Home » WideOpenWest » Recent Articles:

WOW! Cable Expands in Ohio, Michigan; Local Officials Appealed for More Competition

Better

Efforts by local officials to attract more cable competition are paying off in suburban Cleveland, Ohio and Detroit, Mich. where customers will soon be able to choose between two cable companies or AT&T for cable service.

WOW!, a Denver-based cable overbuilder, has announced it will expand service to Lathrup Village, Mich. and Sheffield Lake, Brunswick, and North Ridgeville, Ohio between now and the middle of next year.

North Ridgeville City Council president Kevin Corcoran last week announced WOW! would begin head-to-head competition with Time Warner Cable starting in 2014. Corcoran told The Chronicle Telegram the city began looking for a competing cable provider after hearing complaints from residents about Time Warner Cable’s poor customer service and reliability. He approached WOW!, which has provided competitive service in parts of the greater Cleveland area, about expanding in North Ridgeville.

north ridgeville“My only pitch was that people are dying for some competition,” Corcoran told the newspaper.

Corcoran met informally with WOW! officials to discuss the prospects of expanding into North Ridgeville before more formal meetings were held with city officials including the mayor and the safety-service director.

Making life easier for WOW!’s entry is the presence of existing utility easements, which means WOW! can run cable on existing utility poles without formal approval by the city council. But WOW! will still need certain permits from the Building Department to move forward with wiring. The company will use Ohio’s statewide video franchising law, originally pushed by AT&T for U-verse, to obtain video service permits and a franchise agreement with the Ohio Department of Commerce.

WOW!’s regular prices are much lower than Time Warner Cable’s promotional prices for new customers:

  • Standard triple play (15/1Mbps Internet, Cable TV, phone) costs $105.98/month from Time Warner ($118.97 with DVR), $85/month from WOW! ($92 with DVR);
  • Standard double play (15/1Mbps Internet, Cable TV) still costs $105.98/month from Time Warner ($118.98 with DCR), $75/month from WOW! ($82 with DVR);
  • Internet-only service (15/1Mbps) costs $40.98/month from Time Warner Cable, $30/month from WOW! (promotional pricing expires after 12 months).

Time Warner Cable said it welcomes the competition.

NORTH RIDGEVILLE – Residents who have long griped about poor cable television service can look forward to some competition next year.

City Council President Kevin Corcoran on Friday that

WOW! Cable TV is planning to begin giving Time Warner Cable, the city’s current cable TV provider, some competition starting in 2014.Talks between the city and WOW! Cable began in late summer and continued into September where the company announced it would go ahead with plans to begin offering digital and HDTV cable service to residents next year.

WOW! Cable’s Matthew Harper, who serves as the company’s systems manager for the Cleveland market, confirmed the Denver-based firm’s plans to begin serving a portion of the city by the end of 2014.

“We’re in the process of doing a walk-out, which involves gathering information about the number of (utility) poles and distances between them, and the number of homes we are able to get built out for next year,” Harper said. “Our goal is to build out the entire city over the next few years.”

Because the company will use existing utility easements to run wiring over utility poles, its plans do not require formal approval by City Council, according to both Corcoran and Harper.

Permits for construction of equipment and attaching wiring to power poles will need to be obtained from the city Building Department.

WOW! Cable will obtain required video service and state franchise agreements through the Ohio Department of Commerce, Harper said.

Under the firm’s universal pricing structure, North Ridgeville customers can expect to pay $60 a month for any two services such as cable TV and phone service, or $70 a month for three services including cable TV, phone, and high-speed Internet service, according to Harper.

More specific details and pricing for the company’s numerous packages of services can be found at www.wowway.com, Harper said.

Wow! Cable currently serves about 4,300 customers in AvonLake, and just completed work on a system to serve SheffieldLake, Harper said.

Cost figures for the North Ridgeville project were not disclosed.

Corcoran said he began to investigate prospects for bringing another cable TV provider to town after he and others heard periodic complaints from residents about the cable TV service they had from Time Warner.

