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Broadband Black Holes, iPods, and Astroturf
Unserved user gets broadband, attention, iPod, and used as lobbying tool
by Karl Bode 05:29PM Tuesday Jan 03 2006
Back in May of 2004, we profiled one of our rural forum users who was told by Time Warner Cable he needed to pay $25,000 to have his area wired with broadband. Stuck in a zone of unserved broadband purgatory between Time Warner Cable and Cablevision, the user was just a few hundred feet from getting service.

The user pleaded with Time Warner Cable for five years to no avail. The company did five surveys to estimate how much it would cost to wire his road, with estimates ranging from $18,000 to $26,000. Bombarded with service ads, the user says he filed complaints with the NYS Public Service Commission, circulated petitions, and attended town board meetings - all to no avail.

Recently Cablevision was granted a local franchise agreement to serve his town, and the company - after a six week construction period - finally provided him with broadband access last October as per the terms of that agreement.

The user, David Shapiro, told his story to the website My Cable Nightmare, which is operated by Consumers4Choice, a group "committed to the development of a competitive, vibrant cable communications market." In December, Shapiro was awarded an ipod for his horror story, thereby getting service, attention, and an iPod.

Stop reading here if you simply like a happy story, and don't appreciate irony or nuance.

Consumers4Choice is a PR front group backed by the telcos to sway public opinion. Their primary goal is to push frequently uninformed citizens to clamor for the elimination of local franchise agreements - thus speeding up telcoTV deployment (at least to profitable areas, which Mr. Shapiro's is not). Cable companies are doing the same thing, launching pseudo-consumer groups of their own to counter the telco message.

Mr. Shapiro's story is being used by Astroturf (bogus grass roots) groups to sell the public on the need to eliminate "cumbersome" local franchise agreements. But in reality, he couldn't get DSL or cable, and because he lives in rural America, will likely will never see telcoTV, regardless of which type of franchise his state employs.

Ironically Verizon paid Consumers4Choice $75,000 in startup funds to help support their effort to eliminate local franchise agreements with stories like Shapiro's. In the end, Shapiro wound up ditching three Verizon landlines and getting triple-play service from Optimum Online, thanks to build-out requirements of a local franchise agreement. The irony runs deep.

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FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

1 edit

Good for Shapiro

He got his cable connection.
He got to dump on the cable company for making him wait so long.
He got a free iPod.

He got what he wanted and that is the main thing. Why should he care whether the telco is using his "I hate Cable" story for their own use. That is someone elses problem.
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Dude9
What Happens When I Do This
Premium
join:2000-11-20
Chicago, IL

Re: Good for Shapiro

i waited 5 years for broadband and i got was thsi stupid ipod

he got his broadband and stood up for himself
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stnlandr

join:2005-07-11
Tell me this....would you go into a business endeavor knowing that you would lose money on the deal? That's exactly what is going to happen in this situation. It would take a minimum 40 years for the company to make money off this one subscriber. Why should anyone be pressured into doing something like that? Because it's a big cable co.? Or because it's become the american way to whine until you get what you want.
TheGhost
Premium
join:2003-01-03
Lake Forest, IL

Re: Good for Shapiro

They should be forced to service this customer because he is part of the area covered by the franchise agreement. They want exclusive rights to an area, they have to service the entire area, not just where they want.

FightingBlue

@direcpc.com

2 recommendations

Wrong. The companies would make more than enough money on such customers if they simply behaved in an efficient manner. Phone companies are required to provide service everywhere, as are power companies. Last time I checked, nether of them were going out of business. It's not that rural users don't deserve broadband, or that it's not profitable, it's that cable companies and others prefer to cater to affluent suburbia rather than offer universal service. If they want to save money, let them eliminate the Junior Vice President of Pencil Shavings, or pay their already ultrawealthy CEO less than $10 million dollars in bonuses this year.

The telecom providers essentially want corporate welfare--guaranteed service agreements, massive cash infusions, and legalized monopoly status--without the need to actually follow through and provide service to anyone they don't feel like.

