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Hawaiian Telcom Wins Franchise to Provide Video Competition to Oceanic Cable

Phillip Dampier June 28, 2011 Competition, Hawaiian Telcom, Video 1 Comment

Hawaiian Telcom on Friday won a 15-year non-exclusive franchise to develop and market cable television service on the island of Oahu.

The telephone company will be the first major competitor to Oceanic Cable in at least a decade, at least where HawTel plans to provide service.

“We are very pleased to have reached this important milestone in the development of our exciting new video service and will have more details to share about our plans in the next several weeks,” said spokeswoman Ann Nishida Fry.

Many HawTel-watchers predict the phone company will choose an IPTV platform over a hybrid fiber-copper network to support the service, much like AT&T’s U-verse.  HawTel plans a gradual rollout as neighborhoods are “upgraded” to support the service.

Oceanic Cable president Bob Barlow said he wasn’t too concerned with HawTel’s entry into the market.  He told the Hawaiian Star-Advertiser customers should not expect any dramatic savings or price cuts.

“Most of our customers don’t bundle services, and more than 60 percent of our video costs come from programming,” he said.

Barlow expects the fiercest level of competition will come from who delivers the best customer service.

KHON-TV in Honolulu leads their newscast with HawTel’s approval for a cable television franchise on Oahu.  (2 minutes)

Why Verizon’s LTE/4G Network Will Never Replace Cable/DSL Broadband: Usage Caps

Lynch

Verizon’s ambitions to provide 285 million people with the option of ditching their cable or DSL broadband account for its new LTE/4G wireless network is a dream that will never come true with the company’s wireless Internet Overcharging schemes.  With a usage cap of 5-10GB per month and a premium price, only the most casual user is going to give up their landline cable or DSL service for Verizon’s wireless alternative.

Dick Lynch, executive vice president and chief technology officer at Verizon spoke highly of Verizon’s new next generation wireless network as a perfect platform to deliver broadband service to landline customers, including many of those the company sold off to Hawaiian Telcom, FairPoint Communications, or Frontier.

“[LTE] provides a real opportunity for the first time to give a fixed customer in a home, broadband service — wireless — but broadband service,” Lynch said. “In wireless, I see a great opportunity within the LTE plans we have to begin to service the customers who don’t have broadband today … They will be able to have mobile LTE and also to be able to have fixed broadband.”

Unfortunately, Verizon’s LTE network comes with usage limits and a premium price — $50 a month for 5GB or $80 a month for 10GB.  At those prices, rural America will have two bad choices — super slow 1-3Mbps DSL ($30-60) with allowances ranging from 100GB-unlimited or LTE’s 5-12Mbps (assuming the local cell tower is not overloaded with users) with a usage cap that guarantees online video will come at a per-view cost rivaling a matinee movie ticket.

Still, Verizon is likely to test market the service as a home broadband replacement, particularly in territories they no longer serve.  Verizon has done much the same thing pitching a home phone replacement product that works with their wireless network to residents of Rochester, N.Y., and the state of Connecticut, neither currently served with landlines from Verizon.

Despite the pricing and cap challenges, Deutsche Bank — one of the Wall Street players that follows Verizon — thinks the company’s DSL-replacement has merit, if:

  1. If you are a regular traveler that needs a wireless broadband service anyway;
  2. You use broadband exclusively for web browsing, e-mail, and very occasional multimedia access;
  3. You are wealthy enough not to care about the overlimit penalty.

For everyone else, sticking with traditional DSL service will continue to be the most affordable option, assuming usage caps are kept at bay.  Where available, cable broadband service from companies that serve smaller communities, including Comcast Cable, Time Warner Cable, and Cablevision, among others, will probably continue to deliver the most bang for the buck in rural America.

 

Hawaiian Telcom Phone Lines and DSL Broadband Go Dead For Days Because It Rained

Phillip Dampier December 27, 2010 Consumer News, Hawaiian Telcom, Video Comments Off on Hawaiian Telcom Phone Lines and DSL Broadband Go Dead For Days Because It Rained

Hawaiian residential and business customers relying on Hawaiian Telcom for phone and broadband service are not impressed with the phone company’s performance after rain disrupted scores of phone lines around the islands.  Some customers are reporting service outages extending for days as the company tries to cope with wet phone lines.

Hawaiian Telcom, which emerged from bankruptcy in October, has been trying to keep the Verizon landline network it bought in 2005 in working order, but heavy rains can create major problems for the phone company.

The outages started on Oahu two weeks ago, but yesterday’s heavy rains exponentially increased the number of customers with no service.

Businesses reported heavy static on their landlines, if they had service at all.  Many found processing credit card transactions an ordeal, often switching to manual methods to gain credit card approvals or requiring cash for purchases.

