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ATT Raises Prices for Cable Modem Owners 382

Posted by timothy
from the no-we-own-you dept.
MBCook writes: "It appears that AT&T broadband doesn't like it when customers own their own cable modem. According to this article at ZDNet, ATT will be 'changing' their prices for all users. If you own your own cable modem, your bill is going up $7. If you lease your cable modem, you end up paying the same ammount you were before. I guess AT&T likes to milk it's customers. If I don't have a long distance service with any phone company, I have to pay for the privilage of not depending on them. Now I'll have to pay for the privilage of not depending on AT&T for a modem?"
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ATT Raises Prices for Cable Modem Owners

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  • Bandwidth caps (Score:2, Insightful)

    by vincent99 (146865)
    Maybe they decided to do this instead of charge people for exceeding ridiculously low monthly bandwidth caps...
    • by tftp (111690)
      This way they still have the option of "charging people for exceeding ridiculously low monthly bandwidth caps". You can {have,eat} the cake, after all.
  • by MosesJones (55544) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @05:09AM (#3600934) Homepage

    While everyone will shout and scream "I don't want AT&T to maintain my cable modem", but when the line gets dropped and AT&T need to diagnose the problem they will apply the first rule of problem resolution

    "The user is a moron, the fault is at their end"

    This involves them doing the standard, is your modem turned on, is it working, is the green light flashing.... you don't have a green light, oh its your own modem, so how do you tell if thats working ?

    So it does cost them money in terms of call and tech support. They have to have special call centre scripts, new diagnosis procedures etc etc.

    And your cable modem might have a bug which buggers their network.
    • Yeah, but they'll do that to folks that have their modems, too...so this saves them nothing.

      The only reason I can think of is that *possibly* (and I'm really guessing here) they're trying to keep the older DOCSIS modems (that can be easily uncapped) off their network. Dunno, but it would make more sense than anything else I've heard.

    • You make a good point, except for one fact, when I signed up for ATT Broadband they were encouraging you to buy your own modem. They also had a list of approved modems which negates your point about the modem being a source of bugs. Why does it matter if I'm using a PCX1100U that ATT gave me or that I bought at Best Buy?

      The thing that upsets me most is that ATT is taking it upon themselves to jack up my rates after I paid $80 for a cable modem in an effort to save money in the long run.

    • by drxyzzy (149370) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @06:26AM (#3601063) Homepage
      There was a time when the Phone Company would only let you connect their phones to your local loop. And you heard a lot about how dangerous it would be to allow a person to hook up any third party equipment instead of bona fide Ma Bell telephones.

      In order to hook up a modem, you had to get a special Data Access Arrangement from them, for which the monthly charge was more than you'd pay for a modem today.

      Eternal vigilance, etc.

      • My mother 'rented' a phone from the phone company for years and years, and old rotary phone. It sat in the upstairs, where she very rarely goes (she's kinda old).

        The monthly charges on the phone were like $5.00 or something. We took the phone back to the company. Turns out she paid, over like thirty years, like $3000 or something, for a lousy rotary dial phone.

        I read a similar story recently, on how to cut down living costs, and this was listed too.

        So if you know any old people, check out their phones; you might be doing them a favor.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Not quite true what you are saying here. AT&T (or any cable modem operator) has complete control which modems can and cannot log onto the network by using the OID of the cable modem manufacturer. AT&T Denver's broadband labs test every DOCSIS modem and re-certify it for use on it's own network. If they find, that a modem is not compliant with their setup, they simply turn it off.
      As for support, since the modems are DOCSIS, it is quite easy. The boot up steps are the same for all modems. Find downstream frequency, find upstream frequency, ranging for US/DS attenuation, IP configuration, authentication and registration.
      In terms of tech support, the operator can see (almost in real time) which modems have problems and which do not based on the RF values. Heck, you can even do that with MRTG yourself.
      So, in the end, your arguments are not valid. This is not a technical decison but a business decision. How can we milk the customer a little bit more. Nothing less and nothing more.
    • Not exactly, actually support should be easier if the fault is with a non-issued cable modem. If the tech isolates the problem to the cable modem, they just throw the problem back to the customer, as it is the customer's responsibility to fix it or replace it. It's the same deal with my NIC that I purchased (although, I do lease my cable modem). If my NIC dies, I am not going to call insight@home to replace it.
  • ATT Cable internet hasn't been available in my area of Pittsburgh yet, and last year they claimed to make it available by January this year. January came, they said February. February came, they said March. March came, they said never. May rolls around and I see ATT trucks putting up new fiber everywhere and can't wait to find out if it's for cable internet. $35/month was a really good value (even if you need a $200 modem), I'm not so sure I want to pay $42/month. Buying a $200 modem doesn't seem cost efficient if I'm going to be paying $42 as opposed to $45 to lease the damned thing.
    • I was lucky when I signed up for AT&T Broadband, I got free installation. That makes a huge cost difference, and even makes up for the fact that I rent their cable modem. However, the good thing about renting is that eventually, I'm going to want to upgrade my connection, maybe to satellite (if it becomes cheaper and faster), fiber to the home (they're offering that in Lansing, MI, which is only about fifty miles away from me), or something else even faster when it comes out (powerline networking, possibly?). I don't know when, but when I do upgrade, I'd hate to have a $200 cable modem sitting around, which probably will not be worth a dime.

      Look at it this way: If you buy a cable modem, it costs you approximately $200 (with taxes) on the spot, and saves you $3 a month for as long as you have the connection. In roughly five and a half years (66 2/3 months), it will pay for itself. Do you see yourself staying with AT&T Broadband service for five and a half years? If not, then rent, it will save you money. If yes, then buy, it will save you money. For me, I couldn't see the benefit of buying even when it saved $10 a month, that's 20 months I have to keep the service to get my money back! What if I want to switch to DSL when it becomes available (which it just did, about two months ago)?

