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Time Warner, Embarq Hopes to Kill Little ISP

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 97 comments

It seems Time Warner Cable and Embarq are hell bent on taking down a small, local ISP that’s offering one community faster and cheaper internet access.

Greenlight is North Carolina’s only all fiber optic network. Aside from providing faster internet access to the city of Wilson, N.C. the company offers cable and phone packages at competitive pricing. Ranging from a hundred bucks per month for 80 TV channels, unlimited phone service and 10 Mbps (down/up) to $170 for all channels, unlimited calls and 20 Mbps up and down, Greenlight’s plans are much better than what Wilson residents were getting from either Embarq or Time Warner Cable. Greenlight's highest tier offers 100 Mbps for $300, TWC's Turbo plan offers 10 Mbps for $57.

Today reports from around the web say the two bigger ISPs are trying to persuade the state of North Carolina to put forward bills that would outlaw community services such as the one offered by Greenlight. TWC and Embarq’s argument is that it’s impossible for big companies to turn a profit and compete against a community-owned company that offers customers the service at a price that's much closer to the cost. Brian Bowman, the city's public affairs manager wrote in a blog post that the companies weren’t trying to level the playing field, so much as make sure they were the only team on the field.

"Bottom line, these companies are using your state lawmakers to protect monopolies. It was wrong in 2007 when a similar bill died in the house and it’s wrong today."


Over the last few weeks the media has been filled with debates and complaints about TWC’s decision to introduce tiered pricing on its broadband packages. The company shelved the plan following public outcry. TWC struck out again when word began to get around that the company could also be shelving plans for new system that would improve broadband speeds. Time Warner Cable's consumption-based billing trials brought along with it testing of the new DOCSIS 3.0 system. Alex Dudly, VP of PR at TWC, posted a response on his Twitter to a question from GigaOM’s Stacey Higginbotham saying that the DOCSIS 3.0 was scheduled as part of consumption-based billing trial, but that the consumer backlash has changed the company’s plans. GigaOM got clarification from TWC, who said it is now “reevaluating whether or not the trial cities are among those places” scheduled for DOCSIS 3.0 rollouts.

Now that TWC and Embarq are determined to take down a project that cost the City of Wilson $28 million to set up, people are going to come down even harder on them. Way to go guys. 

Check out Brian Bowman's blog dedicated to saving Wilson's broadband here.

Discuss
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Top Comments
  • 23 Hide
    Anonymous , April 23, 2009 7:53 PM
    Something is terribly wrong when the government (terrible economic efficiency) can compete with you.
  • 21 Hide
    hotroderx , April 23, 2009 7:50 PM
    Wow ummm ok..... I am lost isn't that just competitive business? Greenlight offers cheaper service to its customers then TWC. So there for in TWC eyes they should be shut down. Will hell with that way of thinking we need to shut down McDonolds cause they offer cheaper prices then the competition and we need to shut down Walmart cause will there cheaper then Target hmmm who else should we shut down o I know Linux even thought there not a company we should make it so they cant continue to develop there OS cause its cheaper then windows and will Microsoft should also be shut down cause will there cheaper then Mac and will thats just not fair. Seriously thought someone needs to do something about TWC this is getting crazy I am being to think there executive are short bus candidates.
  • 17 Hide
    magnus962 , April 23, 2009 8:33 PM
    vaguedreamsFirst let me preface that I am in complete support for the city of wilson and hope that these bills are not rattified. Just to play devils advocate though...I think the big issue is that the community service is running at near cost. Once the city completes it's overhaul then all they are going to do is work to a break even point and not for profit.No cable company can compete with that, and it is a dangerous precident because should this be extremely successful other cities will mimic it. This has the potential to shutdown ISP's nation wide.Wilson has had a lot of difficulty rolling out their plains and the service has not been as spectacular as the numbers indicate. Once they get things working though, it would be a no brainer to take their service.Cable companies would have to work at cost in order to compete and would be unable to grow or expand. While it's all greed, that greed brings services like dvr, ppv, extra premium channels, broad band, home networking, voip telephony, etc...I think it's hosed, but you need to take a step back and look at the whole situation. Don't just shoot from the hip and scream how evil these corporations are. Just think if a company only worked for it's break even point. It would never grow, or expand. With these community services once roll out they are done, they are then working just to maintain. They are not going to try and expand beyond their cities.



    The cable companies failed to set up a connection that was satisfactory (or even existed?) for the community of Wilson. In response they got together and built this system and program by pulling together the funds, systems, and time needed to make it work. As it was pointed out, the system isnt perfect yet, but when it gets there then it will obviously be a no brainer. This means that the community built something to compete against a service that was unable to meet their needs. This is the benefit of a free market. The government didnt magically decide these people needed a super ISP, it was bought and paid for as a whole and I dont pretend to know how.

    What I do know is that if TWC and Embarq dont like the fact that they cannot compete with the prices in the area, then they dont have to. If the entire country were to support this same system tomorrow, and have it installed and implemented next week, then those companies either have to evolve and reevaluate how they exist, or compete. You can compete with zero profit by offering a better service with low profit. If you cannot possibly offer better service, then you are outdated.

