Sharing information about the fabulous work by communities investing in publicly owned Internet infrastructure is a full-time job. So is correcting the misinformation spread by national providers trying to undermine that important work. Fortunately, there are people with firsthand knowledge of those inaccuracies who can set the record straight.
It Started As A Simple Question
A recent post on Reddit shows an email exchange between the Senior Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs at Comcast and the General Manager at NextLight in Longmont, Colorado. The email started when a resident from Fort Collins sent a message to the city council. Fort Collins is looking at better connectivity and researching their options.
The Fort Collins City Council forwarded those questions to Comcast and asked some one at the company to explain the difference between their gigabit connectivity and the gigabit service offered by NextLight, the municipal network in Longmont. As can be expected, Comcast’s representative replied with a long list of inaccuracies and outright falsities. In addition to claiming that Longmont’s service adds charges where it does not, Comcast’s rep tries to convince the Fort Collins City Council that NextLight’s service is inferior, but the fact show otherwise.
Fortunately, the email found its way to General Manager at NextLight Tom Roiniotis, who made the time to correct the misinterpretations. As is often the case in the “webiverse,” the email with accurate information found its way to Reddit.
The post, cleverly titled “GM drops the mic on the Comcast rep” is here, but we’ve also republished it. For some testimonies on Longmont’s NextLight service, check out the comments on the Reddit thread.
Per CORA (Colorado Open Records Act), this email is available to the public. Below is a recent email exchange between the NextLight (Longmont) General Manager and the Comcast Senior Gov't & Regulatory Affairs rep. He refuted most of the information the Comcast rep was trying to peddle to City Council. Both Loveland and Fort Collins City Council received these responses.
All responses from the NextLight GM are quoted below. Original questions are also included.
June 8, 2017
Comcast: If you look at Longmont’s residential rate card, which is attached, the price for 1 gig varies greatly. If you were able to sign up within the first 3 months of NextLight reaching your home, then you can get 1 gig for $49.95 per month but if you miss that window then it is $99.95 per month (see the Terms & Conditions for Charter Member attached).
NextLight: Currently over 99% of LPC’s NextLight Gig customers are Charter Member customers. We’ve found that the community was very eager to subscribe and did sign-up quickly. Those very few that did miss the Charter Member period and signed-up for our standard service offering move to a loyalty rate of just $59.95 after 12 months, as was noted in the related document you sent with your email.
Comcast: In both cases, you also need the Wireless Gateway which is $8.95 per month.
NextLight: Actually customers are not required to lease a gateway from LPC NextLight. Customers have the choice to utilize our service without a wireless gateway, use their own, or lease one from us. Currently over 75% of our customers choose to either not utilize a wireless gateway or use their own.
Comcast: Then there is an installation charge of either $39.95 or $49.95.
NextLight: All standard installations have been and continue to be waived. This is noted in LPC’s FAQ section, in marketing materials, communicated to customers by our CSRs, and recently re-emphasized on our website and rate cards.
Comcast: And if you use a paper bill, that is an additional $2.00 per month.
NextLight: LPC made the decision up front to provide paperless billing as the standard. After all, NextLight customers are internet customers and all have the ability to receive electronic billing. We also considered sustainability/environmental impacts in the decision to not automatically print and mail paper bills. Currently less than 2% of our residential customers have requested a “snail mail”/paper bill.
Comcast: Plus all additional taxes and fees.
NextLight: There are no taxes or other fees for our NextLight Internet customers. Our Charter Members receive an Internet bill for $49.95; not a penny more.
Comcast: Thus, a customer is looking at around either $70 per month plus the installation charge of $40 or $50 plus taxes and fees if you sign-up within the first 3 months or $110, plus installation charge of $40 or $50, plus taxes and fees.
NextLight: This is simply inaccurate – please see responses above.
Comcast: Also, Longmont’s Wireless Gateway is not capable of 1 gig wifi, thus, if you want to truly get 1 gig you have to plug in a hard line into your computer. (See further explanation of wifi routers below.)
NextLight: This is also inaccurate. Nextlight wireless routers are 4x4 MU-MIMO capable and dual-band, supporting connection speeds up to 2033Mbps. The 5GHz wireless AC mode alone supports connection speeds up to 1733Mbps.