      Just do the math.
      • it costs you approximately $200 (with taxes) on the spot, and saves you $3 a month for as long as you have the connection

        Very interesting ... math ...

        I paided $89 for mine and when leasing was getting charged $15 a month. So for me it was only 6 months to make up the costs. Come June, and I will have broken even.

        Way it looks now, Cox internet is the best.
  • A Global problem! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DuranDuran (252246) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @05:13AM (#3600941)
    Some days ago, users in Australia had their broadband access severely limited [slashdot.org] as the major providers changed the rules [slashdot.org]. There were many Slashdot posts effectively telling these users to 'get over it'. We were told to 'vote with our feet' and choose a provider that didn't take their bat and ball and go home when the game wasn't swinging their way. In effect, we were told to 'grow up' with regard to this apparently global technology.

    Now that a major US provider is changing the rules, it'll be interesting to see how Slashdot readers take the news when it affects them a bit closer to home.

    This is a problem that affects us all.

    DD.

    • If anyone gets as incensed as you all were about it, I would certainly tell them to vote with their feet.

      Matter of fact, when Comcast announced that they're working toward simmilar restrictions, there was alot of outrage, and alot of people told the whiners to vote with their feet.

      Now, while a $7 surcharge for owning your cable modem isn't exactly nice, it's not nearly the kind of restriction that you aussies are feeling, or those waiting under the hammer of Time Warner and Comcast here. I can't imagine something like this is going to drive a whole lot of people off. That said, if someone does find it beyond the pale, then they damn well better "vote with their feet" as you put it and stop giving a company they can't stand their money.
    • Amen (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FreeUser (11483) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @06:57AM (#3601119)
      Some days ago, users in Australia had their broadband access severely limited [slashdot.org] as the major providers changed the rules [slashdot.org]. There were many Slashdot posts effectively telling these users to 'get over it'.

      [...]

      Now that a major US provider is changing the rules, it'll be interesting to see how Slashdot readers take the news when it affects them a bit closer to home.


      A-fucking-men. I get so utterly sick of these Randian libertarianesque businesses-can-do-no-wrong every-consumer-should-be-an-expert-at-deciphering- contracts (even those with obscure clauses, or that get rewritten by the vendor after they have your money) posts. This whole meme that businesses have as their sole responsibility to make money, and ethics, much less their customers' satisfaction, be damned is nonsense from start to finish, doubly so when you're dealing with telco type situations (of which cable companies are an example) where there is an effectively monopoly (or duopoly) on your choices.

      Most homes can only get cable/cable-modem service from one providor, or local telephone service from one providor (in both cases, the company that owns the last mile of copper going to your house), so telling people to "vote with their feet" is literally tantamount to telling them to physically move to a new community or do without what is becoming an increasingly vital service.

      It is utter crap when these self-styled free marketeers (who apparently can't recognize a limited, non-free market when it hits them in the face) tell folks in Australia that sort of nonsense, and it will be equal crap when they do so in this thread.

      It is past time that people and consumers organize once again and restore some social responsibility to these businesses. Businesses and corporations exist at the sufferance of the people ... perhaps we should end that sufference in a couple of high-profile cases and the other behometh's will fall in line. That presupposes, of course, that our democracy isn't so far gone, and our leaders so profoundly corrupt, that the people can still have a voice politically. The jury is definitely still out on that, but it would certainly be worth a try.
      • Re:Amen (Score:3, Funny)

        by ryanvm (247662)
        It is past time that people and consumers organize once again and restore some social responsibility to these businesses. Businesses and corporations exist at the sufferance of the people ... perhaps we should end that sufference in a couple of high-profile cases and the other behometh's will fall in line.

        I like what you have to say. When does your fight club meet?
      • Re:Amen (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ZoneGray (168419) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @09:11AM (#3601715) Homepage

        self-styled free marketeers (who apparently can't recognize a limited, non-free market when it hits them in the face)

        Well, a real free-market thinker would understand that cable ISP's aren't even close to being a free market. In the US anyway, each cable company is granted a legislated monopoly in a given town. Only one company can run a cable to your house. Same for phone companies. So... service sucks and prices are too high.

        restore some social responsibility to these businesses

        An easy platitude to utter, but exactly what are you proposing? Brainwash the management? Throw 'em in jail as an example? Pass a law that says they have to be nice? I mean, how do you make a company more responsive to consumers, other than open it up to some good old free-market competition? Get rid of the last-mile monopolies, and you'll see the benefits of the free market.... the same greedy people will have to treat their customers much better.

        To quote the old line, "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest."

        • Re:Amen (Score:4, Interesting)

          by FreeUser (11483) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @11:24AM (#3602472)
          restore some social responsibility to these businesses

          An easy platitude to utter, but exactly what are you proposing? Brainwash the management? Throw 'em in jail as an example? Pass a law that says they have to be nice?


          Don't be silly. Suspend their corporate charter and take away their license to do business for acting against the common interest. If you look at the wording of the laws that allow for coporations to exist, you'll see that they require said corporations serve the public interest.

          Indeed, it was very uncommon in the early republic for corporate charters to be granted, and not so terribly uncommon for them to be revoked, essentially putting the offending company out of business. Of course, back then corporations were not considered "real" people like they have been since a particularly bizzar (and unprecedented) California court case some eighty years ago that turned everything on its ear and granted corporations all the rights and priveleges of real, breathing, living human beings.

          I think one or two revocations of corporate charters would be sufficient to change the behavior of other large corporations, without the need for managerial brainwashing or laws telling people to be nice, don't you?

