Throughout the Starmount neighborhood I am seeing Datawatt Solutions trucks installing orange interduck for fiber to be installed in homes in Greensboro. This excites me to see finally we might get some competition in our city for high speed internet access, not to mention we might get real high definition television at a reasonable price. As the trucks roll closer to my street in Hamilton Lakes I made inquiry to North State and they told me:
Carol Lockhart <[email protected]> , 2/9/2015 12:35 PM: Hi Nicky. As you are aware North State is installing Fiber in several areas in Greensboro. I've heard from others in the area that you understand what fiber can mean to residents and businesses and that you might be a great contact for us. It appears that your address is in our Phase 2 section of the build. This means availability at your address will be a little further out. Best regards, Carol Lockhart Sr. Manager - Relationship Marketing 1730 Westchester Dr., High Point, NC 27262
North State Communications is taking this as an opportunity to jump into the Greensboro market and deliver Gigabit fiber to homes and businesses in Greensboro when Google has made the decision to go to Charlotte and Raleigh. For my limited knowledge of North State Telephone they are a privately held, very profitable, cash rich family in High Point that has the capital to build their fiber network into Greensboro. North State is an innovative, forward-thinking communications and information technology company dedicated to meeting the needs of consumers and businesses in High Point, Thomasville, Archdale, Randleman, Jamestown, Trinity, Greensboro, Kernersville and beyond. Their goal is to provide the best, most technologically advanced products and services available supported by local, knowledgeable, friendly technicians and sales representatives. My long term speculation is that if North State builds a carrier-class fiber network in the Piedmont Triad it will long-term benefit them not because they will create a new revenue stream, but will build a value more than of their small private telephone company in High Point positioning themselves for an exit strategy that will pocket them many millions.
The competitive market internet savvy home bound tele-workers is about to become much better. I think with North State making the large multi-million dollar investment into the Greensboro community this should tell us that someone in High Point sees an opportunity to help us grow and have some competition. Maybe TW Cable and AT&T will pony up their game and improve their service, technology and pricing. TW Cable’s 50 year old coax cable radio signal technology know as DOCSIS 3.0 is outdated and has an end-of-life.
Frankly, living in the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina, being a business owner and a tax paying citizen, I am fed up with only having two options TW Cable and AT&T. TW Cable has the worst technology and absolutely the worst customer service of any company I have ever had to deal with in my lifetime. I can say honesting I have had better experiences dealing with the IRS and the FCC than I have with TW Cable.
Every time it rains in Greensboro I am guaranteed to have internet problems. When school get out in the afternoon and kids get home to surf the net my access slows down. I have shown TW Cable router engineers problems they have in their core network and they only tell me they are doing the best they can with the resources they have because I am told unofficially that their capital improvements have been frozen until after the TW Cable – Comcast merger.
By they way if you think Time Warner Cable customer service is bad, wait until to talk to a Comcast customer service representative. Read the Criticism of Comcast Customer service posted on Wikipedia. It a miracle that they are still in business except they have a monopoly on the market. I will not go in to my beliefs to why they have a monopoly, only to say look at the lobbyist groups in Washington DC. Read Comcast and Time Warner Cable Spend $5 Million Lobbying in Q1, or in Time Magazine online Why Comcast has 76 lobbyist working in Washington DC.
Today, President Obama laid out his plan to protect the free and open Internet. He noted that “an open Internet is essential to the American economy, and increasingly to our very way of life. By lowering the cost of launching a new idea, igniting new political movements, and bringing communities closer together, it has been one of the most significant democratizing influences the world has ever known.”
Specifically, the President noted that “the time has come for the FCC to recognize that broadband service is of the same importance and must carry the same obligations as so many of the other vital services do. To do that, I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act – while at the same time forbearing from rate regulation and other provisions less relevant to broadband services. This is a basic acknowledgment of the services ISPs provide to American homes and businesses, and the straightforward obligations necessary to ensure the network works for everyone – not just one or two companies.”
President Obama said he believed the FCC should create a new set of rules to protect net neutrality and ensure that neither cable companies or phone companies are able to act as gatekeepers, restricting what anyone can do or see online. He proposed “simple, common-sense steps” for the FCC to consider as they approach the net neutrality debate:
- No blocking. If a consumer requests access to a website or service, and the content is legal, an ISP should not be permitted to block it.
- No throttling. Nor should ISPs be able to intentionally slow down some content or speed up other content based on the type of service or an ISP’s preferences.
- Increased transparency. The connection between consumers and ISPs – the so-called “last mile” – is not the only place some sites might get special treatment. The FCC should make full use of the transparency authorities the court recently upheld, and if necessary apply net neutrality rules to points of interconnection between the ISP and the rest of the Internet.
