For months now Netflix has claimed that the largest ISPs have intentionally let their peering points get congested so that Netflix would be forced to pay them for direct interconnection (an argument companies like Level 3 and Cogent support
). So why is Netflix paying AT&T, Time Warner Cable, Verizon and Comcast for these links if they feel they're being railroaded?
According to Netflix filings made with the government
(hat tip to Quartz
), the company was beginning to lose customers who were told by Comcast Netflix was responsible for the problems:
“For many [Comcast] subscribers, the bitrate was so poor that Netflix’s streaming video service became unusable,” he writes, then notes that Comcast reps eventually told subscribers to take their beef to Netflix. “Those customers complained to Netflix and some of them canceled their Netflix subscription on the spot, citing the unacceptable quality of Netflix’s video streams and Netflix’s inability to do anything to change the situation."
You'll recall that when Netflix started giving impacted customers warning message blaming ISPs, Verizon rather quickly threatened to file a lawsuit
, insisting they
were the ones losing customers over the fracas. The FCC launched an investigation
into whether incumbent ISPs were acting anti-competitively back in June.
A TiVo support note
first spotted by Dave Zatz
is the first to highlight Comcast's looming migration away from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4. According to the note, Comcast is transitioning its systems in Augusta, Georgia, from MPEG-2 format to MPEG-4, meaning "that cable channels in this region will not be viewable on older equipment that is incompatible with the new format." I contacted Comcast who confirmed that they were migrating HD channels from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 in Augusta (SD channels will remain on MPEG-2), which the company notes will provide a "much more efficient use of bandwidth." The company could not offer any information on upgrade timelines for other markets.
Sixty-five consumer, social justice and media reform groups have fired off a letter
voicing their opposition to Comcast's planned $45.2 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable. The letter, sent just as the FCC's open comment period ended earlier this week, complains that the Comcast deal will "inevitably lead to unprecedented gatekeeper control over our nation’s telecommunications and media landscape." Given Comcast's history of failing to meet NBC merger conditions (many of which they themselves recommended
) the groups argue that "no amount of promises or conditions would be good enough to assuage concerns about this merger" and that the "deal needs to be rejected outright."
Stop the Cap amusingly notes
that some 52 Mayors have breathlessly thrown their support behind the Comcast merger
, despite the fact that a long list of these cities have long suffered from horrible customer service, build issues, high prices and other problems with Comcast. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown's city is held hostage by Verizon's refusal to upgrade the city with FiOS, and Comcast and Time Warner Cable's resulting market dominance, resulting in high prices.
Comcast's historically abysmal customer customer service has many causes, not least of which is the company's fairly obvious lax standards when it comes to subcontractors, which over the years has resulted in installers falling asleep
, murdering people
, digging in the wrong yard
, blowing up laptops
or even animal cruelty
. But to hear many Comcast insiders tell it, another major reason for Comcast's problems is the fact that the company has spent much of its existence growing for the sake of growing.
While Comcast certainly has its faults
, the cable giant has led the way when it comes to IPv6 deployment while many larger ISPs have napped. Comcast recently announced they've officially completed their residential IPv6 deployments
, and around 30% of their customers are now actively running IPv6.
For years our users have complained of phantom Comcast charges -- especially Comcast's tendency to charge customers modem rental fees
even when they own the modem. Another classic Comcast blunder is the tendency to charge users for unreturned equipment fees -- even when all of the equipment has very clearly been returned.
Ever since Ryan Block recorded a Comcast support representative refusing to let him cancel service
, we've seen a swarm of recorded videos showing precisely why Comcast has the worst customer support rankings across any
industry. Earlier this week Comcast was recorded defending $182 in phantom charges
until a customer provided a recording of them promising the user wouldn't be charged.
In June of last year Comcast announced
that the company was launching a new, Fon-like effort that involved new router firmware that turns your gateway into a publicly-accessible hotspot. More specifically, updated routers would now offer two signals: one being yours, and the other being a "xfinitywifi" SSID signal providing free Wi-Fi to other Comcast users in your general area.
Back in January we were the first to report
that Comcast was again doubling speeds on many of its tiers, starting first with the company's Midwest division. As noted then, upgraded Comcast users will see the company's "Performance" tier bumped from 25/5 to 50/5 Mbps, their "Blast" tier from 50/10 to 105/10 Mbps, and their Extreme 105 speeds bumped from 105/20 Mbps to 150/20 Mbps.
As we noted last week
, two different cities with their own broadband networks (Wilson, NC and Chattanooga, Tennessee) have formally asked the FCC to declare that laws in their states hindering community broadband aren't enforceable, giving FCC boss Tom Wheeler the perfect opportunity to back up claims that he'd take action. Such bills are written and lobbied for by companies like Comcast, AT&T and Time Warner Cable, and often restrict local citizen rights to determine for themselves what the best course of action for their community is.
Comcast made the wrong kind of headlines this week after a support representative was recorded simply refusing to let a customer cancel
. Comcast was quick to insist that the company was "embarrassed" by the employee's behavior, claiming that the employee was "unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives." Except since the story broke, numerous Comcast employees have come forward to point out that obnoxious upselling is the rule, not the exception.
To get their acquisition of Time Warner Cable approved, Comcast has been telling anybody who'll listen that the deal will somehow create more competition. They're making this claim at a time when AT&T and Verizon are looking to exit unwanted DSL markets, literally shoveling customers in Comcast's direction
, resulting in less competition than ever before across huge swaths of the country.
Not to be outdone by the family that sent money to Comcast for seven years for an alarm system that never worked
, an 88-year-old woman in Florida has paid Comcast for TV service for thirteen-plus years -- without ever receiving a working signal. A local Florida news outlet
(via the Consumerist
) notes the woman's development switched from Comcast to Charter service (apparently included in her rent) back in October of 2000, but Comcast kept billing her $29 a month for the next thirteen and a half years. When approached about the error by her grandson Comcast initially said they'd only provide a six month refund ($174). Once the issue received news attention Comcast stated they'd offer a full refund.
Comcast has argued that people shouldn't worry about their $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable because the two companies don't directly compete. They also have thus far brushed aside concerns about the company's mammoth scale leading to the kind of leverage that could harm smaller competitors in the pay TV space, insisting that companies like Google Fiber and Hulu
will keep them on their best behavior.
A new report by the FCC
(pdf) on the cost of television services in the United States found that prices have risen four times the price of inflation over a one year span. The report notes that basic cable prices jumped 6.5% during 2012 while expanded basic cable prices rose by 5.1%.
The writing has pretty clearly been on the wall as Comcast slowly but surely has expanded their usage-cap trials throughout less competitive Southern markets
. Speaking at the MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit today in New York City (see transcript
via Fierce Cable
), top Comcast lobbyist David Cohen was asked whether or not he sees a future where users only have a choice of capped plans.
In the hopes of further cementing support for their $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable, Comcast this week took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal
. In it, Comcast offers a checklist of the wonderful things that users can expect if they support the deal.
To get their acquisition of NBC approved, Comcast proposed a condition requiring they offer $10 1.5 Mbps broadband to low income homes (dubbed "Internet Essentials"). As we pointed out when the program first surfaced
, Comcast proposed this condition because once potential applicants jump through a number of hoops, Comcast knew that very few low income families would actually qualify.
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