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Is Comcast Heading the Way of the Dinosaur? 340

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the giving-your-customers-what-they-hate dept.
CasualRepartee writes "Comcast has been one of the most successful cable companies in the world; in many parts of the U.S., Comcast sits pretty on huge user bases that don't have many viable high-speed internet alternatives. However, poor customer service, slow speeds and generally poor business practices could make the once-great internet giant another extinct dinosaur, no ice age required. The fact of the matter is this: Comcast is no longer the biggest and the best. Cable is taking a distant back seat to Verizon's FiOS (fiber optic service), which delivers speeds up to 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload speeds. Unlike Comcast, FiOS delivers the full range of bandwidth to each user, whereas Comcast users are forced to share bandwidth with other users on the same coaxial cable, causing speeds to fluctuate dramatically with usage."
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Is Comcast Heading the Way of the Dinosaur?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 02, 2007 @11:28AM (#21551725)
    And if the pipe is before your destination, then you're going to be sharing bandwidth, FIOS, Cable or DSL.
    • by nxtw (866177) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @12:11PM (#21551955)
      With HFC (hybrid fiber coax) networks where the "coax" part is shared with more than one customer, you've got one more leg of the connection that's subject to problems -- and not as easy to upgrade. Cable companies already pack as much as they can into their limited bandwidth, balancing analog, digital, and HD channels; they can't just add more bandwidth on the coax for data services without rearraning other things. So they either have to upgrade infrastructure to DOCSIS 2/3 or expand their fiber out so that each HFC node serves less customers.

      DSL / Fios services do not share this issue. If congestion happens between the cable/DSL/Fios node and the Internet, operators need only increase the bandwidth available between those locations - which shouldn't be nearly as hard to do, since they'd be adding another connection alongside or better utilizing an existing fiber connection.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 02, 2007 @05:09PM (#21554271)
        DSL is limited in distance because it is all copper. Cable and FiOS both run fiber out to a node. They are both shared all the way to the node, but wait, do FiOS nodes contain huge 2000 port patch panels? No! you don't get your own dedicated fiber all the way to the node. It likely goes from the node out to splitters/taps etc. not that different than cable. The biggest difference is using coax from the node is cheaper which means it reaches more rural areas (it is a happy middle ground).


        So HFC is separating people on the same physical fiber/copper with frequencies and time slots, and FiOS is doing basically the same thing with light spectrum. With cable the drop from the pole to your house is not shared, with FiOS the fiber goes from your home to where? Probably a drop/splitter on a pole outside. If this is the case they are both "shared" even at the last mile.

        Cable has exponential room to grow also. Currently there is about 1GHz available on your copper you are using about 8MHz (0.8%) of it for your cable modem. Even with the technology in place now it could offer much much more bandwidth per subscriber. DOCSIS 3.0 will add more bandwidth and channel bonding. Removing the analog channels will free up spectrum. There is a technology called "switched digital" that basically means broadcasting the channels people are watching instead of all the channels all the time. The technology in place today is not even being used to the full potential (it is cheaper not to especially where the bandwidth in place is not being used) and in theory instead of 8MHz there is nothing stopping DOCIS 5.0 or DOCSIS 6.0 from using 300 or 400 MHz. If end-user bandwidth requirements ever get that high the internet itself would be in jeopardy as the backbone fiber would not be able to sustain that much traffic.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Shakrai (717556) *

          do FiOS nodes contain huge 2000 port patch panels? No! you don't get your own dedicated fiber all the way to the node. It likely goes from the node out to splitters/taps etc. not that different than cable

          It is different from cable. One single fiber serves a max of 32 locations, typically less. So, no, you don't have a dedicated last mile all the way back to the CO (you do with DSL/POTS service, albeit copper and slower).

          But compared to cable? That single fiber can haul 1.2GBit/s on the upstream and 2.4GBit/s on the downstream (with GPON). That's shared with no more then 32 customers. A DOCSIS 2.0 network by contrast provides for 42.88Mbit/s downstream and 30.72Mbit/s upstream per channel. How many

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Actually, you're incorrect to contrast DSL and FIOS, together, with cable as something different.

        FIOS is a brand name for marketing services, not a networking technology. The underlying technology is BPON, which is an ATM-based passive optical network. A PON uses an optical splitter to combine the laser signals from many subscribers onto the same fiber at the same wavelength, exactly as a cable splitter combines RF frequencies on metal coax cable. They are both point-to-multipoint technologies, and thus
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 02, 2007 @12:18PM (#21552011)
      OK why are folks just plain stupid.