- No paid prioritization. No service should be stuck in a “slow lane” because it does not pay a fee. That kind of gatekeeping would undermine the level playing field essential to the Internet’s growth. There should be an explicit ban on paid prioritization and any other restriction that has a similar effect.
Over the past month, there have been many reports that the FCC would soon publish an NPRM classifying an online video distributor (OVD) that delivers linear streams of video programming as an MVPD (“multichannel video programming distributor”), which inter alia would allow OVDs to take advantage of the FCC’s program access rules and to negotiate retransmission consent with broadcasters, who would be subject to the requirement of “good faith negotiations.”
On October 28, 2014, in an announcement posted on the Official FCC Blog, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler circulated such a proposal:
“Today I am proposing to extend the same concept to the providers of linear, Internet-based services; to encourage new video alternatives by opening up access to content previously locked on cable channels. What could these over-the-top video providers (OTTs) supply to consumers? Many different kinds of multichannel video packages designed for different tastes and preferences. A better ability for a consumer to order the channels he or she wants to watch.”
Specifically, Chairman Wheeler proposes the start of a rulemaking proceeding to modify the interpretation of the term MVPD “so that it is technology-neutral” and turns on the type of services the applicable provider offers, as opposed to how those services are delivered to the consumer. If successful, the new rule would reverse a prior Media Bureau-level finding that an MVPD has to control both the content and the “transmission path” that delivers the video programming. In the “Sky Angel” case, the FCC Media Bureau ruled that, with respect to Sky Angel’s Internet TV service, it was the subscribers’ Internet service providers that provided the “transmission path” and therefore Sky Angel could not qualify as an MVPD.
Chairman Wheeler also proposes extending certain MVPD program access rules to Internet TV services to prevent, in his words, vertically integrated networks (i.e., cable companies that also own video content) from “rais[ing] artificial barriers to competition by refusing to let their video competitors have access to the programming they own.”
Notably, the proposed new OVD rule would apply only to providers that offer “linear” streams of programming, and not to video-on-demand services like Netflix or Hulu.
The MVPD proposal has garnered a lot of attention from the media and for good reason. However, Wheeler’s official proposal has not yet been fully released to the public, leaving a number of open questions:
- Access Rules and Retransmission Consent: If such reforms are implemented, online providers would be granted status as bona fide providers and given the same right to negotiate for carriage of broadcast television content as traditional cable and satellite providers. However, Chairman Wheeler’s post did not mention how far access rules would apply beyond integrated providers and whether current rules that require broadcast networks to negotiate retransmission consent in “good faith” would be strengthened or remain the same.
- Interplay with Copyright Law: It is also unclear how any rule change would mesh with copyright law. It remains an open question whether these newly-minted MVPDs would be deemed “cable systems” under Section 111 of the Copyright Act (which outlines the statutory licensing scheme that allows cable systems to get compulsory copyright licenses for the channels they carry). To be sure, the Copyright Office has previously stated that the Section 111 compulsory license would be available to those transmission services regulated as cable systems by the FCC.
- OTT Feasibility: From a technical perspective, it’s not completely clear that the current broadband “pipes” are ready to handle a large influx of OTT services. Currently, there are about 50 million Netflix subscribers, a service which reportedly accounts for about 34% of Internet traffic at the busiest times of the day. It is not clear what will happen if even a small percentage of the almost 100 million cable and satellite subscribers switch to over-the-top services showing linear programming. In Chairman Wheeler’s vision, the expansion of program access would “stimulate the high-speed broadband build-out,” presumably a necessary condition to large-scale adoption of Internet distribution by viewers.
With many technology companies, start-ups and big content providers waiting in the wings to offer legal, licensed over-the-top video streaming services, and the courts wrestling with the legality of online video distribution of copyrighted programming, it seems that the climate is ripe for reform. In Chairman Wheeler’s view, “the mantra ‘Competition, Competition, Competition’ fits perfectly with consumers’ desires for video choices” and he sees the country as no longer in an era “where it [is] necessary to build a purpose-specific pathway to deliver video.” Yet, given the complexity of the issues involved and the number of interested parties, the details of the final changes to rules (if any) are far from certain.
We will keep you posted as we learn more about the FCC proposal and would be happy to discuss the potential impact on your business at any time.
Time Warner Cable suffered a massive Internet outage this week that left more than 11 million customers without Internet access for approximately three hours. No biggie, though, these sorts of things happen every now and then… right? Well, maybe. But MIT’s Technology Review has talked with some experts who say that TWC’s big outage this week raises some troubling questions about its overall infrastructure.
To start with, Technology Review notes that it seems a single human error was somehow able to cascade throughout TWC’s entire network and leave it crippled for hours. David Erickson, a cofounder of networking software company Forward Networks, says that such mistakes are “entirely preventable” while implying that a big company like TWC should really be more on top of its game.
