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Good news for security companies: Cable Guy’s customer service ratings fall to new lows

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Professional security companies proudly point to the good service they give consumers as an important differentiator between them and their giant cableco and telecom competitors. And a new consumer satisfaction survey suggests they don’t have to worry about losing that edge to the Cable Guy anytime soon—because it shows new dips for Time Warner Cable and Comcast, and AT&T and DIRECTV don’t fare too well, either.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index released its annual measure of the communications industries this week. The ACSI report measures consumer satisfaction in such categories as Internet service providers (ISPs), subscription TV service, fixed-line and wireless telephone service, computer software and cellphones, according to a news release. Ratings are done on a 100-point scale.

“Customer satisfaction is deteriorating for all of the largest pay TV providers. Viewers are much more dissatisfied with cable TV service than fiber optic and satellite service (60 vs. 68). Though both companies drop in customer satisfaction, DIRECTV (-4 percent) and AT&T (-3 percent) are tied for the lead with ACSI scores of 69. Verizon Communications FiOS (68) and DISH Network (67) follow.”

AT&T’s and DIRECTV’s dips in customer satisfaction are of particular note because I just wrote about how AT&T’s $48.5 billion plan to buy DIRECTV could impact Digital Life—AT&T home security/home automation offering—and the security industry.

Hmmm…a dip in customer satisfaction regarding any part of those companies’ businesses doesn’t seem like a positive—especially if they want to bundle services!

There’s also a $45 billion pending deal for Comcast to buy Time Warner Cable. Both of those companies have home security/home automation offerings but they’re not making customers very happy, at least when it comes to TV and Internet service, according to ACSI.

“Cable giants Comcast and Time Warner Cable have the most dissatisfied customers. Comcast falls 5 percent to 60, while Time Warner registers the biggest loss and plunges 7 percent to 56, its lowest score to date,” the news release said.

The release also has a prepared statement from David VanAmburg, ACSI director: “Comcast and Time Warner assert their proposed merger will not reduce competition because there is little overlap in their service territories. Still, it's a concern whenever two poor-performing service providers combine operations. ACSI data consistently show that mergers in service industries usually result in lower customer satisfaction, at least in the short term. It's hard to see how combining two negatives will be a positive for consumers.”

Customers also aren’t happy with their Internet service from such providers, according to ACSI.

“High prices, slow data transmission and unreliable service drag satisfaction to record lows, as customers have few alternatives beyond the largest Internet service providers. Customer satisfaction with ISPs drops 3.1 percent to 63, the lowest score in the Index, the release said.

“At an ACSI score of 71,Verizon's FiOS Internet service continues to lead the category, surpassing AT&T, CenturyLink and the aggregate of other smaller broadband providers, all at 65,” according to the release. “Cable-company-controlled ISPs languish at the bottom of the rankings again. Cox Communications is the best of these and stays above the industry average despite a 6 percent fall to 64. Customers rate Comcast (-8 percent to 57) and Time Warner Cable (-14 percent to 54) even lower for Internet service than for their TV service. In both industries, the two providers have the weakest customer satisfaction.”

However, customers are happy with their cellphones. That rating is “up for a second straight year, rising 2.6 percent to a new all-time high ACSI score of 78.”

The release said, “Steady growth in the use of smartphones, which have much higher levels of customer satisfaction, helps drive the overall industry gain. However, as data usage increases, costs to access overloaded networks are high, leaving customer satisfaction with wireless service providers stagnant at an ACSI score of 72.”

ACSI found that, “among wireless phone providers, Verizon Wireless separates from the pack after climbing 3 percent to 75. T-Mobile (69), Sprint (68) and AT&T Mobility (68) are tightly grouped behind. As smartphone adoption continues to grow, network demands increase along with costs to the consumer, each contributing to stagnant customer satisfaction.”

Also interesting were the ACSI POTS ratings. “Customer satisfaction with fixed-line telephone service dips 1.4 percent to an ACSI score of 73, but remains the most satisfying of all types of telecommunications. However, the score is due to shrinking landline usage. As more households abandon fixed-line service for cell phones, the customers that remain tend to be the most satisfied,” the release said.

AT&T to buy DIRECTV for $48.5b

Analysts: Deal could result in potential monitoring synergies, bundling opportunities
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05/19/2014

DALLAS, Texas and EL SEGUNDO, Calif.—AT&T plans to buy DIRECTV for $48.5 billion, the companies announced this week. The deal will allow AT&T to expand its broadband network to more than 70 million customer locations, the companies said.

iControl woos app developers

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

This week, iControl Networks, the software platform used by ADT’s Pulse, and a number of cable companies, including Comcast's Xfinity Home, Time Warner Cable's IntelligentHome and Rogers Smart Home Monitoring, announced that it’s launching an Android App Partner Program, called the “FastTrack App Partner Program.”

It’s an initiative that will “allows Android apps to be easily and quickly certified compatible with touch screens that support the iControl Converge deployment solution, which powers leading home solutions,” iControl said.

In a prepared statement, Jason Domangue, iControl's VP of ecosystem development, said that program opens a new distribution channel for app developers. "FastTrack makes it easy and seamless for app developers to team with leading cable service providers for in-home distribution, and increases comfort and convenience for consumers by providing unique, innovative apps tailored for the smart home."

