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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.”

Drahi Readies His Next Move: “If I Buy Five Smaller Cable Companies, I Am as Big as Time Warner Cable”

Drahi

Drahi

Patrick Drahi, the billionaire ruthless cost-cutting owner of Altice SA told a French parliamentary hearing he didn’t go ahead with a serious bid for Time Warner Cable because he lacked enough management talent to run a huge cable company in a country he only recently entered.

“I didn’t follow up on the exchanges we had on Time Warner Cable that were mentioned in the media because we were not ready,” Drahi told a French parliamentary hearing on Wednesday.

Drahi testified French-owned banks were ready to help finance a deal that would have stolen Time Warner Cable away from Charter Communications. Instead, Drahi has decided to spend a little time digesting his acquisition of Suddenlink to gain experience in the U.S. cable market before he moves on other cable operators. Drahi believes he will be the only buyer left to cut major cable consolidation deals.

“Time is on our side” for the U.S. expansion,” Drahi said. “The two leaders Comcast and Charter will not be able to buy anything else because of their size so we will have an open boulevard ahead of us. If I buy five small operators, I can be as big as Time Warner Cable.”

The five most-likely cable operators Drahi will pursue, according to a business editor at RFI, the French overseas broadcaster: Cablevision, Cox, Mediacom, WOW!, and Cable One. Cox and Mediacom are privately held and Cablevision is tightly controlled by its founding Dolan family, so Drahi will likely have to sweeten deals to convince all three to sell.

Reuters reports Drahi is especially interested in the smaller, less profitable operators because they are ripe for his brand of cost management and consolidation-related savings.

“Even better, that means we will have room to improve them,” Drahi said.

Drahi remained enthusiastic about Cablevision, despite the fact it serves one of the most competitive markets blanketed by Verizon FiOS in the United States.

“It’s good actually since it means they know how to compete,” Drahi said.

Drahi’s reputation is well-known in Europe based on his earlier acquisitions. Altice favors telecom and cable companies seen as poorly managed or undervalued which Drahi targets for massive cost-slashing to improve profitability. The investments he does make are largely to benefit high-end customers he values the most.

Bright House, Time Warner Cable, and Mediacom Customers Get Expanded TV Everywhere

Phillip Dampier August 14, 2014 BH (See Charter), Consumer News, Mediacom, Online Video, TWC (see Charter) Comments Off on Bright House, Time Warner Cable, and Mediacom Customers Get Expanded TV Everywhere

NBC_Universal.svgThree cable operators have announced additions to their TV Everywhere services that let cable television subscribers stream certain cable networks from home computers and portable wireless devices.

Time Warner and Bright House are inching towards making their apps more useful with new deals that will allow viewing outside of the home. Unsurprisingly, Time Warner has managed to sign a deal with their potential new owner — Comcast/NBCUniversal —  that includes anywhere-viewing of live and on demand content from NBCUniversal’s suite of cable networks including USA Network, Syfy, Telemundo, Bravo, Oxygen, CNBC, MSNBC, mun2, NBC Sports Network, and Golf Channel, as well as local NBC and Telemundo-owned broadcast stations.

Since Time Warner Cable handles cable programming negotiations for Bright House Networks, both customers will receive the enhanced service.

Within the next few days, customers will have access to the NBC Sports Live Extra and Golf Live Extra services via apps on iOS and Android devices, as well as online. Access to the remaining broadcast and cable networks will become available to Time Warner Cable and Bright House customers starting in September, and continuing on an ongoing basis. Customers must verify their subscription to begin watching.

nfl channelUnfortunately, there are only a handful of NBC-owned and operated broadcast stations across both companies’ service areas. In most cases, local affiliate stations are owned and operated by other corporate entities and will not be included in this deal.

Mediacom Communications has expanded its own TV Everywhere package, adding NFL Network and NFL RedZone this week, along with mobile access to FX, FXX, FX Movies, National Geographic and National Geographic Wild.

Mediacom now offers 40 channels for out-of-home viewing and plans to add FOX Sports Go and other popular sports networks by September.

TV Everywhere allows Mediacom customers to always be connected to live entertainment and information,” said Mediacom senior vice president Ed Pardini. “Adding new channels to this service extends the value of a video subscription by giving customers more options to view their favorite programs when and where they want, whether that’s the big screen in living rooms or with the convenience of a mobile device.”

Mediacom customers looking for NFL Network and NFL RedZone on smartphones and tablets must download the free NFL Mobile App by going to the web site. Mediacom is now listed as a participating provider. Customers should log in with their Mediacom email address and username.

Mediacom Boosts Speeds Up to 305Mbps; Upgrades Begin in June

Phillip Dampier April 29, 2014 Broadband Speed, Competition, Consumer News, Mediacom 2 Comments

logo_mediacom_mainMediacom sent Stop the Cap! a press release today indicating it is boosting broadband speeds at no charge for customers starting this June and continuing through the summer months.

