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The latest report
(pdf) from the American Consumer Satisfaction Index highlights that consumer satisfaction with cable TV services remains among the worst in any industry -- and broadband ISP service satisfaction is even worse. While some companies made small strides, they haven't been enough. Pay TV and ISPs are ranked on par with or worse than most airlines (never a good thing), and well below the rankings seen by banks and government organizations like the Postal Service and IRS.
The pay TV industry's average score of 68 (out of 100) is helped slightly by Verizon FiOS (who saw a slight drop to 73 likely due to price hikes), but continues to be dragged down by the likes of Comcast and Time Warner Cable.
Despite seeing a 3% bump in customer satisfaction year over year, Comcast's score of 63 still sits near the bottom of the industry. Time Warner Cable meanwhile saw a 5% drop in satisfaction, and is the worst of the bunch with a score of 60.
Broadband ISPs, notes the ACSI, do "not deliver on any aspect of customer service in any particular fashion."
For the first time ever the folks at the ACSI rank broadband service providers, and the results aren't encouraging. The broadband ISP overall average ranking sits at 65, lower even than the historically dismal pay TV segment, and "the lowest among all industries in the index." Broadband ISPs, notes the ACSI, do "not deliver on any aspect of customer service in any particular fashion."
For ISPs, Verizon FiOS tops the rankings with an overall score of 71. From there it's all downhill, with ISPs like Cox (68), AT&T U-Verse (65), Charter (65), CenturyLink (64), Time Warner Cable (63), and Comcast (62) all vying for the worst performance crown. The study attributes high costs and significant continuing connection speed and reliability issues for the dismal rankings.
Leap Wireless' Cricket brand this week launched what they're calling "Half is More
" pricing, which the company claims offers users "unlimited plans for half the price of the competition." According to a Leap/Cricket press release
, the company's new $45 Offering provides unlimited text, voice and data services. However, the company rather buries the fact that by "unlimited" they mean around 1 GB, after which you're throttled back to dial-up era speeds for the remainder of the month. "Cricket is challenging consumers and asking the question that if you can pay only half and get the same thing, why wouldn't you?" the company asks. Perhaps because you historically abuse the hell out of
the word "unlimited"?
KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh recently examined FiOS customer complaints
) about dying batteries in Verizon FiOS ONT units. The batteries generally give users about eight hours of talk time during a power outage, but let out a repeated, shrill beep when the battery is depleted (usually after a year or two).
"We don't focus on megabits, we don't focus on gigabits, we focus on activities," Frontier CEO Maggie Wilderotter stated at an investor conference last week
, clearly trying to counter some of the buzz around Google Fiber. "We go to the activity set to get a sense of what customers are actually doing and the majority of our customers fit into that 6 Mbps or less category."
Granted many Frontier customers in our forums
will tell you they're lucky if their copper and loop length supports anything more than 3 Mbps, and those who can get faster speeds may not be able to justify paying Frontier's steep price premiums.
Speaking at the J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference earlier this month, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo stated that the company's earliest FiOS markets are now reaching penetration targets
and that most of their new customers are signing up for faster speeds.
DirecTV is contemplating embedding an antenna into their set top boxes
in order to offer live over the air broadcasts, thereby circumventing retransmission fees. Speaking at the JP Morgan Technology, Media and Telecom conference in Boston, DirecTV chief financial officer Patrick Doyle stated they didn't have a timeline on the project, but that it makes financial sense due to the soaring price of retrans fees and the landscape shift that's occurring courtesy of Aereo. He also stated that whenever it does get deployed, it would only be initially made available to new customers. "Well probably test in some markets an over-the-air integrated tuner set-up and make sure the customer experience is there," insists Doyle.
In early 2011 MetroPCS joined Verizon in suing the FCC
to overturn the agency's already fairly-flimsy network neutrality rules. With MetroPCS and T-Mobile now merged, T-Mobile announced late last week that it would be withdrawing the lawsuit against the FCC they acquired as part of the deal.