      FIOS connections are shared between a max of 32 home or nodes. They are rolling out GPON which will allow gigabit to the home (though no home will likely have it any time soon)

      currently most FIOS users are BPON and could get nearly 100MB bidirectional. As it is Verizon has maxed out currently at 50/20 plans for the home user, and yes you can get full speed 24/7. They have built out the back end to support high speed bidirectional traffic and this can be seen by the lack of complaints by users on sites such as dslreports.com and others. Also they are demonstrating they can migrate from 40 to 100Gbps links with relative ease.

      Cable on the other hand will roll out DOCSIS 3.0 later next year....but ...it will cost them 4 6MHz channels....and the resulting channel loss. Sure they will reclaim analog channels as well but FIOS has no such issue. And when FIOS converts over to all IPTV well game up call it day. They will have the ability to use two light streams to the home to manage tv and internet with speeds cable can only dream of with more bonding of channels and high revs of DOCSIS.

      So sure do you share a node at some point but for FIOS users its at the CO and not 20 feet from your front door and not likely to be congested.

      I know...i can dl from an internet service that cannot be spoken of...at 30mbps any time of day and i get 30mbps every time....
      • by $pace6host (865145) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @01:04PM (#21552305) Journal
        Thanks for posting this - I was in the middle of posting the same thing. Sure, you share a pipe - but the difference is the size of the pipe and how many other high bandwidth users you're sharing it with (and how oversubscribed it is). Around here (Philly burbs), Comcast offers "Speedboost" or "Powerboost" because they can occasionally allocate you the bandwidth, but they can't possibly give it to you all the time (they don't have it). DOCSIS 3.0 will help, but they're also trying to jam in all those new HDTV channels... FiOS, on the other hand, I NEVER see less than my rated speed, unless I'm going to a slow server or a server on a slow link. I might be sharing my downlink with up to 32 others on the BPON, but whatever they have at the CO and out is definitely not overloaded. My Mom on Comcast, though, sees a slowdown every day when the kids get home from school and log on to Xbox live.
      • FIOS and its proprietary GPON scheme is balanced towards downloads. It's not symmetrical, and was never planned to be. The differences between BPON and GPON are moot in the consumer's context-- they're both *passive* optical networking schemes that use splitters, and that's where I have problems with it. It's inexpensive, and it's a bad long term asset play.

        FIOS is one of any number of schemes, and it requires, as does cable, surrendering the consumer possibility of third party provisioning over time. In ot
    • by Kiaser Wilhelm II (902309) <slashpanada@gmail.com> on Sunday December 02, 2007 @12:44PM (#21552169) Journal
      Of course. However, the difference between coaxial networks and DSL or FIOS is that the coaxial network is in a bus toplogy, meaning that the coax segment you are on is shared with everyone else on that segment. This is a major issue because the total bandwidth over the coax is limited and not very scalable as far as subscriber capacity is concerned. Get a few people maxing our their connection and you will have problems quickly.

      DSL and FIOS are examples of star toplogy; you do not share your incoming line with anyone else at all. The bandwidth converges only at the local node where high bandwidth fiber is provided to the node.

      Do you see why cable is at a disadvantage here?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Covener (32114)

        you do not share your incoming line with anyone else at all. The bandwidth converges only at the local node where high bandwidth fiber is provided to the node.

        Do you see why cable is at a disadvantage here?



        I just pulled the spark plugs out of every car on my block. How much faster will my commute be?
    • by Kjella (173770)
      True, but almost all the time it's the last mile deciding what you can get. I'm capped to rather slow DSL (2Mbit/400kbit) because of the distance from the central, no cable (old system not ready for Internet) and no fiber. If I had a fat pipe to the central, they'd be ready to sell me 20/2 Mbit+ ADSL2/cable, and even then it's the modem speed holding them back. Upgrade cetnral-to-central capacity to offer me another 100Mbit? No problem. Upgrading my end-mile connection to offer me another 100Mbit? Big, big
  • I hate Comcast (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Breeze (140484) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @11:29AM (#21551729) Homepage
    Dealing with their bureaucracy is a nightmare - especially if you are trying to get a clarification on whether their commercial TOS allows paid WiFI hotspot access. Inconsistent policies, customer service from hell, a pricing structure more suited to the "we're the phone company - we don't care - we don't have to" days...I can only hope that Comcast is indeed due for a long permament swim in a nice tar pit.
    • Re:I hate Comcast (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 02, 2007 @12:07PM (#21551921)
      You are not alone. Everyone hates comcast, Even the employees (except for the Executives at VP and above.. and they have at least 180-190 VP's.) I left 2 years ago because I saw a sinking ship, and even then All my coworkers hated the company and it's business practices. They made incredibly stupid decisions like spending freezes on the operations side but the executives could hire new assistants and remodel their offices at $30,000-$50,000 a pop. Customer service is touted all over the place yet when you as an employee try to implement it you are told no. I know of field techs that were let go for trying to make the customer happy.

