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Fido Cable Leases Access from Current Cable Providers, Charges More Than They Do

(PRNewsFoto/Fido Cable)

(PRNewsFoto/Fido Cable)

You may soon have a choice of cable companies, but don’t expect any savings doing business with the competition.

South Carolina-based Sky Play, LLC has launched a new cable service it claims is available across the U.S., offering competitive broadband and later phone and television service.

The service, known as Fido Cable, is dependent on leasing access from cable companies including Cablevision-Altice, Charter-Bright House-Time Warner Cable, Cable One, Comcast, and Cox as well as telephone company AT&T.

“We believe that people deserve to select which internet company they would like to utilize as opposed to being stuck with one or two options of service from companies who constantly raise their rates and offer no thought of the customer they service,” said David Wheeler, vice president of Sky Play. “Fido Cable is available to everyone in every major city and surrounding cities throughout the U.S.”

The company’s claims about the aspirations of American cable subscribers may be true but after Stop the Cap! called the company and obtained price quotes, it is clear any savings doing business with Fido Cable are illusory at best. Fido has a single page website that needs work, including correcting “Cable Vision,” when it actually meant “Cablevision.” Details about service and pricing was scant, so we called the company to get prices for two large cable operators: Time Warner Cable and Charter.

The company claims it offers internet access today and will be offering voice services across its national footprint and television in “select cities.” For purposes of obtaining pricing information, we quickly learned our home city of Rochester, N.Y., is not select enough for Fido Cable.

charter twcFido Cable (which has no relationship with the Canadian prepaid mobile provider “Fido,” owned by Rogers Communications), says internet and voice plans start at $39.99 a month, but not for TWC or Charter customers.

In fact, Fido does not seem to offer any new customer promotional pricing. Their quoted rates were consistently higher than their cable company hosts charge their own customers. No wonder cable operators allowing Fido to compete using their systems are not breaking any sweat over the “competition.”

For instance, Fido charges a $120 installation and $15 modem fee for both Time Warner Cable and Charter customers. The representative claimed the modem fee was a one-time charge and customers were allowed to supply their own equipment. In comparison, both Charter and Time Warner Cable agreed to waive any installation fees for new customers. Time Warner Cable charges a $10 monthly modem rental fee and Charter includes the modem in the price of its service.

Fido Cable charges $65 a month for 15/1Mbps service. Time Warner Cable’s equivalent plan costs $59.99 a month for the service and modem rental (deduct $10 a month from TWC’s price if you buy your own modem). A 50Mbps plan from Fido costs $120 a month, but it’s $119 a month from Time Warner Cable (again, deduct $10 if you supply your own modem).

For Charter customers, a 60/4Mbps plan is priced $59.99 direct from Charter, but if you choose Fido Cable you will pay $5 more a month: $65. A 100/7Mbps plan from Charter is priced at $99.99, or you can pay Fido $105.

Here are more details about Fido internet plans we obtained today:

Time Warner Cable Service Areas

  • 10/1Mbps: $55
  • 15/1Mbps: $65
  • 50/5Mbps: $120

Charter Cable Service Areas

  • 60/4Mbps: $65
  • 80/5Mbps: $99
  • 100/7Mbps: $105

A 2-year price guarantee applies to all pricing.

Texas and California Time Warner Cable Customers Get Massive Channel Change Notice

Phillip Dampier September 8, 2016 Charter, Consumer News, Time Warner Cable 1 Comment

charter twcAs the Sept. 20 date for Charter’s introduction of new plans for Time Warner Cable customers in California looms, the Los Angeles Times published an impenetrable channel change notification applying to customers across San Diego and Los Angeles markets (the latter also being a significant service area for Charter all along).

We dare you to read it.

More accessible lists of channel changes were also published for Texas customers, and you can find them below the massive text box.

Legacy Charter customers will benefit because the smaller cable operator is taking advantage of the much larger volume discounts Time Warner Cable negotiated for both their customers and those belonging to Bright House Networks. That means you can eventually expect a lot more harmonization of channel lineups if you are an existing Charter customer, probably more in line with what Time Warner Cable customers have received all along. One interesting addition that may be coming back to Time Warner Cable customers is the former HDNet, now rebranded AXS TV. Time Warner Cable gave HDNet and HDNet Movies the boot back in May 2009 when contract negotiations broke down over price. In its place, Time Warner Cable added much cheaper networks like MavTV, The Outdoor Channel, RFD-TV and/or The Sportsman Channel.

There is speculation Charter chose Texas and Southern California first to introduce Charter Spectrum because the two cable companies have co-existed nearby in both states, sometimes operating in their own territories in the same metropolitan region. That may have made integration efforts easier than in states like New York, where Charter operates only a few forgettable cable systems, some now only being upgraded to support broadband.