Comcast: It is unclear to me if there is a data cap for NextLight.
NextLight: NextLight has no data caps. This is also covered in our FAQ’s, our marketing materials, and communicated to our customer by our CSR’s. We appreciate you pointing out that it is unclear to you – we will look to improve our marketing and communications on this point.
Question from Fort Collins City Council: 1) Why is Comcast offering their 1 gig service to residents of Longmont for only $70/month but is charging Fort Collins customers $110/month to $120/month? Is there some additional value that Fort Collins residents are receiving for their additional $40 to $50/month that Longmont residents are not receiving?
Comcast: As with many of our products and other internet service tiers, our pricing varies by market. Since this is a new product, we are experimenting with consumer demand and acceptance, including pricing as a variable. We are doing this testing throughout different markets in the western United States.
Our everyday price for 1 Gigabit service throughout the entire western United States is $159.95 per month, without a contract.
We are testing a promotional price of $109.99 per month throughout all of Colorado with a one-year service agreement. In addition, we are testing a $70 per month promotional offer in some areas of the state including Longmont, Erie and Niwot (as well as across the entire city of Detroit). Additional prices and promotions may be tested in the future.
Yes, there is the additional charge of $10 for a new modem, which can do up to 9 gigs down over wifi.
This is another very important difference between our product and Longmont’s. If you have Longmont’s 1 gig service and a wifi router, you max out around 150 to 250 Mbps; however, with Comcast’s 1 gig service and new modem you can get 1 gig over wifi. Thus, with Longmont to get 1 gig you must plug in your computer to a hard line; whereas, with our 1 gig product, you and your family can receive 1 gig over wifi.
NextLight: Again, this is not accurate. NextLight provided wireless routers as well as most of the wireless routers our tech savvy customers purchase for themselves are capable of much higher speeds than 250 Mbps.
The most significant difference, as pointed out by Mr. Akins below, is that NextLight provides a true symmetrical 1 Gbps service (that's 1 gig up and 1 gig down), while Comcast's service only provides 35Mbs upload. That means that NextLight’s upload speed is about 29 Times Faster than Comcast's. A 2GB backup to the cloud with 1Gbs upload speed takes less than 20 seconds with NextLight service, but would take almost 8 minutes with Comcast's service. A full PC backup of 100GB (gigabytes) of data to a cloud service such as the popular “Crash Plan” would take about 13 minutes with NextLight compared to over 6 hours with Comcast. Regardless of how fast Comcast wireless routers are claimed to be, they can’t provide upload speeds any faster than the 35Mbps limitation on Comcast’s “1 Gig” service.
Comcast: Finally, as you are aware, we have a data cap at 1 Terabyte per month. (There is less than 2% of all our customers throughout the nation that reach and exceed this limit.) So there is no additional charge for data up to 1 Terabyte, and if you do go over, you can purchase an unlimited plan for an additional $50.
Question from Fort Collins City Council: 2) What are the additional charges, if any, for modem rental, data overages, or unlimited data? Why is Comcast potentially hiding additional modem rental fees and data overage charges and their upstream rate from customers when advertising their service?
Comcast: Please see the explanation above. In addition, Comcast is not hiding additional fees and costs. Please compare the advertising by Longmont with that of Comcast’s and you will find that Comcast is actually more transparent and clearer than Longmont.
NextLight: Again we welcome any input on where LPC NextLight information is unclear in anyway so we can address it. I invite you to touch base with me directly on any future questions or comments so we can ensure all are accurately informed of the NextLight services and pricing available to our customers. Thank You.
Not The First Time, Not The Last...
Fortunately, Roiniotis had the opportunity to set the record straight in this instance, but Comcast has an army of lawyers that get paid handsomely to spread this type of misinformation to local elected officials. The only way to combat these falsities are to stay diligent and to educate people whenever the opportunity arises.
In order to help stop the spread of similar chicanery from big providers intent on limiting competition, we've created a clearinghouse of resources that address misinformation. Check out our Correcting Community Fiber Fallacies page.
Image of Security screening at the Clinton Engineer Works. Lie detector test by Ed Westcott (see ) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.