[ZDNet] Broadband disappoints customers.

I Find Karma (adam@cs.caltech.edu)
Tue, 8 Dec 1998 12:13:13 -0800 (PST)

While I was sleeping, a small war between cable modems and xDSL
continued to gain steam -- especially in light of high speed phone
Internet access deregulation talks between the government and the Baby

I know some people who swear by @Home, and others who swear *at*
@Home. I don't think the future of cable modems is by any means
secured; on the other hand, this will be interesting to watch play out.

On an unrelated note, L.A. reports of San Francisco's power outage make
it sound like half of San Francisco is dark right now. The lights are
finally back on at SFO, but not the BART and not most of the city.
Ouch. Of course, it would be stupid for me to ask SF FoRKers to verify
these gloomy reports, since if it is the case they wouldn't be able to
login and tell me anyway... so instead I'll play a little Schrodinger
Cat game and assume the CNN reports are true.

On another unrelated note, Dave Farber testified for the government in
the DoJ/Microsoft case today. CNN analyst complains that he "drones." :)


> Broadband disappoints customers
> By Louis Trager, ZDNet, Monday December 7 2:07 PM ET
> High-speed data connections have barely started taking root with
> consumers, and already some of the bloom is off the rose.
> Cable modem customers in At Home Corp.'s maiden market in Silicon Valley
> were up in arms last week about access speeds sometimes slower than
> dial-ups - that is, when the connection was not crippled altogether. The
> debacle in Fremont, Calif., feeds into concerns about cable company
> service and the shared nature of the connection. Coincidentally, a new
> survey shows consumers favor telephone companies as broadband providers.
> That Yankee Group study also indicates price sensitivity could dampen
> hopes for a residential bandwidth cornucopia within several years.
> In Fremont - At Home's oldest market, with about 5,500 customers -
> circumstances conspired to strike at the heart of the sales pitch:
> access speeds 50 times faster than dial-ups. "They are taking in revenue
> and not providing the service all these customers signed up to get,"
> said customer Dan Calic.
> At Home and local partner and majority owner Tele-Communications Inc.
> identified three culprits: TCI circuit upgrades for ongoing technical
> tests of telephony, which cut customer data and video service a few
> minutes at a time; a malicious hacker "arping on the network," or
> effectively transforming a PC into a router that kept the network from
> recognizing users and sent data into a black hole; and most important,
> At Home's accidentally making a 128-kilobit-per-second cap that was
> imposed Nov. 13 two-way.
> The speed curb was intended only for uploads, to keep "bandwidth hogs"
> from improperly running businesses like Web publishing off the
> $40-per-month consumer service. "It's not rationing bandwidth," At Home
> spokesman Matt Wolfrom said. "It's just network management." At Home is
> investigating why the problem went unremedied for two weeks. The hacker
> was taken off the network, and Bay Networks Inc. modem software was
> installed to prevent any recurrence.
> Distraught as they were about access, users were livid about long hold
> times and misinformation from TCI customer service. "It's a very
> cumbersome, unconsumer-friendly procedure you have to go through," Calic
> said.
> Wolfrom acknowledged his company and TCI had communications breakdowns.
> A TCI counterpart, Andrew Johnson, said tech support employees "weren't
> properly equipped to deal with this" after two years of much smoother
> sailing, and they are being instructed to escalate calls better.
> Wolfrom said At Home's customer satisfaction levels have been higher
> than 90 percent, and the Fremont fiasco has not prompted cancellations.
> But the problems can only feed preconceptions about bad cable service
> and spotlight bandwidth constraints and security vulnerabilities from
> neighborhoods that share network facilities.
> "We will split the nodes to keep the speeds we've promised customers in
> place," Johnson said. "In the end, [the] @Home [service] is still going
> to be faster and cheaper than [x]DSL." Digital Subscriber Line (xDSL) is
> high-speed access from telephone companies via conventional phone lines.
> Cable modems have a big lead on xDSL, but phone companies have an
> opportunity to exploit the superiority of their reputations, said Yankee
> Group analyst James Penhune, adding that he doubts they will take full
> advantage because of their marketing shortcomings. In The Yankee Group's
> survey, three times more respondents picked the phone company over the
> cable system for high-speed service. Still, the research firm predicts
> 60 percent of residential high-speed customers at the end of 2002 will
> use cable modems. By then, availability of high-speed data will reach 60
> percent of households, The Yankee Group projects.


Mediocrity: It takes a lot less time, and most people won't notice the
difference until it's too late.
-- http://www.despair.com/