Net Neutrality Friday

Well another big week as Comcast and Time-Warner Cable seemed destined to hook up. It seems like a really good time to see what residential network consumers want out of Broadband.

I assume all of us would like lower price. I know of some folks who want more speed. There are yet others that want higher quality.

Price: Telcos and Cable have taken somewhat different models here. If I go to AT&T (my local phone company), you can get a modest speed DSL (3 Mbps downstream) for $30 per month. If I go to Comcast (my local cable company), I can get about the same service for about the same price. The prices of the services at about the same speeds (up to 50 Mbps) are within $5 per month of each other. The pricing scales from $30 to $65 per month. I want to remind everyone that a phone line goes for about $25 month (from the telco) so these prices don't seem outrageous. Where they are really juggling price is in the bundling and there essentially all direct comparisons seem to fall apart. I am a cable customer but would change if given a reason to do so.

Speed: I know of some folks who really want office level connectivity at 100 - 1000 Mbps. In some places this is available, but if I circle back to the notion of concentration at the regional level it is not clear to me that a bigger spigot on the end of the pipe means that you have a bigger pipe all the way through. There are definitely diminishing returns unless the carriers invest in Regional and Metropolitan networks. So, I need people to think about would I really like a "local" and "long distance" portion of my Internet bill if the total did not change? Would you like more choice deeper in the network?

Quality: There are really two metrics of quality. The first is the total of outages. I have had them with both DSL and Cable and found that generally they are relatively minor. I know others have had different experiences and people dislike the customer service of both Telcos and MSOs. My only real negative experience was with a DSL connection at a home I had. I definitely had a special case and the technician did not know how to deal with it. On top of that, they wanted to charge me to fix an installation they had screwed up. That is why I went to cable. To be fair, I knew what he did wrong and didn't tell him (my DSL connection was old enough that there was an actual splitter in the NID on the side of my house the technician did not know this and thought the DSL line was on the primary pair).

So other than lowered price, options for more choices and higher customer service quality is there anything else. Anybody really unhappy with their broadband? There are some that can't get any broadband from a wireline provider but the truth is that is pretty rare. My take is that most folks would be happy with just minor improvements over the status quo. This is why that for most people the whole topic is a non-issue at the moment.

Well, next week we start going into the whole issues with the GPON RFP. As I said earlier, I am at the Focalpoint conference most of the week. I want to post on Calix on Wednesday but next Friday may be an off day.

Happy Valentines Day and have a great weekend!

Jim Sackman
FocalPoint Business Coaching
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