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Time Warner Boosts Broadband Customer Speed — But Only Near Google Fiber 203

Posted by timothy
from the just-a-coincidence dept.
An anonymous reader writes " Rob is a Time Warner Cable customer, and he's received two really interesting things from them lately. First, a 50% speed boost: they claim to have upgraded the speed of his home Internet connection. That's neat. Oh, and they've also cut his bill, from $45 to $30. Wow! What has prompted this amazing treatment? Years of loyalty and on-time payments? No, not exactly. Rob lives in Kansas City, pilot site for Google Fiber. Even though they have shut off people in other states for using too much bandwidth. Is Google making them show that it's not that hard to provide good service and bandwidth?"
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Time Warner Boosts Broadband Customer Speed — But Only Near Google Fiber

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  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stewsters (1406737) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @11:09AM (#42750669)
    This is what healthy competition is supposed to do to the market. Now, we need google fiber in more cities and the average speed and price of internet will get better for everyone (unless you live in a rural area).
    • by erroneus (253617)

      Healthy from whose perspective? Yours, mine and the rest of the consumer public? Certainly. But there's another side, a tragic side, of this you are not considering. Many dinners, golf games, gifts, donations and contributions were made to acquire the exlusive access to customers in an area which enabled them to maximize their executive bonuses, inflate their stock values and, when the time comes, fill their golden parachutes.

      Now, thanks to this "healthy competition" the fruits of all that hard work is

    • by Bob9113 (14996)

      This is what healthy competition is supposed to do to the market.

      Indeed it is. And this isn't even healthy competition -- this is just a small-n n-opoly in which one party has a personal interest in disproving the bandwidth whining and excuses by the others. If most places had a major ISP that didn't voluntarily participate in Six Strikes -- which would get them a massive share of the business in that region -- then I'd believe we had healthy competition.

    • Google, please come to Poulsbo, WA and Ocean Springs, MS where the local cable monopolies (Comcast) and (CableOne) have a monopoly stranglehold on service and pricing. I'll switch in a heartbeat.

    • by antdude (79039)

      It doesn't have to be Google Fiber. It is anyone to match the services. For me, I only have cable option for affordable broadband. No DSL (20K ft. to CO) and fiber. I had to use dial-up (3 KB/sec with lots of line noises even on 56k modems) yesterday morning due to a ten hours most of the city outage! :(

  • by Dyinobal (1427207) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @11:16AM (#42750745)
    It's called competition, which is something that has been sorely lacking in the broadband market. It's actually missing in just about any market that is dominated by a few large corporations. See the publishing industry etc.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That's what happens in industries where mergers are unregulated. Good regulation preserves competition. No regulation kills competition as much as bad regulation.

      • by Rockoon (1252108)
        Don't mod this guy up.. it has nothing to do with mergers. The fact that you only have one choice of cable provider and one choice of telephone provider is entirely because your local governments have signed exclusive deals. Mergers in no way alter this.
    • by alexgieg (948359)

      Loved the typo in your comment subject ("competetion"). I guess I got a new catch phrases from it: "Competition leads to competention". Much better than the grammatically correct but non-rhyming "competence". :-)

  • by SpeedBump0619 (324581) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @11:18AM (#42750771)

    I mean, look, it lowers corporate revenue and increases operating expenses! Competition lowers tax revenue and taxes are how corporations support our troops. This competition thing has *got* to stop!

    • by RevDisk (740008)
      I did chuckle. Sometimes it does work, sometimes it doesn't. If the companies decide not to collude, then yes. Google has no interest in forming an unofficial cartel. Traditional carriers do, hence why they have.
    • Moderately funny, but more important, probably not an entirely inaccurate reflection of how the lobby-drones in Congress will some day try to swing the discussion as the dinosaur companies reel and flail and squirm and die.
  • Old Comparison (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bill Hayden (649193) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @11:27AM (#42750869) Homepage
    I'm not at all one to defend the Cable/Internet/Cell monopolies that currently exist, but the linked story about people getting shut off is 4 YEARS old!
    • That is because this happens still but it is old news and so is not reported anymore....

          People get into car accidents every day you do not see it on the news anymore because it happens all the time ...

