Comcast Demanded $60,000 For Not Installing Internet

Silicon Valley is known as the place to be for startups in the technology business, and with companies looking to move there next to some of the biggest names in the business, it comes as no surprise that companies are often after the best internet they can get. SmartCar initially thought that moving there would be like a dream come true for the company with the amazing deal Comcast was offering on their internet, that was until several months later when the company wanted $60,000 after not installing the internet.

Founder and CEO of SmartCar Sahas Katta moved the company office to Silicon Valley with the dream of it being the best place to start the company off. Looking for the best deal Katta found that Comcast was offering “Comcast Business” in their area, offering 100Mbps downstream and 20Mbps upstream for only $189.90 a month. After signing a deal to get the package Katta was told by Comcast that they would need to do a site survey to see if they were actually going to be able to match that promise.

The response was that the new office was “just outside of” the Comcast service zone. They deemed it financially unviable to run the cables required to the building and instead offered to bring fiber to the building after Katta signed a four-year contract paying $1,050 a month for the 100Mbps service he was originally promised. Having signed the lease for the new building Katta felt like there was no choice and signed, with the promise that he would have fiber within 120 days.

With the lease on the property ending Katta contacted Comcast stating that he wished to terminate the contract, at which Comcast stated that in order to cancel the contract SmartCar would need to pay $60,900.45 to cover “construction costs”.

Thankfully Comcast has waived these fees after Ars Technica got ahold of Comcast’s public relations team regarding the matter, and have even promised a refund of the $2,100 deposit that was already paid. Just goes to show that you need to read and check you can actually get the internet they promise before you sign the contract.

Xfinity User Creates Bot to Tweet Comcast Whenever His Internet Speed Drops

An industrious Comcast Xfinity customer, disgruntled over poor internet speeds, has created a bot that auto-Tweets Comcast whenever his broadband drops below advertised speeds. Redditer AlekseyP used a Raspberry Pi to monitor his internet speed, checking every hour, which sends a Tweet to the official Comcast Twitter account every time it drops below 50mbps.

“I pay for 150mbps down and 10mbps up,” AleskeyP wrote on reddit. “The raspberry pi runs a series of speedtests every hour and stores the data. Whenever the downspeed is below 50mbps the Pi uses a twitter API to send an automatic tweet to Comcast listing the speeds.”

“I know some people might say I should not be complaining about 50mpbs down,” he added, “but when they advertise 150 and I get 10-30 I am unsatisfied. I am aware that the Pi that I have is limited to ~100mbps on its Ethernet port (but seems to top out at 90) so when I get 90 I assume it is also higher and possibly up to 150.”

After some redditors accused AleskeyP of recording skewed results, he responded: “We do not torrent in our house; we use the network to mainly stream TV services and play PC and Xbone live games. I set the speedtest and graph portion of this up (without the tweeting part) earlier last year when the service was so constatly bad that Netflix wouldn’t go above 480p and I would have >500ms latencies in CSGO. I service was constantly below 10mbps down. I only added the Twitter portion of it recently and yes, admittedly the service has been better.”

While adding that he is no “fancy programmer”, AleskeyP has made his Raspberry Pi speedtest Tweetbot code available on Pastebin.

Comcast CEO Calls For an End to Unlimited Data

Of all the major internet service providers, the most universally derided is Comcast and its outdated data caps, a policy that the company’s internal memos reveal is a cynical marketing ploy. Now, the CEO of Comcast, Brian Roberts, has spoken to Business Insider about its data policy, with Roberts advocating the abolition of unlimited data, equating it to giving unlimited fuel for motor-vehicle drivers.

“Just as with every other thing in your life, if you drive 100,000 miles or 1,000 miles you buy more gasoline. If you turn on the air conditioning to 60 vs. 72 you consume more electricity,” Roberts told Business Insider’s Henry Blodget during the IGNITION conference on Tuesday. “The same is true for [broadband] usage.” Cellular data is already billed this way, “the more bits you use, the more you pay. So why not cable Internet, too?”

Roberts also disputed the semantics of the term “data cap”, asserting that it does not prevent customers from exceeding their data limit, instead charging them for the excess. “They’re not a cap,” he said. “We don’t want anybody to ever not want to stay connected on our network.”

Roberts may just be saying what other ISPs are thinking, but vocalising it may not be the smartest business move, and only reinforces the perception of Comcast as putting profits above customers, and risks them losing ground to the emergent Google Fiber, which offers unlimited data as standard.

Image courtesy of Comcast.

