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Sprint Will Shut Down Clear/4G WiMAX Network by 2015; TD-LTE Upgrade for Most Cell Sites

wimaxSprint has begun decommissioning its increasingly obsolete 4G WiMAX network with definitive plans to shut off the service completely by the end of 2015.

While most Sprint customers with smartphones have long since moved away from WiMAX, Sprint has resold access to the 2.5GHz network for some prepaid Boost, Sprint, and Virgin Mobile customers as well as third parties including FreedomPop and Earthlink.

WiMAX was the first 4G network in the United States, launching first in Baltimore in the fall of 2008. Sprint customers were offered the HTC Evo 4G smartphone to access WiMAX’s faster speeds. Separately, Clearwire marketed access to WiMAX as a wireless home and business broadband solution. WiMAX was often promoted as a longer distance alternative to Wi-Fi, and was initially capable of 30-40Mbps speeds.

clear-logoIn practice, WiMAX in the United States never achieved great success. Sprint and Clearwire’s network was never built out sufficiently to provide nationwide coverage, and because it relied on very high frequencies, even customers inside claimed service areas often dealt with reception problems, especially indoors. Clearwire’s home broadband replacement often required reception equipment be placed near a window, preferably one without a thermal coating that could block or degrade the signal.

As soon as Sprint and Clearwire added a significant number of customers to the network, speeds deteriorated. Neither company invested enough in upgrades to keep up with demand. Instead, Clearwire’s home broadband customers, originally promised unlimited service, were routinely speed throttled for “excessive use.”

The same year WiMAX was introduced in Baltimore, Network World was already warning the technology was in trouble. By 2011, the magazine had officially declared WiMAX dead.

“There was way too much hype surrounding WiMAX (like the White Spaces today, it was marketed as ‘Wi-Fi on steroids’ and a replacement for Wi-Fi; such was, of course, complete nonsense)”, the magazine wrote.

Other American wireless carriers showed little interest in WiMAX, particularly as competing 4G technologies including HSPA+ and LTE were nearing deployment.

SprintDespite the promise of greatly enhanced data speeds with the next generation of WiMAX, dubbed WiMAX 2, many of the world’s largest wireless carriers were already preparing to move on. In particular, China Mobile (and its 600 million customers) became the decisive factor that turned WiMAX 2 into a bad bet. China Mobile decided the better choice was TD-LTE, a variant of LTE technology. With China Mobile providing service to 10 percent of the world’s mobile users all by itself, support for TD-LTE grew and attracted equipment manufacturers that saw the earnings potential from selling tens of millions of base stations.

TD-LTE is an excellent upgrade choice for WiMAX operators because it was designed to work best at high frequencies ranging from 1850-3800MHz — the same frequency bands that WiMAX already uses.

Sprint expects to decommission at least 6,000 of its 17,000 WiMAX cell sites. Another 5,000 of those sites have already gotten TD-LTE technology, a part of Sprint’s broader LTE network upgrade. Sprint will combine its FDD-LTE network in its 800MHz and 1.9GHz spectrum with a TD-LTE network in its 2.5GHz spectrum. Sprint Spark customers are being offered tri-band equipment that can access either technology. Sprint can use its massive expanse of 2.5GHz spectrum to offload data usage from its lower frequency spectrum, especially in large cities.

Another 5,000 legacy Clearwire cell sites will be upgraded to TD-LTE between now and the end of next year. Sprint expects to deploy TD-LTE more widely than WiMAX, potentially serving 100 cities and 100 million base stations by 2016.

Sprint has protected much of its postpaid customer base from the transition by repeatedly encouraging customers to upgrade to LTE service, now being rolled out as part of its Network Vision plan. But firms like FreedomPop and others that now lease access to the WiMAX network will leave their customers with a shorter upgrade path when WiMAX equipment stops working, requiring users to upgrade to LTE equipment.

[flv]http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Sprint Spark – Today is already the future 10-30-13.mp4[/flv]

Sprint hypes its new tri-band Sprint Spark network, which combines two different LTE networks to deliver faster data speeds. (1:18)

Time Warner Cable Hiking Rates for Earthlink and Time Warner Cable Customers

Phillip Dampier February 18, 2014 Consumer News, Earthlink 3 Comments

timewarner twcEarthlink and Time Warner Cable are two independent companies, but you would never know it from Time Warner Cable’s mailed notification of rate increases that will apply to customers of both. In addition to general rate increases, Time Warner is now imposing its $5.99 monthly modem rental charge on Earthlink customers that used to avoid the modem fee.

The cable company has also seen fit to add a considerably higher monthly fee for “The Guide” — which refers to the on-screen guide offered through your set-top box. Love it or hate it, it will now cost you an extra $3.27 per month per cable outlet.

Your Time Warner Cable basic television package now called “Preferred TV” will now cost about $2.50 more per month, ranging from around $79 in Maine to $82.50 in Buffalo.

