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Mediacom Touts Gig Speeds But Also Acknowledges Low Scores

While Mediacom introduces gigabit speeds to a growing number of their customers, it also acknowledges it has one of the worst customer satisfaction scores of any cable company in the country.

Company officials were in the Quad-Cities of northwest Illinois and southeastern Iowa to speak about 1,000Mbps service introduced earlier this year for its 92,000 customers in the area, according to an article in the Dispatch-Argus.

“No where else in the country has this much broadband capability,” said Phyllis Peters, director of communications for the north central division of Mediacom. “You can live in Port Byron or Ottawa or down the road in Marion or Carbondale, and you’re using the same amount of bandwidth. You have just as much demand and need for bandwidth as if you were living in Austin, Texas.”

To support the expansion, the company added nearly 30 miles of additional fiber capacity to support the faster internet speeds. But so far, fewer than 250 customers in the area have upgraded to gigabit speeds. Most seem content with paying less for slower speeds, but that does not mean customers are not using their internet connections.

“We’ve been looking at an internet business that has been growing,” said J.R. Walden, senior vice president of technology and chief technology officer for Mediacom. “The bandwidth is growing at as much as 65 percent a year for close to 20 years. It means we have to double the size of the network every 18 months.”

Walden

Walden claims that once gigabit speed is embraced by a larger number of their customers, they will contemplate another upgrade to 10Gbps speeds.

Along with faster wired internet, Mediacom has also been installing Wi-Fi hotspots for its customers. XStream Wi-Fi is available to non-customers for a 30-minute trial or unlimited use during certain special events. Mediacom’s broadband customers get free unlimited access by logging in with their Mediacom username and password.

The cable company has 249 Wi-Fi hotspots in Moline, Rock Island, East Moline, Silvis, Davenport and Bettendorf, mostly in business districts or around event venues. Mediacom customers can also use their credentials to access Wi-Fi from other nearby cable operator-operated hotspots, notably those belonging to Comcast, which dominates in Illinois.

The cable company has also been promoting its internet program for the income-challenged. Connect2Compete is a $9.95-a-month internet service for families with at least one student in kindergarten through 12th grade who qualifies for the federal school lunch program. But like most cable companies, Mediacom’s first interest is to protect its own revenue, so it excludes current customers from enrolling if they already scrape enough money together to pay for regular broadband service or who have a past-due balance or unreturned equipment from an old disconnected account.

The American Consumer Satisfaction Index rates Mediacom dead last in 2017.

That is one of the many reasons Mediacom’s customers dislike the company. It perennially scores dead last among all the nation’s cable operators in Consumer Reports’ annual surveys. The Better Business Bureau has also documented multiple bad reviews and KWQC-TV in Moline reports Mediacom’s internet service is notorious for its repeated outages:

JoEllen Seibel said she’s used the company for internet for the last 8 years and has had little to no connection for the last four months.

“It’s all day long, all day long we get no reception.”

Seibel said technicians have come to her house multiple times to fix the problem but is still without service.

“It makes me frustrated if something is really going on on their end that’s what they need to tell their customers or something instead of just sending someone out.”

Nathan, another Mediacom customer, complained to the Better Business Bureau his internet service is completely unreliable.

“As much as I was excited about our internet speeds, they are never persistent. Internet goes out at least ten times a day,” he told the BBB.

Glendon adds Mediacom advertises fast internet speeds it cannot reliably provide its customers.

“I subscribe to 150/30Mbps internet. I rarely get 150 down, usually 50-60, and during peak [usage periods], [speeds drop] into the teens,” he complains, noting things have not improved despite multiple technician visits and a manager’s intervention.

“Very incompetent company that doesn’t seem to care if they’re billing you for a service they can’t provide,” is Glendon’s conclusion.

“We’re not unaware that some of the customer satisfaction scores put out by third-party organizations have had us on the lower end and we think we can do better and to some extent deserve a better score and we’ve been working on that,” Walden told the TV station.