      They seemed to promote the idiots to management and let go those that were valuable to the company. In other words I saw lots of people getting screwed, so I jumped ship. Because the screwing was so bad I could map out and see it was heading for me and my department.

      The last straw for me was instead of hiring one of the guys in the department that knew the job and systems or a new manager position they hired a friend of one of the executives for it that did not know squat about the department, what we did, or even the business process. And this is a very common thing at comcast, hiring of managers based on the buddy system not capabilities and knowledge.

      Posting anon as peole at Comcast that know me know my Slashdot ID.
    • Yeah, I hate huge bureaucratic companies that take monopolistic stances, overprice their services, and give crappy customer service. Hopefully Comcast will die and we can all switch to a good company like... Verizon?

      Seriously, this all seems pretty slanted. The submission reads more like Verizon astroturfing than a legitimate post. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of FIOS and hope it comes to my area soon and is cheap. However, I'm not a huge fan of Verizon and don't see how they're much better than

      • Re:I hate Comcast (Score:5, Insightful)

        by $pace6host (865145) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @01:33PM (#21552493) Journal
        We had Comcast for years, and they took advantage of their monopoly in this area, raised rates to ridiculous levels, offered poor signal quality, and were slow in improving the infrastructure. My favorite Comcastic tactic is charging your existing customers twice what you charge your new customers -- unless the existing customers threaten to leave. Then they can find it in their hearts to offer an existing customer that price, too. Guess most of their customers don't notice there are two prices. We ended up on DSL instead of cable modem because it took them so long to offer broadband in the area. Now, I won't say Verizon is saintly, at all, but the customer service has been at least equivalent, the picture quality is incredible, we have tons more channels, and we're paying about the same as we used to pay before (for DSL from Vz + analog cable from Comcast). Comcast needs to wake up and smell the competition. We need them to stay around to serve the same purpose to Verizon when Verizon turns around and screws us in a few years. Oh, don't worry, they will. Let's hope the Comcastasaurus can adapt.
  • by strredwolf (532) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @11:31AM (#21551739) Homepage Journal
    Something to note -- Verizon has deployed a symmetric plan. In select areas it's 25Mbps both up and down. In other areas it's 15Mbps up/down. Check dlsreports.com for details.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by imasu (1008081)
      FiOS is still quite slow in comparison to the home fiber options in Japan. NTT's B-Flets is 100Mbit and has been available there for a while for less than $50/mo. Not sure about the upstream, I *think* it's symmetric based upon what friends tell me, but I have no cites to back that up.
  • by COMICAGOGO (1055066) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @11:34AM (#21551749)
    I have at various times been both a Verizon and a Comcast customer. I must say that having to choose between the two for fast internet service is like being give the choice of having you right arm and leg cut off or your left arm and leg (not talking price per say.) You are pretty screwed no matter what you pick.

    Any body else have the dubious honor of having been with both of these companies?
  • I realize the tagging is in beta, but why censorship?

    Anyway, I'm interested in fiber optic internet too but it's not available in my area and no one seems to have any more information than that. Their price seems pretty competitive (at least against Comcast) and you'd think they'd be interested in rolling it out as widely and quickly as possible. What kind of infrastructure needs to be developed for this? I thought there was already a ton of fiber in the ground that no one was using.

    • by bhima (46039)
      Because any subscriber can add whatever ass-stupid shit they want.
  • I still have no idea where FIOS is available or what their deployment plan is.

    The only thing I know is that it's not available here.
    • Re:Where is FIOS? (Score:5, Informative)

      by rfunches (800928) <thefunch@NospAM.gmail.com> on Sunday December 02, 2007 @12:17PM (#21552001) Homepage

      Two sources:

      1. http://www.dslreports.com/ [dslreports.com]. Their Verizon Fiber Optics forum is usually updated with information about the latest rollout areas and they also have a Google Maps application where users with FiOS service "pin" their location on the map and offer a user review in some instances. The forums also include some info on overall deployment, but it's usually secondhand info so take it for what it's worth.
      2. The Verizon website for your state at http://www22.verizon.com/about/community/ [verizon.com]. For instance, Verizon Virginia [verizon.com] has a monthly FTTP construction list in PDF format.
    • by rednip (186217)

      I live in a county were fios can transmit both internet and tv service, some have had it for more than a year, but I am still waiting for service. I've been checking every week, and looking out for every indication of Verizon work. Finally, it started work here a couple of weeks ago.

      First they laid a tension cable on the poles, then a couple of weeks later another crew attached the fiber lines to it. A technician then seemed to do some 'extra' work, most just seemed to do some 'clean up'. Just this pa

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Seumas (6865)
      The slashdot submission suggests that Comcast and possibly other cable services are going to become sloth-like old giants that nobody uses anymore, because of supposedly poor customer service, slow speeds, mucking with applications and protocols and iffy-secret-limitations.