“We’d heard that Time Warner doesn’t always have the greatest reputation for customer service and reliability, and that people were going off to Dish and DirecTV,” Corcoran said. “My only pitch was that people are dying for some competition.”

Realizing that “a lot of people like to stick with cable for various reasons,” Corcoran met informally with WOW! officials before more formal meetings were held with city officials including Mayor David Gillock and Safety-Service Director Jeffry Armbruster.

Time Warner spokesman Mike Pedelty said the company has been aware of WOW! Cable’s plans to enter North Ridgeville.

“We are well aware of them coming in and compete with them in other locations,” Pedelty said.

When asked about Corcoran’s comments concerning Time Warner’s poor service, Pedelty said “it’s hard to respond to that comment.”

“We respect all competitors, but are really driven by making sure we provide the type of services our customers expect at a good value,” he said.

– See more at: http://chronicle.northcoastnow.com/2013/10/11/new-cable-company-offering-service-in-north-ridgeville-in-2014/#sthash.L6ciWB1H.dpuf

Share

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.

Share

WOW! Prices Up $8/Month As Operator Adds Broadcast TV ‘Surcharge’

Phillip Dampier January 31, 2013 Competition, Consumer News, WideOpenWest Comments Off
Experiencing a higher bill.

Experiencing a higher bill.

WOW!, formerly WideOpenWest, is informing many of its customers it is raising rates $8-9 a month — $5 for bundled customers and a new $3-4 a month “Broadcast TV Surcharge” the company claims covers the increasing amount of fees charged by local broadcasters in return for permission to carry their signals on the cable system. The amount of the surcharge varies depending on costs in a particular market.

The excuse for the increase: increased programming costs.

WOW! equipment fees have also increased. The HD-DVR box that used to cost $9.99 will now be priced at $13 a month. A standard HD set top box is only increasing a penny — $4.99 to $5.

Customers complain WOW!’s prices are now approaching parity with competitors including Time Warner Cable and AT&T U-verse. Both competing providers have increased promotional mailings in areas where WOW! is increasing prices.

Share

3 Owners in 3 Years And Lawrence, Kansas Still Stuck With Harshly-Capped Cable Broadband

Top-rated WOW! only delivers service in a handful of cities in the midwest, but is getting larger after acquiring Knology.

Lawrence, Kansas can’t catch a break. While their neighbors in Kansas City are preparing for Google’s unlimited-use gigabit broadband, the three different owners of the area’s cable operation in the last three years have stuck local residents with usage caps as low as 5GB per month.

What began as Sunflower Broadband, formerly owned by the The World Company, which publishes the daily Lawrence Journal-World, has now been sold to a new owner that plans to leave the current caps in place.

Knology of Kansas Inc., a division of West Point, Ga.-based Knology acquired the Sunflower operation for $165 million in 2010. This week, WideOpenWest (WOW) announced it had completed a system-wide acquisition of Knology, including the former Sunflower system for $1.5 billion.

Consumers in Lawrence hoping for something better from one the nation’s top-consumer-rated cable operators will apparently have to wait. The company announced it was planning no immediate changes to its services or rates, said Rod Kutemeier, who currently remains general manager of the operation.

“Which means while Kansas City becomes a gigabit broadband city with unlimited-use broadband ranging in price from free to $70 a month, we’re stuck with this lousy cable operation that wants $53 a month for 18/2Mbps service with a nasty 50GB data cap and up to $1/GB overlimit fee,” says former Knology customer Sam. “I switched to U-verse, which is only mildly less criminal with their 250GB cap.”

Sam’s price represents standalone broadband service and includes Knology’s $5 monthly modem rental fee. If he purchased video service from the company, his broadband rate would be $10 lower.

Sunflower Broadband introduced one of the country’s first broadband Internet Overcharging schemes, limiting customers on the company’s lowest speed tier to 5GB of usage per month. The company later introduced devotees of unlimited, flat rate access to a reduced priority unlimited option for just shy of $60 a month, with no quoted speed or promise of performance.