Legal Notices: Time Warner Cable’s agreements with programmers and broadcasters to carry their services and stations routinely expire from time to time. We are usually able to obtain renewals or extensions of such agreements, but in order to comply with applicable regulations, we must inform you when an agreement is about to expire. The following agreements are due to expire soon, and we may be required to cease carriage of one or more of these services/stations in the near future. 5 StarMax East, ActionMax, Azteca America, Cinemax, Cinemax East, Cinemax On Demand, GMA LifeTV, GMA PinoyTV, HBO, HBO 2, HBO 2 East, HBO Comedy, HBO East, HBO Family, HBO Latino, HBO On Demand, HBO Signature, HBO Signature East, HBO Zone, Max Latino, MoreMax, MoreMax East, MovieMax East, Music Choice, Outdoor Channel, POP, TeleN, ThrillerMax, TV One, YouToo, KBEH DT7 Tele-Romantica, KEYT ABC. In addition, from time to time we make certain changes in the services that we offer in order to better serve our customers. The following changes are planned: On or around September 20, 2016 the following changes will be made. The following services will added: AXS TV, channel 299; One World Sports, channel 414; SonLife Broadcasting Network channel 470; Retroplex, channel 622; HD Net Movies, channel 640; Cable Noticias, channel 839; ULTRA Docu, channel 849; Tele El Salvador, channel 861; Super Canal, channel 870; Telemicro, channel 871; TV Dominicana, channel 872; WAPA America, channel 874; Antena 3 Internacional, channel 877; Ritmoson, channel 911; Telehit, channel 912; Ultra Fiesta, channel 915; Ultra Familia, channel 918; Ultra Kidz, channel 919; Semillitas, channel 922; BabyFirstTV SAP, channel 928; Baby TV SAP, channel 929; Nat Geo Mundo, channel 931; HITN, channel 933; Mexicanal, channel 935; El Garage TV, channel 936; Ultra Macho, channel 937; TBN Enlace, channel 946; Ultra Mex, channel 983; Ultra Cine, channel 984; Ultra Clasico, channel 985; Crime & Investigation, channel 137; pivot, channel 115; Family Net, channel 468; MoviePlex, channel 620; IndiePlex, channel 621; RFD-TV, channel 297; Lifetime Real Women, channel 174; Military History Channel, channel 141. Additionally, in Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach & Redondo Beach the following services will be added on the channel number listed. Estudio 5 842, Multimedios 843, Teleformula 845, Sur Peru 853, TV Chile 855, Caracol 856, Nuestra Tele 857, Centroamerica TV 860, Ecuavisa Internacional 865, TV Venezuela 867, Bandamax 910, Discovery Familia 924, AYM Sports 962, Cine Mexicano 972, De Pelicula Clasico 979, De Pelicula 980 and Viendo Movies 982. The following services will be added on the additional channel number listed. Each will also remain on the current channel number. Air Force Village West – Lakeview – Perris; Chino – Pomona – San Bernardino County; March Air Force Base & Moreno Valley and Hemet: Animal Planet 10, NBCSN 34, FOX Sports 1 50, Investigation Discovery 75, Velocity 79, Fox Business Network 86, Disney Junior 87, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, TCM 94, BBC America 95, GSN 96 and SEC Network 97. Beaumont-Redlands-East San Bernardino and Rialto: Animal Planet 10, NBCSN 34, FOX Sports 1 50, Investigation Discovery 75, Velocity 79, Fox Business Network 86, Disney Junior 87, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, TCM 94, BBC America 95, GSN 96, SEC Network 97, Oxygen 98 and LMN 99. Temecula: Animal Planet 10, NBCSN 34, FOX Sports 1 50, Investigation Discovery 75, Velocity 79, Fox Business Network 86, Disney Junior 87, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, TCM 94, BBC America 95, GSN 96 and SEC Network 97. San Bernardino – Ontario: Animal Planet 10, NBCSN 34, FOX Sports 1 50, Investigation Discovery 75, Velocity 79, Fox Business Network 86, Disney Junior 87, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, TCM 94, BBC America 95, SEC Network 97 and Oxygen 98. San Gabriel Valley: Animal Planet 10, NBCSN 31, Investigation Discovery 52, FOX Sports 1 54, Velocity 79, Fox Business Network 80, Disney Junior 87, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, BBC America 95, SEC Network 97 and GSN 98. Brea, La Habra, La Habra Heights, Yorba Linda: Animal Planet 10, NBCSN 31, Investigation Discovery 52, FOX Sports 1 54, Velocity 79, Fox Business Network 80, Disney Junior 87, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, BBC America 95 and SEC Network 97. Anaheim: Animal Planet 10, NBCSN 31, Investigation Discovery 52, FOX Sports 1 54, Velocity 79, Fox Business Network 80, Disney Junior 87, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, GSN 94, BBC America 95, SEC Network 97 and TCM 99. Buena Park, Fullerton, Newport Beach, Santa Ana: Animal Planet 10, NBCSN 20, Investigation Discovery 52, FOX Sports 1 54, Velocity 79, Fox Business Network 80, Disney Junior 87, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93 and SEC Network 94. Antelope Valley & Edwards Air Force Base: NBCSN 35, Investigation Discovery 76, Velocity 79, Fox Business Network 86, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, BBC America 95, FOX Sports 1 96, SEC Network 97 and Animal Planet 98. Santa Clarita (East) & Tujunga: Investigation Discovery 44, NBCSN 59, National Geographic 68, FOX Sports 1 78, Velocity 79, Fox Business Network 86, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, BBC America 95, SEC Network 97 and Animal Planet 98. Beverly Hills: WGN America 16, NBCSN 69, Investigation Discovery 95, Velocity 79, Fox Business Network 86, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, BBC America 95, FOX Sports 1 96, SEC Network 97 and Animal Planet 98. Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles: Animal Planet 10, Investigation Discovery 34, NBCSN 70, Velocity 79, Fox Business Network 86, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, FOX Sports 1 95, BBC America 96, SEC Network 97 and GSN 98. Calabasas: Animal Planet 10, Investigation Discovery 34, NBCSN 50, Disney Junior 69, Velocity 79, Fox Business Network 86, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, FOX Sports 1 95, BBC America 96, SEC Network 97 and GSN 98. City of Los Angeles and Marina Del Rey: Animal Planet 10, WGN America 16, Investigation Discovery 34, NBCSN 69, Velocity 79, Fox Business Network 86, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, FOX Sports 1 95, BBC America 96 and SEC Network 97. East San Fernando Valley: Animal Planet 10, WGN America 16, Investigation Discovery 34, Oxygen 52, NBCSN 69, Velocity 79, Fox Business Network 86, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, FOX Sports 1 95, BBC America 96 and SEC Network 98. West Hollywood: WGN America 16, Animal Planet 20, NBCSN 69, Velocity 79, Fox Business Network 86, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, FOX Sports 1 95, SEC Network 96 and Investigation Discovery 98. Agoura-Moorpark-Santa Paula: Animal Planet 12, Investigation Discovery 50, NBCSN 69, Velocity 79, Fox Business Network 86, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, FOX Sports 1 95, BBC America 96, Oxygen 97 and SEC Network 99. Camarillo, Newbury Park, Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley: Animal Planet 12, Investigation Discovery 50, NBCSN 69, Velocity 79, Fox Business Network 86, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, Disney Junior 94, FOX Sports 1 95, BBC America 96, Oxygen 97 and SEC Network 99. Oxnard & Port Hueneme: Animal Planet 12, Investigation Discovery 50, NBCSN 69, Velocity 79, Fox Business Network 86, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, FOX Sports 1 94, SEC Network 96 and Oxygen 97. Ventura: Animal Planet 12, FOX Sports 1 44, Investigation Discovery 50, NBCSN 69, Velocity 79, Fox Business Network 86, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, Disney Junior 94, SEC Network 99, BBC America 96, and Oxygen 97. Hollywood – Westchester and Inglewood: Investigation Discovery 71, National Geographic 75, Animal Planet 78, Fox Business Network 86, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, FOX Sports 1 95, NBCSN 96, Velocity 97 and SEC Network 98. Covina, Pomona, Corona & Riverside County: Fox Business 35, Investigation Discovery 71, National Geographic 75, Animal Planet 78, BBC America 86, Disney Junior 87, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, FOX Sports 1 95, NBCSN 96, Velocity 97, SEC Network 98 and GSN on 99. Claremont: Cartoon Network 57, Investigation Discovery 71, National Geographic 75, Animal Planet 78, Fox Business Network 86, BBC America 87, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, FOX Sports 1 95, NBCSN 96, Velocity 97 and SEC Network 98. Homeland & Romoland: Fox Business 35, Investigation Discovery 71, National Geographic 75, Animal Planet 78, BBC America 86, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, TCM 94, FOX Sports 1 95, NBCSN 96, Velocity 97, SEC Network 98 and GSN on 99. Costa Mesa: Investigation Discovery 71, National Geographic 75, Animal Planet 