      The point is -- NONE OF THAT MATTERS. For the same reason people are going to pay five, six or ten dollars a gallon for gas (because they need gas and there's only one source of it), people will continue using Comcast and other cable prov
  • As if Verizon's customer service somehow *isn't* atrocious. Ugh. There's no good option here.
  • by Kohath (38547) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @11:41AM (#21551785)
    This story assumes two things:

    1. That FIOS is available for people. The actual availability is limited.
    2. That, since you are really interested in the latest Comcast news about P2P, a majority or even a large minority must also be interested. They aren't.

    That second one is a hard lesson for people to learn. Just because you care about something doesn't mean anyone else will care or should care. Don't mistake your wishes for reality.
    • by hedwards (940851) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @12:15PM (#21551989)
      I don't agree. Number 1, you have a good point, I would love to know when FIOS is coming to Seattle, and which parts will receive it first when the service does come available. More likely we're going to be blessed with clearwire, comcast, DSL providers and wimax, with the last one being projected for next year.

      I'd love to be able to add FIOS to the list, because all of those suck except for DSL and conceivably wimax when it gets here.

      As for number 2, I think the majority of people ought to be interested in this. I wouldn't have cared until they were allowed to buy out the local cable provider and turn the service from pretty good into completely unusable crap. The facts that they feel entitled to charge high prices for garbage service and have a propensity to buy out smaller companies is a good reason to be concerned. Just not necessarily people outside the US, but if we're going that route, there's a lot of news that shouldn't be posted here because it only applies to other countries.

      Advertising an always on connection and being wholly unable to make it through a day without interruptions, let alone a week is pretty pathetic. The expectation that we would have to call them daily for a credit was completely absurd. I've never been treated that way by either Earthlink or Qwest.
  • It's great that in heavy population centers like New York and California we are finally getting fiber to the curb. But in cities that aren't part of the "Top 20 most populous cities in the USA", fiber is still a pipe dream. So cable internet can still keep a rather large user base with heavy losses to FiOS. Until fiber starts deploying to cities of less than 100,000 people, don't try to claim cable internet is dieing.
    • Even in CA, it's not all that it's cracked up to be.

      I used to live in San Francisco, right in the middle, on the west side of Twin Peaks. Moved in in 1998. It took 3 years to get DSL to my house. I moved out in June (got tired of the Empire and moved to Canada) and when I left the FASTEST I could get out of my DSL was 384k. !!!! 384k !!!!

      A friend of mine in the Haight only 2 km away had DSL and was getting 1.5m.

      There I was: literally in the middle of The High Tech City of America, and I couldn't get b

  • Slashvertisement (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSpoom (715771) * <{ten.00mrebu} {ta} {todhsals}> on Sunday December 02, 2007 @11:48AM (#21551825) Homepage Journal
    Oh, well, I'd better go get Verizon right now!

    *sigh*

    They don't even really try to hide it any more, do they? This "article" reads exactly like a DSL ad.

    Anyway, no, Comcast isn't going anywhere. They have a monopoly in several markets like a lot of other cable companies and so they wouldn't be going anywhere regardless of their level of suck.
    • Indeed, it sounds right out of the DSL tech support training indoctrination manual. They bullshit their employees even more than their customers, probably because they want their techs to sell service upgrades. That was just one of many reasons why I left after only a few weeks.

      Until these companies offer stand-alone ("naked") DSL service, and stop trying to scam their customers ("variable speed" service, look up what that REALLY means) , I won't consider them a viable competitor to the likes of Comcast.
  • Bah! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Ben Dayho (1197271)
    comcast used to not piss me off. Then the other day my hd/dvr 4 year old box died. Now they want to charge me 32.50 to come and fix their equipment.
    • Why don't you just take it to their office and swap it out with a new one? Don't tell me they charge you for in-office replacements. If you're asking for a service call then the guy needs to get paid somehow even if he's a glorified UPS driver delivering a package.
    • That's easy to fix. Call the business department, or whatever they call the department that deals with signing up new customers. Tell them "I am renting equipment from you, and this equipment is dead. Unfortunately, service people believe that I am liable to pay money to repair rented equipment. Under federal rental law, you are required to come repair your equipment, and I don't have to pay you for the rest of the service that I'm receiving until you've done so; this tactic is used on a regular basis a
      • by cdrguru (88047)
        Good luck with that "withholding rent" strategy. Ever tried it? I doubt it. What you are claiming isn't true and landlords know it. You will find yourself in court with a nice judgement against you and probably evicted as well.

        The eviction takes time. The judgement not as long.
        • by Covener (32114)

          Good luck with that "withholding rent" strategy. Ever tried it? I doubt it. What you are claiming isn't true and landlords know it. You will find yourself in court with a nice judgement against you and probably evicted as well.


