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

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.

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.

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)

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

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

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.

Trouble Looms for Smaller Phone Companies As Cable Swipes Away Business Customers

Phillip Dampier June 6, 2012 AT&T, CenturyLink, Comcast/Xfinity, Competition, Earthlink, FairPoint, Frontier, Hawaiian Telcom, TWC (see Charter), Verizon Comments Off on Trouble Looms for Smaller Phone Companies As Cable Swipes Away Business Customers

The cable industry is moving in on the phone companies' best customers: commercial enterprises

The growing competitiveness of the cable industry in the commercial services sector could spell trouble for some of the nation’s smaller telecommunications companies.

A new report from Moody’s Investor Service declares the cable industry is spoiling the business plans of telephone companies to grow revenue selling service to business customers.

With cable companies now investing in wiring office parks and downtown buildings to sell packages of voice and data services to corporate customers, traditional phone company revenue will suffer, declares Moody, which predicts traditional wireline revenue will be flat or decrease this year into next.

Cable Companies Quash Telecom Business-Revenue Rebound,” warns the companies at the greatest risk of revenue declines include EarthLink, Inc., Integra Telecom, Inc., U.S. TelePacific Corp., and CCGI Holding Corp. Among familiar independent phone companies, Frontier Communications, FairPoint Communications, and Hawaiian Telcom are at the biggest risk of losing customers, primarily because all three lack strong business products, according to the Moody’s report.

AT&T, CenturyLink, and Verizon are at a lower risk of losing customers, because all three focus investments on commercial services. CenturyLink’s acquisition of Qwest, a  former Baby Bell, strengthened its business services position, especially in the Pacific Northwest.

The cable companies best positioned to steal away telephone company customers are Comcast and Time Warner Cable, both of which have invested heavily in wiring commercial businesses for service. In the past, cable operators charged thousands (sometimes tens of thousands) of dollars to install service in unwired commercial buildings, but now that initial wiring investment is increasingly being covered by cable operators.

Moody’s declares the business service sector a growth industry for cable. The report notes business revenues only account for $5 billion — just six percent — of the cable industry’s total business in 2011. In contrast, phone companies earn 40 percent of their revenue from business customers.

The report also states individual cable companies are now collaborating to deliver business service to companies with multiple service locations, which used to present a problem when offices were located in territories served by different operators.

If the cable industry continues to erode traditional telephone company revenue, it could eventually threaten the viability of some companies, especially those heavily-laden with acquisition-related debt.

An Unsolicited Testimonial: Stop the Cap! Saved Us Over $20 A Month on Our Cable Bill

These kinds of testimonials help fuel our fight on behalf of consumers for better (and cheaper) broadband:

Hi Guys,

I don’t usually take the time to write thank you’s, but I found your site the other day and managed to save over $20 on my cable bill by switching to ”Earthlink” which I had no idea was possible. When I signed up with Bright House I was promised the $45 a month price for standard Internet, but I signed up a day before their prices jumped to $50. I managed to fight to get my price down for $45, but all of a sudden that stopped and they were refusing to give me the price I signed up for, for the remainder of the year. Due to that, I switched to the Earthlink promo prices and got Bright House to switch me over. They tried to lie to me on the phone to make me think I couldn’t get the Earthlink promo pricing, but I won the argument and am now very happy.

In six months, I’ll try to switch back to Road Runner and get their promo prices.

This is such a hidden unknown gem and has saved my family lots of money. Thank you!

— Scott

Thanks Scott.  Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks have Earthlink as a hidden little secret most customers know nothing about.  It’s an arrangement that started way back in 2001 with the now-long-forgotten (and broken up) merger between AOL and Time Warner.  A voluntary agreement to allow third party ISPs to sell broadband service over Time Warner Cable has been ongoing ever since, even though customers would routinely find Earthlink’s regular prices not so exciting, if they found them at all.

The Earthlink savings are best realized for broadband-only customers who do not want to get tied down with a double or triple-play package from their cable company.  Both Time Warner Cable and Bright House charge considerably higher prices for standalone broadband service.  It’s part of a marketing tactic to convince you better savings are possible with a bundled service package.  But if you don’t care about the phone line or cable TV, why pay for either?