78, Fox Business Network 86, BBC America 87, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, FOX Sports 1 95, NBCSN 96, Velocity 97 and SEC Network 98. Tustin: Fox Business 35, Investigation Discovery 71, National Geographic 75, Animal Planet 78, BBC America 86, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, GSN 94, FOX Sports 1 95, NBCSN 96, Velocity 97 and SEC Network 98. Artesia: Cartoon Network 57, Investigation Discovery 71, National Geographic 75, Fox Business Network 86, Animal Planet 87, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, FOX Sports 1 95, NBCSN 96, Velocity 97 and SEC Network 98. Bell & Cudahy: Fox Business 35, Investigation Discovery 71, National Geographic 75, Animal Planet 78, BBC America 86, Disney Junior 87, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, FOX Sports 1 95, NBCSN 96, Velocity 97 and SEC Network 98. Carson: Fox Business Network 36, Investigation Discovery 71, National Geographic 75, Animal Planet 78, BBC America 86, Disney Junior 87, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, FOX Sports 1 95, NBCSN 96, Velocity 97 and SEC Network 98. Compton, Athens, Florence & Willowbrook: Investigation Discovery 71, National Geographic 75, Animal Planet 78, Fox Business Network 86, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, FOX Sports 1 95, NBCSN 96 and Velocity 97. Cypress & La Palma: Investigation Discovery 71, National Geographic 75, Animal Planet 78, Fox Business Network 86, SEC Network 87, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, FOX Sports 1 95, NBCSN 96 and Velocity 97. Harbor, Lomita: Harbor City, San Pedro, Wilmington: Investigation Discovery 71, National Geographic 75, Animal Planet 78, Fox Business Network 86, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, FOX Sports 1 95, NBCSN 96 and Velocity 97. Hawaiian Gardens – Southeast Cities: Investigation Discovery 71, National Geographic 75, Animal Planet 78, Fox Business Network 86, Hallmark Channel 88, BBC America 87, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, FOX Sports 1 95, NBCSN 96, Velocity 97 and SEC Network 98. Lakewood: Investigation Discovery 71, National Geographic 75, Animal Planet 78, Fox Business Network 86, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, FOX Sports 1 95, Velocity 97 and NBCSN 98. South El Monte: Fox Business Network 35, Investigation Discovery 71, National Geographic 75, Animal Planet 78, Disney Junior 87, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, FOX Sports 1 95, NBCSN 96, SEC Network 98 and GSN 99. Canyon Country and Santa Clarita & Stevenson Ranch: NBCSN 34, Fox Business Network 66, Investigation Discovery 67, National Geographic 69, Animal Planet 76, FOX Sports 1 78, Velocity 79, SEC Network 80, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, Disney Junior 95, BBC America 96 and GSN 97. San Fernando: NBCSN 34, WGN America 35, Fox Business Network 66, Investigation Discovery 67, National Geographic 69, Animal Planet 76, FOX Sports 1 78, Velocity 79, SEC Network 80, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, Disney Junior 95, BBC America 96 and GSN 97. West Valley: WGN America 35, Fox Business Network 66, Investigation Discovery 67, National Geographic 69, Animal Planet 76, FOX Sports 1 78, Velocity 79, NBCSN 80, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, and BBC America 96. Orange County: National Geographic 72, Investigation Discovery 73, GSN 74, Animal Planet 75, SEC Network 76, NBCSN 77, Velocity 78, FOX Sports 1 79, Fox Business Network 86, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92 and FX Movie Channel 93. Torrance: WGN America 16, Investigation Discovery 66, Animal Planet 71, National Geographic 72, NBCSN 77, FOX Sports 1 79, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91 and Velocity 92. South Bay: WGN America 16, Investigation Discovery 66, Animal Planet 71, National Geographic 72, NBCSN 77, FOX Sports 1 79, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, Velocity 92 and FX Movie Channel. San Marino & South Pasadena: WGN America 16, Investigation Discovery 59, National Geographic 72, Animal Planet 75,NBCSN 77, Velocity 78, FOX Sports 1 79, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93 and Fox Business Network 95. Santa Monica: WGN America 16, Investigation Discovery 59, Animal Planet 71, NBCSN 75, Velocity 79, Fox Business Network 80, Fox Business Network 86, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, BBC America 95, FOX Sports 1 95, BBC America 96, SEC Network 96 and SEC Network 97. Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach & Redondo Beach: WGN America 20, Investigation Discovery 54, Animal Planet 61, NBCSN 69, FOX Sports 1 72, Velocity 77, Fox Business Network 86, Hallmark Channel 88, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 89, INSP 90, OWN 91, WE tv 92, FX Movie Channel 93, BBC America 95, Disney Junior 96 and GSN 97. EVINE Live will move from channel 15 to channel 194 in Beverly Hills, Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles, Calabasas, City of Los Angeles, East San Fernando Valley, Marina Del Rey and West Hollywood. It will move from 16 to 194 in South Bay and Torrance. It will move from 20 to 194 in Air Force Village West – Lakeview – Perris; Beaumont-Redlands-East San Bernardino; Bradbury, Glendora, La Verna, San Dimas; Chino – Pomona – San Bernardino County; Hemet – Temecula; March Air Force Base & Moreno Valley; Rialto; San Bernardino – Ontario and San Gabriel Valley. It will move from 24 to 194 in San Marino & South Pasadena. It will move from 28 to 194 in Artesia, Bell & Cudahy, Carson, Cypress & La Palma, Hawaiian Gardens – Southeast Cities and South El Monte. It will move from 29 to 194 in Compton, Athens, Florence & Willowbrook and South Los Angeles. It will move from 31 to 194 in Harbor, Lomita, Harbor City, San Pedro, Wilmington; Hollywood – Westchester and Inglewood. It will move from 33 to 194 in Lakewood, Santa Clarita (East) and Tujunga. It will move from 36 to 194 in Agoura-Moorpark-Santa Paula; Camarillo, Newbury Park, Thousand Oaks; Claremont; Costa Mesa; Covina, Pomona, Corona & Riverside County; Homeland & Romoland; Oxnard & Port Hueneme; Simi Valley; Tustin and Ventura. It will move from 37 to 194 in Orange County. It will move from 38 to 194 in Antelope Valley & Edwards Air Force Base. It will move from 39 to 194 in Anaheim, Brea, La Habra, La Habra Heights, Yorba Linda and in Buena Park, Fullerton, Newport Beach, Santa Ana. It will move from 42 to 194 in Canyon Country, Santa Clarita, Stevenson Ranch; San Fernando and West Valley. It will move from 45 to 194 in Santa Monica. It will move from 49 to 194 in Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach & Redondo Beach. It will also remain on 487 in all lineups. HSN will move from 8 and 81 to 176 in Artesia; Bell & Cudahy; Carson; Claremont; Compton, Athens, Florence & Willowbrook; Costa Mesa; Covina, Pomona, Corona & Riverside County; Cypress & La Palma; Harbor, Lomita, Harbor City, San Pedro, Wilmington; Hawaiian Gardens – Southeast Cities; Hollywood – Westchester; Homeland & Romoland; Inglewood; Lakewood; South El Monte; South Los Angeles, Santa Clarita (East), Tujunga and Tustin. In all other lineups it will move from 81 to 176. It will also remain on 483 in all lineups. QVC will move from 6 to 159 in Antelope Valley & Edwards Air Force Base; Artesia; Bell & Cudahy; Carson; Claremont; Compton, Athens, Florence & Willowbrook; Costa Mesa; Covina, Pomona, Corona & Riverside County; Cypress & La Palma; Harbor, Lomita, Harbor City, San Pedro, Wilmington; Hawaiian Gardens – Southeast Cities; Hollywood – Westchester; Homeland & Romoland; Inglewood; Lakewood; South El Monte; South Los Angeles and Tustin. It will move from 14 to 159 in Agoura-Moorpark-Santa Paula; Air Force Village West – Lakeview – Perris; Anaheim; Beaumont-Redlands-East San Bernardino; Beverly Hills; Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles; Bradbury, Glendora, La Verna, San Dimas; Brea, La Habra, La Habra Heights, Yorba Linda; Buena Park, Fullerton, Newport Beach, Santa Ana; Calabasas; Camarillo, Newbury Park, Thousand Oaks; Chino – Pomona – San Bernardino County; City of Los Angeles; East San Fernando Valley; Hemet – Temecula; Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach & Redondo Beach; March Air Force Base & Moreno Valley; Marina Del Rey; Oxnard & Port Hueneme; Rialto; San Bernardino – Ontario; San Gabriel Valley; Santa Monica; Simi Valley, Ventura and West Hollywood. It will move from 24 to 159 in Santa Clarita (East) and Tujunga. It will move from 39 to 159 in Canyon Country, Santa Clarita, Stevenson Ranch. It will move from 48 to 159 in Orange County. It will move from 51 to 159 in South Bay and Torrance. It will move from 68 to 159 in San Marino & South Pasadena. It will move from 98 to 159 in San Fernando and West Valley. It will also remain on 480 in all lineups. Jewelry Television will move from 83 to 188 in all lineups. I will also remain on channel 499.