Lawrence cable subscribers were hopeful the new owners would adopt pricing and service similar to what WOW offers elsewhere. WOW tells its other customers it does not impose usage limits or consumption-based billing of any kind. But that doesn’t hold true in Lawrence.

“They need to get rid of the current management which continues this ripoff scheme and bring in the same WOW mindset that gave them top ratings in magazines like Consumer Reports,” shares Stop the Cap! reader Sam.

WOW currently offers most customers broadband speeds of 2/1, 15/1, 30/3, and 50/5Mbps. Knology of Kansas offers service at speeds of 5/1, 18/2, and 50/5Mbps — all usage capped.

Pricing and packages for Lawrence, Kansas’ local cable company will remain the same… for now.

Share

New Product Lets Broadband Providers Notify Customers When They ‘Use Too Much’ Internet

Are you using too much Internet service?  If your service provider thinks you are, it can alert you by barging in on your web-browsing sessions with forced notification messages warning you are about to be the latest victim of Internet Overcharging.

PerfTech, a maker of browser messaging systems has teamed up with Active Broadband Networks to deliver providers a way to notify up to two million subscribers about their broadband usage from just a single rack-based system.

“Feedback from ISPs who have deployed usage-based Internet tiers has confirmed that two factors are key to success: accurate usage measurement and quick, proactive notifications,” PerfTech vice president of sales Jane Christ said in a statement.

Most browser message injection systems are used to warn customers when they are approaching monthly usage limits or excessive use charges.  Some can even redirect web users to a single ISP-administered website to alert them their service has been suspended or request payment for additional usage with a credit card.

So far, only smaller U.S. providers are using PerfTech’s system, including WideOpenWest, BendBroadband in Oregon, and Buckeye Cable in Ohio.

  • WideOpenWest doesn’t appear to limit usage except for newsgroups.  According to their FAQ, users may download up to 5GB per month of newsgroup content;
  • Bend Broadband has a 100GB monthly limit on all but its highest speed Internet plan, which carries a 150GB monthly limit.  The overlimit fee is $1.50 per gigabyte.
  • Buckeye Cable favors “network management” techniques, which can slow down customers deemed to be using too much, at its discretion.  But the company does have a 3GB strict usage cap on newsgroup access.  Exceeding it is very costly.  The overlimit fee is a whopping $45 per gigabyte.
Share

Search This Site:

Contributions:

Recent Comments:

  • Carmine: Hi, My contract is up Oct 10th. AT&T wants to increase my Uverse and I-net (6MPS) by 34%. Today I just used your strategy and called the 800-288...
  • Tony: As frustrating as it is, I can tell you from our experience it is the cable company For us the tuning adapter's firmware was not up to date. Cur...
  • Vikki Karan: Count me in!! I'm willing to take this cause on as well! Willing to take it all the way to DC and/or file a class action suit. Here is my story: ...
  • RG: I see the V52 on occasion with Cox in San Diego. Sometimes it's a SDV box decode error, other times it's a channel that I'm not subscribed to or doesn...
  • Vikki Karan: Major TWC issues with TiVo here in Los Angeles. We keep getting V52 errors. TWC says it is an issue with the TiVo Roamio. That there are open tickets ...
  • Scott: GCI just raised Cable TV rates and fees across the board an additional $30/mo for all customers this last month, so most that were paying $135 for a t...
  • Jim Livermore: After all of the detail in the above article, your sole comment is a critique of my first sentence? Thank you, Anonymous Coward....
  • MadBomber: >While extortion might be a little strong... What do you call forcing a payment without proof of guilt then?...
  • Phillip Dampier: Hi, I was unable to get permission to share the report, but in response to your inquiry, I can share their reply that they are using "cash flow margin...
  • Theresa Bailey: Either Mr. Doda is lying, or there is a lack of consistency in following procedure among the Bright House representatives. When I signed up for B...
  • Jim Livermore: Another great report, Phillip. While extortion might be a little strong, it is a response to the 6-strike noise by a third party offering a middleman...
  • txpatriot: Phillip: do you have a link to the E&Y report? The reason I ask is because you refer to EBITDA margin as "cash flow margin". I know what EBI...

Your Account: