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Time Warner Cable Cuts Off Super Bowl in SoCal; Get Your Credit

Phillip Dampier February 4, 2014 Consumer News, HissyFitWatch, Time Warner Cable, Video 2 Comments

twc laTime Warner Cable will provide a free pay-per-view movie or a $5 gift card to Los Angeles-area customers after the cable company lost the Standard Definition signal of Fox affiliate KTTV for about an hour during the Super Bowl on Sunday.

KTTV’s signal was lost just before halftime in and around Los Angeles County from Hacienda Heights and Hancock Park all the way to Santa Monica, as well in parts of Ventura County. Blank screens prompted a deluge of complaint calls to Time Warner Cable’s customer service line, many met with repeated busy signals.

“I’d rather have cable in North Korea than Time Warner Cable,” tweeted Paige Graham. “Time Warner Cable: Your customer service is worse than Denver’s defense,” added Alex Stein.

twcGreenAlthough analog cable customers were forced to watch a Spanish language channel’s coverage of the game, those viewing KTTV’s HD signal on Time Warner Cable were unaffected by the disruption.

For the frustration, Time Warner Cable is offering what they call “a gift of appreciation.”

“Although most of our customers didn’t experience an interruption, we want to express our sincere apologies to all Time Warner Cable TV customers in the Los Angeles area,” said Deborah Picciolo, senior vice president of operations at Time Warner Cable. “Digital TV customers will receive a credit for the cost of an On Demand movie once purchased, and analog customers will receive a $5 gift card. These will be provided automatically; no customer action is necessary.”

Customers should contact customer service if their free pay-per-view movie credit doesn’t appear on a future bill or if the gift card never arrives.

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/KTLA Los Angeles Time Warner Cable Resolves Service Outage 2-2-14.flv

KTLA in Los Angeles covered Super Bowl parties in Southern California and frustrated Time Warner Cable subscribers that lost the game for about an hour. (2:22)


Kansas’ Cable Industry Ghostwrote New Anticompetition Bill That Could Hamper Google Fiber

Federico Consulting has the Kansas Cable Lobby as a paying client and works behind the scenes in the state legislature to push their agenda.

Federico Consulting has the Kansas Cable Lobby as a paying client and works behind the scenes in the state legislature to push their agenda.

A cable industry lobbying group wrote the bill introduced last week in the Kansas Senate that could dramatically restrict municipal broadband networks from launching and hamper Google Fiber from expanding its gigabit broadband network outside of Kansas City.

A Kansas Senate employee told Ars Technica the proposed bill – SB 304 was submitted for introduction in the state legislature by John Federico, president of Topeka-based lobbying firm Federico Consulting, on behalf of the Kansas Cable Telecommunications Association (KCTA). The cable industry trade association counts among its members: Cable ONE, Comcast, Cox Communications, and Time Warner Cable — the largest cable operators in the state.

Joshua Montgomery, a Kansan directly affected by the possible passage of SB 304, notes the legislation could also impact Google’s efforts to expand its gigabit broadband network outside of Kansas City, Kan., because the project relies on a close working relationship between local city officials and Google that would be prohibited under the bill.

“Even joint partnerships like the one between Google and Kansas City would be illegal under this bill.” Google Fiber, he pointed out, came to Kansas City after Google received what the Competitive Enterprise Institute called “stunning regulatory concessions and incentives from local governments, including free access to virtually everything the city owns or controls: rights of way, central office space, power, interconnections with anchor institutions, marketing and direct mail, and office space for Google employees.”

Federico denied the proposed legislation has anything to do with Google, telling Ars Technica Google never came up during KCTA board meetings. But Federico did admit the current bill’s definition of “unserved” is “overly broad.”

Federico evidently had enough sway with the Kansas Senate Committee to postpone a hearing on the bill scheduled for Tuesday until the bill can be “tweaked.”

“I don’t know about you, but I think we should all be concerned that the cable lobby is writing our telecommunications policy,” Montgomery said on his group’s Facebook page now organizing to oppose the bill.


Time Warner Cable Plans to Triple Broadband Speeds (If They Survive a Hostile Takeover)

Time Warner Cable today announced major improvements in its service, including a tripling of broadband speeds and equipment upgrades that will first arrive in New York City and Los Angeles.

With the cable company facing a hostile takeover effort by Charter Communications with Comcast’s help, CEO Rob Marcus sought to appease shareholders that worry the cable company’s recent lackluster results originate from outdated technology, poor customer service, and broadband speeds that are well below the cable industry average.