          And good luck searching for a new place that doesn't know how to query if you've ever had such a judgement!
      • by mkoenecke (249261)
        "Federal rental law?" Chuckle.
  • Nor will Verizon, which while better than Comcast in the customer service department is still not so great. Not atleast until consumers are offered with more than a boolean choice (Comcast or Verizon, choose your poison).

    However, if those two companies built (or bought) the infrastructure, then good luck getting that choice. Maybe some sort of (nonexistant) very fast and long range, not to mention secure, wireless access... but then SOMEONE has got to own the towers or satellites... and I am guess that th
  • by garcia (6573) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @11:52AM (#21551847) Homepage
    The fact of the matter is this: Comcast is no longer the biggest and the best. Cable is taking a distance back seat to Verizon's FiOS (fiber optic service), which delivers speeds up to 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload speeds.

    The fact of the matter is that I *can* get cable (well, not Comcast is this area but Charter instead) but I cannot get FiOS. I still find it hysterical that McLeod fiber runs less than 100 feet from my backdoor (nothing in between me and it) and I cannot get any Internet benefit from that cable.
  • Unlikely (Score:5, Informative)

    by bconway (63464) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @11:54AM (#21551855) Homepage
    A.) Comcast has over 12 million High Speed Internet users. They aren't going away anytime soon.
    B.) DOCSIS 3.0 roll-outs, which are already started in test areas and expected to hit 25%+ in competitive Comcast markets in 2008, allows 450+ Mbps download and 125+ Mbps upload per channel in a node. For those not in the know, a node is where bandwidth is shared, and can feature many channels. Comcast is already planning to roll out 50 Mbps speeds, followed by 100 Mbps as it becomes competitive.

    Bandwidth will continue to be competition-based, and Comcast is far from down and out.
    • by Lumpy (12016)
      The same words were said about @home.

      Never underestimate the power of incompetent management. It can take down even a company the size of microsoft.
    • by yo_tuco (795102)
      "DOCSIS 3.0 roll-outs, which are already started in test areas and expected to hit 25%+ in competitive Comcast markets in 2008, allows 450+ Mbps download and 125+ Mbps upload per channel in a node."

      Comcast emailed me back in August and asked for my feedback. I vented! One thing I said was FIOS was available to me so I wanted a price reduction on their service or a speed boost or I'll see ya later. Here is their response:

      "We will also be offering 16/2 Mbps in your area early next year."

      So I'll wait and see i
  • by Samurai Cat! (15315) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @11:54AM (#21551859) Homepage
    ...not "distance". :P
  • by edunbar93 (141167) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @11:55AM (#21551863)
    It's been my experience that every ancient monopoly with horrid customer service, horrid technical service, and outdated technology typically stays around forever. If their market starts to shrink, they'll just flog the ever-dwindling market harder and harder. It's as if they exist to extract some kind of penance from the populace for sins committed in past lives or something.
  • I wouldn't bet on it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by leftie (667677) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @11:58AM (#21551873)
    Comcast is getting OnDemand TV out to their subscribers. They also have their eggs in more than one basket with increasing revenues coming in from arena management and programming with VS. and several regional sports nets challenging Fox Sports Net.

    Comcast is my cable provider. I don't like the way they operate, but I'm not switching and losing OnDemand TV and my local NBA team games as a result.
  • by ewilts (121990) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @11:58AM (#21551877) Homepage
    From Engadget:

    http://www.engadget.com/2007/11/30/comcast-ceo-sees-160mbps-internet-in-2008/ [engadget.com]

    See also LightReading:

    Comcast Closes In on 100 Mbit/s [lightreading.com]

    Comcast may not be the fastest today, but they don't appear to be sitting around doing nothing either.

    .../Ed

  • Especially with the tags.

    To answer your question, no, I don't think Comcast is about to go under. I had DSL prior to cable and used to think it was superior. I was rocking along at 1.5 Mbit down/768 up. My buddy had comcast and I asked him what speeds he was getting -- he had used both and noted to me that cable was substantially faster and that he preferred it. This was of course in conflict with all the advertising that SBC had been putting out saying how much the shared network slowed things. So whe
  • "Comcast users are forced to share bandwidth with other users on the same coaxial cable"

    To quote Lex Luthor, "WRONG!"

    In the Boston area market, the coax switches to fiber at the taps. In other words, outside the customer's house at the pole.

  • Here we go again. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TrailerTrash (91309) * on Sunday December 02, 2007 @12:09PM (#21551933)
    One of the most annoying aspects of internet culture is the constant following of this formula:

    1) Determine who is the market leader, or at least very large and strong
    2) Declare them DEAD. EXTINCT. HISTORY.
    3) ???
    4) Profit!

