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Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt simply can't give up his dream of socking his broadband users with usage charges and even-higher fees, despite the immense and unprecedented public backlash to the idea
just a few years back. Speaking at the Bank of America/Merrill Lynch Global Telecom and Media Conference in London, Britt stated that he sees some room to raise the company's recently imposed $4 modem rental fee
He also stated that while the company now believes they should always offer unlimited broadband (after getting humiliated in the press for their ham-fisted effort to eliminate such plans), users should have to pay more for that privilege
For the first time, Britt admitted customers seeking unlimited service should be ready to pay a higher cost for that option, telling the audience Time Warner would set a premium price on the unlimited tier and offer discounts to customers seeking downgrades to comparatively cheaper, usage-based pricing plans
. The company hopes this new approach will limit political opposition and customer push-back.
The problem is, Time Warner Cable's attempt to offer less expensive usage-based plans has been rather pathetic. Last year they introduced Internet Essentials
, which provides users with a $5 monthly discount if they agree to caps as low as 5 GB -- "savings" that immediately disintegrate if you actually use your connection. That's of course because the goal isn't "creative pricing," or "value," it's to generate more cash from all users -- heavy and light.
From there, Britt whines a little bit about how people using the company's network actually requires that they keep said network upgraded (the horror):
Britt complained that increasing usage and demand for broadband speed was requiring the company to invest more in its broadband service, something not clear on the companys quarterly balance sheets. Real investment, except for expansion by the business/commercial services division, has been largely flat or in decline for several years.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal
and data plucked from Leichtman Research, many people are "cutting the cord" but it's the broadband cord that's getting cut. According to Leichtman data, just 0.4% cancelled pay TV last year, but around 1% of U.S.
Bright House networks tells users in our forums
the company is preparing to offer a new, faster 90 Mbps tier in portions of Florida. The new "Lightning 90" tier will soon be available in portions of Tampa and Central Florida, and users in those markets can head here
to sign up for more details. The tier offers users 90 Mbps downstream and 10 Mbps upstream for $15 more if you're already signed up for the company's Lightning 60 tier. "Turbo customers can add Lightning 90 for as little as $30 more per month, plus tax and equipment," says the company. Base prices for those standard tiers vary on region, promotion and bundle, and are borderline impossible to find on the company website
TDS Telecom (see our user reviews
) has announced that the company will be acquiring Baja Broadband (see our user reviews
) in a deal worth $267.5 million. According to a TDS announcement
, Baja generated annual revenues of $82.4 million in 2012, has approximately 285 employees, and focuses on residential and commercial broadband services in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah. "We plan to build on Bajas solid customer base and upgraded network to increase penetration and revenues with new services and products and outstanding customer experiences," promises TDS.
New Frontier customers can now order DSL services for $20 a month -- with a catch. According to a company statement
, users can get that price locked in for three years with no contract or installation fees -- if
users sign up for a traditional copper landline phone account that's surely to add $30 to $40 in over-priced voice services (and fees) on top of that original price tag. Such "price lock" promises traditionally aren't worth it, as you can usually get a lower rate through negotiations over time. The deal fine print
(pdf) notes the speed you get is 6 Mbps, but they fail to note the upstream speed. Users can double that speed for $10 more -- though you have to be in an area where Frontier has upgraded to offer those speeds.
Fear that Canadian regulators were going to do their job has resulted in a welcome -- though likely brief -- return to unlimited broadband in Canada. Our friends to the north are well-known for some of the most predatory and punitive broadband caps and overages anywhere, courtesy of uncompetitive broadband markets and regulatory capture. story continues..
A few years ago Cox Communications clarified
that the company imposes what they call "soft" usage caps, which may or may not be enforced depending on the market. Each market is broken down here
, with the caps varying depending on where you live and what the local network can handle.
Initially, Time Warner Cable's attempt to fend of Google Fiber in Kansas City consisted of pooh pooh'ing the 1 Gbps, $70 service
, trying to lock down local users into long-term contracts, and promising locals Twilight movie tickets not to switch. The company appears to have since changed tactics.
Apple, Sony, Microsoft, Google; there have been no limit of companies eager to disrupt the pay TV ecosystem, though every one of them have run face first into licensing restrictions imposed by a pay TV sector that very much doesn't want to be disrupted. That doesn't seem to stop the tech press from getting blindly bubbly and enthusiastic every time another company says they're going to try. story continues..
In addition to the inevitable (and sometimes bi-annual) increase in Comcast TV prices, the carrier is notifying out-of-contract customers that their broadband service will see a hike starting in the new year. According to user discussion in our forums
, the price hikes vary depending on your market -- or more specifically the competition (or lack thereof) seen there.
Despite saying they're not worried about Google Fiber in Kansas City, local incumbent Time Warner Cable is worried about Google Fiber in Kansas City. Two analysts from BTIG Research
(free registration required, breakdown via Business Insider
) took a trip to Kansas City to look at Google Fiber up close and personal.