While there has been some twitching from the corpse of LightSquared in DC, it has been fairly clear to everyone that the company has been dead for quite some time
. Now insiders tell Bloomberg
that Charlie Ergen made a $2 billion "stalking horse" bid to acquire LightSquared's assets and spectrum. One problem with such a deal -- the FCC still hasn't given their approval for use of the interference-prone spectrum, the core reason that LightSquared died in the first place. LightSquared has until May 31 to accept the bid. Dish has slowly been engaged in a series of spectrum acquisition deals to aid the company's potential launch of their own LTE network.
As we've seen with both Sprint and T-Mobile, LTE launch locations pop up well ahead of official launch markets as the companies run pre-commercial launch tests. Users now say that they're seeing T-Mobile LTE signals pop up in Detroit, Minneapolis and New York City
. Minneapolis is slated for a May launch, while both Detroit and New York City aren't officially expected to come online until June. T-Mobile previously stated they aim to cover 100 million potential customers with LTE by the middle of 2013, with 200 million potential customers covered by the end of this year.
Verizon's attempt to hang up on their copper networks in Sandy-impacted areas
has gotten more complicated after the NY Public Service Commission last week indicated hesitation at letting Verizon disconnect users state wide without first understanding the repercussions. According to regional Long Island news reports
, the PSC has granted Verizon temporary approval to pull DSL on Fire Island, NY, replacing it with Verizon's Voice Link wireless service.
Amtrak has been offering Wi-Fi on board some of their trains for several years
(a full list is here
), though historically the quality of the connections have been ridiculed. Since earlier this year the company has been promising upgrades.
Earlier this week the government came under fire for hoovering up the personal call logs
of more than twenty lines belonging to the Associated Press. Initially Uncle Same claimed the snooping and violation of press rights was due to an immediate and pressing life-risking investigation, but as the week rolled on it became clear the government was simply embarrassed by internal leaks
and annoyed an AP story stole some public relations thunder.
It is very quickly becoming clear that if you want the FCC to avoid enforcing their network neutrality rules, all you have to do is throw some half-assed, vague-sounding technical jargon at the agency to bog them down in inactivity indefinitely. With yesterday's news that AT&T is blocking yet another video chat application
in order to drive users to more expensive data plans, it's rather clear that the FCC lacks the stomach to actually enforce the rules they designed.
In late 2011 after several delays, ViaSat finally launched their new KA-band satellite ViaSat 1, which allowed the company to finally start offering consumers some faster residential bandwidth speeds via the Exede brand. Now the company has announced
that they're hard at work on ViaSat 2, with plans to launch it sometime in the middle of 2016 (in satellite launch parlance, that means probably around 2018). According to ViaSat, the launch of ViaSat 2 will double their existing bandwidth capacity and expand coverage across much of North and Central America. While satellite broadband is still considered the black sheep of the broadband industry because of high prices, high latency and low caps, the faster speeds made availability by this added capacity has clearly been reflected in our user Exede reviews
As part of many announcements at Google's I/O Conference this week, Google announced that they would now be integrating video chat within Google Hangouts
across platforms and devices. Well, unless you use AT&T.
Verizon today announced that they're increasing the usage allotments on the company's prepaid wireless offerings. According to the Verizon statement
, Verizon's $60 prepaid plan will offer users unlimited voice, texting and 2 GB of data per month -- up from the previous cap of 500 MB per month. Verizon's $70 plan will now provide users with unlimited voice, texting and 4 GB of data per month -- up from the previous cap or 2 GB per month. As noted previously, these plans are for EVDO connectivity, not LTE. According to Verizon Wireless this new pricing is available to existing customers now, and to new customers starting on June 6.
While there's absolutely no doubt that Google Fiber has been a positive thing for the industry, critics have singled out two problems with Google's ultra-fast offering. One, the company backed off of open access promises
that would have allowed multiple companies to come in and truly compete over the infrastructure.
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Recent news contributorsKarl Bode , JKukiewicz , swintec