Dear Time Warner Cable

wpid-wp-1446745456076.jpgI keep getting these marketing letters from Time Warner. It appears they’ve got nothing better to do than review my account… trying to sell me on a 300Mpbs upgrade.

I sent a response today by USPS. I doubt they’ll stop sending, so at least I can post the response here and get some mileage from it ūüôā

Thank you for your letter. If you were really reviewing my account you’d see I’m only have a 50Mpbs modem for my existing 100Mpbs service. It works fine.

Want me to upgrade? Provide a free modem for my existing service. Thanks. Mark Cathcart.

 

Google corrects typo

I reported the Google typo yesterday and it has been fixed now, Mbps it is. No change to their “free” tier of service though, so 5Mbps it is.

I got a lot of feedback on my “negativity” over this, both on the neighborhood forum, the comment below, and via personal email. And yes, being able to pay the $300 fee in installments is a good break. So it looks correct, 5Mbps while useful, really isn’t good enough for a family except for email, facebook and infrequent youtube/netflx.

TWC offer a comparable 6/1Mbps plan for $29+modem/wifi, taxes fees. < Which is non-competitive on price/performance to most of the rest of the world where cable exists, where are 4/1 service costs less than $20 per month, and often as low as $12 per month. Fiber providers are 40/10Mbps packages for $25-$35 per month or better, and thats what I was really hoping we'd see.

Google fiber disappoints on price

displayfile (1).jpegWell Google fiber is on its way, they’ve sprayed marked across our front yards this week ready to install the vaults, most people don’t understand these will be buried in your front yard, after all fiber optic cable isn’t your parents cable.

In other news, Google have announced the Austin pricing and service speeds, and I have to say, it’s pretty disappointing really.

WTF are Mpbs?First up as seen in this screen capture, their website lists speeds in Mpbs. I work in the tech sector, heck I used to be a networking specialist, I admit I have no idea what Mpbs is. So I googled it, and Google asked Did you mean: Mbps

Normally network speeds are indeed listed as Mbps. Megabits per second. Unlike disk/file storage which is most often described as MB, and sometimes MBps megabytes per second. In storage you are storing files and characters, so a byte has a meaning and it’s important to understand. In networking, especially streaming music, tv, video it really doesn’t, so bytes really don’t have any meaning, and Megabits is the norm. Also, Megabits are also in units of 1000, in the old days it was often expressed as 1024 but no longer.

So we really have no idea what Google are offering. Lets assume thats just sloppy web content creation, and that 1,000 Mpbs is really 1,000 Mbps, which is 1-Gigabit, which is what Google have been touting, by coincidence. I’m really left wondering though what their free offering is though? 5 Mbps is really for the most part unusable for anything other than sending email asynchronously. So I assume that should really be 5 MBps, as in megabytes. But as discussed earlier that isn’t really a usable measure, although it’s pretty standard marketing BS from the existing cable cartel companies used to confuse people.

If it is 5-MBps, then it could be 40-Mbps, which would be more usable, either way the web page is a shambles.

Given these assumptions, overall the Google pricing is disappointing. Google are for the most part just joining the existing cable cartel. Yes they are bringing fiber speed but they are really doing nothing to help with pricing. The $300 installation fee for the entry services is a barrier to entry for low income households.

$70 is great for those that can afford it, getting potentially a 100x increase in download speed, if¬†the network inside your house can exploit it. Remember you’ll need gigabit ethernet ports on all your devices, gigabit wifi(which doesn’t exist as a domestic standard) and of course a Google compatible gigabit cable modem and switch.

What is more disappointing is the pricing though. It’s slightly more expensive minus taxes and fees than the TWC Service I’m paying for at the moment.. What about something in between for low income households? $35 a month for 100Mbps?

Disappointing

Net Neutrality and the FCC

Since I’ve complained about the price/performance and lack of choice in wired Internet Broadband here extensively, I thought I’d include a link to a blog post I wrote earlier and posted on my primarily technology blog, where I hope more of the tech community will read and write their own.

If you are even vaguely committed to using the Internet in the future in the United States, you should read the blog, watch the video, and submit your own comments to the FCC. I’d hope they are against the proposal, but I’d rather have contrary comments that disagree with my opinion, than apathy.

In Love with Cable?

