A committee in Congress yesterday held a hearing on promoting broadband infrastructure investment. That is, getting more wires put in the ground so more people can get online faster and more reliably. That’s a laudable goal that we here at Consumerist tend to cheer on. But one theme became clear from the testimonies of the assembled analysts, industry members, and local public companies who spoke: real improvement is going to be a long, ugly series of fights… and consumers are going to keep paying a lot more while it happens.
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture might not be the first federal agency that pops into your head when thinking about broaband Internet connectivity, but this week the USDA announced a total of $85 million in loans and grants that it hopes will help farmers and other rural Americans bridge the digital divide. [More]
With Comcast losing pay-TV subscribers in favor of streaming video services, the company is doing what it can to retain customers who not only ante up for TV and broadband, but also for home phone service. [More]
AT&T and DirecTV are still hoping their mega-merger is on track for approval. While they wait, the FCC has been asking them to clarify some of their earlier statements about why this deal is a good idea for the public. And buried in those new answers is the nugget that post-merger, AT&T plans to bring fiber networks to almost 12 million customers… kind of.
Comcast keeps promising that this is the year their legendarily bad customer service gets an overhaul, but consumers don’t seem to be buying it. A national survey asking consumers about cable and internet companies has, once again, dropped Comcast and Time Warner Cable right at the very bottom of the heap.
There’s a story we hear far too often: someone is buying a house. Before they put any money down, they do their research. They call the local cable/Internet provider to make sure they can get broadband service at this new address. They double-check. They triple-check. They search the property for wires, call back, and make sure they’ll be okay. Then they take out the mortgage, move in, and… surprise! There’s no broadband service after all, there won’t be any, and now they’re up a very expensive creek. [More]
Your cable company sells you a broadband plan advertising download speeds of “up to 25Mbps.” But it feels sluggish to you so you check out an online speed test site and it tells you you’re only getting a fraction of that speed. Then the FCC comes out with its Measuring Broadband America report which — if you can even make heads or tails of it — says your ISP is actually exceeding its advertised download speeds. Why don’t all of these things agree? [More]
As we noted earlier today, Comcast now effectively has exactly the same number of Internet customers as it does cable subscribers, and the Internet users will soon outnumber those who get their TV from Comcast. And while a pay-TV customer brings in significantly more gross revenue for a cable company than someone who is broadband-only, these companies are likely making more profit off their Internet users. [More]
Though the FCC narrowly voted to approve the new Open Internet Order (AKA net neutrality) several months ago, the rules don’t actually kick in until June 12. Yet with those new guidelines looming, some Internet service providers are already beginning to play nice with the companies that do most of the heavy lifting for the web. [More]
AT&T Becomes Latest ISP To Promise New Homeowner Broadband Connection At Address They Won’t Actually Serve
You’ve heard it all before: a man buying a new home needs to make sure it has acceptable broadband connectivity, not just for entertainment but also because he works in IT. He calls the provider in the area three times before moving, and every time is assured that they service his house. Until he moves in and finds out that in actual reality, they don’t, and aren’t sure why they said they did. The last time we shared such a tale of woe, it was Comcast in Washington state. This time, it’s a homeowner in Michigan, and the ISP that doesn’t know what they actually do is AT&T.
While many opponents of the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger were setting off fireworks last Friday to celebrate the defeat of this deal that would have concentrated nearly 60% of the nation’s high-speed broadband accounts under one company, realists among us are pointing out that the end of that ill-fated engagement does nothing to change the already dismal competition landscape in many markets. [More]
While we’ve been critical of the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger, the motivation behind that deal is clear: It would instantly add 10 million customers to Comcast’s bottom line and give the company control over cable/broadband access for the two largest markets in the country. The reasoning behind the less-scrutinized marriage of AT&T and DirecTV isn’t as cut-and-dry. [More]
The new rule of the internet might well be: where Google goes, competition flows to follow. And so, Time Warner Cable customers in Charlotte are about to see a big boost in internet speeds long before a Fiber rollout comes to their town.
In Atlanta? You Can Soon Sign Up For Internet Twice As Fast As Google Fiber. The Downside: It’s From Comcast
Atlanta residents are now well-poised to join inhabitants of metro Raleigh and Kansas City as citizens of one of the nation’s few crucibles of fiber competition. Comcast is setting its sights squarely on Google Fiber today with the announcement of a new fiber to the home offering at twice Google’s speed, and Atlanta is the lucky city getting first dibs.
We may often joke that losing our smartphone would mean being cut off from the outside world. While that’s likely an exaggeration for many consumers, a new report from The Pew Research Center finds Americans’ reliance on smartphones to stay connected with the rest of the world is very real, especially when it comes to accessing the internet. [More]
Virginia’s Got The Fastest Broadband In The U.S., But South Korea’s Still The Speed Fiend’s Place To Be
It’s that time again! Internet company Akamai keeps a sharp eye on the state of broadband at home and abroad, and delivers a quarterly report lining up just how we’re doing. But despite a whole huge pile of brand new data, the story remains the same: the U.S. still has a lot of catching up to do if we want to consider ourselves among the global broadband elite.
In cable, merger mania isn’t just for the biggest players. The next tier down wants to play, too. And so we have the announcement this morning that Charter is planning to buy regional operator Bright House Networks for a cool $10.4 billion.