    How exactly is ComCast supposed to die? Everyone gets rabid about their service, and goes... where? FIOS is only in a tiny percentage of Verizon's US installed base. If you're not in a major metro area, you may never get it.

    Cable has solved the last mile problem. DSL is pretty much everywhere, too, because POTS laid the last mile as well. Alternatives? Municipal wireless? Seems to be dying rapidly. Satellite? Very slow.

    OK, that's enough. Back to the blind, knee-jerk, ill-fated shrieking of doom already in progress... ("Microsoft? DEAD. MPAA? EXTINCT. RIAA? DINOSAUR. Proprietary software? HISTORY.")
  • by Brian Stretch (5304) * on Sunday December 02, 2007 @12:12PM (#21551961)
    Yes, any idiot can see that FTTH is the way to go, but Comcast and AT&T aren't run by just ANY idiots. Running fiber is a one-time expense, a big one to be certain but once it's in place you're good for the foreseeable future. Now, Comcast could get away with milking their hybrid fiber/coax plant for a while longer if they'd simply devote more bandwidth to Internet instead of TV, especially if DOCSIS 3 modems work, but AT&T has no such excuse. Spending lots of money on fancy electronics to get their antiquated copper plant to provide a measly 27Mbps aggregate bandwidth from the fiber node to the home (FTTN) rather than do things right the first time is going to go down in the B-school books as one of the most penny-wise, pound-foolish decisions in history. Hello, regular HDTV feeds are 20Mbps and recompressing those so you'll have enough bandwidth left for Internet, VoIP, and one measly SDTV channel makes HDTV look like an overgrown YouTube video (I exaggerate... slightly).

    The sad thing is that the measly 6M/1M "Elite" tier Internet service AT&T U-verse [uverseusers.com] offers is usually superior to Comcast and cheaper too. If they'd have been a little smarter they'd have skipped TV entirely (and those expensive settop boxes, TV channel fees, etc) and used all the bandwidth for Internet... assuming that they absolutely, positively won't run fiber like Verizon.

    I have to disagree with the notion that we have to wait for the existing monopolies to correct their rectal-cranial inversion. It is possible for a new company to build FTTH. Having a separate company run fiber that various competing companies can plug into, as CANARIE [canarie.ca] describes, makes a lot of sense. Such a dark fiber net could be municipally run, or maybe the electric companies would like another revenue stream.
  • I have to say for the most part I am happy with Time Warner Cable the only issue is if there is a problem they will be there between 8:00Am-4:00PM meaning you need to take a day off just for them to check your cable. But RoadRunner Internet in my area is at 10Mbs and the speed is mostly consistant. They haven't blocked ports or tried to strong arm me, from using Vonage.
  • Slashdot posters seem to have a way of skewing things and then the rest of the community just piles on the gang-tackle. Let's get a few things straight here:

    - Comcast is still has strong growth
    - People underestimate the strength of the Triple Play and how people are more likely to keep their service
    - Comcast is working with Sprint to offer a "quadruple play" that includes cell phone service
    - Comcast has been signing up telephone customers at a rate of something like 9 for every 1 cable customer that they l
  • by Gothic_Walrus (692125) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @01:15PM (#21552371) Journal
    Right now, I'm stuck with Comcast - I live in a college-run apartment building, and that's the only option they offer. Unless I find somewhere else to live next year, I'm stuck with Comcast for at least another year and a half.

    But after that, I'm jumping ship as soon as I can, and never returning as long as I've got the choice.

    I'm sick of having my internet go down without warning, with no indication as to how long it'll be before I can get back online to finish my homework.

    I'm sick of Comcast taking channels for no reason - CSPAN2 and one of the leased access channels vanished a week ago, and the four city-run info channels are about to become digital-only at the end of the year I can't say I ever watched those channels for more than thirty seconds at a time, in passing, but they do have their uses and I know that there isn't a snowball's chance in hell that Comcast is replacing them with new content - over the past year or so, I don't think we've gotten a single new channel, but others keep vanishing, one or two at a time.

    I'm sick of the fact that, in a Big Ten college town with one of the nation's most successful and popular football teams, Comcast is not only refusing to carry the Big Ten Network (the only cable or satellite company here that doesn't - but is running a smear ad campaign against them. I'm sorry, but it's hard to sympathize with your cost argument doesn't hold much water when you make over five hundred million dollars in profit [msn.com]. And no, carrying ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2 doesn't count as a response for showing football games - it counts as a basic cable package.

    I'm even sick of their advertising. Nine times out of ten, the Comcast ads are so painfully bad that I'll actually stop what I'll doing so I don't have to sit through them. Whether it's the smiling, emotionless Botoxed spokeslady, the "Just Ask Zak" ads where a kid breaks into people's homes to tell them how much better Comcast could make their lives, the previously mentioned Big Ten network attack ads, or the new musical style ads about their phone service (which are so awful that I haven't been able to sit through one of them once), the ads are almost reason enough to jump ship in and of themselves.

