Home » cable company » Recent Articles:

Rep. Brindisi Questions Spectrum’s “Unfair and Sneaky” Debt Collection Practices

Brindisi, as he appeared in a campaign ad slamming Charter Spectrum in the summer of 2018.

Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.), who made his battle with Spectrum into an election issue in 2018, is not done with the cable company yet.

This week, Brindisi appealed to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to launch an investigation into the cable company’s debt collection practices.

“Fighting Spectrum on rising rates also includes making sure they can’t use debt collection as another money-making tactic,” said Brindisi. “And the only way to get to the bottom of this is for the CFPB to ask the questions I outline in my letter.”

Brindisi is targeting Credit Management L.P., a Plano, Tex. collection agency that Spectrum relies on to pursue former customers, often to seek compensation for “lost or unreturned equipment.”

“After believing they had paid their final bill in full and returned their equipment, customers are finding themselves face-to-face with this unknown debt collector from Plano, Texas,” Brindisi told the CFPB. “One former Spectrum customer learned from Credit Management L.P. that they owed over $100 long after amicably ending their service. Spectrum never notified this customer they owed a penny. Instead, they sent them to collections, potentially damaging their credit rating and giving up their social security number and other personal information.”

In some cases, customers are being turned over to the collection agency for as little as an allegedly unreturned remote control. As a result, consumers are ending up with damaged credit because of the reported collection activity.

“The Better Business Bureau has logged hundreds of complaints about Credit Management L.P.,” Brindisi added. “Many of these complaints have been about their debt collection practices related to cable and internet companies. Customers have specifically named Spectrum and other cable companies as the source of the erroneous debt. A consumer should not be sent to a debt collector, without warning, for a missing remote control. That is both unfair and a sneaky way Spectrum might be padding its bottom line, which would be unacceptable, worthy of investigation and potentially in violation of federal rules.”

Brindisi wants the CFPB to determine how many customers are being pursued by Credit Management, L.P., how those customers are contacted, how much of the collection agency’s efforts relate to being compensated for allegedly unreturned equipment as opposed to late or non-payment of monthly cable bills, and how the agency handles customers’ private personal information.  Brindisi also wants the CFPB to determine if the collection practices violate federal law.

Brindisi also urged constituents being contacted by Credit Management L.P., on behalf of Spectrum, to call his office at (315) 732-0713.

In addition to running campaign commercials that slammed Spectrum, Brindisi has doggedly pursued the cable industry as a freshman congressman representing an Upstate New York district extending from the east end of Lake Ontario through Central New York to the Pennsylvania border, including the cities of Utica, Rome and Binghamton. Brindisi introduced the Transparency for Cable Consumers Act, promising to provide better oversight of cable and internet providers and hold companies accountable that are fined by a state Public Service Commission. In November, Brindisi slammed Spectrum in an opinion piece outlining his efforts to hold Spectrum accountable. Brindisi also recently launched a district-wide survey of home internet speeds and service to determine if internet customers are getting advertised internet speeds.

AT&T Ditches Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands to Raise Money to Cut Debt, Buy Back Its Own Stock

AT&T will sell its operations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to John Malone’s Liberty Latin America, Ltd., setting up a virtual market monopoly for Liberty, which already owns cable operator Liberty Cablevision of Puerto Rico.

Liberty Latin America has agreed to pay $1.95 billion in cash to acquire 1.1 million AT&T cellular, landline, and internet customers in both U.S. territories.

AT&T intends to use the proceeds of the sale to reduce debt and allow the company to lay the foundation to buy back more of its own shares, pleasing investors. AT&T had originally sought up to $3 billion for the Caribbean networks, partly acquired from a 2009 acquisition of Centennial Communications, which cost AT&T less than $1 billion.

Analysts say the low selling price shows AT&T is feeling pressure from activist investor Elliott Management, which has been pushing AT&T to divest non-core assets. The selling price was also impacted by the distressed state of AT&T’s infrastructure and customer base, impacted by Hurricane Maria in 2017, which damaged both the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and displaced hundreds of thousands of residents.

Liberty already has a major presence in Puerto Rico through its cable system — Puerto Rico’s largest pay television and broadband provider. Cable tycoon John Malone will effectively control Puerto Rico’s largest wireless phone and cable company. Claro, Puerto Rico’s landline provider, will be its chief competitor.

The two companies said they expect the deal to close within six to nine months.

Charter Urges Streaming Services to Crack Down on Password Sharing

Phillip Dampier September 16, 2019 Charter Spectrum, Competition, Consumer News, Online Video 5 Comments

Charter Communications is contemplating tying piracy mitigation to renewed contracts with movie studios, cable networks, and other programmers in an effort to enforce a new authentication standard to stop password sharing on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and CBS All Access.

The cable company is trying to build an alliance that will enforce authentication principles on subscribers that share passwords to streaming services. Walt Disney is the only programmer to sign on thus far, agreeing to Charter’s piracy mitigation strategies for its Disney+ service in return for a renewed contract to distribute Disney programming on Spectrum cable systems.