Comcast Internal Memos Admit Data Caps Don’t Improve Network Performance

In a not so surprising twist, it looks like the reason consumers have been sold on data caps in the past has all been lies. According to leaked Comcast documents, customer service representatives are not to tell customers that the data cap program is for congestion management. Instead, the data caps are meant to ensure fairness and creating a flexible policy.

Do say: “Fairness and providing a more flexible policy to our customers.”

Don’t say: “The program is about congestion management.” (It is not.)

Just a few months ago, Comcast made the news when a VP noted that the data caps had nothing to do with the engineering side of things. Instead, they are a purely business decision and do nothing to help with network congestion. It looks like Comcast is finally starting to admit that data caps aren’t really needed. Of course, it’s unlikely that Comcast will ever admit that the caps are only to make them more profit. Instead, they’re spinning data caps as a way to ensure there is fairness in the system.

Given that there currently are not data caps in most areas, it’s hard to see how data caps can be seen as promoting fairness. Under the new data cap policy, unlimited internet now costs an extra $30-35, pretty much making data caps a price increase. Given that data caps don’t help congestion, the so-called fairness of making heavy users pay more is moot since the current infrastructure can already handle the traffic, meaning there is no need for customers to help fund network expansion. Given the poor state of internet competition in the US though, customers won’t have any recourse.

$5 Service Will Cancel Your Comcast in 5 Minutes

Have you ever suffered the pain of trying to cancel your internet service? The endless mashing of buttons and following horrible instructions via the IVR to get to an operator, since there is no easy option for “cancel your service.” Sure, you can change your service or upgrade it — but cancel it? It becomes a long ordeal in which you are tricked and sometimes berated into keeping your service, or else. Comcast is particularly bad about this process, meaning customers just get more and more frustrated.

A new service has launched, called AirPaper. For a measly $5 you can pay them to automatically cancel your Comcast contract in a speedy 5 mins. You provide them with your phone, address etc and they cancel your service.

It seems like a fantastic bargain and it is definitely worth the 5 dollars so you don’t have to deal with the dreaded customer support yourself. The company also hopes to expand into other services. They say they want to be able to help provide services for getting parking permits or renewing your visa to china etc.

I think it sounds epic, I can see people having issues with sharing their info with 3rd parties, but they state in their FAQ that they won’t share the information

Thank you to Geek.com for providing us with this information

Comcast VP Has No Idea Why it Caps Data at 300GB

Comcast, notorious for terrible customer service and arbitrary restrictions, does offer the fastest internet speeds of all the nationwide ISP in the US – Comcast Xfinity has an average download speed of 104Mbps and upload speed of 12.7Mbps – but the biggest bone of contention amongst customers is the 300GB data cap. Does it exist for technical reasons, to maintain the integrity of its network performance, or is it just an arbitrary number plucked out of the air? Considering the words of a Comcast executive, it could well be the latter.

A Comcast customer asked the company’s Vice President of Internet Services, Jason Livingood, what the point of the data cap is via a tweet. Livingood’s response revealed that the cap is not motivated by engineering concerns, but is rather a “business policy”:

Though the data cap only affects less than 2% of customers – most everyone else stays within data limits, month-on-month – the reasoning behind it certainly seems unclear. An arbitrary cap, though, bodes well for the future, since streaming services such as Netflix are increasing bandwidth demand every year. With plans to introduce 4K streaming in the near future the home data usage is set to increase further.

Thank you BGR for providing us with this information.

Comcast VP Claims Data Caps are Business Policy & Not Technical Necessity

Many of you with home internet plans may have to deal with monthly data caps. For some this cap can be a real pain as a full household streaming and consuming content can easily rack up the gigabytes. While ISPs claim many different reasons to justify their caps, one common excuse is that the heavier users should pay more if the network infrastructure is not capable of handling the constant load.

Major US ISP Comcast  recently started rolling out a 300GB “data cap” in certain regions. While the company is loath to call it a cap since customers can go over it, the heavy overage charges essentially make it a cap. When questioned about the low cap, VP of internet services Jason Livingood tweeted that-

No idea—I’m involved on the engineering side to manage the measurement systems but don’t weigh in on the business policies”.

Implicit in that statement is that the data caps are managed as a business policy and that there is no real engineering or technical need for data caps. This makes a lot of sense as data caps do not help manage network usage at any point in time, rather, they only control the total usage over a month. Congestion however, happens on a very small time scale, meaning time-based limits would make much more sense, with users moving their more bandwidth heavy but not urgent usage to off-peak times.

This statement from Livingood pretty much confirms that Comcast, and probably many other ISPs, only have data caps in place so they can charge customer overage fees. Given the ever increasing bandwidth demands and the relatively low caps, ISPs can pretty much reap in the extra cash without having to really do anything. Why do you think data caps exist?