On the heels of existing deals between Verizon and Comcast and Time Warner Cable, Bright House Communications now says their customers can also bundle Verizon Wireless services. According to a Bright House press release
, Bright House customers in central Florida can now bundle Verizon Wireless services and receive a prepaid debit card valued up to $200 -- depending on what bundle of services you sign up for. At the moment, Verizon's new partnership with the cable industry simply involves prepaid gift cards -- but the companies are working on new technologies and services that will allow users to consume content across wired and wireless networks.
Time Warner Cable and Cox say they've both expanded markets where users can bundle Verizon Wireless services, as Verizon's co-marketing relationship with the cable industry grows. According to a Cox statement
, they're now offering bundled Verizon Wireless services in San Diego, Orange County and Santa Barbara, where customers get gift cards ranging from $100 to $400 depending on how many services they sign up for. Time Warner Cable says they're now offering bundled Verizon Wireless services in parts of New York, Arizona, California and Massachusetts, giving customers $200 gift cards if they sign up for select services. While the partnership primarily includes gift cards now, the companies say they ultimately hope to launch services that work via both wireless and wireline devices.
Until last year, telephone poles and conduits across New Hampshire were exempt from local property taxes -- while identical poles and conduits owned by electric utilities were taxed. The tax exemptions for telcos were originally doled out to help spur deployment of services, something locals say regional incumbents Verizon, and now Fairpoint, consistently failed at. As a result, when the tax exemption ran out in July 2010, the state voted not to reinstate it. Fairpoint Communications is now suing 100 communities
, claiming that the taxes they'll have to pay on the poles are unconstitutional and akin to double taxation:
FairPoint's contention has always been that since the company pays the state's telecommunications tax, allowing its poles to also be taxed by communities constitutes double taxation. However, proponents of the exemption repeal contend that since electric utility poles were already being taxed by communities, it is unfair not to allow them to tax FairPoint's poles.
Fairpoint has already gotten regulatory approval to pass the cost of the taxes on to customers if their lawsuit fails.
An insider at Charter Communications tells Broadband Reports that the company will soon start charging a $200 "activation fee" for the company's 100 Mbps tier. The insider notes that the fee will be imposed starting on October 16 for the tier, and will take effect in all Charter markets. story continues..
Cox Communications have expanded their relationship in several markets where Cox will bundle Verizon Wireless Services. According to a company announcement
, customers in "select markets" in Kansas, Arkansas and Nebraska can now bundle Verizon Wireless services to receive gift cards ranging from $100 to $400 -- depending on the services selected. The two companies initially launched their endeavor in Oklahoma last May
, on the heels of similar Verizon partnerships with Time Warner Cable and Comcast. Right now the relationships consist simply of gift card promotions, but Verizon and cable operators say they're working on way to integrate services across wired and wireless platforms.
Fresh off of their disastrous failed merger attempt with AT&T, T-Mobile owners Deutsche Telekom have a far more modest merger target: MetroPCS. Those ever-busy "people with knowledge of the matter" tell Bloomberg News
that the deal is close to being announced, with Deutsche Telekoms supervisory board scheduled to meet in Bonn tomorrow to approve the deal. MetroPCS has been shopping itself around for a sale for some time, and was a hair's breadth away from being acquired by Sprint earlier this year, until the Sprint board nixed the deal at the last second
. Rumors of a T-Mobile and MetroPCS deal have been floating around since early this year
, with Deutsche Telekom insisting such a deal wasn't necessary
After successfully launching their new EchoStar XVII satellite last July
, HughesNet today officially launched
(pdf) their new "Gen4" broadband services. Despite earlier rumblings that they'd be offering speeds up to 20 Mbps, the company's new tiers come in 10/1 Mbps, 10/2 Mbps, or 15/2 flavors, which help bring HughesNet in line with the faster services recently offered by Viasat/Exede
, as well as Verizon's new fixed LTE service Home Fusion.
On the heels of yesterday's news that Dish is launching a new broadband Internet service
, rumors have also surfaced that the company is now exploring a new Internet TV option. According to a report in Bloomberg
, Dish is currently in negotiations with companies like Viacom to offer a small bundle of channels delivered "over the top."
The report notes that Viacom says they're willing to sell smaller bundles of their channels at a lower cost, but the new offering likely wouldn't include the grand poobah of pricey cable: sports channels like ESPN. The report claims this isn't a "TV Everywhere" initiative and would also be offered to non-TV package subscribers.
Dish is already under legal fire for their "Hopper" DVR
, which automatically skips advertisements but the broadcast industry insists violates copyright.
In case you're one of the few folks still on Verizon's DSL service dreaming of upgrades, Verizon has again confirmed that once current franchise build obligations are completed, Verizon will not be expanding their FiOS services any further. Speaking to investors at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference (conference notes
(pdf) via Stop the Cap
), Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said that beyond the current franchise obligations (primarily in major cities like Philly and NYC), there simply won't be a second act to the FiOS saga.
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Recent news contributorsKarl Bode , Linklist