          As for jail time, if someone is managing a company (like, say, Monsanto) that knowingly falsifies FDA test results in order to get dangerous milk hormones approved for public consumption [c.f. Into the Buzzsaw] or knowingly and with premeditation poisons the groundwater of a town in the southern U.S. in the 1990's (and gets caught with the memos discussing how to deal with the political fallout should they ever get caught) [c.f. just about every major American Newspaper, pre 9/11], then yes, I do think the fucking bastards should be put in jail. Perminently, if their behavior, or negligence, has resulted in the loss of human life.
        • An easy platitude to utter, but exactly what are you proposing? Brainwash the management? Throw 'em in jail as an example? Pass a law that says they have to be nice? I mean, how do you make a company more responsive to consumers, other than open it up to some good old free-market competition?

          Brainwashing isn't a bad idea. Here's another: take monthly polls of all the customers, and if their customer approval rating falls too low, the management is taken to the public square and caned. And then their salary for the month is revoked.

          If the people in charge had to face consequences from the public they serve, they wouldn't treat them so badly.
  • by kubusja (581677) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @05:15AM (#3600944)
    Cable modems got cheaper so the difference between
    those who own c modem and those who don't should be
    smaller - down to $5. This means that overall
    this is a rise for everybody - just for
    those who don't own cable modems the rise is
    compensated by the fall of cable modem prices.
  • by jukal (523582) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @05:16AM (#3600948) Journal
    When the modem is leased from the provider, they have more control on everything. They can be more prepared for customer oriented oddities, failure claims etc resulting in better predictability of incomes and less uncertainties in general.
  • Small correction (Score:4, Insightful)

    by awptic (211411) <infiniteNO@SPAMcomplex.com> on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @05:16AM (#3600950)
    According to the ZDnet article, the additional charge for renting a cable modem is $10; you're still getting a discount if you own your own cable modem (albeit a very small one).
  • by Em Emalb (452530) <ememalb@gmai3.14l.com minus pi> on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @05:20AM (#3600956) Homepage Journal
    I considered briefly buying my own cable modem, but for the monthly cost of leasing, it was cheaper in the short term. (I live in an apartment, don't want to buy a cable modem in case I move to an area that doesn't supply that type of service)

    That being said, I rather expected this move. In case you haven't noticed, telcos are struggling right now, and any move that can keep them afloat (ok fine, keep the share holders happy) they are going to do. Rather nifty of them to tell anyone, as I am a subscriber, and I didn't receive any information on this. Yeah, of course the rights and all that are subject to change, but enough of running rough-shod over your customers. We are people too, and don't always have the convienence of having a ton of loot sitting around, or customers we can up prices on without telling.

    In a similar rant, a lot of these companies do these things without even pausing to consider what the risks are, simply because there (for the most part) ARE NONE. Customers will bitch, a few will change providers (those lucky few that can) and other than that, NOTHING WILL CHANGE. YOU might care enough to drop service, but most people are so apathetic about stuff like this, it's comical. Bitch, moan, give em the money. Hell, it makes business sense to do this. Too bad the customer gets it in the end eh?
    • by Greyfox (87712) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @07:12AM (#3601178) Homepage Journal
      Chances are if you're the kind of person who would want to own your own cable modem, you're the kind of person they'd really rather leave anyway. It probably means you're more technically inclined and not willing to simply be a "consumer" -- you probably want to run some services, perhaps use some VPN tools to get to work, and all that other stuff that really pisses them off. They really just want customers who might browse the web for a couple of hours a night or send an E-mail to grandma. Once customers actually start really using the internet for serious applications, their revenue model gets all screwed up.
      • They charge ~$50/month, dial-up ISPs charge ~$20/month for unlimited access. Since there are no other benefits to you other than faster speeds and always-on access, you're basically paying $30/month for bandwidth, for using a fat piece of their pipe (versus 5k/sec if you're dialup). So, how much bandwidth does $30/month buy?
    • by Zathrus (232140) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @07:24AM (#3601213) Homepage
      Customers will bitch, a few will change providers (those lucky few that can)

      That's the real issue. Change providers? To who? Cable is an unregulated monopoly in the US, so you can't just change cable companies and get different service. And the FCC and Congress decided that allowing customers to choose their ISP on cable/DSL was unimportant, so you are stuck with AT&T/Charter/Time Warner/whoever for what you do have. DSL is going down the same path now, if you can even get it.

      What other options are there really? Partial T1 tends to be too expensive, even in major cities with heavy telecomm systems.

      The rule is simple - when there is no competition then the companies have all of the cards. Traditionally the consumer has the ultimate power in the form of voting with their wallet. However when there is a monopoly that sole ability is removed, because the consumer has no place else to go.

      It's sad, really... the Telecomm Act of 1996 was supposed to fix all this. All it's done is move us backwards 50 years AND removed government oversight. Happy happy, joy joy.
    • In case you haven't noticed, telcos are struggling right now, and any move that can keep them afloat (ok fine, keep the share holders happy) they are going to do.

      This is exactly the point. These companies aren't gouging their customers, they're just trying to make a little bit of money and not lose money. They brought out the service at as low of a price as they could reasonably afford to do to gain market share. With the economy being shaky, they haven't been able to scale up as high as they'd like to be able to pay off their initial investments with lots of subscribers. The result is they have to raise prices. If you look at how they did it, it was done pretty fairly. Cable modem prices have dropped significantly, and the cost of leasing the modem was reduced accordingly. If they kept the price of the modem high, those who lease their modem would be subsidizing those whose who owned theirs. Everyone got a $7 increase in the cost of their service. That's a pretty big increase, but it may very well be justified by their costs. If AT&T or other providers were making a fortune providing cable modem service, you're complaints would be justified, but that doesn't seem to be happening.

      Yeah, of course the rights and all that are subject to change, but enough of running rough-shod over your customers. We are people too, and don't always have the convienence of having a ton of loot sitting around, or customers we can up prices on without telling.