Cheese
Premium
join:2003-10-26
Naples, FL
kudos:1
said by FFH:

He got his cable connection.
He got to dump on the cable company for making him wait so long.
He got a free iPod.

He got what he wanted and that is the main thing. Why should he care whether the telco is using his "I hate Cable" story for their own use. That is someone elses problem.
This is why.

"The user pleaded with Time Warner Cable for five years to no avail. The company did five surveys to estimate how much it would cost to wire his road, with estimates ranging from $18,000 to $26,000 dollars. Bombarded with service ads, the user says he filed complaints with the NYS Public Service Commission, filed petitions, and attended town board meetings, all to no avail. "

They sent ads to his home for the service, then want him to pay out the nose for it? Wrong. I would have done the same thing if I was in his shoes. They strung him along for 5 years for something they had no plan on giving him unless he gave them that much money? That to me, is utterly wrong.

packetscan
Premium
join:2004-10-19
Bridgeport, CT

Re: Good for Shapiro

I bet for ever TV commercial and print add that HE has seen The costs associated with such marketing likely would have paid for the install and then some.
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Cheese
Premium
join:2003-10-26
Naples, FL
kudos:1

Re: Good for Shapiro

said by packetscan:

I bet for ever TV commercial and print add that HE has seen The costs associated with such marketing likely would have paid for the install and then some.
Exactly. And I don't know for sure, but he can not be the only person on the street.
shapiro44

join:2004-03-01
Highland, NY

Re: Good for Shapiro

exactly, Cheese69. Cablevision built the whole neighborhood
to pole #12 on my street. TWC system ends at pole #11. The two cable systems are now 1/10th of a mile a part.

Cablevision spent a special salesman who drove up and down
the road for days. I saw his list one day, maybe 10 days
after he started. He already had 20 customers interested
with columns checked for TV, internet and phone.
All together there are 32 homes here that previously was
in blackholeville and now can have Cablevision.

elvey
Spamassassin

join:2001-02-17
San Francisco, CA
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
·Sipgate VOIP
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Karl -

Great story.

Thanks.

I guess it's not obvious to some, but it's obvious to me that it doesn't cost 20 grand to run cable a few hundred feet in a rural area.

It's about as credible as the claim that allowing competitors in an oligopoly to merge increases competition.
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footballdude
Premium
join:2002-08-13
Imperial, MO

Re: Good for Shapiro

said by elvey:

I guess it's not obvious to some, but it's obvious to me that it doesn't cost 20 grand to run cable a few hundred feet in a rural area.
Perhaps it was necessary to install some sort of high speed signal booster as well? That's the problem where I live. My closest CO is DSL ready, but I live just a little too far from it to get DSL. To put in the necessary equipment to boost the signal for my neighborhood would cost around $20,000, or so I'm told.
shapiro44

join:2004-03-01
Highland, NY

Re: Good for Shapiro

Cablevision put up a new node in my neighborhood.
Not right on my pole but close enough.

packetscan
Premium
join:2004-10-19
Bridgeport, CT
Depends..

Do you need to close the road at all?
-the township might require a police officer(s) to direct traffic.
Is it going in the ground?
- survey fees, researching other utilities in the area, cost of materials.
Are you using Overhead poles? Who owns these poles? do they require rent?

There are so many little things to think about including supplies, man power, depreciation on tools and vehicles.

If you have to open the road, Open your checkbook.
I had to fix a 4x6 ft section of roadway after fixing a sewer line. that was 5k. So dropping conduits must be about the same ball park.
--
This is the Curse of Being a college graduate.

elvey
Spamassassin

join:2001-02-17
San Francisco, CA
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
·Sipgate VOIP
·Virgin Mobile Br..

Re: Good for Shapiro

said by packetscan:

Depends..