  • It is in Google's best interest to have a world that is as fully connected as possible. Driving down the artificially inflated price of consumer-grade bandwidth is a win for Google and a win for everyone outside of the colluding or monopolistic telcos.
    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      It would be great if Google is taking up the task really seriously, and becomes an infrastructure provider. Where anyone who wants can get access to that infrastructure, at fixed prices (level playing field). So that where-ever Google's network is available, you also have a dozen providers that can sell you an internet service.

      The trickiest part may be the last mile, the actual connection to the end user's home.

  • Cancelled today (Score:5, Interesting)

    by methano (519830) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @11:36AM (#42750955)
    I was one of the first Road Runner customers in the RTP, NC area. I've been a good customer. TW recently upped my rates and their remote is terrible. Unfortunately for TW, some real competition recently showed up for what once was a monopoly. I switched and just got off the phone to tell them that I am canceling. Amazingly, some promotions, that I was previously unaware of, became available to me. No way. A little competition can be a good thing.
    • What did you switch to using?

      • I used to live in that area (cary) and I switched to UVerse from ATT, which is like FiOS from verizon. I got a solid 12 Mbps for the same price without any outages or slowdowns etc. I've heard from an ATT rep that they're not expanding UVerse as much recently because they would rather invest in greater LTE coverage. It's sad really, I'd much prefer UVerse.
        • by JazzLad (935151)
          Uverse is like FiOS like these [plasticsergeant.com] are like each other.

          (In other words, even if that is technically true, one is an ugly, messed up version of the other and only a fool would choose it given an option. Unfortunately, Uverse and FiOS coverage areas appear to be mutually exclusive.)
    • by BitZtream (692029)

      I live in Cary. Canceled my service because they wouldn't give me a new subscriber rate on their own channels. First month after they sent me a letter, half the original price, more bandwidth, for one year. I had already switched to Uverse (which is shitty in my neighborhood unfortunately) so I didn't take it. The next month, as I as getting fed up with Uverse, I get a second letter. Sign back up and for $60/month will give you cable and Internet (second from the top tier) for 2 years.

      I switched back.

      I

      • by dj245 (732906)
        Don'y even bother switching next time. Usually you can get good results by haggling with the "customer retention" person. Keep it polite and friendly and good rates can be yours for only 1 phone call a year.
        • They are petrified of Netflix. I got a lower rate than he did for the same exact service because I wanted to retain the iternet and drop the cable subscription, saying I don't watch TV enough and will use Netflix. My total bill is $55. I think they do this because while I don't watch much TV, it ups their subscriber number for advertising negotiations, and gives them an avenue to make a little money off me in on demand movies.

    • They will do the promotion thing even if they have no competition. It is in their best interest to keep you as a customer even if they're not making as much as they usually can, so they will keep throwing you bones until your service is mega cheap...for a year. Then you have to do it all over again.

  • Not just Google. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MachineShedFred (621896) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @11:36AM (#42750957) Journal

    I had my Time Warner Cable bandwidth increased without asking about a month ago here in Cincinnati because of competition from Cincinnati Bell laying down their fiber service all over town. That being said, if I could kick Time Warner to the curb and get Cincinnati Bell's Fioptics service where I live, I would in about three shakes of a lamb's tail.

    This isn't only happening where Google is doing their fiber experimentation.

    • No, but it is only happening where TW has competition. I have no other option for high-speed Internet. I live too far from the DSLAM for DSL. TW has raised my rates from $35/mo to $56/mo in the last decade without any increase in speed or reliability.

    • by afidel (530433)

      Yeah, it was also happening anywhere that Fios was being installed, unfortunately Verizon has basically halted that project and sold off most of their landline holdings outside the densely packed east coast to Frontier which will never roll out another yard of Fios.

  • Years of abuse from time warner and att makes that a really easy decision to ditch them at the first opportunity.
    • AT&T and Austin Time Warner are in a battle for anti-customer supremacy. Both have bizarre and opaque pricing schemes that have stopped me from upgrading to higher speeds. AT&T wants to bundle their overpriced video service or they hit you with added up front fees. Time Warner won't even tell you what their actual prices are after the initial discount period. It's not on their web site, and when I called they said they could not tell me because "things change". They want a long term contract for an
  • Most people have been sold a bill of goods.

    Bandwidth is cheap. Very, very cheap. Getting cheaper all the time. Once it's fiber to the home, the rest is all done. Top tier providers get bandwidth so cheap it's almost free.