      It doesn't look like AT&T sent this info to ZDNet in a press release. The article said that AT&T was planning on announcing this later in the day. The article also states the current subscribers will get coupons so that they don't feel the bite of the price increase for 6 months. That seems like a pretty generous amount of warning of a price increase. I don't blame you for being upset about a price increase. No one wants to pay more for the same service, and most people don't have the choice of just switching to a different provider.

      In a similar rant, a lot of these companies do these things without even pausing to consider what the risks are, simply because there (for the most part) ARE NONE.

      They do have some risks in not raising prices. As we found out from the dot com crash, you can only have a business model where you don't make money for a rather limited period of time. Telephony companies are losing lots of money right now. They either need to find a way to start making money again, or your choices of providers could go from one to zero. How to you increase revenues when you can't do it by lowering the price and gaining more customers? You raise the price and hope you don't lose customers.
  • This is wrong... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phunhippy (86447) <zavoid&gmail,com> on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @05:23AM (#3600963) Journal
    from the article "Customers who lease their modem from AT&T will have their lease fee reduced by $7, paying an additional $3 per month for the modem."

    And the customers that own their own modem are having they're bill increased by 7 dollars.... So essentially by owning your own modem, your now helping to subsidize the cost of users who don't want to buy their own modem but lease it.. That seems very wrong to me, hell completely wrong.. why should I have to pay 7 dollars to have my own modem as opposed to 3 dollars to rent it? I smell some lawsuits here..

    Glad I have Comcast Cable modem here in PA..

    • Re:This is wrong... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @06:30AM (#3601073)

      You are a retard. Read the article.

      Base fee (now): $35.95
      Cable modem surcharge (now): $10.00
      Total bill to lease the modem: $45.95
      Total bill w/o the modem: $35.95

      Base fee (June): $42.95
      Cable modem surcharge (June) $3.00
      Total bill to lease the modem: $45.95
      Total bill w/o the modem: $42.95

      Everyone is paying $7.00 more per month for the service. The difference is that people who lease their modem will not notice the difference because the lease fee has dropped.

      As often happens, the headline is not accurate, and no one else bothers to read the original article.

      There is no subsidy. Cable modems used to be $300. At $10.00/mo, the lease paid for the modem in 30 months. Now that cable modems are $100, dropping the lease to $3.00/month means that it is paid off in 33 months.

      The metrics are basically the same. You're just dumb.

    • The Leasing of equipment always helps subsidize "other costs."

      I have been paying $3 a month for 50 months (so far) to "rent" a set-top cable descrambler, that probably cost the cable company $20 in bulk. Also, I pay $1.35 "remote control rental" for the remote for that box... $65 so far. Why? "Because it is part of the cost of service."

      I'm more concerned as to why my local cable monopoly has been promising digital cable to our community for four years, and still has not delivered. 100,000 residents of surrounding communities have subscribed to it, but not us. After getting the third ad in a month via mail, I finally called and said "do you have it for our city yet?" "THEY'RE working VERY HARD on it."

      What is there to work on, and who are THEY? This town was built mostly from the ground up about 15 years ago from a farming community into a surging suburb!
      They should have "it" done by now!

      I'm just pissed because they don't have Cartoon Network. Too many frickin' movie channels...
      • Gah... you don't want digital cable. I've never been impressed w/ the picture quality (I would -much- prefer a bit of light snow/static/ghosting to digital compression artifacts and the way picture quality completely goes down the tubes when some noise does (and it will) get on the line). To make things even better, when they finally get digital cable on your system, the picture & sound quality of existing analog transmissions will degrade, so those that don't upgrade will get a reduced quality of service.
      • I have been paying $3 a month for 50 months (so far) to "rent" a set-top cable descrambler, that probably cost the cable company $20 in bulk. Also, I pay $1.35 "remote control rental" for the remote for that box... $65 so far. Why? "Because it is part of the cost of service."

        Then sir! yer an idiot! what you describe is subsidizing stuff for your self... what they are doing now is making people who have there own modem subsidize people who don't... thats whats wrong about it!

    • Re:This is wrong... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Peyna (14792) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @08:14AM (#3601418) Homepage
      I'm with Time Warner Road Runner Cable Internet service, and I think the way they do it is pretty fair. The service is $45 or so a month, which includes rental of the cable modem. If you choose to use your own, obviously they aren't going to support it, and you don't get a special discount or anything. Perfectly legal. Sort of like when you go to McDonald's and ask for a no mayo. They don't refund you the money for the mayo.

      I don't understand why they would need to charge extra for someone not using a cable modem. They are saving them money, since that cable modem can used by someone else. Support? They don't have to support the cable modem/router itself, only the cable line in this case. Sort of like when you have to pay extra to NOT be in the phone book.
      • They're not charging extra for people NOT using the company-provided modem, they're just discounting LESS than they were before ($3 instead of $10), resulting in an increase on the bill.

        I agree with you that just like RoadRunner, AT&T has no obligation to discount anything at all for those that don't use the provided modem. So the bottom line is that cable modem owners should still be happy that they now get $3 discount.
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @05:42AM (#3600988) Journal
    They have increased the price of their service by $7. They are reducing the sting a little by allowing people to rent their cable modems for free. People who have their own modem can still take advantage of this offer. People who do not will not be paying more. They simply will not be paying less.

    What we really need is more competition in the marketplace. We need at least a dozen different services, then one of them would relaise the good niche market of people with their own cable modems.
    • People who own their own cable modems (like me) cant really take advantage of the "offer". I could try and sell my cable modem to get the value back out of it, but then again nobody would buy it because ATT customers are most of the market. On this point:
      What we really need is more competition in the marketplace. We need at least a dozen different services, then one of them would relaise the good niche market of people with their own cable modems.