For every third-party ISP we’ve encountered reselling service on Time Warner Cable or Bright House, it seems mostly an exercise in branding.  For example, Earthlink’s standard and “turbo” products are totally identical to Road Runner offered by both cable companies, with two important distinctions:

  • You do not get the benefit of SpeedBoost, a temporary speed increase during the first few seconds of a file transfer;
  • You are assigned an Earthlink e-mail address, not one from Bright House or Time Warner Cable.

In fact, Earthlink as a company seems to be running mostly on auto-pilot these days.  We found their website woefully outdated, still selling speeds upgraded several years ago. If Bright House locally sells 10/1Mbps standard Road Runner service and Earthlink offers 7Mbps with a 384kbps upload speed, you will actually get 10/1Mbps from Earthlink as well.  The only difference is the name of the service as it appears on your monthly Time Warner Cable or Bright House bill.  Both cable companies literally just select Earthlink from a drop-down menu on the customer service computer screen.  All service calls and billing are handled by the cable companies.  If you need technical support, however, it will come from an overseas call center or online “chat” platform Earthlink runs.  But Earthlink includes something Time Warner Cable and Bright House customers lost several years ago — up to 20 hours a month of free dial-up usage when away from home.

After the Six Month Promotion….

Earthlink charges $29.99 a month for speeds that are identical to Time Warner Cable or Bright House’s Road Runner Standard service.  In most areas this is or will soon be 10/1Mbps.  Turbo, which usually increases speeds to 15/1Mbps, costs another $10 a month.  These promotional prices are good for six months.

When the six months are up, you are then qualified to participate in whatever New Customer Promotions Time Warner and Bright House are running for their broadband service.  We are commonly seeing offers of $29.99 a month for a year of standard Road Runner service in upstate New York, with occasional offers of a year of free Road Runner Turbo service thrown in.  Assuming those prices remain in effect, you should be able to secure at least 1.5 years of broadband service for $30 a month.  Remember, if your cable company charges you a modem rental fee, consider investing in your own to save that additional charge.  They are priced well under $100.

When your six months of Earthlink and a year of Time Warner/Bright House promotional pricing is up, simply threaten to take your business elsewhere, and you will usually find them willing to extend the promotion for an additional year.  If not, schedule a cancellation date two weeks out and wait for an inevitable phone call from the customer retentions department with a special “winback” offer.

Also remember you can always start new service under the name of a spouse or family member.  Third party resellers (Google “Time Warner Cable “and pay attention to the online ads) may even throw in a prepaid rebate card for signing up for service through them, so shop around when the promotions expire.

These shopping tips may apply to other cable broadband providers as well.  Remember, if your local phone company is now providing more than traditional DSL, most cable companies will go out of their way to hang on to a customer threatening to walk to AT&T U-verse or Verizon FiOS.  Let them fight to keep you as a customer, and you keep the savings.

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  • Bob: Shame it's not in Lynchburg, va. I just dumped Verizon's fixed location service called Homefusion (lte installed). It was $90 a month for a 20 gigs of...
  • Lori Palmer: I just called time warner/spectrum and was specifically told $69.99 is the lowest tier package available. I live in NYS. They did confirm you only nee...
  • L Nova: Verizon is waiting for Frontier to recover from the bungled CTF acquisition to sell off the remaining unwanted wireline in the remaining states the te...
  • Paul Houle: Upstate NY has cities that are too far apart for everyone to be covered, but close enough that the stations argue over who has what turf. Utica is l...
  • Willie: Yep. I was just thinking. Thanks Google, for screwing over Buffalo, Syracuse and Rochester. The other streaming services seemed to be ignoring upstate...
  • FredH: So - what's the matter with New York state?...
  • xnappo: Man. Really starting to wish we hadn't complained about Comcast buying TWC. Charter/Spectrum are so so so much worse....
  • L. Nova: That's the point. Verizon & AT&T want OUT of the landline business by 2020. That's why they are waiting for Frontier to recover from the mass...
  • BobInIllinois: This incident goes to show that even Manhattan hipsters cannot get Verizon to care about fixing POTS/DSL/Copper problems....
  • L Nova: Frontier's stock has remained stable the last few weeks since their 15-to-1 reverse stock split. I see another wireline buyout from Verizon coming in ...
  • Shaun: I think it is more like, "Are they going to expand Fios?" Here, they just plainly flat out refused to do it, so, velocity said, if they won't, we will...
  • Phillip Dampier: From the looks of it, they vastly oversell their broadband service and lack adequate capacity to support their advertised speeds. So you buy 150Mbps w...

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