As Expected, Altice’s IPO Raising Money for Possible Cox, Mediacom Acquisitions

Altice USA today revealed the terms of its long-expected initial public offering likely to bring more than a billion dollars to the company’s merger and acquisition fund that many Wall Street analysts now expect will be spent to acquire privately held Cox Communications and/or Mediacom.

Cox has long claimed it is not for sale. But Altice founder Patrick Drahi has a history of being willing to overpay for the companies he covets, including Cablevision, which was a reluctant seller for at least a decade before Altice made an offer the Dolan family that founded Cablevision couldn’t refuse.

Telsey Group analyst Tom Eagan told his Wall Street clients he expected Altice would be “active” in American cable consolidation, with Cox and Mediacom systems being likely targets. Other analysts have downplayed potential interest in Cable ONE, another likely target, because of the company’s recent aggressive rate increases and the fact its systems are often in economically depressed areas. An acquisition of Cox and/or Mediacom would make Altice the third largest cable company in the country, but it would still be far behind Comcast and Charter Communications, which hold first and second place respectively.

Any acquisition would likely not get much scrutiny on the federal level by the FCC and Justice Department, and most states would likely give the deal only a perfunctory review before approving it.

Altice USA has applied to be listed as “ATUS” on the New York Stock Exchange.

Mediacom Promises $1 Billion Investment in Broadband Upgrades

logo_mediacom_mainMediacom, perennially rated America’s dead-last cable company by Consumer Reports’ annual subscriber surveys, will invest $1 billion over the next three years to combat increasing competition from AT&T and other telephone companies by improving its broadband service.

The chief goal of the upgrades is to introduce gigabit broadband speeds for nearly all of Mediacom’s three million customers across 22 states. The initiative, dubbed Project Gigabit, will require Mediacom to push fiber closer to customers and businesses and will depend largely on DOCSIS 3.1 technology.

Mediacom is already providing gigabit service in several communities in Missouri, including Jefferson City, where it sells 1,000/50Mbps service for $149.99 per month, with discounts available to customers bundling it with other services. Mediacom has placed a data cap on its gigabit tier of 6TB a month, with an overlimit fee of $10 per 50GB. The Missouri systems bond 32 downstream channels using DOCSIS 3.0 technology, and customers report speed test results averaging 980/60Mbps. In other areas, many Mediacom systems will be upgraded to DOCSIS 3.1 service as part of the gigabit rollout.

Mediacom gigabit

“From the time we acquired our first cable system in March 1996, Mediacom’s focus has always been to offer the smaller communities we serve the same communications and video services that are available in America’s largest cities,” said Mediacom’s founder and CEO, Rocco B. Commisso. “Project Gigabit will allow us to go even further by giving our customers access to one of the fastest broadband networks in the world.”

In addition to speed upgrades, Mediacom also plans:

  • Expansion of Mediacom Business’s high-capacity network inside downtown areas and commercial districts to create more “lit buildings” within the company’s footprint and bring tens of thousands of new business customers on-net with immediate access to fiber-based communications services;
  • Extension of Mediacom’s deep-fiber residential video, Internet and phone network to pass at least an additional 50,000 homes;
  • Deployment of community Wi-Fi access points throughout high-traffic commercial and public areas across Mediacom’s national footprint.
mediacom rating

Consumer Reports subscriber survey results for Mediacom

Customers hope the service improvements might finally lift Mediacom out of last place in consumer satisfaction scores, a rating it has maintained for several years.

Mediacom caps its Internet service and penalizes customers with a $10 per 50GB overlimit fee.

Mediacom caps its Internet service and penalizes customers with a $10 per 50GB overlimit fee.

Media General Yanks 16 Of Its TV Stations Off Mediacom Cable Systems Nationwide

Phillip Dampier July 15, 2015 Consumer News, Mediacom, Public Policy & Gov't 1 Comment

media generalMediacom subscribers in 15 cities lost 16 Media General-owned over the air stations from the cable lineup in a retransmission consent dispute just as a Major League Baseball All-Star Game to be shown on some of them was about to get underway.