And Jonathan Zittrain, a professor of Internet law at Harvard Law School, tellsTechnology Review that he’s most disturbed that TWC hasn’t disclosed many details about the outage that would give us a better idea of exactly what caused it and whether it was something that TWC should have been able to prevent with due diligence.
“We ought to have standards for release of data by broadband providers to allow apples-to-apples comparisons and tracking of outages over time so the public, and policymakers, can gauge trends in connectivity,” Zittrain explained, while also saying that such outages are magnified when an ISP has a last-mile monopoly in any given area.
Apparently tired of seeing Comcast hog all the bad publicity this past month, would-be merger partner Time Warner Cable has leapt back into the spotlight by delivering a nationwide Internet service outage. As Business Insider reports, TWC customers are complaining that their Internet service is down from coast to coast and an outage map posted on Twitter seems to show that this outage affects just about every customer in TWC’s footprint.
To make matters worse, TWC’s website is completely down as well and phone calls to the company are yielding nothing but busy signals. There’s been no word yet on what’s causing the outage or when you can expect it to get fixed but we’ll be sure to post details from the company when we get them.
And if you’re a frustrated TWC customer, don’t worry — all of these kinds of problems will be fixed once TWC merges with Comcast, which has an absolutely stellar track record when it comes to customer service.
UPDATE: TWC has just sent out a message saying that it’s working as quickly as possible to restore service in all affected areas and that it doesn’t have an estimated time for when all services will be back online.
Time Warner Cable also offered the following explanation for the outage: “At 4:30 a.m. ET this morning during our routine network maintenance, an issue with our Internet backbone created disruption with our Internet & On Demand services. As of 6 a.m. ET services were largely restored as updates continue to bring all customers back online.”
Netflix has defended Net Neutrality numerous times before, all the while having to ink interconnect deals with four major ISPs (including Comcast and TWC) to ensure its customers get an enjoyable movie streaming experience.
In its lengthy FCC petition, Netflix explains that a Comcast-TWC giant would have huge leverage over Netflix, Hulu and other competing providers, as it would not only be in a position to charge these services fees for faster service, but also provide competing video-on-demand services of its own which could further hurt video streaming companies, Engadget reports
Netflix also said that Comcast and TWC’s claims that there is enough competition in the business are disingenuous, as in many markets there’s no such competition, and DSL Internet service from AT&T and Verizon isn’t enough for Netflix video streaming.
This lack of competition will further put Comcast-TWC in a position in which it could intentionally slow traffic in “terminating networks,” where content moves from one network to the ISP’s to ask more money from a content service provider in exchange for better traffic.
Engadget points out that Dish has also petitioned the FCC against the same proposed merger, similarly highlighting the negative aspects of the Comcast-TWC deal.
COMCAST TO DIVEST 3.9 MILLION CUSTOMERS OF MERGED COMCAST – TIME WARNER CABLE CHARTER TO ENHANCE SCALE AND IMPROVE GEOGRAPHIC FOOTPRINT DIVESTITURE WILL BE EXECUTED THROUGH THREE SEPARATE TRANSACTIONS, INCLUDING THE CREATION OF A NEW, INDEPENDENT, PUBLICLY-TRADED CABLE PROVIDER
PHILADELPHIA and STAMFORD, Conn., April 28, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Charter Communications (Nasdaq: CHTR) today announced that the companies have reached an agreement (the “Agreement”) on a series of tax-efficient transactions, whereby the combined Comcast-Time Warner Cable entity, following completion of Comcast’s previously announced merger with Time Warner Cable, will divest systems resulting in a net reduction of approximately 3.9 million video customers. The divestiture follows through on Comcast’s willingness to reduce its post-merger managed subscriber total to less than 30 percent of total national MVPD subscribers, while maintaining the compelling strategic and financial rationale of its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable.
Pursuant to the Agreement, and following the close of the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, Charter will acquire approximately 1.4 million existing Time Warner Cable subscribers, increasing Charter’s current residential and commercial video customer base from 4.4 million to approximately 5.7 million, and making Charter the second largest cable operator in the United States. Charter and Comcast will also each transfer approximately 1.6 million customers respectively. In addition, Charter, through a tax free reorganization, will form a new holding company (New Charter) that will own 100% of Charter, and acquire an approximate 33 percent stake in a new publicly-traded cable provider to be spun-off by Comcast serving approximately 2.5 million customers (“SpinCo”). Charter will provide management services to SpinCo. In aggregate, today’s announced transactions will significantly enhance Charter’s scale and improve both companies geographic footprint, driving operational efficiencies for Comcast, Charter and SpinCo.
The Agreement has been approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies and Time Warner Cable’s Board has consented to the Agreement as required under the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger agreement.