EA and Comcast Team up to Bring New Streaming Service

There are a lot of streaming services that bring games to players on their TV. We all know the popular NVIDIA Grid and the company’s constant attempt to make it more popular. Microsoft and Sony are attempting to bring such services to their consoles too, but they still have a long way to get people interested in the latter.

Now Electronic Arts and Comcast made a partnership to bring cloud gaming to your TVs too. All you need is an Xfinity X1 box from Comcast. The really interesting thing here is that the companies are not relying on controllers, but rather encourage people to use their smartphones and tables as their own personal controllers. All they need is an app called Xfinity Games and then navigate to a website on their handsets, enter a code and you’re done. The controls are made out of swiping and tapping gestures.

But are handsets really good controllers? Well, tests proved they are not! The companies found out that it was extremely difficult to control and navigate the Dead Space title, but found out that the handsets are best at controlling cars, so they went on and added the Real Racing to the list of games. They say that this would be the future of online gaming, but is it really true? There are more things to take into account here.

One of the main issues with online stuff is the user’s internet speed. Ok, you get some games that can be controlled remotely, but you still have to think that despite your efforts of delivering and receiving input and game feedback, ISPs around the world are still struggling to deliver actual speeds to have their customers load up a page, yet alone play a fully fledged game remotely. The second one that is applicable here is the controller. You can get some feedback by the handset’s ability to vibrate, but are most games ready for using virtual buttons? I would like to see how someone would play a fast-paced FPS or even RTS titles controlled via a smartphone or tablet.

Nevertheless, there are around 20 titles available for Comcast customers to try out, including NBA, PGA, and Plats vs Zombies. The list is said to be constantly changing based on user feedback and the companies are even thinking of adding third-party titles to the list in the near future.

Thank you Cnet for providing us with this information

Comcast Attempt to Consume Time Warner Cable Fails

Comcast has at last given up on their attempt to merge with rival Time Warner Cable. Since the announcement of the merger early last year, the two largest cable providers in the United States have struggled against stiff consumer opposition. The final blow was struck as officials in the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice both started anti-trust investigations into the merger. If the merger had gone through, Comcast would have controlled over 57% of the broadband market with over 33 million customers.

Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts gave the following statement:

“Today, we move on. Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn’t agree, we could walk away. Comcast NBCUniversal is a unique company with strong momentum. Throughout this entire process, our employees have kept their eye on the ball and we have had fantastic operating results. I want to thank them and the employees of Time Warner Cable for their tireless efforts. I couldn’t be more proud of this company and I am truly excited for what’s next.”

Opponents of the merger claimed that the result would have created an unstoppable monopoly and harmed competition. Comcast argued that the merger would have saved them billions in redundancies and that the two companies don’t compete against each other anyway. Two of the major complaints were Comcast’s terrible customer service track record and the fact that Comcast were unable to promise any savings to customers as a result of the merger.

Google Said to Have Regular Meetings with White House Officials

The Wall Street Journal apparently got their hands on some visitor logs and emails linking high-ranking Google employees, including Eric Schmidt, meeting with White House officials 230 times across two terms, adding up to once a week meet-ups in the last four years.

Some of the meetings also look to have taken place during the final weeks before the commission settled with Google. The documents apparently help show how Google has become a lobbying powerhouse in recent years, such that it was able to defeat a major antitrust investigation.

It looks like Comcast has a similar kind of power in the government, having it be the only company to outspend Google’s $16.8 million in lobbying dollars last year. However, Comcast apparently met just 20 times in the last few years.

Also, it is reported that Google employees have moved over to roles in the White House in the past, having Obama naming former VP Megan Smith as his new chief technology officer last year.

Thank you Yahoo! Tech for providing us with this information

Comcast Starts Using “Designed By Comcast in Philadelphia” on Remotes

Comcast has decided that the best way to improve people’s perceptions of itself is to copy one of the most famous slogans in tech. On every Apple product, big or small, from tiny headphone cables to whole computer systems, you’ll find the words “Designed by Apple in California.” Words that symbolise one of the greatest design heritages the world has seen.

So, it’s a little surprising to see Comcast, a company renowned for the amount of dislike it draws to itself, using such a slogan. If you think of the words Comcast and design, you picture not-so well designed set top boxes like this. But the thing is, that slogan in the headline is no joke. Comcast has started using it on their “premium” X1 remote.

Philadelphia just doesn’t have the same ring to it does it?