The cable industry is in turmoil, customers leaving in droves, and they are being squeezed at the content end and their costs for programming are soaring. It looks like Time Warner Cable is going to get divested, broken up, bought up merged, or something along those lines. Motley Fool posted this analysis that they are not expecting this to lower your bills.

TIme Techland has a write-up on the new cable company promotion web site, “The hole saga” and the state of the cable industry. Author Harry McCraken speculates about the poor performance of the website “one loaded with so much video that it takes an eternity to load”. I did some quick traces using Chrome, it looks like it’s actually designed to be slow, probably to give the appearance that streaming video is a bad idea compared to cable.

I wrote the following in response to Harrys article.

No,¬† we don’t love cable,¬† we resent it. Love for cable was back in the 80’s we were both young,¬† and TV was still exciting,¬† MTV¬† was happening,¬† and the world was opening up.
Now cable is pretty much unchanged,¬† it hasn’t reduced in price,¬† while pretty much everything else has(cars, airfares, clothes, food). The number and types of entertainment options have exploded,¬† content is everywhere. Yet,¬† like your Dad, in the 70’s, cable still controls what you watch and when.¬†Cable is like an abusive parent. Yeah its out there but we avoid it when we can

TWC (This Weeks Charges)

Sorting through my bills and catching up with payments, I was just sat here going through my Time Warner Cable bill. The layout can be confusing, the list of charges, taxes, etc. legend.

I noticed¬†the text in the left hand column under the heading ENJOY TWC BETTER on their latest bill, I’d missed the announcement they are increasing prices(again) for no visible, benefit. See my various blog entries tagged Time-Warner-Cable¬†or TWC

Especially galling is the price increase of the Internet Modem Lease, up another $2 to $5.49. Remember they only started charging for this at all less than a year ago, and if you’ve had this service for any length of time, you’ve likely had your modem since it was installed.

Call, complain, register for Google Fiber etc. Note depending on your current internet, double or triple play packages will see an additional increase. Shameful.

Can’t get enough Fiber

So, it’s formally announced, Google Fiber is coming to Austin in 2014.

This is potentially a great announcement.¬†The focus will be on the speed, which in my view is wrong. It should be on the affordability and open¬†access. For the most part, as I’ve blogged numerous times, Time Warner Cable is more than fast enough for most homes, its just¬†uncompetitively¬†priced for most, and not affordable for many.

I’ll be especially interested to see how they do this, right down to if they lay new cables underground, using existing or new carrier pipes; hopefully it wont just be more optical cable strung between poles. Obviously what will also bet interesting is the plan, which neighborhoods first etc.¬†The devil is in the detail though, here are some of my first thoughts on it.

  1. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, but there is nothing revolutionary about google fiber. Many¬†communities already have this sort of speed, it’s just not from google
  2. When and if it arrives in the ’04, it will come with a bunch of infrastructure that will require users to give up more data on themselves and what they do, what sites they visit etc. How much should google know about you?
  3. On the plus side its competition for TWC, which if you’ve been following along, is what I’ve been campaigning for, writing letters, making calls.
  4. They have a free offering. How this is used, who it is made available too is key; with more and more services going online we can’t afford a class of citizens who are denied access. Should we look for ways to subsidize the install/sign-up fee?
  5. If they just string fiber optic cable between existing polls, boooo. On the other hand, if they do it right and runs the optical fiber(glass cable) underground, are you ok with them digging up the streets. I am. We need to get all the cables underground to improve service, reduce maintenance costs, and get rid of the visual mess it creates.
  6. If you just have a one or two wireless devices, you are unlikely to notice the speed-up, and thats OK. Sure there are new standards that will enable a wireless device connect to the Internet at a theoretical speed that matches your Internet connection, as others have pointed out, Wireless N can already exceed the basic TWC services. Except for multiple people gaming, a couple of HD movies streaming though, you’ll be hard pushed in most homes to notice the difference.
  7. Start downsizing your TWC services now, I effectively shaved $60 off my monthly total bill for TV, HBO, Internet access, TWC need to understand that they can’t depend on the fact y’all have too much money and are too apathetic to go through the change. Lets create some real competition…

It’s no coincidence then AT&T, apparently smarting from the widely leaked google announcement, I can’t even get their service on my urban, less than a mile from city hall street, despite the fact they have two poles and cables on my block, responded by saying ‚Äúwe invest more than any other public company.‚ÄĚ.¬†Not here you didn’t.