Texas customers: Selected channel notification announcements begin after the jump.
… Continue Reading

Time Warner Cable/Bright House Customers: Here is Charter/Spectrum’s Promotional Price List

charter-twc-bhThanks to one of our readers who also happens to be a TWC employee, here is the latest update to Charter/Spectrum’s list of first year promotions, taking effect in California and Texas (9/20) this month.

We expect it will be rolling out to other TWC and BH regions over the next few months. Unless you are compelled to change packages, if you are on a current Time Warner Cable or Bright House promotion or retention deal, we recommend you keep it until it expires. You can then enroll in one of these promotions, almost certainly at these prices, extending the length of your savings.

We expect Charter’s retention department to deliver a tougher line on retention packages and promotions than Time Warner Cable gave customers. Once these promotional prices expire, your rates will step up each year for two years thereafter until you reach the “rack rate” — Charter’s regular pricing. Your ability to secure new customer pricing again will probably require you to bounce between providers or cancel/come back as a new customer. I am told by long-time Charter customers that Charter’s retention prices are usually not as good as new customer pricing.

We have some corrections to our earlier coverage on this last month: broadband-only customers will pay a promotional rate of $39.99 a month for the first year for 60Mbps service, $79.99 a month for 100Mbps service (100Mbps or 300Mbps in existing TWC Maxx territories), not the $60/99 rack rate. We have received word Earthlink will continue to be another option for customers to consider for broadband service, which can be a good way to secure extended promotional pricing. Another change: phone service is now an extra $10 a month, not $20, as part of a triple play package. We notice Charter only lists free calling to U.S. numbers on this sheet. Time Warner Cable includes free calls to Canada, Mexico, China, Hong Kong, India, The EU, Norway and U.S. territories. We are unsure if this represents an omission or a downgrade. Also, the Wi-Fi fee is waived for Spectrum Ultra, which corrects our earlier piece where we thought this fee would apply to both broadband packages. Multi-DVR service pricing is still confusing on this chart. We’ve heard Charter intends to ditch TWC’s Whole House DVR service and give subscribers the option of multiple standalone DVR units instead. DVR pricing is: $4.99 for each DVR box + an $11.99 DVR service fee (if you have only one DVR). If you want multiple DVRs, they are each $4.99 a month with an all-inclusive monthly service fee of $19.99, regardless of how many extra DVR boxes you rent.

Obviously, we will be looking for money-saving opportunities for our readers once we get a better handle on Charter’s way of doing business.

spectrum-promo

Updated: Charter’s Plans for Time Warner Cable, Bright House Customers Apparently Leaked

charter twc bhUpdated 9/7/2016: Please check our latest coverage on promotional packages for Bright House and Time Warner Cable customers that are being introduced in September 2016 by new parent company Charter Communications. Some of the prices reflected below are now out of date! 

Charter’s plans for Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks customers are now potentially clearer thanks to the apparent leak of several informational slides from a presentation given to employees to familiarize them with Charter’s forthcoming service plans.

A reader of DSL Reports in California shared what purports to be informational slides from a company training course. Los Angeles is among the first markets to be offered the new Charter/Spectrum service plans, likely to arrive as early as mid-September.

We’ve condensed the information down into a more readable format to give you an idea (subject to change, of course) about Charter’s pricing and plans. Existing customers may not need to give up their current plans right away, and some customers may not want to. Charter has recognized Time Warner Cable Maxx’s network upgrades in its plans and pricing, which means customers already upgraded for Maxx service will get better value from Charter’s plans than those customers who never made the upgrade list before Time Warner Cable was sold.

Keep in mind Charter will start by offering all “New Charter” customers a “new customer” promotion, priced low the first year and then increasing incrementally in price during the second and third years. Year three pricing will be equivalent to Charter’s regular price, which will be substantially higher than customers on Time Warner Cable customer retention plans have paid. Charter’s service plans offer improved broadband speeds, but at a significantly higher price. Standalone broadband customers in particular will feel an immediate sting. Charter’s entry-level price for most customers is $59.99 for 60Mbps, about $25 more than Time Warner Cable’s promotional rate for Standard 15/1Mbps service, which has been selling for about $35/mo for the first year. Charter will point out that it includes a cable modem for free while Time Warner Cable charged $10 a month, but that offers no solace to customers who have purchased their own equipment.

Please note these plans and prices have not been officially confirmed by Charter. In fact, we would not be surprised to see some pricing changes before the plans are officially available.