Other increases:

  • All cable TV customers should expect to see a new Broadcast TV Fee surcharge applied to their bills after the rate increase takes effect. In the northeast, it runs $2.25 a month;
  • Time Warner’s Variety Pass, which includes semi-premium movie channels is increasing to $10 a month in many markets. That is up around $1;
  • Your primary set-top box rental fee will increase from $8.99 a month to $10.25 a month. Each additional box will increase from $8.49 to as much as $10.25 a month, depending on the market;
  • Your broadband price may also be increasing. Lite Internet will be $37.99 a month, Basic $47.99, Standard $57.99, Turbo $67.99, Extreme $77.99, Ultimate 50 $88.99;
  • Earthlink customers will now pay $37.99 for Earthlink Lite and $57.99 for Earthlink Standard. Earthlink’s turbo upgrade costs an extra $10 and TWC’s $5.99 monthly modem rental fee will now apply unless you buy your own modem;
  • Customers with extra cable outlets installed after the new rates take effect will now owe an extra service fee of $1.50 per month per outlet.

Customers on promotional packages will not see the new rates applied to their accounts until after their promotions expire. Rate increases are generally rolled out region-by-region over the course of the year. These rate increases will apply to customers in the northeastern United States beginning with the March or April invoice.

CBS Online Video Yanked from Time Warner Cable/Bright House/Earthlink Customers

Phillip Dampier August 5, 2013 Consumer News, Earthlink, Video 2 Comments

cbsCBS has blocked Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks’ broadband customers from watching CBS online video in a retaliatory move against Time Warner Cable’s decision to pull CBS-owned programming off the lineup because of a contract dispute.

Broadband customers of both cable companies (Bright House relies on Time Warner Cable to negotiate its programming carriage agreements) started losing access to CBS streamed content late Friday, now replaced with a message blaming Time Warner Cable for the loss. Earthlink customers using either cable operator are collateral damage — Earthlink is effectively reselling the others’ cable broadband services.

“If Time Warner Cable is a customer’s Internet Service Provider, then their access to CBS full episode content via online and mobile platforms has been suspended as a result of Time Warner Cable’s decision to drop CBS and Showtime,” said a CBS spokesperson. “As soon as CBS is restored on cable systems in affected markets, that content will be accessible again.”

In place of the programming, cable customers get to see a brief attack ad criticizing Time Warner for yanking CBS-owned channels and networks, despite the fact CBS authorized the companies to keep the channels up and running until the dispute can be worked out.

Time Warner Cable shot back with their own rebuttal.

[flv width=”640″ height=”380″]http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/CBS Blackout – We Dont Want a War 8-4-13.flv[/flv]

Time Warner Cable claims it does not want a war over programming costs in its latest ad regarding the blackout of CBS programming, which now also affects the cable company’s broadband customers. (1 minute)

dont want a war“CBS has shown utter lack of regard for consumers by blocking Time Warner Cable’s customers, including our high-speed data only customers, from accessing their shows on their free website,” the company said in a statement. “CBS enjoys the privilege of using public owned airwaves to deliver their programming – they should not be allowed to abuse that privilege.”

Customers well outside New York, Dallas, and Los Angeles discovered several CBS-owned cable channels were missing, even though they are not served by a CBS-owned local affiliate. The most obvious — Showtime/The Movie Channel came during the middle of the latest season of Dexter.

New York City residents can sat least keep watching WCBS by signing up for Aereo, which streams local stations over the Internet. A 30-day free trial is available. Getting programming in other cities is going to be much tougher. Some predict hardcore viewers will just look for pirated copies of their favorite shows.

CBS said no further negotiation took place over the weekend. Some industry analysts predict the impasse could run for weeks, even potentially until the start of football season — considered a line of PR destruction neither company is willing to cross.

Golf is not as critical, apparently. The PGA Championship taking place in Rochester, N.Y., this weekend is likely going to get a smaller viewing audience because of the blocked programming.

[flv width=”640″ height=”380″]http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Bloomberg CBS Blackout Enters Third Day 8-5-13.flv[/flv]

The blackout of CBS programming by Time Warner Cable enters its third day with no light at the end of the tunnel, suggests this Bloomberg News report. (3 minutes)

[flv width=”640″ height=”380″]http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Bloomberg Day Three of CBS Blackout Angers Audiences 8-5-13.flv[/flv]

This is not the first time broadcasters and cable operators have cut viewers off, sometimes for more than a week. Bloomberg News reports the soft deadline for Time Warner and CBS to sort out their differences is the start of the fall football season. Sources say Time Warner now pays $1 a month for CBS, but the network now wants $2 a month. (3 minutes)

Time Warner Cable Officially Unveils 15Mbps Speed Increase; Some Markets Just Getting DOCSIS 3

Phillip Dampier December 6, 2012 Broadband Speed, Consumer News, Earthlink 5 Comments

Although “soft-launched” several weeks ago in many markets, Time Warner Cable has officially unveiled its holiday gift for 2012: a free 50% speed increase for Standard tier customers: 15/1Mbps service.

The speed increase is now complete across New York, New Jersey, New England, the Carolinas, Virginia and Alabama. Customers can activate the higher speed by briefly unplugging their cable modem for 10 seconds, plugging the cord back in, and in some cases rebooting their computer.