Time Warner Cable will have to increase capital spending to pay for the upgrades, expected to cost $3.8 billion annually for the next three years.

nycla enhancements

CEO Rob Marcus calls the effort a “transformation of the Time Warner Cable customer experience.” The upgrade program is called TWC Maxx for now inside Time Warner Cable, but will have its own brand when it publicly launches later this year.

Here are some highlights:



TV Service

  • Network infrastructure upgrades to enhance reliability
  • New advanced set-top boxes
  • A six-tuner DVR
  • A cloud-based interface and navigation
  • An expanded on-demand library


  • Dramatic free speed boosts for all customers
  • A new Ultimate speed tier of 300/20Mbps

Unfortunately, customers outside of Los Angeles and New York will have to wait up to two years for the upgrades to reach their community.


“With ‘TWC Maxx,’ we’re going to essentially reinvent the TWC experience market–by-market,” said Marcus. “We’ll triple Internet speeds for customers with our most popular tiers of service, add more community WiFi, dramatically improve the TV product and, perhaps most importantly, we’ll set a high bar in our industry for differentiated exceptional customer service. We’re focused on providing the features and benefits that matter most to our customers.”

The most noticeable improvement will be free broadband speed upgrades. Customers with Standard or above Internet service will also receive the latest generation cable modems including Advanced Wireless Gateways for customers with Turbo to Ultimate tier service. Marcus did not say whether the company is ending is monthly equipment fees for cable modems.

Here are the new speed tiers:

  • Everyday Low Price - Currently 2/1Mbps – New 3/1Mbps
  • Basic - Currently 3/1Mbps – New 10/1Mbps
  • Standard - Currently 15/1Mbps – New 50/5Mbps
  • Turbo - Currently 20/2Mbps – New 100/10Mbps
  • Extreme – Currently 30/5Mbps – New 200/20Mbps
  • Ultimate - Currently 50/5Mbps – New 300/20Mbps


New York and Los Angeles Upgrade Schedule

The first four network hubs scheduled for upgrade are those in West Hollywood and Costa Mesa, Calif. and portions of Woodside (Queens) and Staten Island, N.Y. The rest of both cities will be upgraded by the end of this year.

Los Angeles customers will also see analog cable television service discontinued in favor of digital later this year. New York City has already been converted to all-digital television. Customers in both cities will be able to schedule same-day appointments and one-hour service windows.

Who Gets Upgraded Next?

Analysts expect Time Warner Cable will upgrade cities where they face competition from U-verse and FiOS after completing NYC and LA.

Analysts expect Time Warner Cable will upgrade cities where they face competition from U-verse and FiOS after completing NYC and LA.

Analysts say Time Warner Cable’s upgrade plans are more aggressive than initially anticipated and many expect the company to move quickly, especially in competitive markets, to boost subscriber numbers and cut customer defections to help convince shareholders it is worthwhile to reject Charter’s hostile takeover bid.

The most likely markets to be targeted for upgrades after New York and Los Angeles are those facing stiff competition from Google Fiber and Verizon FiOS. Cities where AT&T U-verse delivers competition are likely to come next, and those cities where Time Warner Cable only faces competition from telephone company DSL service will likely be the last to be upgraded. However, long before that, Time Warner Cable could be sold off to other cable operators that will make these upgrade plans moot.

Marcus today reiterated his rejection of Charter’s latest $132.50 a share offer. Marcus said the cable company is only interested in an offer above $160 a share, and that at least $100 of that must be in cash, with the balance in Charter stock. Charter will have trouble delivering that amount of cash without the assistance of other cable operators.

Craig Moffett with MoffettNathanson Research isn’t sure Marcus’ plans are enough to keep TWC from being sold. He expects Charter to soon increase its offer above $140 with the help of Comcast, which is willing to pay cash for Time Warner Cable systems in New York, New England, and North Carolina after a deal with Charter is complete.

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Bloomberg Rob Marcus Interviewed 1-30-14.flv

Robert Marcus, chief executive officer of Time Warner Cable Inc., talks about the cable company’s fourth-quarter earnings and its forthcoming upgrades, and Charter Communications Inc.’s $37.4 billion buyout bid. Time Warner Cable beat fourth-quarter profit estimates and forecast subscriber growth. Marcus speaks with Betty Liu on Bloomberg Television. (8:38)


Anatomy of a Deal: Time Warner Cable vs. Charter/Comcast

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Bloomberg Anatomy of a Deal 1-29-14.flv

Bloomberg News’ Alex Sherman and Porter Bibb, managing partner at Mediatech, break down the background and potential moves in the cable industry involving Comcast, Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable and the regulatory hurdles in their way on Bloomberg Television’s “Market Makers.” One interesting development will be the future of Cablevision, which will be an obvious takeover target for Comcast should Time Warner Cable be sold and split up. (9:14)


Kansas’ Senate Commerce Committee Members Well-Compensated by Big Telecom

lobbyist-cashThe Kansas State Legislature website makes it very difficult to find exactly who wrote and introduced Senate Bill 304, the laughingly titled, “Municipal Communication’s Network and Private Telecommunications Investment Safeguards Act.

In fact, the bill should be titled, “The Big Telecom Duopoly Protection Act,” because it makes it almost impossible for any publicly owned network to get off the ground and compete in the state of Kansas, even in places where the nearest cable or DSL connection is dozens of miles away.

Instead of naming names, the legislature’s website prefers to show the bill introduced by the Committee on Commerce, sponsored by the Committee on Commerce, and referred to the Committee on Commerce for further consideration. Since they apparently wrote and co-sponsored the bill, we don’t expect it will take them too long to rubber stamp their approval.

The Republican-dominated members of the committee are already well-acquainted with the state’s largest cable and phone companies, as their campaign donations from 2012 illustrate:

  • Sen. Julia Lynn (R), Chairperson: AT&T ($1,750), Comcast ($1,500), CenturyLink ($1,000);
  • Sen. Susan Wagle (R), Vice-Chair: Cox Communications ($1,750), AT&T ($1,500), Kansas Cable Telecommunication Association ($1,250), Comcast ($1,000), CenturyLink ($1,000);
  • Sen. Tom Holland (D), Ranking Member: AT&T ($1,000);
  • Sen. Pat Apple (R): AT&T ($1,000), Comcast ($1,000), Kansas Cable Telecommunication Association ($250), Time Warner Cable ($250), Verizon ($250), CenturyLink ($250);
  • Sen. Jim Denning (R): CenturyLink ($250);
  • Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau (D): AT&T ($1,000), Cox Communications ($1000), Kansas Cable Telecommunication Association ($250);
  • Sen. Jeff Longbine (R): AT&T ($2,000), CenturyLink ($1,750), Cox Communications ($500);
  • Sen. Jeff Melcher (R): CenturyLink ($1,000);
  • Sen. Robert Olson (R): AT&T ($1,750), Comcast ($1,500), CenturyLink ($1,250), Cox Communications ($750);
  • Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook (R): Comcast ($1,000).

Data: Project Vote Smart, 1/30/2014


Cable’s Newest Triple Play: Time Warner Cable, Charter, and Comcast

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Bloomberg New Triple Play TWC Comcast Charter 1-28-14.flv

Bloomberg News reports Time Warner Cable may face a proxy fight to force a sale of the company to Charter Communications. In turn, Comcast will pay Charter billions to take control of Time Warner Cable subscribers in the northeast and North Carolina. Industry analyst Craig Moffett predicts Comcast’s deep pockets may infuse billions in cash to sweeten Charter’s offer. It also means Comcast is not interested in buying all of Time Warner Cable itself. (3:11)


Comcast Seeking Buyout of Time Warner Cable Customers in N.Y., New England, and N.C.

Comcast-LogoComcast Corporation and Charter Communications are actively working on a deal to let Comcast acquire Time Warner Cable subscribers in New York, New England, and North Carolina, according to sources reporting to CNBC.

The split-up of Time Warner Cable is contingent on a successful takeover bid by Charter Communications, which would quickly sell the systems in the three regions to Comcast for an undisclosed sum.

CNBC reports Comcast and Charter are close to agreeing on terms, but Time Warner Cable and Charter remain far apart on the terms of Charter’s takeover bid.

Charter_logoComcast’s involvement in the deal could inject much-needed cash into a takeover bid financed largely by debt. It might also prompt Charter to sweeten its offer for TWC.

Comcast’s interest in the northeast and mid-Atlantic region is not surprising. The cable company already has a large presence in eastern Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, D.C., and Virginia. Time Warner Cable is the dominant cable company in New York, western and northern New England, and North Carolina.

Charter would likely keep Time Warner Cable’s operations in Texas, California, the midwest and south for itself if it succeeds in a takeover.

Charter has reportedly has hired Innisfree M&A, a proxy solicitor, to prepare for a possible proxy fight with Time Warner. Innisfree specializes in convincing shareholders to agree to proposed mergers and acquisitions.