TELEVISION

spectrum selectThere are big changes in store from Charter. First, the company will end distribution and support for Digital Transport Adapters (DTAs) — the small boxes designed for older analog-only TV sets. Charter expects you to have a traditional set-top box on every cable-equipped TV in the house. Second, it seems Whole House DVR service is being discontinued. Charter prefers the alternative of placing DVR boxes on each set where you want to record and watch TV shows. There is a significant cost for Time Warner Cable to install Whole House DVR service and it involves a technician coming to your home. Charter seems to want to cut truck roll expenses, and traditional DVR boxes are easy for customers to install themselves.

DVR pricing is still confusing for customers. A single DVR box is priced at $4.99 for the equipment + an $11.99 DVR service fee. DVR’s 2-4 cost $4.99 per box + a $19.99 DVR service fee. We are not sure if the $19.99 inclusively covers all DVR boxes in the home or if that is charged for each additional DVR. (Update: STC reader Ricardo reports the $19.99 fee is inclusive, so it is only charged once regardless of how many extra DVRs you have.)

For the first year, traditional set-top boxes for New Charter customers are a bargain at $4.99/mo. Legacy Charter customers pay $2 more, and we predict you will pay more as well after the first year, but the equipment fees are less than what Time Warner Cable charged.

Customers will choose from three plans: Select, Silver, or Gold:

  • Select: 125+ channels (HD included), Spectrum App (comparable to TWC TV app), 10,000+ On Demand Library ($64.99)
  • Silver: 175+ channels (HD included), Spectrum App, On Demand, HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, NFL Network ($84.99)
  • Gold: 200+ channels (HD included), Spectrum App, On Demand, premiums shown above + TMC, Starz, Encore, Epix, NFL Redzone ($104.99)

Charter’s pricing is built to encourage customers to bundle multiple services together, because substantial discounts are provided, especially when combining TV and internet service.

INTERNET

(Image courtesy of Tech_Guy 88/DSL Reports)

(All presentation slide images courtesy of Tech_Guy 88/DSL Reports)

Charter moves to just two tiers of service available to the public (except in New York where TWC’s $14.99 Everyday Low Price Internet continues to be an option for the next two years — although it has been removed from TWC’s website) and standalone broadband pricing is considerably more expensive with Charter than with Time Warner Cable.

Perhaps special promotional offers will bring standalone internet prices closer to the $34.95-39.95 most new customers have gotten for Time Warner’s Standard Service (15/1Mbps) for years. We expect most customers will be more sensitive to price vs. speed and standalone internet at these prices will be a shock. We are not certain if Earthlink will continue to be an alternative option.

Upload speeds in non-Maxx areas are conservative, if these slides are accurate, topping out at just 5Mbps. This still leaves Charter as one of the slower U.S. providers.

In TWC Non-Maxx Areas (maximum TWC speed now 50/5Mbps):

  • Spectrum Internet 60/5Mbps: Standalone $59.99/mo or $29.99 as part of a triple play package (first year promo price), $59.99 standalone or $53.99 as part of a bundle (regular price);
  • Spectrum Ultra 100/5Mbps: Standalone $119.99/mo or $99.99 as part of bundled package (first year promo price), $119.99 standalone or $113.99 as part of a bundle (regular price).

In TWC Maxx Territories (maximum speed now 300Mbps):

  • Spectrum Internet 100/10Mbps: Standalone $59.99/mo or $29.99 as part of a triple play package (first year promo price), $59.99 standalone or $53.99 as part of a bundle (regular price);
  • Spectrum Ultra 300/20Mbps: Standalone $119.99/mo or $99.99 as part of bundled package (first year promo price), $119.99 standalone or $113.99 as part of a bundle (regular price)

Spectrum Wi-Fi, for those without their own routers, can be added to any internet plan for a $9.99 setup charge and $5 a month.

spectrum assistCharter’s discount plan for the income-challenged carries the usual restrictions. The most unconscionable effectively forces current Charter customers to go without internet access for 60 days before they can enroll in Spectrum Internet Assist. They also must not owe any past due balance to Charter.

Assuming you qualify (eligible for the National School Lunch Program and senior citizens 65 years and older eligible for the federal Supplemental Security Income program), $14.99 will get you up to 30/4Mbps, plus an extra $5 a month if you want Charter to supply a Wi-Fi enabled router. The usual $9.99 activation fee is waived. Self-installation is free. If they have to send a truck to your home, the prevailing standard installation rate will apply. This is the only level of service Charter sells that will not require a credit check.

PHONE

Time Warner’s phone service had been promoted for years at $10 a month as part of a double-play or triple-play bundle. Charter’s triple play bundle pricing seems to show the price for phone service will now be effectively $20 a month.

Charter’s digital phone service has never seemed to be a marketing priority for Charter in its legacy service areas, and will likely be treated as an afterthought going forward. No further information about any service or calling area changes from what Time Warner Cable offered is available yet.

Charter Spending Its Money Renaming Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena After Itself

Phillip Dampier August 17, 2016 Charter, Consumer News, Time Warner Cable 1 Comment

TIME_WARNER_CABLE_ARENA006Time Warner Cable Arena is no more.

After Charter Communications completed its acquisition of TWC, it discovered it had work to do rebranding all-things-TWC, including the Charlotte, N.C., sports arena that is home to the Charlotte Hornets.

Charter will be spending its time and resources rechristening the arena “Spectrum Center” in time for the new NBA season starting in late October. Charter’s suite of products is branded “Spectrum,” much the same way Comcast calls many of its products “XFINITY.”

The Charlotte-arena originally opened in 2005 and Time Warner Cable acquired the naming rights back in 2008.

 

Meet North Carolina’s Sen. Thom Tillis (R-ALEC/Time Warner Cable)

Tillis was honored in 2011 as ALEC's "Legislator of the Year" and received an undisclosed cash reward.

Tillis was honored in 2011 as ALEC’s “Legislator of the Year” and received an undisclosed cash reward.

Back when we first became aware of Republican member of the North Carolina legislature Thom Tillis around 2010, he was hard at work building his political future just as Republicans were poised to take control of the state legislature for the first time since the days of Reconstruction. Despite running unopposed in 2010, Tillis raised more money from cable and phone companies than any other lawmaker in the state, depositing $37,000 before knowing he would be the next Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives in January 2011. To celebrate, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon each gave Tillis $1,000 just a few weeks before the swearing-in ceremony. It was money well spent, if you were a cable or phone company doing business in North Carolina.

Tillis left the legislature in 2015 to become the junior U.S. Senator from North Carolina. The telecom industry made sure to keep the campaign contributions flowing, if only to give their thanks for Tillis’ unwavering support for their agenda. Tillis doesn’t care much for his rural constituents still waiting for something better than dial-up internet access and as long as his campaign coffers remain bulging with corporate contributions, he doesn’t think he has much to fear from the state’s voters either. After all, he survived accusations from a resigning House Finance chairman that he had a secret business relationship with Time Warner Cable.

Raleigh’s The News & Observer felt it was their duty to mention Tillis in their editorial pages anyway, taking him to task for “cheering a loss for North Carolina consumers last week after a federal appeals court upheld a cable company protection law that he supported as state House speaker in 2011.”