    The entire world is starting to revolve around internet usage. Just because these companies have built massive networks that they tap into using their services does not mean they have inherent right to make money, especially not in this country. If citizens can use Government ability to build a no profit ISP in their are with superhigh speeds then either the ISP needs to build something similar or they need to get over themselves. They aren't entitled to money, they are entitled to the ability to compete, and that has not been taken away from them. They are outclassed by their own doing in this case, not because they didnt have a shot.
Other Comments
  • 13 Hide
    salsoolo , April 23, 2009 7:46 PM
    f** monopoly... every city should do what those ppl did.
    and the entire country will have ftth. actually thats the best idea.
  • 21 Hide
    hotroderx , April 23, 2009 7:50 PM
    Wow ummm ok..... I am lost isn't that just competitive business? Greenlight offers cheaper service to its customers then TWC. So there for in TWC eyes they should be shut down. Will hell with that way of thinking we need to shut down McDonolds cause they offer cheaper prices then the competition and we need to shut down Walmart cause will there cheaper then Target hmmm who else should we shut down o I know Linux even thought there not a company we should make it so they cant continue to develop there OS cause its cheaper then windows and will Microsoft should also be shut down cause will there cheaper then Mac and will thats just not fair. Seriously thought someone needs to do something about TWC this is getting crazy I am being to think there executive are short bus candidates.
  • 4 Hide
    kingnoobe , April 23, 2009 7:52 PM
    I'm pretty surprised at Embarq on this one. I have used their services and found them quite exceptional specially since they never capped me, and i got what I paid for all the way around, but after hearing this... There goes their good rep at least in my eyes. Of course TW doing this is no surprise specially after the crap they tried to pull. Maybe this is just a new marketing tool, everybody loves a good comeback story, and TW is about to need one hell of a comeback to recover from all the crap their trying to pull.
  • 23 Hide
    Anonymous , April 23, 2009 7:53 PM
    Something is terribly wrong when the government (terrible economic efficiency) can compete with you.
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , April 23, 2009 7:58 PM
    The article seems to be missing the end of this sentence, "Greenlight's highest tier offers 100 Mbps for $300, TWC's Turbo plan offers 10 Mbps for ---------".
  • 3 Hide
    eqdarkleaf , April 23, 2009 8:01 PM
    I can't believe all this bad press about TW. Its too bad I have no other viable ISP to switch to here in Greensboro. If Wilson was closer I'd jump ship.... but guess that wouldnt help since corporate giants squash competition. They must have gotten their hands on the MS playbook.
  • 13 Hide
    magnus962 , April 23, 2009 8:07 PM
    UNBELIEVABLE!

    The money grubbing monopoly tyrants and setting their sites on a local service that is in the rare position to be able to compete with these corporate monsters. Heaven forbid they off the service that people want without gouging the prices so high that it seems unobtainable. TWC is trying to drive their own business forward and every time they do, they end up looking even more like a bunch of asses.

    This is shameful and disgusting, I hope this company burns to the ground.
  • 1 Hide
    marsax73 , April 23, 2009 8:09 PM
    This TWC story keeps getting funnier and funnier. I mean Christ....they of all people are worried about competition?????
  • -2 Hide
    JeBuSBrian , April 23, 2009 8:13 PM
    Hey Jane, proof-read.
  • 13 Hide
    salsoolo , April 23, 2009 8:14 PM
    The SchnozHold the phone here. Even though I agree that what Time Warner and Embarq are doing is ridiculous there is another story here. Greenlight is owned by the city itself. Doesn't that give them an unfair advantage?! This is basically a government run corporation that is weeding out the competition. How did this company form? Who were the founding investors? Was Greenlight funded by tax dollars? There was a time where they had no customers at all and fiber optic networks aren't free. I think Time Warner and Embarq may have a point to all this the article is overlooking. I realize we all want faster internet and lower prices, but having the government do it with tax payer dollars is unfair to the businesses that pay taxes. the real monopoly will always be the government. Obviously Time Warner and Embarq our not monopolies since they coexist.

    the people in that city also pays taxes :) 
    the crappy service from cable are the reason for greenlight's existance in the first place.
  • -6 Hide
    cielmerlion , April 23, 2009 8:16 PM
    magnus962UNBELIEVABLE!The money grubbing monopoly tyrants and setting their sites on a local service that is in the rare position to be able to compete with these corporate monsters. Heaven forbid they off the service that people want without gouging the prices so high that it seems unobtainable. TWC is trying to drive their own business forward and every time they do, they end up looking even more like a bunch of asses.This is shameful and disgusting, I hope this company burns to the ground.


    You just said what i was thinking, but i would add that i hope they get AIDS from getting raped in the butt. It would be a fitting and deserved end.