    It should be a national embarassment there's not gigabit infrastructure everywhere. Props to Google for helping out the shame.. and may they eat the lunch of all the incumbents.

    • by HiThere (15173)

      You are overstating the case.

      That said, I basically agree with you. The anti-comettition nature of governmental rulings should be a MAJOR embarassment. I have a harder time blaming the corporations for using the unjust regulations to extract money. What I blame them for is corrupting the government and the regulators.

      OTOH, bandwidth over long distances isn't cheap. Not if you want it to be at all reliable. I don't know what a reasonable cost would be, and in a state authorized monopoly (well...not *exa

  • I live in the San Fernando Valley, 20 minutes from downtown Los Angeles. It's a quaint 260 square mile community of 1.76 million of your closest neighbors. Two months ago I had my broadband boosted by 50% (the same 15 Mbps as the Consumerist article customer), I was given free telephone service free for a year (long distance included) and had by bill dropped by 20% as well (I am now pennies over $100/mo), without asking for any of it. My parents, living just a few miles from me, were offered the exact same
    • Does this mean that Time Warner is terrified that Los Angeles is next on the list to get Google Fiber?

      Is there any other competition coming or recently arrived there?

      (As an irrelevant but amusing aside, Chrome thinks "Los Angeles" is spelled wrong, but "LA" and "L.A." are not.)

    • by jeff4747 (256583)

      They're rolling out those changes wherever they fear competition. For us, it was the nearby Verizon FiOS install that caused TW to change.

    • This is a story from last month (Dec 12 2012), and it's for all TWC customers.

      What about the price cut? I didn't see a mention in the yahoo story, have you seen anything about that? Is it nationwide, too?

  • by bratloaf (1287954) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @11:58AM (#42751199) Journal

    Its amazing. For the past 10 years TW has been steadily increasing rates, "confusing" their billing (Oh, sorry sir for the $12/mo mistake for the past 3 years that was hidden in your "bundle"), and their service of ALL types has been getting crappier and crappier. To the point where I was ready to just ditch them all together and do ANY thing else.

    Crappy cable box problems. Internet outages. S L O W internet (at times) and OK others. Finally FIOS came around here about a year ago, and several people I know switched. Initially they had some technical issues but nothing really bad, and NO one I know including myself has had any issues at all in the past year.

    I called TW 4 times, and got all the way to a management type 3 of those times, to ask about a billing situation after our bill went up $60 a month. For no reason. They were NOT interested in fixing the situation and retaining me at ALL. In fact, the last words they told me, when I said I prefered to stay with them but was going to just go to FIOS if they couldnt fix it, were "Well, you have to do what you have to do". From a manager.

    When I turned in my boxes, the girl said "wow, you have been a customer a LONG time, why are you leaving?" I told her, she just rolled her eyes and apologized and said "Thats typical (of the TW customer support folks)".

    Now TW is running these commercials on the radio around here 24/7 trying to get people to "come back". "See the difference" "Your money back if you are not satisfied" etc. Too funny really. As long as VZ - another HUGE company - keeps their customer service and value where they are now, Im staying. For sure.

    Competition is a GREAT thing....

    • Man they stopped laying fios near Albany NY awhile back. Stinks, I'm about 10mile south of Albany and I think they stopped laying the west side of Albany. I'll probably never see competition for TWC for internetz.

  • how such low prices? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jodka (520060) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @12:07PM (#42751315)

    So I live in Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City. Google fiber is not in offered in Overland Park yet, but because it is close by and spreading I checked out the prices and signed up for email notification when their service becomes available in my area.

    The prices. Holy cow. It's free. A one time $300.00 installation fee but then it is free. So I was wondering for months how is that possible? Is Google taking a massive loss? Did Google invent a new technology which allows them to undercut their competitors?

    Then on a drive across town to the local Fablab I was listening to the local public radio station which just happened to be interviewing Susan Crawford, author of the recently published book Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age. As the summary at Amazon [amazon.com] states:

    This important book by leading telecommunications policy expert Susan Crawford explores why Americans are now paying much more but getting much less when it comes to high-speed Internet access.

    Well as you might guess from the subtitle of the book, what she finds out when she explores is that internet and cable service in the U.S. are regional monopolies. Even when multiple internet and cable service providers operate in the same city they divide up the city into regions of monopolistic coverage and only overlap on small percentages of territory.