The newspaper is talking about North Carolina’s infamous anti-public broadband bill that was literally constructed by lobbyists working for Time Warner Cable. The law effectively made it impossible for community broadband providers to bring their much-needed service to adjacent communities that have waited more than a decade for companies like Time Warner Cable, AT&T, CenturyLink and others to offer internet access in rural and underserved parts of the state.

Tillis personally helped shepherd the corporate protection bill, designed to shield incumbent cable and phone companies from community competition, through the state legislature, supporting it every step of the way. It would become law in 2011 and rural broadband in North Carolina hasn’t gotten any better since. In fact, it’s almost stagnant. But Tillis cannot say the same thing about his campaign bank accounts, which continue to bulge with corporate donations now in excess of $11 million.

An effort by the Federal Communications Commission to pre-empt the state law failed in a federal appeals court, much to the delight of Thom Tillis, something the newspaper calls an “insult” to North Carolinians looking for a better deal.

“Today’s ruling affirms the fact that unelected bureaucrats at the FCC completely overstepped their authority by attempting to deny states like North Carolina from setting their own laws to protect hard-working taxpayers and maintain the fairness of the free market,” Tillis said in a statement. Cough, cough.

The newspaper’s response:

Translation: Time Warner and other companies, thank goodness, will retain control of the market without having to worry about towns competing with them and thus will be able to charge people whatever the market will bear.

For Tillis to say the court ruling, which should be appealed, is a triumph for taxpayers is preposterous. It’s a setback. The “free market” he backs is one free of competition from municipal broadband services that offer a better product at a lower price.

Charter Announces Further Time Warner Cable Upgrades Are On Hold Until 2017

Maxx is dead.

Maxx is dead.

Charter Communications executives told Wall Street analysts that Time Warner Cable’s upgrade program has been suspended, to be replaced with Charter’s own previously announced plan of upgrades and “simplified pricing” sometime in 2017.

Time Warner Cable was responsible for a lot of the capital expenditures underway at the combined Charter-TWC-Bright House venture just before the merger deal closed in May. Christopher L. Winfrey, Charter’s chief financial officer and executive vice president, told investors Time Warner was on a small spending binge, rushing in orders for new cable broadband technology to hurry Maxx upgrades to customers before Charter took over operations.

Winfrey eased Wall Street’s concerns about Time Warner Cable spending 21% of revenue on capital expenditures during the last quarter, promising the more modest upgrades forthcoming from Charter will allow for future spending reductions. More immediately, Winfrey reassured investors the days of Time Warner Cable’s aggressive Maxx upgrade effort was over.

“There is, obviously, the significant amount of all-digital activity that was continuing at TWC,” Winfrey told analysts. “And that will be largely put on hold as we put in the Charter all-digital strategy the beginning of next year.”

Charter plans to cancel upgrades that would have established multiple Time Warner Cable speed tiers ranging from 50-300Mbps. Instead, Charter will roll out two speed tiers to Time Warner Cable customers — 60Mbps for around $60 a month and 100Mbps for around $100 a month for broadband-only customers.

Rutledge

Rutledge

“In the fall, we will begin to rebrand Time Warner Cable and Bright House and launch our Spectrum pricing and packaging in a number of key markets totaling over 40% of our acquired passings with the remainder in the first half of 2017,” said Charter CEO Thomas Rutledge.

Customers in certain states — notably New York — will be able to keep their current Time Warner Cable package for several years. Customers in other states will be pushed harder to transition into Charter’s simplified tiers.

“In 2017, the all-digital project at Time Warner Cable and Bright House markets will use the Charter all-digital strategy, which uses fully functioning two-way set-top boxes with video on demand and advanced guide functionality on every TV outlet,” said Rutledge. “We expect the project to be completed by 2018. We will also extend our practice of performing electronic connections instead of physical truck rolls as we go all-digital, allowing us to fully scale our self-installation and self-service practices.”

Charter only advertises 60Mbps internet access to most customers on its website.

Charter only advertises 60Mbps internet access to most customers on its website.

“Our plan is to have Spectrum Guide available in most Legacy Charter markets by the end of this year,” added Rutledge, referring to the on-screen channel guide. “We will launch Spectrum Guide in TWC’s larger markets by the middle of 2017 and other TWC and Bright House markets following through the year and likely continuing through 2018 as we complete the all-digital project.”

Rutledge was critical of Time Warner Cable and Bright House’s myriad of service tiers and prices.

“Through different metrics and stages of development, we can see that TWC and more recently, Bright House had both become reliant on rate increases and retention offers, each of which has various short and long-term effects including encouraging customers to initiate more transactions,” Rutledge said. “We’ve addressed these types of issues at Legacy Charter and we’ll do so at TWC and Bright House during the Spectrum pricing and packaging migration.”

That means Charter intends to dramatically cut the number of service and pricing options and convince customers to stop switching to promotional offers that they eventually abandon when the promotion ends. Charter prefers stable prices for services and reducing the amount of customer retention packages they have to offer to price-sensitive customers. As prices reset and increase, increased call volumes results as customers negotiate for a better deal. Removing the incentive to negotiate is seen as a cost saving maneuver and keeps customers on Charter’s regular price packages longer.

Charter: We Won’t Screw Up Southern California Like Frontier Did With Verizon

Phillip Dampier July 13, 2016 Broadband Speed, Charter, Consumer News, Frontier 3 Comments

frontier frankCharter Communications is promising its Southern California customers it won’t bungle the transition from Time Warner Cable to Charter Communications like Frontier Communications did with former Verizon customers.

“We purchased all of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. With this transaction we acquired everything,” company spokesman Justin Venech said. “We’re able to take more time in the integration process and not rush to make changes.”

Charter will take up to 18 months to make its presence fully known in areas formerly served by Time Warner Cable, and then primarily under its brand name known as Spectrum.

Time Warner Cable customers will be able to keep their current service and packages even after the transition, at least for a while.

charter twcBut not all customers are happy about Charter’s slow transition plans. Customers waiting for Time Warner Cable Maxx upgrades, some already in progress, may be out of luck. Charter’s new management team put an indefinite hold on Time Warner’s more aggressive upgrade plans in favor of Charter’s much more modest commitment to offer customers two broadband speed tiers – 60 and 100Mbps over the next 18 months. Customers in the northeast and midwest have been told there are no longer any definitive dates for the introduction of Maxx, which offers free speed upgrades up to 300Mbps.

Almost all of Time Warner Cable’s executive management has been escorted out of the company’s Manhattan headquarters, severance pay and benefits in hand. In fact, Charter plans to abandon Time Warner Cable’s Manhattan headquarters altogether and shift top management to its plush Connecticut office. Most workers will be reassigned to other locations yet to be announced, some possibly upstate.

