In an August 9th ruling, the Iowa Utilities Board has removed a number of requirements for local exchange carriers in the state. In summary:
In this order, the Board deregulates retail local exchange service quality in Iowa, including nearly all customer service requirements, specific service quality standards, and provisions relating to discontinuation of service. This action is based upon the widespread availability of effective competition for retail local exchange communications services and is taken pursuant to Iowa Code § 476.1D. The Board finds that certain regulations involve essential communications services that meet the test for continued service regulation despite a finding of effective competition, including assessments for the Dual Party Relay Services fund and for Board expenses, and hearing and resolving customer complaints. The Board further finds that certain statutory provisions are unaffected by deregulation, including 911 services, regulation of alternative operator services, unauthorized changes in service, and utility crossings of railroad right-of-way. The Ordering Clauses at the end of this order contain a list of the Board’s rules that will no longer be enforced after deregulation.
The following rules are no longer in effect and will no longer be enforced:
a. Rule 22.2(1), Evaluation of records.
b. Rule 22.3, General service requirements.
c. Rule 22.4, Customer relations, except to the extent necessary to process customer complaints, including but not limited to, 22.4(1)(a)(1), 22.4(1)(a)(4), 22.4(1)(a)(5), 22.4(1)(b), 22.4(1)(c), 22.4(3)(a), 22.4(3)(c), 22.4(4), 22.4(5), and 22.4(6). DOCKET NO. INU-2016-0001 PAGE 51
d. Rule 22.6, Standards of quality of service. e. Rule 22.7, Protective measures.
f. Rule 22.16, Discontinuance of service.
g. Rule 22.17, Resale of service.
Now is a good time to reach out to your regulatory counsel or consultant to see what operational impact it will have.
Sling TV. Playstation Vue. DIRECTV Now. YouTube TV. Hulu.
Cord cutters have a growing number of choices for live TV over their internet connection. Here's another one that is taking a sports-centric approach to OTT: FuboTV. (Editorial comment: where do they come up with these names? The same people that name new drugs?)
FuboTV launched in 2015 as a streaming service primarily aimed at soccer fans. However in the last two years it's expanded its offering to include many of the "must haves" for sports fans, including CSN and the Fox Regional Sports networks. Missing, however, are the heavyweights-the ESPN networks-as none of the ABC-Disney channels have been launched.
Still, it's a compelling offering, especially for people who want a lot of sports.
BroadNet Connect, the division of Unity Point Health that has provided IT and bandwidth services for the past several years, has reached an agreement with Wisconsin Independent Networks (WIN) to manage those services beginning July 23rd.
In a letter sent to current BroadNet customers this week, the company stated:
In order to maintain a high level of customer support, we have determined that it is in the best interests for all of our customers to partner with a first-class provider to ensure all needs continue to be met. We are honored to announce that we have reached a partnership agreement with WIN, an Eau Claire, Wisconsin-based Ethernet, Internet, Data Center, and Network Management / IT Support Services provider, to provide management services to HNcBNc effective July 23, 2017. We anticipate the transition to WIN will be virtually seamless for all parties.
WIN was founded 20 years ago with the goal of connecting Wisconsin's independent telephone companies with fiber. It's grown beyond its original mission to become a major wholesale and enterprise networking service provider in the Midwest.
There is a growing consensus among telecom industry insiders that Frontier Communication's days may be numbered.
As this article at DSL Reports points out, the company continues to hemorrhage customers and revenues. In fact, the company lost 102,000 customers in the first quarter of 2018 alone. An aging network, slow speeds, and rate increases are all factors in the company's financial woes.
Despite all evidence to the contrary, the company's official line is positive:
“Frontier Communications is committed to improving the customer experience, reducing churn, stabilizing revenue and generating cash flow. Our new capital allocation policy will allow us to pay down debt and lower our leverage ratio, while still paying a meaningful dividend. We are investing in our networks, growing our commercial business segment and reducing costs.” --Christy Reap, Frontier spokesperson, responding to request for comment from the LA Times.
All this negative financial news begs the question...what happens if Frontier can't continue to operate? Is bankruptcy on the horizon? Would another company be interested in acquiring its assets despite the fact that they will require significant upgrades to provide competitive services? Stay tuned.
The advent of over-the-top content and the evolving nature of consumer habits has a lot of small cable operators wondering what the end game is for live, linear pay TV services. A new report from Nielsen's shows the shift toward OTT and non-live viewing is continuing, but traditional viewing is still surprisingly strong.
As the story in Light Reading points out:
Clearly OTT, on-demand consumption is growing among US viewers. So why is this a dilemma for pay-TV providers? Because, despite these declines, live TV continues to account for close to 80% of time spent consuming video per week (based on our calculations using Nielsen's data). If we include DVR and network DVR-based viewing, that goes up to 90%.
In other words, it may be a number of years before enough consumers have totally "cut the cord" to make it feasible for operators to stop providing live, linear pay TV.
