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Midco to Trial Gigabit Broadband in Fargo and Sioux Falls in 2016

Phillip Dampier February 9, 2016 Broadband Speed, Competition, Consumer News, Midco 2 Comments

midcoSome Midco customers in Fargo, N.D. will be able to buy gigabit broadband from the cable operator in a field trial scheduled to start in March.

Midco (formerly Midcontinent Communications) is moving forward on plans to offer gigabit speeds to all 330,000 of its customers in more than 300 communities in Minnesota, North and South Dakota, and Wisconsin by the end of 2017. Launching field trials is the first step for the cable operator to get experience delivering 1,000Mbps service using the newest cable broadband standard – DOCSIS 3.1.

“Speed matters to our customers, and we have made it a priority to reshape our network to deliver the fastest, most reliable Internet service possible,” Jon Pederson, chief technology officer of Midco said in a statement. “Cisco shares our vision for a fully scalable, efficient network that will take us into the future and manage the bandwidth demands of our increasingly connected lives.”

“Midco has been full speed ahead with its plans to deliver a DOCSIS 3.1-ready network,” added Kelly Ahuja from Cisco. “Through our collaboration, Midco customers will be among the first in the country to enjoy the fastest Internet connection available, unleashing a host of new experiences that can help make their lives better.”

Although Cisco will power the gigabit platform, the company has yet to announce what DOCSIS 3.1 modem(s) it intends to supply customers.

After Midco gets initial results from its trial in Fargo, it will roll out a pilot program for gigabit service to customers in Sioux Falls, S.D. before the end of this year.

No pricing details have been announced.

Midcontinent Communications Prepares for Gigabit Speeds and DOCSIS 3.1

Phillip Dampier July 21, 2015 Broadband Speed, Consumer News, Midco Comments Off on Midcontinent Communications Prepares for Gigabit Speeds and DOCSIS 3.1

Midcontinent_logoMidcontinent Communications customers will be able to get gigabit broadband speeds… by the end of 2017.

Midco is waiting for DOCSIS 3.1 to support the fastest broadband speeds instead of dedicating more bandwidth to support 1,000Mbps service under the current DOCSIS 3.0 standard.

The company has started to deploy Cisco’s cBR-8, a new Converged Cable Access Platform that will fully support DOCSIS 3.1 – a more efficient cable broadband standard expected to be deployed by larger cable operators like Comcast beginning next year. The new standard will support speeds up to 10/1Gbps, but most cable systems are expected to offer only a fraction of those speeds.

Midco’s 300,000+ customers in Minnesota, North & South Dakota and Wisconsin already receive speeds up to 200Mbps, and the faster the service offered, the more data used.

“Cisco’s cBR-8 aligns with our strategy and vision to deliver Gigabit-speed Internet experiences that will change the quality of life and spur business innovation in the communities we serve,” said Midcontinent vice president of technology Jon Pederson. “With our customers’ bandwidth consumption doubling every 15 months, we need the right technology in place to support our network demands now and in the future. The unique DOCSIS and Remote PHY capabilities of the cBR-8 will help us meet our commitments for the Midcontinent Gigabit Initiative.”

Midcontinent publishes a promotional and retail price list fully disclosing their pricing, a rarity among cable operators. Midco's broadband tiers have no usage caps.

Midcontinent publishes a promotional and retail price list fully disclosing their pricing, a rarity among cable operators. Midco’s broadband tiers have no usage caps.

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.

ABC Network Putting Video Behind Paywall: Only Paying Cable/U-verse Subscribers Can Watch

WATCH_ABCFree TV? Not quite.

Despite offering free over-the-air television, ABC is putting its programming and stations behind a new paywall that can only be breached by “authenticated” cable and AT&T U-verse subscribers able to prove they already pay to watch.

Watch ABC is the television network’s contribution to the cable industry’s “TV Everywhere” project that offers online viewing options for current cable television subscribers.

Watch ABC now offers on-demand and live viewing of programming aired by the network and six network-owned television stations both at the desktop and through apps for iOS, Android, and the Kindle: New York City’s WABC-TV, Philadelphia’s WPVI, Los Angeles’ KABC, Chicago’s WLS, San Francisco’s KGO, and Raleigh-Durham’s WTVD. (Coming soon: Houston’s KTRK and Fresno’s KFSN.)

During the “online preview,” ABC permitted online viewers within confirmed coverage areas to watch the station nearest them for free. Now, viewers will also have to confirm they are paying cable or AT&T U-verse customers to watch online.

But even then, not everyone will qualify. ABC only has streaming authentication agreements with AT&T U-verse, Cablevision, Charter, Comcast, Cox Communications, and Midcontinent Communications. Watch ABC is currently off-limits to everyone else, including customers of Verizon FiOS, Time Warner Cable, and both satellite services.

ABC has also banned IP addresses known to be associated with anonymous proxy servers. This measure is designed to enforce geographic restrictions to be sure only local viewers can get access to the station in their area.

By this fall, ABC affiliates owned by Hearst are expected to also join Watch ABC’s paywall system.

ABCNews.com announced an experiment with a paywall in the summer of 2010. It never came to fruition.

WPVI in Philadelphia turned over airtime during its evening newscast to self-promote the new ‘Watch ABC’ app and explain how it works. Effective now, it only works with preferred partner cable companies and AT&T U-verse. (Aired: May 14, 2013) (2 minutes)

Midcontinent Communications Completes Acquisition of US Cable in Minnesota, Wisconsin

Phillip Dampier October 10, 2011 Consumer News, Midco, US Cable 1 Comment

One of the country’s smallest cable operations grew a little bigger this month with the acquisition of 113 US Cable-owned systems in rural Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Approximately 33,000 customers in communities like Brewster, Heron Lake, Okabena, and Round Lake will be transitioned from New Jersey-based US Cable to Midcontinent this fall.

They will join over 275,000 Midcontinent customers in North and South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.  US Cable sold the cable systems as the company continues to unwind its partnership with Comcast.

Midcontinent intends to beef up its customer service operations by opening a new call center in West Fargo, N.D.

Eventually, US Cable subscribers will find their Internet services transitioned to Midcontinent, which delivers service over a reasonably advanced hybrid fiber-coaxial network.

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  • JayS: Looks like the era of the CVNO (CableTv Virtual Network Operator) has arrived. MVNO's have been terrific for the Mobile-phone consumer. We now have nu...
  • Gregory Blajian: A quick analysis for my wife and my entertainment situation is below. Getting Starz and MLB Network plus the A&E and Viacom family of channels mig...
  • Elbert Davis: Your last paragraph is exactly why Armstrong Cable cord-cutters cannot have this--200GB a month is all we're allowed to have until we have to pay Arms...
  • ANgela Hill: Did you get anywhere with this? I am about to do the same thing myself. My bill is $170 month, and I cannot do it any longer....
  • Paul A Houle: Frontier is not going to be a competitor. Verizon will sell their copper to Frontier. Frontier can't afford to upgrade their networks but they can a...
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  • Lee: Switched to Earthlink internet and PlayStation Vue and couldnt be happier. How did I not figure this out before?!?!?! Its worth a peek....
  • Disgruntled Employee: I work for this company and this is the most spot-on article I've read about what's truly going on in this company. The guys at the top only care abo...
  • TonyInFortMohaveAZ: Some don't know this but it is Megabits (Mbps) per second not MegaBytes (MBps). A megabit is 1/8 size of a Megabyte....
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