Charter has already begun repricing service and packages that will resemble Spectrum offerings, at least for new customers across Time Warner Cable and Bright House territories. The packages will not carry the Spectrum brand just yet, however.

 

 

Some of America’s Largest Telecom Companies Are Overbilling You

bill errorAs part of its investigation of cable and satellite television companies, the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found large discrepancies in how five of America’s largest cable and satellite companies—Charter Communications, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV, and Dish—identify and correct overcharges caused by company billing errors.

The subcommittee released its report to coincide with today’s hearings on customer service and billing practices in the cable and satellite television industry. The Senate subcommittee focused its attention primarily on billing errors associated with rented set-top boxes and receivers, not programming packages or add-on services. The bipartisan report found satellite TV company Dish was probably the least prone to billing errors associated with satellite equipment and Time Warner Cable was the worst at identifying equipment billing discrepancies. Even when it did find instances of overbilling, the company refused to give customers automatic full refunds as a matter of “efficiency.”

That “efficiency” is expected to be very profitable for Time Warner Cable, which is likely to collect $1,919,844 from overbilling this year alone. Time Warner Cable estimates that, in 2015, it overbilled 40,193 Ohio customers a total of $430,393 and 4,232 Missouri customers a total of $44,152. Time Warner Cable also told the subcommittee that, during the first five months of 2016, it overbilled customers in Ohio for 11,049 pieces of equipment, totaling $108,221.

Charter Communications only did marginally better, mostly because it is a much smaller cable company. Charter estimates that it has overcharged approximately 5,897 Missouri customers a total of $494,000. Charter, along with Time Warner Cable, made no effort to trace equipment overcharges to their origin unless customers specifically asked them to and did not provide notice or refunds to customers.

Let’s review how the five companies compare:

Time Warner Cable

time-warner-cable-sucksTime Warner Cable is notorious for its “no refunds unless asked” policy, which often leaves customers uncompensated for service outages and other problems. That policy also extends to equipment-related billing errors. During the 6.5 year time period covered by the subcommittee investigation, Time Warner Cable never automatically refunded or credited customer for equipment overcharges discovered by the company. Instead, Time Warner’s “Revenue Assurance” team quietly identified and corrected billing errors without any notification or explanation to customers, which may explain why your Time Warner Cable bill can change even when you are locked in with a promotion.

The subcommittee discovered Time Warner Cable still relies on two entirely different billing systems. One, “Integrated Communications Operations Management System”, otherwise known as ICOMS, is especially troublesome to navigate at Time Warner because the company does not use standardized coding across the entire company. Placing an order for Internet service in the Northeast Division of Time Warner Cable is completely different from ordering the same product in a city like Kansas City or the west coast. Employees have complained about ICOMS for years, noting it can take up to 30 separate codes entered correctly in the system to add just one product, like High-Speed Internet. A simple data entry error can mess up an order and generate a billing error (or a lost order or service request that is never processed). But Time Warner Cable also relies on a different platform developed by CSG to manage some of its billing. Some of Time Warner Cable’s acquisitions, like Insight Communications, have operated under the Time Warner Cable brand for several years, but still use some of the billing platforms that were in place before Time Warner took over.

The subcommittee found strong evidence ICOMS is a big problem for Time Warner Cable. Attempts to audit the platform often crash, as it did in May of this year, preventing Time Warner Cable from identifying billing issues. At best, the company only aims for an 80% correction rate using its auditing tools.

One audit uncovered 18,000 customers in the Carolinas, Midwest, and Northeast that were being overbilled for modem and CableCARD equipment. Although Time Warner Cable was going to remove the erroneous charges going forward, it had no plans to automatically refund customers it identified as overcharged unless customers somehow realized that themselves and called in to request retroactive credit.

icoms error

Time Warner Cable erroneously billed one of its own employees for three Internet accounts.

Time Warner Cable once erroneously billed one of its own employees for three Internet accounts.

The subcommittee found if an audit showed that a customer had not been billed for equipment or services that the customer had received, the company treats those inconsistencies as undercharges and adds the charge to the customer’s bill going forward. Time Warner Cable does not attempt to retroactively charge the customer for previous months where that customer was undercharged.

If the audit shows that a customer has been billed for equipment or services that he or she does not have, the story is more complicated. In some cases, customers agree to pay for equipment they do not actually have so that they can receive a cheaper package price—for example, a consumer who wants only Internet service might decide the cheapest option is a promotional package including both Internet and cable television. By participating in the promotion, the customer agrees to pay a monthly rental fee for a set-top box but may instruct the company not to provide a set-top box. In such a case, the customer’s billing records will show a charge for a set-top box, but the customer’s equipment records will show that he or she does not physically have a set-top box. In April 2016, for example, Time Warner Cable identified 49,132 pieces of equipment associated with overcharges; of those 37,653 (approximately 77 percent) were not “correctable” overcharges because they were associated with accounts participating in promotional offers.

Time Warner Cable does not attempt to trace billing errors to their origin. Instead, it only provides a partial credit for the month during which the error was discovered. The company will not notify you of the error or for how long it has been on your bill. Unless you call and demand full credit for the overbilling, you will not receive it.

The cable company defends its policy on the ground that it is “efficient.” Going through months of customer bills to identify overcharges would be costly and time consuming, the company argues. The company also claims that the customer is best positioned to notice an overcharge and bring it to Time Warner Cable’s attention.

After reviewing policies at several different companies, the subcommittee cast doubt on Time Warner’s assertions, noting other companies had no problems returning overbilled amounts to customers without a request to do so.

Charter Communications

Unfortunately for customers, not included on the list of companies willing and able to automatically refund overbilling is Charter Communications, which recently acquired Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.

therealcharterbundleThe subcommittee called Charter’s process of identifying and correct overbilling “substandard.”

According to Charter, prior to August 2015, the company did not run any systematic audits to reconcile its billing records with equipment records. Charter’s failure to perform regular audits means that overcharged customers could not receive a prospective correction of their bill unless they noticed the problem themselves and contacted Charter. Beginning in August 2015, however, Charter began taking steps to identify equipment overcharges now on its system. Charter will complete that process in June 2016.

Charter recently upgraded some of its systems to make sure that when an employee adds or deletes services and/or equipment, an update to the customer’s billing record occurs automatically. Charter has 21 employees working for its Billing Quality Assurance department. The employees randomly sample bills to check their accuracy and when Charter changes its bill format or presentation, the team is supposed to review the bills to make certain any billing changes do not introduce mass errors. The subcommittee found these auditing methods were unlikely to discover common “one-off” errors, such as when customers are overbilled for equipment or programming on their specific account.

Charter’s alternate methods of identifying discrepancies quickly become more convoluted and less useful after that.