      I agree... As soon as I get my next bill, I intend on getting on the phone with a manager at customer service and letting them know that I will switch broadband cariers as soon as annother option becomes available.... If enough people do this they might just get scared and listen...

      ...or they might just tighten thier grip on their monopoly
  • Ownership Tax (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Chardish (529780)
    Essentially what AT&T has done is imposed an ownership tax that penalizes its users for owning their own equipment. The folks there probably just saw the latest reports and saw cable modem leasing was down. And of course AT&T prefers that the money is in their own hands, not the cable modem manufacturers'.

    I'm surprised AT&T hasn't made their own cable modem yet and FORCED users to buy it. That wouldn't surprise me. This does.

    -Evan
    • not at all. They've just reduced the discount for owning a cable modem to $3 (a reduction that reflects the fact the cable modems are much cheaper now than they were before) along with raising the base price for EVERYONE. Cable modem owners still pay $3 less than those that use the company-provided modem? What's wrong with that?
  • According to this [vnunet.com] AT&T aren't doing so good. Could it be that they've decided to try and make some money? Yeah it's crap for those of you who have to pay an extra $7 a month or whatever but at the end of the day big companies are always gonna try and make money. I guess cable modem users are just an easy target.
  • ...have to deal with different brnads of modems all the time. It's called Life, and AT&T should get over it.
    • Re:Dial-up ISPs... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by welshdave (560689)
      and having worked in support for a dial-up ISP I can tell you that it's fairly common to blame problems on the wrong kind of modem. I was told to always recommend 3Com modems.
  • cable modems (Score:2, Informative)

    by kalanar (469957)
    I've had ATT cable for about 3 months now. I've been leasing a modem from them as well. This is the first time I've had cable, so I wanted to test it out before paying the 100 bucks for a modem that I may never use again.

    Once I reach the upstream cap (300) the connection dies completely. If I upload a file to an ftp site the connection is broken until I stop the transfer. If I start loading a few webpages, or have several ssh sessions opened to different servers, it dies until i can close all the windows, and power cycle the modem. I've seen this happen while watching tcpdump and getting 100-150 arp requests every second for about 5 minutes, the modem sits and crunches while I'm getting 75% packet loss to their router.

    From mailing list archives the general feeling is that when this happens your modem is faulty. Well I've been trying for 2 months to get a new modem, and I've gotten nowhere. With that information, and the fact that it powercycles itself about 4-5 times every 8 hours, I've decided that it is the modem.

    There definately isn't any perks to paying them monthly for a modem. I'd rather be able to take the damn thing back to Best Buy and exchange it. I think I'd rather have my own modem just for that reason, even if I'm only saving 3 bucks a month.

    oh yeah, posting comments on /. breaks it too. go figure. click, preview, argh, click, preview, argh!

  • I love that they say it reflects the change in the costs of Cable Modems. 100/3 On that rate it will take 33 months to break even on buying your own modem!

    Personally, I think they would prefer people didn't own there own modems for management reasons.. If this is the case why not just say that.

    James

  • And don't forgot the D.C. Appeals Court decision from last week. This is part of the "competition" to DSL that is sufficient to let the phone companies not line-share.

    Notice how the "competition" is driving prices down?

    Ummmm....
  • I'm on Rogers, and they raised prices. I know Bell Sympatico raised prices. All companies are doing this because of the small percentage of people sucking up a huge amount of bandwidth. It's costing them too much money.
  • but what the hell... deal with it.

    Thats right, get over it. The precedent in slashdot was set when a lot of posters told us Aussie to get over our shitty cable modems.

    The businesses are going to keep sending up prices, and finding new ways to tax the consumer. It would be half-acceptable if they bought it down again in times of growth, but they don't. So first of all, if you don't want to get reamed, don't get cable.

    But if you want cable, there are a few options. First of all, contact you industry ombudsman, if you have one. Also lobby the nearest democrat member of congress and the senate, make sure your complaints about this discrimination reaches someone who could possibly give a shit, and do something about it.

    In other words, if you cannot change from AT&T to another cable server or adsl, make sure yo fight dirty (a.k.a political). What is another option is to publicly shame AT&T, perhaps with a few letters to the editor of you local newspaper. So instead of bitching about it, get over it, and do something about it. The more people that give a shit, the more people that read about it, the more bad publicity the company will get, and that WILL get their shareholders pissed.

    (Recent example of bad publicity at work, our biggest bank in Aus (NAB) were making a drastic change to their reward scheme. Quite a few people got pissed, and they half-reversed the scheme just as quickly as they had announced it. Bad publicity works, and it starts with their own customers.)

  • I am a reader from Spain and wanted to compare prices between local cablemodems and adsl vs. USA prices. I've read the article but although it does describe prices, it doesn't specify the bandwidth (it's like saying "bananas price is 10 cents" and you get no idea, one banana? a pound?..).

    So, what's the bandwidth of the prices described in the link?

    PS: In Mallorca (Balearic Islands, Spain) a 300 kbps cable modem is about $38. 256 kbps ADSL about the same, taxes included.

    • It varies with location....unlike DSL, cable customers usually do not get to choose their bandwidth configuration, you just take what is the standard in your area. The standard bandwidth is presumably whatever AT&T's main trunk and equipment is set up to allow in your locality. For instance, in the Denver Colorado area the bandwidth is 1.5Mbs downstream, 128Kbs upstream. I pay about $50 after taxes and fees. They're actually pretty good about not saturating the link with oversubscribing and my service has only gone out on me once since I've had it (1 year) and that was when @Home went tits-up and AT&T took over ISP duties. And that was only a 2 day outage.

      I lease my modem so this doesn't really affect me anyway. I learned the hard way when I had DSL at my last apartment that owning a $200 broadband router bites if you don't renew the same service. Anyone wanna buy a cisco 675?