IControl announced the first five members of the partner program: Life360, which provides location and communication for families; MapQuest, which provides maps and traffic information; News Republic, which provides customizable global news alerts; TuneIn, which provides online radio and music streaming, and the Weather Channel, which provides detailed forecasts and future radar.

An app developers kit is available on the company’s website. “Certified applications will live in iControl's marketplace and become accessible to millions of consumers around the globe,” the company said.

Time Warner going retail with IntelligentHome

The company is offering the home security/home management product in its stores nationwide
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06/19/2013

NEW YORK—Time Warner Cable is joining the new trend of retailing home security by offering IntelligentHome, its home security/home management product, in its several hundred retail stores nationwide, according to Adam Mayer, VP of IntelligentHome.

Time Warner about to wrap up home security rollout

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I’ve been writing about IntelligentHome, Time Warner Cable’s home security/home automation product, since it launched in a few markets in 2011. Two years later, Time Warner is now announcing that the rollout of IntelligentHome should be complete by this fall.

Here’s what the company had to say in a news release today:
 

Time Warner Cable has announced that it will launch its home management and security system, IntelligentHome, throughout its Ohio and Wisconsin service areas in June, followed by New York City this fall. The upcoming launches will wrap up TWC’s rollout of the new product to all major markets in its service area.

Time Warner amped up the introduction of IntelligentHome this spring, launching it in Maine, Kansas City, Mo., South Carolina and all of North Carolina and also in San Antonio.

Time Warner describes IntelligentHome as “an easy-to-use wireless system that offers professional home security along with flexible features that allow customers to check in on their kids or pets, arm or disarm their security system, turn on a light or set the thermostat the way they like it—all via a smartphone, laptop or in-home touch screen.”

The product is professionally installed by Time Warner employees and also is professionally monitored.

How is the New York-based cableco liking security? I’ll be talking the company’s VP of IntelligentHome to learn more. Keep posted.

 

Time Warner launches home security in new market

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03/26/2013

SAN ANTONIO—Time Warner Cable is now offering IntelligentHome, its home security and management system, in greater San Antonio, according to an article from the San Antonio Business Journal.

Security providers early winners in home automation/home security space

But telecoms and cable companies also are ‘in it to win’ and shouldn’t be discounted, an industry analyst says
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05/29/2012

DALLAS—Security providers have a “first mover” advantage in home automation/home security right now, but the big telecoms and cable companies entering the space are serious competitors who may be game-changers in the future, according to a market research company analyst.

iControl/Time Warner Cable sell home security/home automation together

iControl: Telecoms good partners because they are ‘very, very focused’ on the space
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01/10/2012

PALO ALTO, Calif.—Software provider iControl Networks this week announced a new partnership with Time Warner Cable, in which Time Warner’s IntelligentHome security and home automation solution is being powered by iControl software.

Comcast ahead of curve in security space

Telecom led others in launching a home security/home automation option and will add Tucson to its markets this year
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01/04/2012

PHILADELPHIA—Many telecoms decided that 2011 was the year to launch a home security/home automation offering—Verizon, Time Warner Cable, Frontier Communications, AT&T and Cox Communications among them.
But Comcast, based here, was ahead of the curve, launching Xfinity Home Security in Houston in June 2010. The company, with millions of customers nationwide, has so far made the product available in other major markets around the country, and plans to launch it in Tucson, Ariz. sometime this year.

The Cable Guy goes pro as telecoms enter security space

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Watch out security industry! Here comes the new version of the Cable Guy—one that’s more likely to wear a suit and have a computer science background than be a rube who’s always late.

As the telecoms enter the security space at a fast and furious pace—I’ve recently written about the new home security/home automation offerings of Verizon, Time Warner Cable, Frontier Communications, AT&T, Cox Communications, and Comcast—the security industry has expressed confidence that small, professional security companies will outperform those giant companies when it comes to service.

That’s because the archetypal Cable Guy in everyone’s mind is someone who’s always late and barely seems to know what he’s doing. But as the telecoms offer new products such as professionally installed and monitored home security systems, they’re also creating new teams of professional Cable Guys to install and service those products, according to a recent The New York Times article.

Here’s more from the article, entitled “Today’s Cable Guy, Upgraded and Better-Dressed:”
 

“Long depicted as slovenly cranks who dodged growling dogs and tracked mud on the living room carpet, cable guys (and gals) these days often have backgrounds in engineering and computer science. That kind of training is now required — along with a new dress code for some, calling for button-down dress shirts and slacks — as cable companies and their telephone rivals try to lure customers and increase revenue with a suite of [new] products. ... That means added pressure for installers and new requirements for a job that traditionally appealed to high-school graduates looking for reliable blue-collar work. …

… Robert Kolb, a 33-year-old installation and service supervisor for Comcast’s Xfinity television, phone and Internet service, has a one-year certification in network engineering. He wore pressed slacks and a sporty fleece jacket on an Internet upgrade job in the Philadelphia suburbs recently, where he worked on a company-issued MacBook laptop and had a waterproof hand-held computer that could withstand a five-foot drop.

… To make sure he stays up to date, Comcast requires him and other installers to take classes at an in-house training facility known as Comcast University.

OK, the advent of the upgraded Cable Guy doesn’t mean that small professional security companies won’t still have a service edge with customers who continue to view them as their trusted security provider.

But I do think it shows that no security company should be complacent about the telecoms entering the market this time around—and that having professional, well-trained staff that provides excellent customer service is a key to success, no matter what size your company is.

 

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