Liberty Media, which has a substantial ownership interest in Charter Communications, is also appealing directly to Time Warner Cable stockholders and is planning to run its own slate of candidates for Time Warner Cable’s board of directors. Should Liberty-nominated candidates attract a majority of votes at the annual shareholder meeting in May, the new board members are expected to quickly approve a sale of the cable company.

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Bloomberg Comcast Charter Near Pact on Time Warner Assets 1-27-14.flv

Comcast Corp. is near a deal to buy New York, North Carolina and New England cable assets from Charter Communications, Inc. if shareholders approve Charter’s takeover bid for Time Warner Cable Inc., people with knowledge of the matter said. Alex Sherman reports on Bloomberg Television’s “Money Moves.” (3:28)


Time Warner Cable Moves Al Jazeera America Out of Channel Siberia

Phillip Dampier January 27, 2014 Consumer News, Online Video, Time Warner Cable 2 Comments

aljazeera-time-warnerTime Warner Cable customers looking for Al Jazeera America in New York are forgiven if they can’t find it. Time Warner Cable initially exiled the network to Channel Siberia — Channel 181 — between Univision Deportes and Shop Zeal, a shopping network that couldn’t draw flies.

But starting this week Time Warner has agreed to move the news network to Channel 57, evicting a Manhattan public access channel relocated elsewhere. Al Jazeera America’s new neighbor is HLN – home of Nancy Grace and a more irreverent light news lineup.

The contrast between HLN and Al Jazeera America could not be more clear. While HLN and other news channels spent hours covering last week’s arrest of pop star Justin Bieber, Al Jazeera America mentioned the arrest only in passing, noting the network is dedicated to hard news, increasingly hard to find on other cable news channels.

Al Jazeera America’s ratings are still a fraction of other news outlets on the cable dial, but the network is planning a promotional blitz to introduce itself and explain the difference in coverage.

Time Warner Cable currently carries the news channel on its cable lineup only in New York and Los Angeles, but subscribers nationwide can watch the channel on TWC’s TV Everywhere app – TWC TV, available for home computers, Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, Roku, XBox 360 and Samsung Smart-TVs.


Time Warner Cable Technician Dozes Off Waiting on Hold… for Time Warner Cable

Phillip Dampier January 23, 2014 Consumer News, Time Warner Cable 1 Comment
Cat nap while holding.

Cat nap while holding.

A Time Warner Cable technician replacing a defective cable modem was left on hold with the cable company so long, he fell asleep on the customer’s couch.

While the customer waited in another room, he could hear the technician calling Time Warner Cable’s customer service line to register and activate the new modem.

“I could hear the hold music from his call because he had it on speaker and eventually after about 15 minutes of listening to it from the other room, I walked out to find him like that,” writes the Reddit user DrinkingWhiteRussian. “Before doing anything, I grabbed my phone and snapped the pic, and then said ‘Excuse me?’ He startled a little bit, pointed to his phone and said ‘Sorry man, still on hold.’”

About 10 minutes later, a representative finally appeared on the line and presumably activated the modem. Only after the technician left did the customer realize nobody bothered to register the all-important MAC address in Time Warner’s system, which forced the customer to call and start the process all over again. After more lengthy hold time, a national Time Warner rep transferred the call to a local Time Warner office, which promptly transferred the customer back to the national call center.

“The guy that I got this time saw that they had never deactivated the original modem that was replaced,” says the disgruntled customer. “I despise Time Warner.”

One former Time Warner Cable tech explained many Time Warner Cable techs now call the same customer service line you do, and if you have ever been left on hold forever, so have the company’s own technicians and installers.

“I’ve spent up to an hour on hold after I completed a job just waiting to talk to someone in the call center so they can flip the switch and turn on your equipment,” wrote the former technician.

It isn’t known if the napping technician is a Time Warner Cable employee or one of their contractors.

Thanks to our regular reader PreventCAPS for the news tip.


Time Warner Cable Boosting Maximum Speed to 100-300Mbps This Year In Select Markets

Phillip Dampier January 20, 2014 Broadband Speed, Competition, Time Warner Cable 6 Comments

twcTime Warner Cable executives, as part of a defense strategy against a takeover bid from Charter Communications, made clear it intended to boost Internet speeds for customers without any help from Charter Cable.

The cable company has been criticized for offering only a maximum of 50/5Mbps service in most of its markets, but company officials made it clear the maximum speed available to most customers will be increased this year to 100Mbps in many areas and 300Mbps in selected cities — likely those facing competition from Verizon FiOS, AT&T’s fiber-based U-verse in Austin, and Google Fiber in Austin and Kansas City, where it competes with Time Warner Cable.




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