    We haven't gotten to a point yet where buying shows on demand from iTunes or where watching things online legally is quite a viable option - iTunes is still missing a lot of content I'd like to see and is too expensive to allow for following multiple programs, and the network-run streaming sites have some quality issues. Since other alternatives arenn't available, I'll just have to live with Comcast for now - I need high-speed internet for my engineering classes. But between the service issues and the fact that they seem to go out of their way to make me dislike them even more than I do now, I can't wait until the day when I can finally make sure that Comcast never sees a dime of my money again.
  • Funny, how just yesterday we had a story on reviews/studies being funded by companies http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/12/02/0132247 [slashdot.org] and here we have a "switch to Verizon, Comcast is dying".

    In Northern Calif, we have AT&T and Comcast. I'm sure for 99% of the population even offering them 10Gb to the house would not get fully utilized. VOIP doesn't use that much bandwidth. Now of course this is /., where everybody wants to be able to view HDTV over IP (hmm, I'm watching HDTV right now and d
  • by acvh (120205) <geek@OPENBSDmscigars.com minus bsd> on Sunday December 02, 2007 @01:21PM (#21552417) Homepage
    is that cable internet access, if available in a community, is available to everyone. Verizon is cherrypicking neighborhoods to maximize penetration.

    I would love to subscribe to FIOS. I was the first on my block to get cable internet from comcast 11 years ago. I was the first to switch to DSL with verizon when it became available (mostly for service issues. while my DSL connection has never gone down, cable routinely failed). Yet from the way things look my little neighborhood isn't going to see FIOS for a long time.

    cable won't die. there is an advantage for them in that to win the franchises way back when they had to provide availability to everyone. verizon is building a demographically tiered system, for good or ill.
  • by internic (453511) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @01:27PM (#21552453)

    I wouldn't be so eager to welcome your new corporate overlords. Verizon's business model is based on overselling bandwidth just like Comcast (look at the price vs. bandwidth and that's obvious), and in the end that means they're still not willing to really let you use as much as they say they're selling you. If you look in the TOS [verizon.net] for that residential FIOS connection you might be eying you'll find that you're not allowed to operate a "server", or use too much bandwidth, which is, of course, never defined. To wit:

    The Service may be referred to as, "Verizon Fios Internet Service", "DSL Service", "Verizon Online DSL, "Verizon DSL"...

    3.7.5 You may not use the Broadband Service to host any type of server whether personal or commercial in nature...

    ATTACHMENT A

    ACCEPTABLE USE POLICY

    ...

    3. You may NOT use the Service as follows: ... (n) to generate excessive amounts (as determined by Verizon in its sole discretion) of Internet traffic, or to disrupt net user groups or email use by others; ...

    [emphasis mine]

    Further, consider that P2P software could be considered a server, which would include the bittorrent client you use to download the latest Linux distro or the Skype software you use to make VIOP calls (something Verizon has reason not to like too much).

    My point is simply that if you dislike Comcast because of its unstated caps, traffic shaping, QoS stuff etc. I don't see any reason to think Verizon will be any better in the long term. As for customer service, I've had Verizon as a phone provider and found the customer service poor. Perhaps their better as an ISP, but stories I've heard from others suggest that's not the case.

    I've personally been using Speakeasy [speakeasy.net] for years. They seem to be much more honest in their dealings, allow you to run a server, and don't (apparently) block or degrade certain protocols, although their TOS still contain some "excessive usage" weasel words IIRC. The only problem is that it's DSL (and not even cheap DSL), so the bandwidth to price ratio isn't nearly what you'd get from Cable or FIOS. On the other hand, I can't stomach the idea of rewarding those other companies' practices.

  • Verizon FUD Much? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Crispin Cowan (20238) <crispin&crispincowan,com> on Sunday December 02, 2007 @02:38PM (#21553037) Homepage

    This reads like spam from Verizon attacking a competitor with FUD. Guess what; I've had horrible customer service from Verizon:

    1. I sign up for a broadband account.
    2. They screw up the billing address, so the bills go to /dev/null instead of me.
    3. When they don't get paid, they phone me and tell me that they need payment.
    4. I pay them.
    5. After I have paid them, they cut off my connection.
    6. Then they charge me a reconnection fee.

    So they screwed me twice for their mistake. I even took it to the Oregon Public Utilities Commission, and they still demanded that I pay their reconnection fee :-(

    I am still on Verizon at that location because there is no alternative. As soon as there is an alternative, I am switching away from Verizon as fast as I can, to anyone, at any price, for any level of service. I will never use Verizon again for anything.