    Every day i see more and more reasons why this country is not a choice place to live, all i have to do is find a better one (>O.O)>
  • 4 Hide
    vaguedreams , April 23, 2009 8:18 PM
    First let me preface that I am in complete support for the city of wilson and hope that these bills are not rattified. Just to play devils advocate though...

    I think the big issue is that the community service is running at near cost. Once the city completes it's overhaul then all they are going to do is work to a break even point and not for profit.

    No cable company can compete with that, and it is a dangerous precident because should this be extremely successful other cities will mimic it. This has the potential to shutdown ISP's nation wide.

    Wilson has had a lot of difficulty rolling out their plains and the service has not been as spectacular as the numbers indicate. Once they get things working though, it would be a no brainer to take their service.

    Cable companies would have to work at cost in order to compete and would be unable to grow or expand. While it's all greed, that greed brings services like dvr, ppv, extra premium channels, broad band, home networking, voip telephony, etc...

    I think it's hosed, but you need to take a step back and look at the whole situation. Don't just shoot from the hip and scream how evil these corporations are. Just think if a company only worked for it's break even point. It would never grow, or expand.

    With these community services once roll out they are done, they are then working just to maintain. They are not going to try and expand beyond their cities.
  • 3 Hide
    duckmanx88 , April 23, 2009 8:20 PM
    that is effed up.I can't compete with you so I'm going to try and shut you down? TWC please get new management before your ompany crashes and burns.
  • 7 Hide
    cielmerlion , April 23, 2009 8:21 PM
    The SchnozHold the phone here. Even though I agree that what Time Warner and Embarq are doing is ridiculous there is another story here. Greenlight is owned by the city itself. Doesn't that give them an unfair advantage?! This is basically a government run corporation that is weeding out the competition. How did this company form? Who were the founding investors? Was Greenlight funded by tax dollars? There was a time where they had no customers at all and fiber optic networks aren't free. I think Time Warner and Embarq may have a point to all this the article is overlooking. I realize we all want faster internet and lower prices, but having the government do it with tax payer dollars is unfair to the businesses that pay taxes. the real monopoly will always be the government. Obviously Time Warner and Embarq our not monopolies since they coexist.


    I see what youre getting at but I believe that what TWC and embarq are doing is wrong. I dont see a moral dilemma with the government stepping in and giving fair prices. If TWC want their customers back they should offer more competitive prices and use all their huge profits to improve their infrastructure so they can provide even better services. But all they are trying to do is maximize their profits without improving a damn thing.
  • 5 Hide
    cielmerlion , April 23, 2009 8:23 PM
    vaguedreamsFirst let me preface that I am in complete support for the city of wilson and hope that these bills are not rattified. Just to play devils advocate though...I think the big issue is that the community service is running at near cost. Once the city completes it's overhaul then all they are going to do is work to a break even point and not for profit.No cable company can compete with that, and it is a dangerous precident because should this be extremely successful other cities will mimic it. This has the potential to shutdown ISP's nation wide.Wilson has had a lot of difficulty rolling out their plains and the service has not been as spectacular as the numbers indicate. Once they get things working though, it would be a no brainer to take their service.Cable companies would have to work at cost in order to compete and would be unable to grow or expand. While it's all greed, that greed brings services like dvr, ppv, extra premium channels, broad band, home networking, voip telephony, etc...I think it's hosed, but you need to take a step back and look at the whole situation. Don't just shoot from the hip and scream how evil these corporations are. Just think if a company only worked for it's break even point. It would never grow, or expand. With these community services once roll out they are done, they are then working just to maintain. They are not going to try and expand beyond their cities.


    The problem is that TWC is not trying to improve or expand. They are just trying to squeese more money from their existing equipment and not improving.
  • 1 Hide
    akoegle , April 23, 2009 8:23 PM
    I live in alaska where we only have one cable provider for the entire state, GCI. I pay 160/mo for 3mbdown 512up, basic cable and the HD channels. If I move out of state i'm going to make sure I dont get TWC.
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , April 23, 2009 8:24 PM
    Is not the point of these types of laws to protect the consumer from big business or is it the other way around?
  • 4 Hide
    AdamB5000 , April 23, 2009 8:25 PM
    So I guess if you can't beat 'em, make 'em illegal.

    The CEO raked in over $14 million and Glen Britt, an executive with the company, pulled in $1 mil. plus a $6.4 million bonus (according to the AP). If you get a performance bonus you'd think the company is making money, right?

    Looks like their revenues are up in 2008 from 2007 even with fewer customers, yet they lost $7.3 billion. Sounds like cost-cutting is not an option with them and pulling more money out of their customers is they play. Sounds an awful lot like our government, right?! :)  When the books are in the red, charge people more! To hell with cutting the fat. Are they in line for a bailout?

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jydwajPiYQH-TzdjbbmrQtEbVPLwD97MHO3O0
  • 4 Hide
    Zakkas , April 23, 2009 8:33 PM
    I'm all for cheaper prices for Internet access and what not. But I'm against government intervention and big brother behind my Internet. Not only that but the thousands of jobs the larger corporations add to the job market.
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