Source: The Verge

Journalist Calls Comcast CEO’s Mom Over Bad Service

That’s not a headline you read everyday. A journalist at the Philadelphia Daily News had a number of e-mails from customers of one of America’s most hated companies complaining about poor service. So, what’s a journalist with high profile contacts to do to help these people out? Call the CEO? No, even better – she called the CEO’s 92-year-old mother.

Diana and Jason Airoldi told columnist Ronnie Polaneczky that they were having a pretty hard time with Comcast. Apparently, they would be completely cut off for six weeks, all thanks to the company having broken its appointments with them. That’s literally six weeks without cable and internet in a world where the latter is quite often vital for many people’s professions. Plus, remember this is the USA we’re talking about here – Comcast, like other telcos in America, often have a monopoly in certain regions, largely due to them owning all of the infrastructure, leaving customers with no alternative.

So Polaneczky decided it would be a good idea to give Comcast’s CEO Brian Roberts’ mom a call. It was a good idea too – the next day vans turned up at the Airoldi’s house and got them up and running.

I wonder if she grounded him?

Source: Philadelphia Daily News Via: The Verge

Someone Spent 4 Hours Cancelling Their Comcast Subscription

We all know how difficult and frustrating it can be cancelling your TV and internet subscription. They do literally everything they can to stop you from leaving. Despite all that, it probably doesn’t always take 4 hours. For one person however, it did.

Someone who goes by the name of Mike has uploaded an excerpt of his 4 hour hell to YouTube as well as describing his experience with this post on reddit.

 “tl/dr (sort of) upon request. Basically, I called to cancel my service after already making preliminary arrangements for an install with ATT. A Comcast retention specialist then offered me what I thought was a deal too good to be true – 50mbps internet (for which I was already paying $59.99/mo) for $39.99 for 12 months. They were also going to cancel my bundled TV service since I didn’t really use it anyway.I grudgingly accepted the offer, called ATT to cancel their install, and waited for the Comcast confirmation e-mail I was told would arrive within the hour. It did not arrive.I called back. The 2nd rep had no record whatsoever of the deal that was made on my first call. I informed them that I had recorded the call, so on to another retention specialist, who claimed to be able to match the original deal. I, again, grudgingly agreed. At this point, I was 2 hours in & just wanted it to be over with.After this, still no confirmation e-mail, and after doing a speed test, I saw that my internet speeds were now maxing out at less than 30mbps.

I called back.

The 3rd rep had no record at all of any of the previous calls. In fact, they showed me as being enrolled in a plan that was more expensive than the one I had originally. So…over to another retention specialist. This one offered me the 50mbps internet for the aforementioned $39.99…BUT I had to bundle it with a TV package including basic + HBO.

I finally get off the phone after almost 4 hours, my speed tests are good, a confirmation e-mail finally arrives all seems well. I go to turn on my TV…no service.

I did not include this part in the video (though I do have the recording), but I called again and was told that my original cable TV box had been de-authorized when the plan was upgraded/changed/whatever, and that I need a whole new box. They offered to either ship me one, or send a technician to my house to install a new one. I declined both of these offers, as I simply do not trust that I will not be billed for these services.

So, in short, several phone calls, several lies, several hours. Finally got working internet at the right price but the TV service is still not working, and I am so wary of rocking the boat and having them screw up my account again that I haven’t authorized them to correct the TV issue…I simply don’t trust them to not screw it up further.”

Source: TechCrunch

Comcast Sued For Forcefully Turning Private Routers into Xfinity Hotspots

Comcast is being sued for forcing private routers to become public hotspots. In 2013, Comcast introduced Xfinity hotspots, which used customers’ existing Comcast routers to create a public internet gateway. Though active by default, Xfinity was billed as non-compulsory, with an opt-out option. However, certain users have found that their choice to opt-out has not been adhered to, especially after firmware updates, and that Comcast has been using their router for Xfinity without their permission.

The class action suit against Comcast accuses the company of failing to get the consent of the user before implementing the system:

“(The plaintiff) claims that Comcast saw its millions of residential customers as an opportunity to compete with major cellular carriers such as AT&T and Verizon. Though Comcast does not have cellular towers, its customers’ households “could be used as infrastructure for a national wi-fi network,” the complaint states…In using its customers’ home networks to build a national network, Comcast “has externalized the costs of its national wi-fi network onto its customers,” Grear says in the complaint.”

Comcast customers who own a non-Comcast router and modem are safe from this intrusion, and free from a $10 a month router rental fee.