  • Prime Plus ($59.95), originally 30/2Mbps will be upgraded to 50/5Mbps in early June;
  • Ultra ($79.95), originally 50/5Mbps will be increased to 100/10Mbps in early June;
  • Ultra Plus ($99.95), formerly 105/10Mbps, increases to 150/20Mbps and will be rolled out to most Mediacom systems over the summer. Upload speeds may initially stay at 10Mbps until the upgrades are complete.

Mediacom is testing 305/10Mbps service in Cedar Rapids, Ia. to compete with CenturyLink. It costs $199.95 a month. Standard Internet service ($49.95) remains unchanged at 15/1Mbps.

“Today, we’re either pulling down data or sending something up,” Mediacom spokeswoman Phyllis Peters said. “People want faster speeds coming down because a lot of people maybe are tapping into things coming down. They want more speed in both directions because they’re sharing video files and higher-bandwidth applications.”

The company said it will be the eighth time in the last 10 years it will have increased Internet speeds, in each case without raising prices.

“We’re doubling our network capacity every 18 months,” Peters said.

 

Verizon FiOS Wins PC Magazine’s ISP Award: “FiOS Is the Absolute Fastest Nationwide Broadband”

fastest isp 2013Verizon FiOS is the fastest nationwide broadband service available.

That was PC Magazine’s assessment in its ranking of the fastest Internet Service Providers of 2013. It’s not the first time Verizon FiOS has taken top honors. In fact, the fiber to the home broadband service has consistently won excellent rankings not only for its speed, but also for its value for money and quality of service. The worst thing about FiOS is that many Verizon customers cannot buy the service because its expansion was curtailed in early 2010.

Verizon FiOS has seen its national speed rankings increase this year. In 2012, the provider’s nationwide download speeds averaged 29.4Mbps; this year FiOS average downstream speeds jumped to 34.5Mbps. Upstream speeds are also up from 26.8Mbps to 31.6Mbps. In part, this is because a growing number of customers have moved away from Verizon’s entry-level 15/5Mbps package with a $10 upgrade to Quantum FiOS 50/25Mbps service. FiOS TV customers can upgrade themselves with their remote control.

Frontier Communications made the top five in the Pacific Northwest, thanks to FiOS infrastructure the company inherited from Verizon.

Other high-ranking ISPs included Midcontinent Communications, a small cable provider serving the north-central states. Midco’s DOCSIS 3 upgrade allows the company to offer most customers up to 100Mbps service. The average download speed for Midco customers is 33.1Mbps; average upload speed is 6.4Mpbs.

Where cable operators face head-on competition from Verizon FiOS, the usual competitive response is speed increases. Cablevision is a good example. It came in fourth place nationally with average speeds of 25.9/5.9Mbps. Comcast has also been boosting speeds, especially in the northeast where it faces the most competition from fiber. It came in third place with average speeds of 27.2/6.8Mbps and offers Internet speeds up to 505Mbps in some areas.

There were companies that performed so poorly, they barely made the regional rankings. The most glaring example largely absent from PC Magazine’s awards: Time Warner Cable, which has lagged behind most cable operators in the speed department. It scored poorly for the second largest cable company in the country, beaten by Charter, Mediacom, and CableONE — which all usually perform abysmally in customer ratings. The only regional contest where Time Warner made a showing at all was in the southeast, where it lost to Verizon FiOS, Comcast, and Charter. Only TDS, an independent phone company, scored worse among the top five down south.

Even more embarrassing results turned up for AT&T U-verse, which performed so bad it did not even make the national rankings. AT&T has promised speed upgrades for customers this year, and has implemented them in several cities. Unfortunately for AT&T, its decision to deploy a fiber to the neighborhood system that still depends on copper to the home is turning out to be penny wise-pound foolish, as it continues to fall further behind its cable and fiber competitors. At the rate its competitors are boosting speeds, U-verse broadband could become as relevant as today’s telephone company ADSL service within the next five years.

Other players scoring low include WOW!, a surprising result since Consumer Reports awarded them top honors for service this year. Also stuck in the mud: Atlantic Broadband (acquired by Canada’s Cogeco Cable, which itself is no award winner), Suddenlink, Wave Broadband and Metrocast, which serves smaller communities in New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Connecticut, South Carolina, Mississippi and Alabama.

The magazine also ranked the fastest U.S. cities, with top honors going to the politically important Washington, D.C., and its nearby suburb Silver Spring, Md, which took first and second place. Alexandria, Va., another D.C. suburb, turned up in eighth place. No cable or phone company wants to be caught delivering poor service to the politicians that can make life difficult for them.

Brooklyn, N.Y., took third place because of head-on competition between Cablevision and Verizon FiOS. Time Warner’s dominance in Manhattan and other boroughs dragged New York City’s speed rankings down below the top ten. Among most of the remaining top ten cities, the most common reason those cities made the list was Verizon FiOS. Florida’s Gulf Coast communities of Bradenton (4th place) and Tampa (6th place) have fiber service. So does Plano, Tex. (5th place) and Long Beach, Calif. (7th place). The other contenders: Hollywood, Fla. takes ninth place and Chandler, Ariz. rounds out the top 10.

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