    So Google offers such spectacularly low prices by undercutting monopolists, having enough clout to overcome barriers to entry which block startups, and Moore's law has reduced the cost of providing internet service to something pretty close to free. The inflated prices for internet broadband service which we have paid in the U.S. have not followed Moore's law [technologyreview.com] because service provider are monopolies. Now with the disruption of that monopoly in one regional market prices are back on track with Moore's law there.

    • by cdrguru (88047)

      The question to ask is since it is proven that people will pay $30-60 a month for Internet service, why would Google offer it for free? Just to build market share? I doubt it.

      Google is getting compensated in some manner. Now the first thing that comes to mind is they are avoiding paying someone else to deliver their exclusive content - plenty of places are waking up to the fact that Google is making billions off of delivering ads to people with the local cable company picking up the tab for the delivery

      • The question to ask is since it is proven that people will pay $30-60 a month for Internet service, why would Google offer it for free? Just to build market share? I doubt it.

        The one-time charge for "lifetime" service gets you the lowest tier data service Google is offering. There are other monthly-billed packages with higher bandwidth and bundled TV service, too. Google's looking to wire -- fiber? -- entire neighborhoods at a time, rather than one house here, one house there all over town. Your neighborhood ("fiberhood," as Google calls it) gets on the list only if they have enough commitment from residents.

  • So get your government to allow it. I have multipair cables (as well as fiber) belonging to two different telecoms crossing my property but the state will allow only one to offer me service. Your cable company has a "franchise" (i.e., monopoly) that they purchased from your local government.

  • I'm in KC and when "lower end" fiber services in the 24 Mbps range started appearing, so many people started flocking to them that the entrenched service provider started offering better deals. Of course, this didn't happen until they were hammered with defections.

  • Here in my small town, the locally-owned cable company ran fiber and whatever else they needs back in 1997, ready to plug in the equipment and throw a switch for broadband.

    Then Charter bought them out.

    Since Ameritech wasn't offering anything beyond expensive ISDN, Charter didn't feel the need to enable broadband for 4 years. Likewise... Ameritech didn't feel the need to upgrade to DSL. It was a stalemate of stubborn stupidity, with the residents of our town being the victims.

    Local utilities commissions need

  • This is actually the only good thing that justifies the free market. Not the right for someone to make money. It's the fact that competition reduces prices and improves quality to consumers. (This used to be common knowledge in circa 1970's-80's, but many free-market defenders nowadays don't even pretend it's supposed to be good for anyone except the profiteers.)

    That said, it only works for products and services for which (a) you have a choice, (b) you have quality information about the prices and benefits,

  • I live in LA and I also got a 50% speed boost for free. I think this is because they changed their pricing tiers. Probably to compete with at&t not Google Fiber.
  • TW is trying to underprice Google in hopes of driving them from the market. classic reaction. I have heard from a local telco exec that their strategy if somebody overlays the fiber and service they run to homes with, they will undercut whatever competitive price by a buck for a year beyond what the other guys do, and will knock on every single door in the area with installation within 2 hours.

  • of course! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tilante (2547392) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @02:33PM (#42753249)

    Of course they're doing it because of Google.

    Where I grew up, we were close to a military base. The town allowed a cable company to have a monopoly. The base didn't, and had competing cable companies. Guess who got much lower prices and a broader selection of channels? Thankfully, the town council at least had enough sense to notice that the base was getting better deals, and to apply pressure to the cable company each time their monopoly came up for renewal. Thus, while they didn't have quite as good prices and selection as the base, my parents still get better prices and selection than I do, even though I now live in a city with about five times the population.

    Competition does wonderful things to markets.

  • Same Here (Score:4, Informative)

    by dnahelicase (1594971) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @02:51PM (#42753411)
    I live in a rural community that limited DSL through Verizon and cable through TWC. A company called Cinergy Metronet, now just Metronet, came in and started offering fiber-to-the-home. The day they went live, TWC doubled their advertised speeds and dropped their prices to match Metronet.
  • 10-15 years ago I thought I would never be able to get a "fast enough" internet connection (of course that was after 10+ years on 28.8 dial-up). But now, I am using just a basic cable modem and I can't find a good reason to upgrade my speed. Cable company calls or mails me every week or two with offers and I always turn then down. My wife and I each have a laptop and a smart phone, we also have a blu-ray player doing netflix and an ipad. Yet we never really seem to find ourselves starved for bandwidth.

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