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DaneJasper
Sonic.Net
Premium,VIP
join:2001-08-20
Santa Rosa, CA
kudos:9
reply to mixedfeeling

Re: Modem rental?

said by mixedfeeling :

First, you can begin by making the modem rental optional. It's obvious that there are a lot of Sonic.net customers who are upset at the new policy that makes modem rental mandatory. To alleviate the cost of providing support, you can simply provide support only to people who participate in the rental program.

A natural extension of the rental program would be to allow the model you are renting to customers to be purchased outright. The additional costs of providing support for this option, if any, would be minimal, because the modem you are selling would be identical to the modems you are renting (and supporting).

If, as I believe, Sonic.net is the excellent support company that it is reputed to be, you can also go a step further by providing a list of compatible modems (as other ISPs like DSL Extreme have done) on your wiki and allowing people who own such a modem to opt out of the rental program. Would I expect Sonic.net to provide support for modems on such a list? No, not at all. But I honestly believe people who are knowledgeable enough to buy their own modems don't really need Sonic.net's help in setting it up. Some basic information on the wiki would suffice. In the worst case, they can simply call the manufacturer they bought the modem from and request help from them instead of Sonic.net.

I don't think there are "a lot of Sonic.net customers who are upset at the new policy", because the new policy doesn't apply to them. They are welcome to continue to use the equipment they already have. There are some who have said they won't recommend us to people in future, generally on grounds of the higher cost - or simply the principal of the un-bundling of equipment cost as a line item.

There may however be prospective new customers who choose not to buy service because they don't like the new higher cost, but that remains to be seen. It's early, but so far in this first week of July, sign-ups are continuing at a typical rate.

To respond to some of your points:

Allowing purchase of the equipment would not accomplish the goal of making the equipment our responsibility.

The outcome of us owning the equipment is that we can now rapidly and at no cost to the customer advance-ship a replacement if we ever suspect that the connection issue might be equipment - so we don't end up spending a lot of the customer's time and energy agonizing over whether their old modem is the problem, or if it's the copper loop, and should we roll a truck to test at the MPOE (which might cost the customer something if their equipment turned out to be the source of the trouble), are they going to go buy a new modem that might solve the problem (or it might be the loop and NOT the equipment), etc. Having Sonic.net be responsible for delivery of working service including equipment is a win for our customers, in my opinion.

Finally, a list of compatible or recommended products wouldn't be products that were tied into our troubleshooting and provisioning system. Part of this equipment effort is to bring our support into the modern age, bringing the modem into the support portal using TR-069. Larger carriers have had this for years, and without it some of what we do is guesswork, or asking the customer to do things themselves. With a TR-069 ACS, we can do remote diagnostics on the device itself. For example, the system alerts if there is a missing filter on premise, or if there is interference in 2.4Ghz that is affecting the WiFi from the device. A customer supplied retail device wouldn't be similarly tied in to our troubleshooting management platform.

Fundamentally this product change is a cost increase for new customers, but it also is delivery of a better modem/router/firewall than we have ever supplied, plus tie-in with support to shorten the technical troubleshooting process.

The goal is reliable service delivery at the lowest possible cost to customers, and equipment uniformity is part of that goal. While in the near term this is a cost increase, I'm hopeful that the long term result will be a reduction in support costs - costs which bear upon our ability to be aggressive in our overall pricing.

I believe that the benefits will be large, and I'm hopeful that customers will continue to sign up despite the higher cost today.

-Dane Jasper
CEO
Sonic.net

klui

join:2001-11-08
Castro Valley, CA
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET

1 edit

said by DaneJasper:

The outcome of us owning the equipment (...)

This is actually a double-edged sword. While the benefits of ISP-owned equipment are clear to me, I'm also aware of its downsides. Witness what happened to people who owns Cisco EA2700, EA3500, and EA400 routers recently--mandated upgrades took away features people felt were useful. While the Cisco fiasco didn't happen to Cisco-owned equipment, with a modem rental, customers have no choice but to accept that type of control. Before long, subscribers will either be locked out from tweaking their hardware or be charged a fee if their changes are deemed "disruptive."

You specifically listed several features that require the modem/router not be in bridge mode so people who wish to use those features are indeed stuck with CPE that they do not totally control.

EDIT: grammer +
The reason why I switched to Sonic was it did not try to control their subscribers' behavior too much as the big corporations did with data caps. Imposing the rental requirement goes against that subscriber-friendly policy. Sure, this decision does not affect me, but I am keeping an eye on what other types of policies Sonic imposes in the coming weeks/months.

For the record, I really appreciate the insights Dane and John shared how additional cost of these modems drove the policy. I hope Dane, you will answer the questions regarding how this policy was influenced by your fiber rollout and its CPE as Leibold appears to be interested in that as well.


NormanS
I gave her time to steal my mind away
Premium,MVM
join:2001-02-14
San Jose, CA
kudos:11
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
·Pacific Bell - SBC

1 recommendation

reply to DaneJasper

said by DaneJasper:

I don't think there are "a lot of Sonic.net customers who are upset at the new policy", because the new policy doesn't apply to them.

Maybe not a lot, but due to medical circumstances I will not be able to return to the premises where I had been living. I set that homeowner up with Sonic.net, firing AT&T in the process. Later this summer I expect to be in a new place, and looking for Internet service. This would make me a "new" Sonic.net customer, if I chose Sonic.net. There will be other options, and this new policy will give pause to reconsider them.
--
Norman
~Oh Lord, why have you come
~To Konnyu, with the Lion and the Drum

bigboy

join:2000-12-04
Palo Alto, CA

Actually, that's not what Dane said - if you're move your account, I think you're still a current customer.



not_happy

@supermicro.com
reply to NormanS

same here. We are looking into moving into bigger house a few blocks away so I will be considered as "new" customer. In addition, one of my brother's ATT 1 yr service is up and he is eligible for Fusion service. With this additional $6.50, he hesitated to do the switching because it doesn't benefit him much. Speed might be a tad faster, monthly fee is about the same, and the $35 initial fee. Sonic may have lose out 2 customers but it's not like it will impact the company.

Like Dana said, time will tell. Until then I do enjoy my Sonic while it last.



NormanS
I gave her time to steal my mind away
Premium,MVM
join:2001-02-14
San Jose, CA
kudos:11
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
·Pacific Bell - SBC
reply to bigboy

said by bigboy:

Actually, that's not what Dane said - if you're move your account, I think you're still a current customer.

I will not be moving the account. I will be leaving the landlord's account with her; I just won't be a tenant there, so will have to sign up a new account.
--
Norman
~Oh Lord, why have you come
~To Konnyu, with the Lion and the Drum

erifax

join:2000-12-14
ireland
reply to not_happy

So, I'm not directly affected (I monitor this forum for my parents circuit).

As a former customer myself, it sounds to me like sonic.net wants to make their support job easier by pushing the costs onto their customers.

In my view, this is a lot like baggage fees, except more insidious. It seems like a mandatory fee, perhaps a bit akin to Ryanair's boarding pass fees (yes, they charge you to check in). It might be well-intentioned, but it feels like getting nickel and dimed.

It seems like just bumping the base service fee to be all-inclusive would satisfy everyone.