Most of the stations are in smaller cities served by Mediacom and include:

  • Alabama: WIAT (CBS) Birmingham, WFNA (CW) Mobile
  • California: KRON (CW) San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose
  • Indiana: WANE (CBS) Fort Wayne, WTHI (CBS) Terre Haute
  • Kansas: KSNT (NBC) Topeka, KTMJ Topeka, KSNW (NBC) Wichita-Hutchison
  • Iowa: KWQC (NBC) Davenport,  KIMT (CBS/My Network TV) Mason City
  • Michigan: WOTV (ABC) Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, WOOD (NBC) Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek
  • South Dakota: KELO (CBS/My Network TV) Sioux Falls
  • Tennessee: WKRN (ABC) Nashville
  • Virginia: WAVY (NBC) Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, WVBT Norfolk
  • Wisconsin: WBAY (ABC) Green Bay-Appleton

logo_mediacom_mainMediacom claims Media General was seeking excessive compensation to renew its carriage agreement with the television stations. Customers were told in a letter signed by Tom Curtis that some stations were demanding more than double the old rate to renew the contract.

“Not only was Media General demanding more than double the money, the price they set for KWQC [in Davenport, Iowa] was significantly more than any other broadcast station we carry,” Curtis wrote. “If we agreed to Media General’s demands, KWQC would have become the most expensive broadcast channel in all of the 1,500 communities that Mediacom serves across 22 states. Further, other broadcasters would follow and begin demanding to be paid the same as Media General, driving up costs for other channels on your lineup.”

This is the second time in four years customers have lost the stations. When LIN Media owned several of the outlets in 2011, it refused cable carriage for more than a month over a similar dispute.

Mediacom is America’s Worst Cable Operator (Again) in Consumer Reports Survey

Phillip Dampier June 2, 2015 Broadband Speed, Consumer News, Mediacom, Rural Broadband Comments Off on Mediacom is America’s Worst Cable Operator (Again) in Consumer Reports Survey

logo_mediacom_main“Dealing with Mediacom is like stepping on a mound of fire ants,” says June Watts, a Mediacom customer in Alabama. “You are going to get stung no matter what you do.”

Watts is one of many unhappy Mediacom customers that once again bottom-rated the cable company into last place in Consumer Reports annual survey of telecommunications providers. In every case, Mediacom scored the worst or nearly the worst on bundled services, Internet, phone, television, service quality, and pricing.

“Missing channels, stuck channels, inconsistent Internet speeds, Internet and phone outages, boxes that won’t stay authorized, and wait times up to 45 minutes to get them on the phone are all part of my experience with them,” Watts tells Stop the Cap! “It never gets better because once they fix one thing something else breaks.”

skunkMediacom’s customer service forums offer some clues about what makes Mediacom such a problem for its customers. “Cyberpunk 1161” pays for 100/20Mbps service but is lucky to get 10% of that speed on a good day. He started corresponding about his speed issues with Mediacom’s social media team on Feb. 19. He is still having issues as of June 2, nearly four months later, and his conversation with Mediacom has now extended to 15 pages. “WhiteBengal50” has already managed three pages of complaints starting on May 18. Another customer spent one year and four months with his cable line left unburied on his lawn.

“They run a poorly maintained operation in mostly rural communities larger companies don’t want to deal with,” said Jerry Butler, a Mediacom customer in Iowa. “They are trying to keep up with larger operators but they have not invested nearly enough in reliability, which alienates customers with regular service outages and ongoing technical issues.”

Butler notes he can buy 100Mbps broadband service from Mediacom, but he won’t actually see 100Mbps speeds because the cable infrastructure between him and the cable office has deteriorated over the years.

“They need new overhead cable on their poles but they won’t spend the money to do it,” Butler said. “Cable operators should be budgeting to replace system components approaching their expected end of life instead of waiting for them to fail. They could also use more monitoring tools to find deteriorating infrastructure and replace it before it fails.”

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