Do you need to close the road at all?
-the township might require a police officer(s) to direct traffic.
Is it going in the ground?
- survey fees, researching other utilities in the area, cost of materials.
Are you using Overhead poles? Who owns these poles? do they require rent?

There are so many little things to think about including supplies, man power, depreciation on tools and vehicles.

If you have to open the road, Open your checkbook.
I had to fix a 4x6 ft section of roadway after fixing a sewer line. that was 5k. So dropping conduits must be about the same ball park.
Yes, costs add up fast, but this is a 'rural' area. So I assume everything is above ground. (I wonder how rural 'rural' is...). Rental costs don't factor into the figure in question. I wonder how long a cable signal (TV/Broadband) can go in COAX and how it compares to DSL over UTP.
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Gundam_Toon

join:2004-09-03
Greenwood, IN

1 edit

Do I get it free?

Slightly off topic of Cablevision etc... Insight Cable wants $2600 for 400ft of cable to my house
Rip Off!
James_d

join:2005-08-27
uk

Re: Do I get it free?

What does the nearest person who can get cable want to get it installed and use a wireless router to relay it to you?
shapiro44

join:2004-03-01
Highland, NY

Re: Do I get it free?

James_d,
TWC closest connection was 1 mile to the north.
Cablevision closest connection was 1 mile to the south.
I actually didnt know any of those people and I
certainly wasnt going to knock on doors of strangers
and propose (then beg) them breaking their TOC for me.
Also the terrain is completely terrible for wireless
here: Trees, Hills and a nearby swamp. Doesnt get much
worse.

A wireless company named WEBJOGGER (located in Rhinebeck
and has a presence in Kingston NY) offers wireless
service but a huge hill was in the way.
They tried to hook me up, but could not find a
suitable tower that would work

MeanPeepsSuk
Premium
join:2004-11-21
Muddy Field

Re: Do I get it free?

Well, congrats on *finally* getting to the end of the road, David. You deserve more than an IPod for all you went through, and all of your hard work.

I raise my coffee cup to you!
rcman2

join:2002-03-25
Saint Louis, MO
Charter wants me to pay $20,000. I'm thinking of paying it........................ just to keep them away from my home:D

dvd536
as Mr. Pink as they come
Premium
join:2001-04-27
Phoenix, AZ
kudos:4
said by Gundam_Toon:

Slightly off topic of Cablevision etc... Insight Cable wants $2600 for 400ft of cable to my house
Rip Off!
Thats cheap when you factor in the costs of labor, digging, right of way, permits etc etc etc. the cable itself is only a couple hundred dollars. its the manpower and permits and such that bump it up.
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JTRockville
Data Ho
Premium,MVM
join:2002-01-28
Rockville, MD
said by Gundam_Toon:

Slightly off topic of Cablevision etc... Insight Cable wants $2600 for 400ft of cable to my house
Rip Off!
Check your franchise agreement with Cablevision. In Montgomery County MD, our franchise with Comcast indicates service for customers within 400 feet of the existing plant must be installed within 90 days of the request, free of charge.

AnnaS8

join:2005-05-26
Annapolis, MD

So...

I don't mean to be a kill joy here but the fight over Mr Shapiro getting internet was not really what the story was about. It is about the underhanded way he was used in an attempt to erode the franchise agreement that made Cablevision give him service. If you let them get rid of the franchise agreements then they will pick and choose who will get connected and who won't. That will make it that much longer for rural American to get connected.

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

Re: So...

Thanks Anna, at least one person noticed that the story runs a little deeper....

AnnaS8

join:2005-05-26
Annapolis, MD

1 edit

Re: So...

Cut the others some slack...At least all the posts weren't...Oooo!!! A Free ipod!!! How do I get one?
jp10558
Premium
join:2005-06-24
Willseyville, NY

3 recommendations

Isn't broadband starting to be like roads?

I mean, ok, socialist here - and lots of people hate this, but we've had years of telcos battling cablecos sort of fighting wireless/satallite/whatever nonexistant/expensive alternative there is.

