Diane Trout (alienghic) wrote,
Diane Trout


I talked with Eric Ketzer of Charter Communication today. He's part of Charters brand-new Internet monitoring two person strike force. They've been been monitoring themselves for a bit and only recently gotten set up as a way to provide support.

So I took this opportunity to explain what my problems with Charter were, and what they might be able to do about it. (Also he too was a bit weirded out at how quickly I could find and publish information about him).

My major frustration with Charter is the amazing difficulty in getting any information about what's going on from the customer service reps. For instance before I called him there my Internet and TV was out, so I went through the regular Charter IM based support and was told there was an outage, but when I asked "what caused the outage" the rep gave the standard we don't know the answer to that.

When I spoke with him, he was able to pull up their internal maintenance boards and because I was a bit fuzzy on the correct charter local region, it was probably a fiber cut.

I pointed him to sonic.net and showed how they have information about their network outages on the front page. Something like that would make me vastly happier with Charter, when my service is out it would be really nice to quickly have an answer "Is it a problem at my site, or is it something upstream?" If it is upstream, I can then quickly determine I don't need to talk to them.

He thought that the sonic.net page was a good example of an organization trying to be more transparent and was going to submit this idea into their internal suggestion system. It might take a bit for their organization to process the idea, but hopefully they'll get back to me in a week or two about it.

He tried to offer me faster service, but I cut him off with "what good is faster service, if it's unreliable?", then I started wandering onto other topics.

I mentioned Clay Sharkley's book Here Comes Everybody, which offers the thesis the way humans can create organizations is changing because the internet makes collaboration vastly easier. For larger older organizations are having to adapt to the fact that their customers can rapidly share information about them. For instance he was aware of how badly Charter looks on dslreports.com. He's pretty much doing everything he can to try and reverse that.

For fun I mentioned I'd talked with the Vice Mayor of Pasadena about the outage, who described to me that the telephone and cable companies lobbied hard for the California state to took over the cable franchises. Eric pointed that this start happening when AT&T and Verizon started installing fiber and didn't want to do what the cable companies traditionally did and work with local cities, and instead went to the state. (To me that does seem plausible, I can imagine the companies moving in had more motivation to push negotiations up to the state).

I was then curious what if neighborhoods started pulling their own fiber like proposed in Homes with Tails. After a neighborhood built out their own infrastructure they'd still need companies to sell services over them. I was curious if he thought that Charter would be willing to sell services over a locally owned infrastructure. He personally thought it sounded like it could be a good idea (Charter would have to spend less maintaining the local networks for instance), but was going to pass it around and see with others in Charter thought.

Now that I had really pleasant experience talking with him, I'm a bit calmer, and can now say, it probably would be bad for Charter to go under, the last thing we need is yet more centralization in the telecommunications industry.

I'm looking forward to finding out how Charter responds to some of these ideas. He probably can't save the internet account as sonic has some cool (to me) features, but he might be able to save the TV account.

(If there are any factual errors, let me know and I'll correct them).
Tags: charter

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