    • I have the AT we're soon going to block it so HAHA you HAVE to pay now!"

      Let me rate them, 1-100:
      Quality of service: 95
      Tech Support (rarely needed, tho): 20
      Respect Earned: 0
  • This might lower the prices on cable modems?

    For people signing on to AT&T Broadband, it is obvious that buying a cable modem isn't such a great benefit anymore, and it would actually be more cost effective in the long run to rent. Won't cable modem manufacturers lower their prices to try to encourage people to buy?
  • by kyoko21 (198413) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @07:27AM (#3601226)
    This doesn't come as a shock for those 'senior' citizens who never looked at their bill that was once an AT&T customer.

    AT&T used to bill senior citizens, and still do in some part of the country, for renting out their 'touch-tone' phones. Not that I am trying to bash on senior citizens or anything, but many individuals who never looked at their bills for years and knew their rates were remaining fairly constant never knew that they were being billed for a phone that they had in their home that was actually installed and owned by AT&T.

    There was a news report done on this where an individual took care of his mom and when he started to do her bills, he had noticed that she was getting charged for having an 'AT&T' phone. The funny thng is when he found ou that for years his mom was paying for the rental of the phone, he rushed right out to the nearest store and bought her a simple $9.99 phone with big buttons (so she could see). Called AT&T and told them to remove the phone.

    This may not be the oldest form of AT&T milking their customers, but it certainly is one of the most interesting ones that I have heard. Fleecing of America (especially our senior citizens). *sigh*
    • Umm... That's because prior to breakup there was no way for you to have a phone in your home without leasing it from AT&T. AT&T owned the lines, and you could only place AT&T phones on those lines.

      So people who remember the days of party lines were so used to this that they never bothered to question it.

      On the positive side, those old phones from Western Electric were much better than the $9.99 phones from the dime store. They were probably worth $200 or so, good solid and lasted forever.

      • I really miss the sound of those mechanical ringers. Somehow it's just not as satisfying to slam down the phone in frustration now that the telephone doesn't half-ring in protest when you do it.
        • All I can do today is push the off button on my cordless. Maybe if we still had those old ringer wall phones the telemarketers would get the point!

          Picking up the car in 2 hours! WOO HOO! :)
      • My parents continued to rent telephones for many years after they were allowed to purchase their own phones. Why? Because if something broke the phone company would fix it for free.

        Later on, the phone company quit offering this service to new customers. That's why senior citizens made up the majority of customers who rented phones. They happen to be the majority of folks who have lived in the same place for the longest time.

        So for some customers, renting the phone was a conscience decision.

        /Don

    • My great grandmother had a rotary phone in her house that was owned by the local phone company (SNET). It was wired directly into the wall. They charged her $2 a month to use it for almost 60 years. When we moved her out of her house a few years ago, they wanted to charge $50 to send a technician to come remove the phone, or there would be a $100 fine for damages from cutting the wire from the wall. The tech came, cut the wire, and threw the phone out in the trash can by the curb as he left.
  • obvious. Cancel your service. Call them up, explain to them why you are canceling (and yell at them for good measure, especially if you can get a manager on the phone) and when they offer you the half-assed deal to keep you on, cancel anyway. And threaten to cancel your phone service if you have access to another provider. I did this to bellsouth with great results, but you have to be willing to step down to 56k land.

    But geeks are suckers, they can't be without their broad-band fix. And as long as people are willing to pay, companies are willing to charge. Stand up and let them know how much the service is worth. (And go outside.) Or you can continue to be a sucker and pay $7 more per month.
  • About a year ago, I got my dad set up with @home. At the time, you could save about $10 a month off your @home bill by buying your own cable modem. Cable modems then cost about $170, so we figured buying one was a no-brainer, as it would pay for itself in less than two years.

    Then @home went down the toilet and my dad's service was taken over by AT&T. Now it looks like our decision to buy wasn't so smart after all. My take-home lesson from this: never bet your own money on the assumption that your cable provider won't change the rules of the game.

    • 10 dollars a month? I had Comcast@home (Philadelphia area) and they billed me 1.50 a month or something. I think they raised it to 3 dollars a month now, but it's certainly nothing like 10 dollars. Leasing it basically made sense then and I still think it does now, especially since I was just sent a letter stating that they wish to upgrade my cable modem to some sort of new technology...ugg. (I question if this "new" technology isn't just some kind of firmware to better manage bandwidth) Anyways, I'm still getting excellent speed with comcast, haven't run into any bandwidth caps or slow downs that other people seem to describe.
  • Maybe they're trying to make up for agressive pricing in other divisions?

    Example: We have the "AT&T Ultimate" long distance plan - for $20/month we can call anyone for $0.07/minute except other AT&T customers - those calls are FREE. That cut our average LD phone bill by an order of magnitude. (Not kidding - wife + sister-in-law + mother-in-law talk several times a day for at least an hour. Don't ask me what they talk about, they won't tell me and I'm certain I really don't want to know.)
  • "People who own their modems are pretty much locked in to staying with AT&T," Kersey said. "It's a way to extract a little more money out of a small percentage of people. That's a fairly politically smart thing to do because it doesn't affect the vast majority of customers."


    /Spicole from Fast times at ridgemont high

    You DICK!!

    /Spicole off

    Sounds like a good plan:
    Charge more to the people who invested in the technology, are your best/longest customers and probably sold your service to *other* people before you fscked it up and capped to the point of being useless.

    "extract a little more money", eh?
    Yeah, the more you tighten your grasp, fsck-head the more your business will slip thru your fingers.
  • Erosion (Score:4, Informative)

    by bihoy (100694) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @08:30AM (#3601486)
    This is a rate increase, pure and simple. Let's face it. This has nothing to do with the cost of supporting modems. I lease my modem. I first got it when I started with Highway1, the name that preceeded MediaOne. They have simply found it easier to raise rates by couching it in terms of "lowered cost of equipment". In my view it's part of a trend that continues to provide me with lower services at an increased price.