Software giant Microsoft has announced plans to use so-called "TV white space" - the unused portions of spectrum between TV broadcasters' frequencies - to launch wireless broadband services to portions of rural America.
The plan is to launch pilot projects in 12 states next year that will deploy technology needed to make wireless internet service available. The 12 states are Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. However, Microsoft says it is NOT planning to become an ISP itself.
"Our goal is not to enter the telecommunications business ourselves or even to profit directly from these projects," Smith wrote. "We will invest in the upfront capital projects needed to expand broadband coverage, seek a revenue share from operators to recoup our investment, and then use these revenue proceeds to invest in additional projects to expand coverage further." -- Brad Smith, Microsoft President
So far there are no details about exactly how Microsoft's proposed partnership with operators will work, but the development bears watching in the event that they decide to expand beyond the 12 pilot projects.
There are several good articles about the announcement available online. CLICK HERE to read Ars Technica's story.
The first Iowa provider to offer gigabit speeds is the first to test 10 Gbps service on its network.
In June, Cedar Falls Utilities conducted a successful field test of 10 Gbps service in conjunction with Calix, their fiber network platform. Using NG-PON2 technology and Calix's new AXOS subscriber management platform, a customer on the CFU network was upgraded (temporarily) to 10 gig.
Calix created a video of the CFU demonstration. CLICK HERE to watch it.
Below is a copy of the news release from the CFU website.
Cedar Falls Utilities Tests 10 Gigabit Connection
Posted on Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Cedar Falls Utilities was one of the first internet providers in the country to offer gigabit internet service to every home and business in 2013.
This year, CFU network engineers are laying the groundwork for the next upgrade to 10 gigabit service.
Calix, a broadband hardware and software company, was in Cedar Falls in June conducting its first 10 gigabit field test in the country.
Cedar Falls was chosen for the test because of the community’s all-fiber optic communications network and the capabilities of CFU’s network engineering staff.
During the field test Calix equipment was set up at CFU’s control center to deliver the faster speeds. Calix engineers also installed an upgraded optical network terminal at a customer facility, the Mill Race coworking and collaboration space.
The test went as planned and 10 gigabit service was delivered to Mill Race on CFU’s network.
A film crew from Calix was onsite and documented the field test process and results. Calix will use the footage from Cedar Falls as an example for other communities and internet service providers around the country. Watch the video here.
"We have an upgrade to our internet delivery equipment planned over the next few years," said Rob Houlihan, CFU Chief Technology Officer. "In our discussions with Calix we realized that the product and platform they are developing are what we are looking for. We enjoyed serving as a test site and learning about the new platform’s capabilities and features."
Next, CFU will continue to evaluate and test the Calix equipment. A rollout of 10 gigabit service across the network is expected in the next two to three years.
In addition to faster internet speeds, the upgraded Calix software could give CFU more flexibility in managing the network and make the process of adding services or features for customers more efficient.
"We know customer demand for bandwidth and connection speed will continue to grow," continued Houlihan. "We don’t know yet what our community will do with 10 gigabit service, but we view it as our job to offer a world-class communications network and get out of the way to see what our customers can do with no limitations."
As many operators devote a great deal of time, effort, and money into improving their networks and increasing internet speeds to their customers, they are often overlooking on important link in the chain...the final 100 feet.
Broadband Library, a publication of the SCTE, has a great article about how internet providers should be managing their customers WiFi networks in order to improve their experience and enhance their satisfaction.
"There are no tada moments here with a magic wand but there are a number of real world solutions. It begins with taking control of or managing the Wi-Fi access points of our subscribers — at least for those subscribers who are not proactively managing their own Wi-Fi networks."
The traditional philosophy has been to provide service to the modem and leave it up to the customer to get their internet to devices. However, in the eyes of the customer, WiFi IS their internet service, and when it doesn't work well it's the ISP's fault.
Perception is reality.
Seeking to improve its customer service satisfaction, Mediacom is beginning a program to remodel its customer service centers to improve the customer experience. The first center to receive the facelift is in Waterloo, Iowa.
For more on Mediacom's plans and statistics about its struggles to overcome a reputation for poor customer service, CLICK HERE to read an article at Fierce Cable
Representatives of the American Cable Association (ACA) will be on hand to help municipal broadband operators navigate the next round of retransmission consent negotiations during the IAMU Fall Broadband Meeting. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 at the IAMU Office and Training Complex in Ankeny.
The next round of negotiations with TV stations for permission to carry their signals is expected to be arduous...and expensive. The ACA has been fighting on a national level for changes to the retransmission consent rules to give small operators more leverage in the process, but no significant changes are expected before most current RC agreements expire at the end of the year.
Other topics of discussion for the Fall Broadband Meeting are still under consideration. If you have an idea for a topic you'd like to see on the agenda, email me - email@example.com.
Broadband Bytes News
Curated by Curtis Dean, SmartSource Consulting
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