Thomas Rutledge, Charter’s CEO, has spoken frequently about revenue erosion caused when consumers share their streaming accounts with friends and extended family members. Spectrum enforces geofencing on its subscribers, prohibiting access to certain streamed content outside of the home. Rutledge has not been specific about exactly what types of limitations would be imposed under the new strategy, but examples could include geofencing, periodic location checks, and limits on the number of devices authorized to view content.

“Ultimately our goal is that we can get an alliance of a large enough group of programmers and operators to protect the value of the content that people produce and the content that we distribute and we pay for,” Chris Winfrey, Charter’s chief financial officer, said last week at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2019 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference in Beverly Hills.

Winfrey severely criticized programmers that turn a blind eye to the practice of password sharing, claiming such practices are “insane.”

“To think that it doesn’t impact the way we get paid, it does,” Winfrey said. “And it conditions the entire marketplace to think that content should be devalued, it should be free, and that’s the way it is and I shouldn’t have to pay for it. It’s our firm belief that we’d be growing and growing significantly [if it wasn’t for password sharing].”

CNBC: Justice Dept. Gives T-Mobile/Sprint Merger One Week to Settle Issues

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department would sue to block the merger of T-Mobile US Inc and Sprint Corp if the parties do not settle next week, CNBC reported on Thursday, citing sources.

T-Mobile and Sprint did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment. The Justice Department declined to comment.

In June, a group of U.S. state attorneys general filed suit to block the merger, arguing that the deal would cost consumers more than $4.5 billion annually.

To win over the Justice Department, which is not involved in the lawsuit, T-Mobile and Sprint have agreed to a series of deal concessions, including selling the prepaid brand Boost.

The companies have been in talks for weeks to sell Boost to Dish Network Corp but are haggling over issues such as restrictions over who can buy the divested assets if they are sold in the future, with T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom seeking to prevent them from going to a cable or technology company.

T-Mobile is about 63% owned by Deutsche Telekom and Sprint is controlled by Softbank Group Corp.

The companies told the court in late June that they were willing to refrain from closing the deal until after the state attorneys general case is completed.

The two companies have a July 29 deadline to complete the deal but are expected to extend it.

Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai has given his blessing to the merger in principle and is expected to circulate a formal order within weeks.

Reporting by David Shepardson and Diane Bartz in Washington and Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru; Editing by Sonya

CNBC’s David Faber reports the biggest stumbling block in the merger is a fear Dish might sell its wireless service to a cable company. T-Mobile wants contract language restricting that possibility. (5:13)

 

Cable Industry Has Low Latency Software Upgrade for DOCSIS 3.1; <1ms Possible

Phillip Dampier June 24, 2019 Broadband Speed, Consumer News, Cox 1 Comment

CableLabs has published a new specification for the DOCSIS 3.1 cable broadband platform that will support <1 ms latency, optimal for online gaming and virtual reality.

The new specification, dubbed low-latency DOCSIS (LLD), costs little to implement with a simple software upgrade, but some cable companies plan to charge customers nearly $15 a month more to enable the extra performance.

CableLabs Blog:

VR needs incredibly low latency between head movement and the delivery of new pixels to your eyes, or you start to feel nauseated. To move the PC out of the home, we need to make the communications over the cable network be a millisecond or less round trip. But our DOCSIS® technology at the time could not deliver that.

So, we pivoted again. Since 2016, CableLabs DOCSIS architects Greg White and Karthik Sundaresan have been focused on revolutionizing DOCSIS technology to support sub-1ms latency. Although VR is still struggling to gain widespread adoption, that low and reliable DOCSIS latency will be a boon to gamers in the short term and will enable split rendering of VR and augmented reality (AR) in the longer term. The specifications for Low Latency DOCSIS (as a software upgrade to existing DOCSIS 3.1 equipment) have been released, and we’re working with the equipment suppliers to get this out into the market and to realize the gains of a somewhat torturous innovation journey.

Your provider may already have LLD capability — the updates were pushed to cable operators in two stages, one in January and the most recent update in April. It will be up to each cable company to decide if and when to enable the feature. Additionally, low latency is only possible if the path between your provider and the gaming server has the capability of delivering it. Cable companies may need to invite some gaming platforms to place servers inside their networks to assure the best possible performance.

Cable operators are already conceptualizing LLD as a revenue booster. Cox Communications is already testing a low-latency gaming add-on with customers in Arizona, for which it charges an extra $14.99 a month. But reports from customers using it suggest it is not a true implementation of LLD. Instead, many users claim it is just an enhanced traffic routing scheme to reduce latency using already available technology.

A Cox representative stressed the service does not violate any net neutrality standards.

“This service does not increase the speed of any traffic, and it doesn’t prioritize gaming traffic ahead of other traffic on our network,” said CoxJimR on the DSL Reports Cox forum. “The focus is around improving gaming performance when it leaves our network and goes over the public internet, like a Gamer Private Network. No customer’s experience is degraded as a result of any customers purchasing Cox Elite Gamer service as an add-on to their internet service.”

CableLabs is treating LLD as a part of its “10G” initiative, expected to upgrade broadband speeds up to 10 Gbps. Among the next upgrades likely to be published is full duplex DOCSIS, which will allow cable operators to provide the same upload and download speeds.

Search This Site:

Contributions:

Recent Comments:

Your Account:

Stop the Cap!