    I'm only glad that at the moment this price increase does not affect me. There are other things that bug me a whole lot more.

    My top ten pet peeves with AT&T Broadband:

    10. Playing with the pricing structure so much that it's starting to resemble the price structure for Cable TV. That means it's going to end up being nothing short of confusing.

    9. Being moved from only 3 hops to a backbone to 7 hops. A move that now forces *all* of my IP traffic to go to new york instead of cambridge. I have a lot of traffic that ends up at POP's in Cambridge.

    8. Elimination of "vanity" hostnames. Soon we will all have hostnames like h000102030405.ne.client2.attbi.com instead of nice names like vanity.mediaone.net. I suppose it helps them to discorouge people from running services on their machines.

    7. Having my upstream bandwidth reduce by 15% because the @Home folks only had 256KBps so now we all have to. Why not give the @Home folks a little bandwidth boost rather than punish the rest of us?

    6. Having to deal with Teir 1 Tech Support. I remember the days when you got to talk to a knowledgable person immediately. You didn't have to wrestle with someone verbally for 20 minutes before they would let you talk to a real network admin.

    5. Getting all those calls from AT&T trying to cross sell other services such as Broadband Telephony. For a while I didn't even qualify for Digital Voice yet I still would keep getting the calls for it. Go figure.

    4. All the changes in added services such as e-mail and personal pages. I enjoy improvements in these services but do they really need to be "improved" on a yearly basis. It seems that everything has to totally change each time this happens.

    3. The confusion and fingerpointing everytime my broadband service is sold to or merged with someone else. I really miss the days when you could just pick a good service provider and know that they would always be there for you.

    2. Having to print new busniess cards and notify *all* my contacts that my e-mail address has changed from "mediaone.net" to "attbi.com". (I tell them that the attbi stands for AT&T's Big Inconvenience.)

    1. The voice menu "from hell" system. I think Jon Katz could write another popular column on this one. Heck he could probably write three columns. It's so convoluted it want's to make you scream. To top it off you can no longer pretend you have a rotary phone and jump straight to a person. It now has voice recognition. Arrggghhh!

    • Having to print new busniess cards and notify *all* my contacts that my e-mail address has changed from "mediaone.net" to "attbi.com". (I tell them that the attbi stands for AT&T's Big Inconvenience.)

      If you don't like that, get a la carte email from somebody else. Then, when you finally ditch ATT, you don't have to tell anybody.

      • Re:Erosion (Score:4, Informative)

        by bihoy (100694) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @08:57AM (#3601637)
        Actually I decided to register a .org domain name with e-mail forwarding. Now I don't give out my attbi e-mail address anymore. This does add 20 bucks a year to the cost but I like having complete control.
        • Re:Erosion (Score:3, Funny)

          by zbuffered (125292)
          Good god yes. My mom started a business and decided to use email@att.net as the address for the business. She wrote a book and that e-mail address is in the book. Now she can never ever ever stop paying AT&T. Meanwhile, I drop $15/year [namezero.com] and I can give everybody different addresses (yourcompany@mydomain.com) so that if somebody spams me I can redirect that address back to them. I could just block it, but it's more fun to redirect it's destination to abuse@yourcompany.com.
          Life is good. No spam, complete control, easier filtering (mailing lists automatically filtered to specific folders), no more fear. Aaah.
    • Re:Erosion (Score:2, Funny)

      by PhxBlue (562201)

      1. The voice menu "from hell" system. I think Jon Katz could write another popular column on this one.

      Sure, he could, but do we all want to hear about how crappy voicemail relates to post-Columbine society and the aftermath of 9/11?

    • 8. Elimination of "vanity" hostnames. Soon we will all have hostnames like h000102030405.ne.client2.attbi.com instead of nice names like vanity.mediaone.net. I suppose it helps them to discorouge people from running services on their machines.

      Cox no longer has any names for their modems. You are a number. Services are explicitly prohibited. Only port 21 is left open to incomming requests because AOL's instant messenger needs it, so you can run ftp in a normal fashion. No, they don't want you to run ftp, but they have yet to cut me off for my little read only site.

  • I never understood why anybody would want to buy a cable modem anyway. Modem prices have come down, but even before AT&T's rate change change, buying your own only saved $10 a month anyway. So that means that if you bought a cable modem for $150, it would be 15 months before you broke even. That's too long a payback time for a technology investment.
  • Look, this is simple. Bandwidth is expensive, or at least it's not the free resource everyone likes to think that it is. You ever look at the prices for T1 lines? They're expensive for a reason. Some of that is gouging, sure, the bottom line is that *somebody* is paying for crazy-high bandwidth. Cable ISPs started out with cheap prices to attract customers, then the realization hit that they couldn't keep it up forever. This is not a surprise to anyone except college students who are used to having "free" high bandwidth connections in their dorm rooms.
  • AT&T announced this price increase over a year ago, hardly new.

    They are actualy REDUCING the price of the modem rental, granted by just $1 a month but. . . . This is quite fair and I consider it JUSTIFIED and a LOT better then, say, implementing shitty ass bandwidth caps.

    Considering the high quality level of their service (they have recently increased the upload speed cap from 16KBP/s to 30KBp/s!!!! YAHOOO!!!! :) ) I have no objection to paying a few more dollars a month for high quality cable modem access.

  • Is it just me or does this scream out the fact that there's clearly not enough competition in the broadband market these days? I mean AT&T suddenly decides to start charging people an extra $7/month to people who went through the trouble and expense of buying their own hardware. Sounds like a good motivation to get service from a different provider, but then what are your choices really?

