. The CableWiFi initiative piggybacked initially on the back of Cablevision's idea to deploy free Wi-Fi to paying customers across NYC commuter regions to better compete with Verizon FiOS.
Sunday night's Breaking Bad series finale not only broke viewership records for AMC (10.3 million U.S. viewers), it also broke piracy records. story continues..
China is preparing to throw a massive amount of stimulus cash at domestic infrastructure projects aimed at helping the country out of their financial slump. A major part of that spending will be on broadband, with China's Ministry of Information and Industry this week announcing they'll spend up to 2 trillion yuan
($323 billion) to bring broadband to nearly all of China's 1,360,010,000 residents by 2020. Only 45% have broadband at home currently; China's goal is to bring 20 Mbps to most users by 2020, and 4 Mbps to more rural areas by 2015.
A new study by NetNames commissioned by Comcast NBC Universal released this week
tries to get a handle on the global scope of online piracy. According to the study, some 432 million people engaged in copyright infringement during January of this year in North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific alone.
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