Back in May TDS Telecom (see our user reviews
) became the latest company to throw its hat into the 1 Gbps broadband ring, offering 1 Gbps lines to residents of Hollis, New Hampshire. TDS Telecom now says they're expanding their 1 Gbps service into a second community: London, New Hampshire. According to a company announcement
, the 1 Gbps down, 400 Mbps offering can still be had for "less than $100 per month with a bundle." According to TDS, they plan to announce additional market deployments in the "coming weeks."
Last fall Comcast began tinkering with
a new bundle that offered HBO, basic cable, and 25 Mbps broadband. While Comcast offers the bundle initially under promotion for $40-$50 a month (depending on your market), though it doesn't include HD content and the price jumps to a less sexy $70=$80 a month after one year.
Sprint today unveiled a few new prepaid options for those not already satisfied on that front. According to a Sprint announcement
, the key unveil today appears to be a new $45 "Smart" plan that provides unlimited voice and text, but skips data altogether -- requiring that all data consumption be done over Wi-Fi. If you want data, you can shell out $60 for the company's prepaid "Smart Plus" plan, which offers unlimited talk, text and data (you're throttled after 2.5 GB). While the no data option is interesting, Sprint's pricing still needs to go lower to compete with other prepaid options (include some from Sprint's own subsidiary brands).
Verizon appears to be the latest to join the rate-hike season festivities, with a notice being sent out to some FiOS subscribers
that the company will be bumping FiOS rates over the next few billing cycles (I've dropped a line to see how broad these hikes will be).
According to a message being sent to some subscribers, Verizon's increasing the cost of TV programming and bundles around $8 a month. The company also says they're increasing the regional sports fee tacked on to bundles with sports programming from $2.42 a month to $3.48 a month.
Verizon started charging the regional sports fee back at the beginning of the year
, around the same time they started offering new channel bundles (like FiOS Select HD
) that pull sports programming out of the lineup entirely.
CenturyLink has sent out a notice to customers informing them that the company is hiking the price of "dry loop" (aka DSL without a voice line) by $2. According to mailed notices being sent to users
, the price hike should appear on customers' December bills.
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.
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 Baja’s 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.
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