Customers outside of these areas can try this as well. Stop the Cap! has received reports from readers in the midwest, Texas, and California that the speed increase has arrived in their areas as well. All Time Warner Cable systems across the country should be providing the new speed by the end of this month.

Earthlink customers using Time Warner Cable should also see an identical speed increase.

Some Time Warner Cable customers are only now getting upgrades to DOCSIS 3 service, which open the door to 30/5 and 50/5Mbps speed tiers. The latest: Binghamton, N.Y. and surrounding southern tier communities. Customers further upstate have had that option for 1-2 years.

Bright House/Time Warner Customers: Switch to Earthlink to Avoid Modem Rental Fee

Phillip Dampier November 5, 2012 Competition, Consumer News, Data Caps, Earthlink 6 Comments

Time Warner Cable customers irritated by the cable operator’s new $3.95 monthly modem rental fee who do not want to pay premium prices for a purchased modem can enjoy the benefits of a loophole by ordering broadband service from Earthlink, which offers nearly identical performance over Time Warner’s cable broadband network and currently charges no modem rental fees.

Earthlink has maintained a third party agreement to provide its service over Time Warner Cable for more than a decade, and the company’s service operates transparently over your existing Time Warner Cable connection and equipment. In our own tests, we found Earthlink’s service identical to Time Warner Cable with two exceptions:

  1. Earthlink does not provide Time Warner’s “Speedboost” technology which delivers slightly faster service for the first few seconds of a large file transfer;
  2. You will receive an Earthlink e-mail address and forfeit your existing Time Warner Cable e-mail account.

The current promotional offers:

  • Up to 768 Kbps service: $29.95/month
  • Up to 6.0-10.0 Mbps service: $29.95/month for first 6 months; $41.95/month thereafter
  • Up to 10.0-15.0 Mbps service: $39.90/month for first 6 months; $51.90/month thereafter
  • Standard installation fee varies by region.
  • Term Commitment (contract): None (no contract required)

Despite information on Earthlink’s website, the upload/download speeds on offer are identical to what Time Warner Cable or Bright House sells for their Standard or Turbo services in your area. After six months, you can purchase your own modem and return to Bright House or Time Warner Cable on a New Customer promotion and further extend your savings.

We found Earthlink’s online service qualifier not always accurate. For example, we found service at Stop the Cap! HQ “unavailable,” even though an address a few doors down qualified for service. We also discovered Earthlink heavily promotes its more expensive 15Mbps option, ignoring the less expensive 10Mbps service, even though both are available.

No matter. You can skip the hassle and just call your local Time Warner Cable office, which will process your order for Earthlink instantly over the phone. You do not need a new modem — a simple billing change on Time Warner Cable’s computer system is all that is required to switch providers. Earthlink will be billed on your Time Warner Cable bill.

Be aware that switching to Earthlink could effect any double-play or triple-play packages you signed up for earlier. Ask your TWC representative if there are any unintended pricing consequences for changing Internet providers. If there are, let them know you are switching to save money and ask if TWC can offer any competing retention offers to match the price. You may find Time Warner amenable to keeping your business and lowering your price.

There is no long term guarantee Time Warner won’t force Earthlink to charge an identical modem rental fee in the near future, but at least you can avoid paying it now until the authorized modems on Time Warner’s list come down in price.

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  • Todd: If the fine print is that bad, it's just as bad as Spectrum's $14.99 Internet Assist. They offer it, but no one can actually qualify to get it. It s...
  • Mike W.: They are not doing the right thing by any means. This is simply a PR stunt to make them look good to everyone who doesn't realize this is a BS progra...
  • Dylan: I better be getting 200mbps instead of 100 soon then if I do get a increase from $55 to $60 for bundle internet services. I understand the investments...
  • Charles Dennett: Just looked at my bill dated October 14. I'm in the Rochester, NY market. I have Spectrum TV select ($64.99/month), DVR Service ($12.99/month) and 10...
  • Gale Blue: It’s sounds good until u paid ur money and then u get an email saying they need additional info smh I am a mother who lives wit my daughter and the ca...
  • Victor Bosnich: Have been trying to return this junk and get my refund of $100+ for months, finally had chat with technician, told him situation, he sent me to next p...
  • Jr: Can I still use the same wifi router they gave me? I'm going to get the Netgear but it says I need a router to get WiFi so what do I do?...
  • RJ: I get great service from Charter with Internet. Their upload speed sucks so they need to upgrade, innovate and get Full duplex going. I'd love to have...
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  • fhall1: The PSC should also make a point of extending other "conditions" that were agreed to as part of the TWC buyout. For example - data caps. Spectrum ag...
  • Frontier Employee: I am a current Frontier Employee and I can promise you that the company's lack of concern for those less fortunate does not solely reside with its cus...
  • JayS: The MVNO US Mobile has just changed their 'Unlimited talk & Text + data plans' similar to what you have indicated. The Unlimited Talk & Text ...

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