Source: DSL Reports

Coalition Forms to Fight the Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger

A collection of disparate groups, ranging from the Parents Television Council to the Writers Guild of America, have formed a coalition called StopMegaComcast to kill the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

“A competitive and diverse media and technology marketplace is fundamental to the health of our economy and our democracy,” a statement the StopMegaComcast website reads. “The Comcast-TWC merger threatens competition, runs counter to our antitrust and communications laws and should be rejected by federal regulators. This much power concentrated in the hands of one company would be frightening even for the most trustworthy of companies. And Comcast is definitely not that.”

Other members of StopMegaComcast include Dish Network, Public Knowledge, the Consumer Federation of America.

Source: BGR

DirecTV to be the First Cable Company offering 4K TV

There’s a very common and rapidly growing group within the popular Reddit community, they’re called ‘cord cutters‘. Currently grossing over 60k subscribers, this sub Reddit is dedicated to strategies, alternatives and methods to cutting your cable service for life as more people move to online means. DirecTV has just announced that they will be the first to offer 4K TV streaming via their pre-existing infrastructure. No doubt in a bid to keep their customers satisfied and possibly increase their market share,

4K is the new craze, offering massive resolutions, with massive prices to match. A standard ‘big brand’ 4K TV will set you back upwards of $1,500 here in Australia, more than double that of a 1080p TV. If 4K is something that tickles your fancy however, DirecTV will be offering on demand Holocaust pictures and Paramount Pictures productions in this outstanding resolution, but there’s a catch. As according to DirecTV’s website, this content will only be applicable to Samsung 2014 launched 4K TV sets – which are TV’s with RVU technology and the only devices available on the market supporting DirecTV’s 4K TV-demand functions. Alongside this, DirecTV 4k users will need to install the companies HD DVR set-top box (HR34 or later).

DirecTV offer their service for varying prices ranging from $3.99 per movie up to full subscription plans. They’ve also reportedly claimed that there will be much more on-demand 4K content available in the near future. Next year should see DirecTV launching their 4K broadcast channels alongside competitor Comcast’s similar services.

Some of DirecTV’s most popular on-demand movies currently on offer are: Star Trek (2009), Transformers: Age of Extinction and The Mummy: Pharaoh’s Secret.

Image courtesy of Bitcointalk.org

Comcast and Verizon Lowered Speed to Cogent below 0.5Mbps

New detailed measurements have been released displaying exactly how much throttling of traffic was done by major US ISP’s Comcast and Verizon through to Cogent – a backbone operator of Netflix traffic. As almost everyone in the United States discovered over the span of the last year, traffic through to Netflix got bad – really flipping bad. A new study released by M-Lab data has a detailed analysis of just how terrible the throttling from both Verizon, Time Warner and Comcast made it for traffic passing through to Cogent. The study reveals a detailed insight into traffic through the ISP’s over the span of a 5 year period, of which between late May through to February of this year – traffic trickled down to a ludicrously slow 0.5mbps speed. It’s no wonder Netflix was failing to stream for most US citizens.

“Using Measurement Lab (M-Lab) data, and constraining our research to the United States, we observed sustained performance degradation experienced by customers of Access ISPs AT&T, Comcast, CenturyLink, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon when their traffic passed over interconnections with Transit ISPs Cogent Communications (Cogent), Level 3 Communications (Level 3), and XO Communications (XO),” researchers wrote. “In a large number of cases we observed similar patterns of performance degradation whenever and wherever specific pairs of Access/Transit ISPs interconnected. From this we conclude that ISP interconnection has a substantial impact on consumer internet performance—sometimes a severely negative impact—and that business relationships between ISPs, and not major technical problems, are at the root of the problems we observed.”

“The three degraded Access ISPs [Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon] failed to achieve median download throughputs above 4Mbps when connecting over Cogent in New York City for most of the period between Spring 2013 and March 2014,” M-Lab wrote. “While daily median download throughput overall hovered around 4Mbps, performance degradation was much worse during peak use hours. For much of the time between Spring 2013 and March 2014, download speeds during peak use hours remained well below 4Mbps. By January 2014, the download throughput rate during peak use hours for Comcast and Verizon traffic over Cogent’s network was less than 0.5Mbps, the minimum rate necessary for web browsing and email according to the FCC. Note that only between 2:00 AM and 1:00 PM were the three affected Access ISPs able to attain speeds above 4 Mbps across the Transit ISP Cogent.”

The full dataset of information from M-Lab has been published online, and is available for viewing here. One thing is for certain after going through the findings – the internet is in for a bumpy ride if strong net neutrality laws and regulation checks aren’t brought into place. The wild west could start to get a lot wilder.

Thanks to M-Lab for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Slate.