For example, beginning in August 2015, Charter undertook what it called a “controller reconciliation,” in which the company began to reconcile its billing records with equipment data from its 35 “controllers” throughout the country. These “controllers” are designed to manage box authorizations and “from the office” service connection and disconnection so that a truck roll is unnecessary. These systems can also be useful in identifying unauthorized equipment installed at locations where they were never registered or if the box was authorized for channels a customer was not paying to receive. A controller reconciliation allowed Charter to identify anomalies like in Missouri, where almost 6,000 customers were being billed for set-top boxes they were not using.

The subcommittee was unhappy neither Time Warner Cable or Charter seem willing to use “brute manpower to identify how long a customer has been overcharged and automatically grant a refund or credit,” as well as do more to minimize equipment and programming mismatches with billing records.

Comcast has bigger problems than overbilling.

Comcast has bigger problems than overbilling.

Comcast

Comcast relies on a very similar auditing process in use at Time Warner Cable to identify billing discrepancies, except once Comcast finds one it identifies how long a customer was overcharged, notifies the customer and automatically credits the customer’s account. Starting late last year, Comcast began running audits weekly to improve billing accuracy. Comcast claims just a 0.3% error rate.

Comcast has more than 60 employees nationwide on the east and west coasts examining billing issues and, when needed, individually investigates each case to identify applicable refunds.

DirecTV

DirecTV doesn’t do regular audits, instead relying on a program called SAS Enterprise Miner to search for billing errors before bills are generated. It can also use the same tools to identify and correct past billing errors. The satellite provider goes as far back as necessary to correct past mistakes, and pointed to instances where credits of thousands of dollars were issued to affected customers. DirecTV’s Revenue Assurance department can also reach out and communicate with employees at all levels of the company to investigate billing issues and prevent future ones. What will change as a result of AT&T’s ownership of the company isn’t known.

Dish Network

dishDish was cited by the subcommittee report as having the billing system least likely to generate billing errors. Dish links its equipment and billing systems together, which means any change on one system automatically updates the other.

According to Dish, it is impossible to add or remove equipment without altering the customer’s billing records. Dish provides each customer with one free “receiver”—Dish’s term for the equivalent of a set-top box—and charges $7.00 to $15.00 per month for each additional receiver a customer has. That is the only equipment charge. Dish’s system will only send a television signal to receivers that have been “activated,” which happens as part of the installation process. Once a receiver has been activated, the customer’s billing information is automatically updated to reflect that addition. That system ensures that no receiver is added to a customer’s account unless it has been activated.

Dish customers return their receivers by mail. Dish provides a packaging label so that it can track the receiver once it has been mailed. When the receiver returns to the Dish warehouse, an employee scans the barcode on the receiver, which removes the receiver from the customer’s provisioning records and, in turn, from the customer’s bill.

Hearing: Customer Service and Billing Practices in the Cable and Satellite Television Industry

Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, June 23, 2016 10:00AM ET

(Video starts at 19:55) (2:18:54)

Stop the Cap! to N.Y. Public Service Commission: Time Warner Cable Stalls Upgrades

stc

June 16, 2016

Hon. Kathleen H. Burgess
Secretary, Public Service Commission
Three Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12223-1350

Dear Ms. Burgess,

Today, we confirmed that Charter Communications has ordered an indefinite suspension of the Time Warner Cable Maxx broadband upgrade program pending a review that seems to carry no specific timeline for completion.[1]

We are deeply concerned about the implications of this decision, particularly as Time Warner Cable has been performing broadband upgrades this spring and summer in the Hudson Valley[2] and Syracuse/Central New York[3] regions that deliver important speed upgrades to customers in New York State. We have good information that Rochester was the next city scheduled for these upgrades, followed by Buffalo. These upgrades would have provided customers with up to 300Mbps broadband service as soon as late this year across a significant section of upstate New York, with the western New York/Buffalo region upgraded in 2017.

It is clear the only reason these upgrades have been suspended relates to the recent ownership change of Time Warner Cable, approved by the N.Y. Public Service Commission.

As you know, Stop the Cap! argued our concerns about approving the merger transaction between Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable, in part because Time Warner Cable’s Maxx upgrade program offered more compelling broadband upgrades, at a lower price, and introduced faster than Charter’s own offer.[4]

The alarming development of an indefinite nationwide suspension of the Maxx upgrade program has profound implications on large sections of upstate New York waiting for urgently needed broadband speed upgrades. The announcement also suggests large sections of New York will be waiting much longer to reach speed parity with cities, mostly downstate, that already enjoy up to 300Mbps service on an upgraded, less trouble-prone network.

Once again, New Yorkers are being divided into those with reasonably fast speeds, and those without. Should Charter adopt the slowest possible upgrade schedule permitted by the Commission, several upstate cities will be waiting until the end of 2018 – almost two years, to receive 100Mbps broadband.[5] I’d remind the Commission other major cable companies are offering residential customers speeds up to 2Gbps today[6], and many already offer tiers that well exceed Charter’s promised maximum speed.

Charter’s corporate decisions also impact New Yorkers more profoundly than other states because of the absence of significant competition. Outside of limited deployments of Verizon FiOS, DSL continues to predominate from New York telephone companies, including Verizon, Frontier, TDS, Windstream, and others. In most cases, these speeds do not come close to achieving the minimum 25Mbps speed that the FCC defines as “broadband.”

In states to our west, AT&T is already offering gigabit Internet service to residential customers, and Google Fiber (which has bypassed the entire northeastern U.S. for fiber deployment) continues its own expansion.

We urge the Commission to obtain definitive information about the current Maxx upgrade delay, the reasons for it, the timetable to resume upgrades (if ever), and an assurance that Charter Communications will resume a comparably rapid Maxx-equivalent upgrade for New Yorkers that Time Warner Cable was well on its way to complete within the next two years. We also hope the Commission will share its findings with the general public.

Yours very truly,

 

Phillip M. Dampier
Director

[1] Text of a company memo obtained by Stop the Cap! originally sent to Time Warner Cable’s engineering/customer support team: “The Maxx Internet Speed Increase Program is currently undergoing review by our leadership team. As a result, all speed increases and customer communications were placed on a temporary hold beginning Thursday, May 26. Once the updated launch schedule is determined, updated hub schedules will be posted to KEY and area management will be notified. Customers will continue to receive notification when the new speeds are available in their hubs.” (http://stopthecap.com/2016/06/16/charter-indefinitely-suspends-time-warner-cable-maxx-upgrades-pending-review/)

[2] http://www.timewarnercable.com/en/about-us/press/twc-increases-internet-speed-hudson-valley.html

[3] http://www.timewarnercable.com/en/about-us/press/twc-to-transform-tv-internet-experience-central-northern-ny.html

[4] http://documents.dps.ny.gov/public/Common/ViewDoc.aspx?DocRefId={FCB40F67-B91F-4F65-8CCD-66D8C22AF6B1}

[5] http://documents.dps.ny.gov/public/Common/ViewDoc.aspx?DocRefId={DEE1823A-AADD-48D4-94BD-B96BAC096DAA}

[6] http://www.xfinity.com/multi-gig-offers.html

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