    Meanwhile, at another location, I am using Comcast for broadband connectivity, and have had no issues with their customer service. I have even had some technical issues with them, and they have actually been kind-of helpful. The only thing I don't like about their service is blocking inbound port 25 because I like to run my own mail server, but I understand them wanting to reduce rampant spam relays.

    So I think this whole story is just a bunch of Verizon-sponsored astro-turfing, trying to FUD against Comcast.

  • by SquierStrat (42516) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @04:38PM (#21554037) Homepage
    This article's conclusion of FiOS dominance over Comcast's product is based on the theory that FiOS is available to most
    Comcast customers. It isn't. While FiOS may be a superior product (for now) it doesn't matter much when few people have access to the product. In fact, much of the current Verizon user base is made up of people who don't have access to DSL or cable modems at all. Where they do compete with cable modems, they may compete with Time Warner, Comcast or insert-company-name-here cable company. Further more they are also in the DSL business. They'll even provide dry DSL to me here in Atlanta (more than once name the most wired city/metro-area in the U.S.) yet I can't get FiOS. The quality I've gotten from Comcast has been topnotch. The only problem I have with them, I can say of every utility company I've ever worked with: they are a pain in the ass to get out here on the very rare occasion that I need them. And I've only needed them once for repairs and really it amounted to an oversight where the previous owner of the house had their account at the house disconnected issueing a disconnect order where as we had already set up our account on the house.

    Sorry, until I can actually use Verizon's product, I won't call Comcast or any other company a dinosaur. It just doesn't make sense.
  • by fzammett (255288) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @05:56PM (#21554629) Homepage
    I have Comcast, have had them for some time. As a matter of fact, I've had ONLY cable internet and basic cable for a couple of years, I'm not one of the people that gets everything through them, so I would assume I don't rate as highly as others do to them.

    I've got *plenty* of speed. I've had a *total* of maybe four hours of down time over the last year or more. I've had to deal with customer service four or five times in that timeframe and each time I received good service. To summarize: I'm quite happy.

    Now, it's not perfect: I've never been able to run a web server (can't access it from anywhere but my house), and the Bittorent thing lately bugs me (although I'm an infrequent BT user, usually just to grab The IT Crowd episodes or the odd Linux distro), so that doesn't affect me a whole lot. The price could be a little better, but it's not awful. And while the speed is good, it could always be better (to be fair though, I've seen significant increases in speed over the past two years at no extra cost to me, both up and down speeds). And those hidden caps, while I've never been affected (and I have often downloaded what anyone would consider a lot some months) bug me that they even exist (that's probably my only big complaint with Comcast: just tell me what the magic number is, even though "unlimited" should mean *unlimited*, at least if you make the number public I can live with it, assuming it's high enough).

    I don't know, I'm certainly what most would consider a power user, and I have no major complaints. By contrast, Verizon are a bunch of bitches AFAIC... they're selling something that is borderline bogus anyway (so what if I have fiber to my house... what difference does that make when I'm hitting bottlenecks after I get past their gateway anyway?), they make a mess of neighborhoods (have you actually seen the aftermath of a Verizon fiber run? *NOT* pretty) I just don't know what all the Comcast hate is all about. They may not be Mother Teresa, maybe not be perfection incarnate, but what's the big problem exactly, and where's the *clearly* better alternative?
  • by ancarett (221103) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @09:53PM (#21556079)
    Comcast /= all cable internet service
    Verizon /= all fibre optic service

    Until you can understand that a one-off comparison of apples and oranges (the technical promise of Verizon's very small roll-out versus the customer service dissatisfaction with a major broadband offering out of Comcast) doesn't equate to a rigorous comparison of the two technologies OR the overall future of the two companies in their broadband offerings?

    *yawn*
  • by kilodelta (843627) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @11:08PM (#21556551) Homepage
    Interestingly Cox has all of Rhode Island while Comcast seems to be dominant in Massachusetts. My friend has Comcast, I have Cox.

    He was telling me that Comcast topedoes VPN connections to business entities that originate from residential accounts after four minutes of uptime. Cox does no such thing.

    And the arrival of FIOS in RI forced Cox to upgrade their network and they now offer 20/2 net service. That's what I'm using now and its pretty good. Now if only I could find a wireless access point that didn't suck.

    Of course I'll never go back into the arms of Verizon. I have such a blind hatred of that company it isn't funny.
  • This is ridiculous (Score:3, Informative)

    by shiftless (410350) on Sunday December 02, 2007 @11:10PM (#21556575) Homepage
    FiOS? And just where is this service available? Downtown in large cities? What about the 100+ million people who live in smaller areas? Wake me up when cable (cable *TV* would be a good start) or DSL becomes available at my home in rural Alabama, let alone fiber.

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