At this point, it's basically an issue of no one wanting 50 different wires to their house, or 50 different companies tearing up the roads and such.

So why isn't this a government project like running electricity or telephones were? Why not do it like the roads, and then let the digital equivelent of FedEx, UPS,DHL, and the USPS and whoever else wants duke it out for the head end connection to the net?

Sure, this isn't fair to those who don't have broadband, but then road taxes aren't fair to those who don't drive. School taxes aren't fair to those who don't have schoolchildern. Isn't general infrastructrue basically the reason we have a government? And one of the main things it makes sense for them to do?

I mean, otherwise, we have the crazy inability of customers to get service, or ridiculious connection charges. Then we have the lawsuits against people banding together to get it themselves when the companies don't want to provide it.

Is there a better way? Cause what we have now doesn't seem to be working.
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XBL2009
------

join:2001-01-03
Chicago, IL

1 recommendation

Necessity

Broadband is fast becoming like water and electricity, a necessity.

The Federal Government should dictate that people in rural areas get coverage like they did phone service.
GhostFreeman

join:2004-06-04
Rising Fawn, GA

Re: Necessity

What, with this FCC? And this Administration?


hobgoblin
Sortof Agoblin
Premium
join:2001-11-25
Orchard Park, NY
kudos:10
Gawdzilla posted

"Broadband is fast becoming like water and electricity, a necessity. "

Nonsense. When you can show an occurence of someone dying without Broadband then we will continue this discussion.

Hob
--
"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

HotRodFoto
Premium
join:2003-04-19
Denver, CO

2 recommendations

Re: Necessity

said by hobgoblin:

Gawdzilla posted

"Broadband is fast becoming like water and electricity, a necessity. "

Nonsense. When you can show an occurence of someone dying without Broadband then we will continue this discussion.

Hob
I don't see people dying cuz they don't have heat in their houses either. Nor from not having electricity.
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XBL2009
------

join:2001-01-03
Chicago, IL

2 edits
said by hobgoblin:

Gawdzilla posted

"Broadband is fast becoming like water and electricity, a necessity. "

Nonsense. When you can show an occurence of someone dying without Broadband then we will continue this discussion.

Hob
The telephone had nothing to do with life or death because when you lived out in the boonies even if you called a doctor he probably lived miles away and you would die before he got there.

Broadband deployment should be enjoyed by all and it is feasible to do so the problem is that these greedy telco's and cableco's don't want it eating into their profits.

I still support a last mile owned and operated by the federal government or perhaps a singe company who would be responsible for the up keep. Then any company has the right to sell services to everyone in the nation. Having regional bells only created regional monoplies.

M A R S
Premium
join:2001-06-15
Long Island
kudos:1

Now he can get $54 Fios

That's if VZ decides to hook it up. Long Island is getting 30/5 for $54!
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"This what you want, This is what you get"

Dr Demento
I Vant Blud

join:2002-01-02
Denville, NJ

Re: Now he can get $54 Fios

said by M A R S:

That's if VZ decides to hook it up. Long Island is getting 30/5 for $54!
Ok this is the exact crap I can't stand. What is VZ going to get out of specially catering to an area where CV's central office is while at the probable expense of others. Nothing, this is not war it is not like you can actually physically strain the resources while doing this, CV services other areas, they have other offices, VZ does not need to do this there. It is like people grow up just to go to elementary school again.

Next the CEO or President of each company will be calling each other gay.

linicx
Caveat Emptor
Premium
join:2002-12-03
United State
Reviews:
·TracFone Wireless
·CenturyLink

Explain This!

I have a house in a small subdivision near the new high school. DSL is all around me. It is across the street less than 50 feet from my front door. I can't get it. Explain why they will lose money when i am closer to the CO than the neighbor across the street.

I've watched predatory Bell through its weight around with city and state governments for 50 years. I don't bjuy their arguments and FUSA any more than I buy their slick PR. It's all bullshit.
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