  • Now I'll have to pay for the privilage of not depending on AT&T for a modem?"

    -If there is a mistake...well, you should have used the 'Preview' button!-

  • My sympathy to those using AT&T for broadband internet. It is a fate that I myself narrowly escaped.

    Earlier this month, I found myself moving to a new apartment, and needing new internet access. The cable provider monopolizing my new neighborhood? None other than AT&T.

    I called up on the 3rd, ordered service, and was told that the cable guy would be out on a Saturday. That Saturday came and went, and of course, the cable guy never showed up. Seems the first person I had spoken to had failed to put in a work order.

    Next appointment: Wednesday afternoon. My roommate takes off early from work so he can meet Cable Guy. Cable Guy arrives 10 minutes before my roommate gets there, leaves a note, and disappears.

    So, he calls in to set up another appointment, and is told about installation fees. Fees which I was told, just last weekend, wouldn't apply, since I was ordering the 'basic' (do-it-yourself) modem installation. Here's where the fun begins.

    I call them up to get a straight answer on the pricing. I get referred to two 'local' 1-800 service numbers. The first is disconnected. The second is for Long Distance (no, I don't want to buy any, thank you!)

    I get referred to other phone numbers. Somehow, I end up getting a local broadband support office... on the other end of the country.

    Indeed, until I declare my intentions to cancel my order (after the 8th toll-free phone call, and the 10th time on hold), it seems there is not one person in the entire company who can give me a straight answer on pricing. And by then, I've made up my mind to look into DSL and Dish Network. Both of them such good deals in my area that it's a wonder I ever considered AT&T in the first place.

    On a side note, I recently heard on the radio that in a survey of satisfaction with the customer support services of various industries, Cable TV ranked at rock-bottom. And the worst of the worst? Charter, Comcast, and AT&T.

    Gee, I wonder why.
  • Why (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ur_Hariador (582178)
    The reason that AT&T is doing this is simple. They don't want you to own the modem. It actually saves them money when you use your own modem, they don't have to replace it when it breaks and they don't have to maintain a stock of modems, which is why they tried to encourage people to buy modems. They have changed their minds, because they realized that they cannot control modems that they do not own. There is nothing stopping you from running diffrent firmware on a modem that you own, getting around any speed caps that they may have placed on your account. All of AT&T's traffic shaping takes place at the modem. What you are going to soon see is tired service, pay more to get a faster connection, pay less to get a limited connection. However, the only real diffrence will be the firmware that they send to your modem. Hence, they want to stop the spread of modems that they cannot control.
  • Corporations have to make more money this year than last year - no matter what. It doesn't matter how much profit they're making or how large their market share is - they've simply got to make more money this year, or they are letting down their shareholders.

    It sounds more or less like a Ponzi scheme to me, but it's capitalism (at least our brand) and it "works" (according to those it works for), so expect more of the same... until the people decide to change what corporations are and what they can do.

  • I hope you're all happy.

    --Blair
  • AT&T Broadband *increased* upstream transfer rates for many customers. They're making it a flat 256kbps across the board. Funny to see how the articles about bow AT&T Broadband is screwing people make big news, but when they increase the piddly upstream cap that people bitch about constantly, nobody seems to care.

    Article here [com.com]
  • I'd had AT&T as my interstate and local long distance carrier for many years (having been happier with them than with the alternatives). This year, they started playing games with the monthly service fee -- trying to figure out which fee plan and which rate plan worked best suddenly turned into such a maze that you can't even make a good guess at the best rate. The last straw came when they began charging the monthly fee in advance (which caused me to be charged twice for the month when they made that transition).

    My point is, AT&T seems to be playing these games in other areas too, not just with cable modems.

    BTW as a direct result of these games, my long distance is now provided thru Costco (lower rate, no monthly fee... take that, AT&T). Too bad cable modem users generally don't have the choice of jumping ship to another provider.

  • The broadband providers perceive nat as a threat. Several months ago, there were stories here about the broadband industry seeing nat as a kind of theft, where they were missing out on revenues from leasing IP's for each of those machines that without nat, would have real internet IP's.

    So their solution is to provide modems with a different protocol which can identify machines behind nat...so that the connection between the ISP and your home is not IP.

    Given that those schemes are on their minds, it seems only natural that they would want to discourage the use of a modem they do not control, or can not recall and replace with their new ones. Even if you don't cave in and pay for more IP's (which is ridiculous, you don't pay for additional phones hooked up to the same line/number, even though those numbers are scarce as well) they still get some extra ca$h.

    I suggest we coin a term to combat the idea that every net connected device should be paying for an IP, even if behind a firewall/nat. I propose "IP Gouging". I also think people should contact the local public utility commission and explain how shady a practice it is. We pay primarily for bandwidth and connectivity, we only need one IP to make use of the utility.
  • Here is the real problem coming from this story. When a cost of doing business rises, it is immediatly passed on to the customer. If cable prices had gone up, you bet we would have seen an increase in leasing prices and overall. When the reverse is true, we don't see the change. We should lobby AT&T to pass their modem saving on to us.
  • Easy way out: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Artifex (18308) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @12:47PM (#3603089) Journal
    Let them ship you their modem. Take it out of the box, examine it, make sure it isn't damaged, and then... put it back in the box and stick it in your closet. Use your own modem. Who's going to know?

    If they run tests and decide that you're not using their equipment (either by checking MAC addrs, which, as a practical matter, they really can't keep on file, or by issuing instructions to the modems), what can they do? You're "testing alternatives."

    Besides, hey. This way you get a backup modem, in case the spiffy one you bought dies. And you can plug the modem in and turn it on when you're having service problems, if you feel like it, too.

"If that makes any sense to you, you have a big problem." -- C. Durance, Computer Science 234

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