Hawaiian Telcom told Hawaii’s KITV-TV the prolonged wet weather caused water to seep into its cables and in some cases is short-circuiting them. The solution is either to replace the lines or to allow enough time for the cables to dry out.

So far, the phone company is taking a wait-and-let-dry approach.  Unfortunately, additional heavy rains are expected to impact the islands this week.

Hawaiian Telcom is providing service credits for the outages and is assisting area businesses by offering to automatically forward incoming calls to working numbers, including cell phones.

When the rains stop, some businesses may consider whether traditional landline service is the best choice for reliability.

“It’s a safe bet we’ll have a cellular account with wireless broadband to run credit cards in the future to cover these kinds of events,” reports Stop the Cap! reader Sam, who runs a convenience store on Oahu.  “I understand relentless rain can cause problems, but we are on day six with no service in our strip mall.”

Sam is currently relying on his personal cell phone to take business calls, but hasn’t been able to accept credit cards since the outage began.

KITV-TV in Honolulu covered the ongoing phone outages afflicting Hawaiian Telcom customers, especially on Oahu.  (2 minutes)

Hawaiian Telcom Union Employees Get Theirs: Workers Finally Get Promised Performance Compensation

Phillip Dampier April 8, 2010 Hawaiian Telcom Comments Off on Hawaiian Telcom Union Employees Get Theirs: Workers Finally Get Promised Performance Compensation

Typically, when a telecommunications company gets itself into a financial bind, large numbers of  office workers and technicians are shoved out the door, while senior management gets retention bonuses and special compensation packages if they can bail the company out of the mess they often created.

This time around, 845 employees of Hawaiian Telcom, the bankrupt Verizon spinoff purchased by The Carlyle Group, are getting promised compensation for meeting performance targets.  What makes them so special?  They are all members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which collectively bargained a contract that included provisions no individual employee would ever get… unless they were senior management.

“The union has fought hard, and will continue to work hard, to improve the quality of life for the working men and women of IBEW Local Union 1357. We will do this by continuing to fight for job security, by continuing to negotiate better contracts, by continuing to give the members a voice in the workplace, and continuing to make sure that every employee has a safe, healthy work environment,” writes Scot Long, Business Manager for IBEW Local Union 1357.

Long

The Bankruptcy Court approved the $8.5 million package, which will be distributed to the unionized employees.

Seem like a lot?  Consider Hawaiian Telcom’s board of directors approved a financial incentive plan for 20 of its top executives for up to $2.3 million in retention bonuses and other benefits.  The executives were eligible for amounts ranging from $57,000 to $2.3 million, if the company met certain earning and revenue targets.  A few months later, the company decided that was too little and was back asking for even more for the top-20 executives who steered the company straight into bankruptcy in December 2008.

As the company moves to emerge from bankruptcy, Hawaiian Telcom also today announced it would be going public, hoping it will help the company become stronger and more competitive.  The company promises to have a new board of directors in place as part of the restructuring.

As part of the process to emerge from bankruptcy, Hawaiian Telcom is going public.

In a statement, the Hawaiian Telcom CEO said he hoped the move toward being publicly traded will help the company be stronger and more competitive.

As a part of the restructuring, there will also be a new board of directors.

Hawaiian Telcom filed for Chapter 11 protection in December 2008.

Vandals Cut Major Hawaiian Telcom Cable in Waipahu Cutting Off 1,100 Customers from Phone, Internet Service

Phillip Dampier April 8, 2010 Consumer News, Hawaiian Telcom, Video 1 Comment

Waipahu, Hawaii

At least 1,100 Hawaiian Telcom customers were left without service Sunday when vandals cut a cable providing the community northwest of Honolulu with phone and broadband service.

“Sunday night we learned that two of our cables in the Waipahu area had been cut in several places,” said Hawaiian Telcom’s Ann Nishida.

It took nearly three days to restore service to every affected customer because each cable required splicing 3,600 individual copper wires back together.  The company says all 1,100 customers had service as of 1:00pm Wednesday afternoon.

Vandals sliced apart this cable. (Courtesy: Hawaiian Telcom)

Customers reported experiencing no dial tone and having no access to the Internet.

Even as service restoration work was underway, several residents reported broadband service remained intermittent until the repairs were completed Wednesday.

Although HawTel claims vandalism to their lines is uncommon, residents in Waipahu say vandals have struck repeatedly in the community, especially when street lights aren’t working in the neighborhood.

Customers subjected to the outage should contact HawTel customer service to verify a credit for the lost day(s) of service appears on their next bill.

The company filed a police report and asked Waipahu residents who may have witnessed the vandalism to report it to local authorities.

Hawaii has had several disruptions in phone service, the most recent happening in February when a damaged AT&T fiber cable cut off long distance service to HawTel and T-Mobile customers.

KHON-TV Honolulu reports many Waipahu customers are going for the third day without phone or Internet service.  (2 minutes)

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