““[I]t does appear the Early Termination Fee (ETF) applied to your Comcast Business account was done in error,” reads the email, confirming what Robert had already been told, but at least this was in writing, so Comcast has to do something, right? Nope. “I understand you’re claiming that someone advised you Comcast would send a refund check for the last payment that was debited but this is generally not the way we handle these situations,” continues the condescending email. “We generally only issue a refund check for a disconnected account with a credit balance leftover. For your situation, you would have to dispute the payment with your bank.”
And while this is generally an idea that would benefit all broadband providers, it would benefit new providers like Google Fiber the most. That’s why companies like AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner Cable have been blocking this pole-attachment reform, in some cases trying to claim such policies violate their Constitutional rights. The ISPs figure that if they can’t block Google Fiber from coming to town, their lawyers can at least slow Google Fiber’s progress while they try to lock customers down in long-term contracts.
But our merger with DirecTV was totally fine, AT&T says.
Piracy monetization firm Rightscorp has signed an agreement to provide lawfirm Flynn Wirkus Young with the IP-addresses of persistent pirates. The data will be used to target U.S. Internet users who ignore DMCA notices and settlement offers sent by copyright holders. The first cases are already in progress.
While Comcast’s attempted acquisition of Time Warner Cable may be dead in the water, information revealed during the company’s ugly but often entertaining merger sales pitch may come back to haunt it. When Comcast started selling regulators on the idea of the Time Warner Cable merger, you’ll recall it highlighted repeatedly how Comcast should be trusted because it had done such a bang up job adhering to the conditions placed on its acquisition of NBC Universal. Except when regulators tried to verify this M&A claim (which is already rare enough in telecom), they discovered that not only did Comcast write most of the conditions itself, it still somehow managed to repeatedly fail to adhere to them.
For example Comcast had to be fined $800 million by the FCC for failing to offer and clearly advertise a relatively paltry 5 Mbps, $50 per month broadband tier. Similarly, the company’s Internet Essentials program, which promised 5 Mbps, $10 broadband for low income communities and was a phenomenal PR boon for Comcast — at one point resulted in Philadelphia street protests for being hard to find, qualify, and sign up for. It was also revealed that Comcast ignored conditions intended to keep the company from hamstringing Internet video competitor Hulu, which it acquired as part of the NBC deal.
So yes, Comcast, you’re really great at adhering to merger conditions, just as long as nobody actually bothers to look at how well you adhere to merger conditions. Given how closely the FCC had looked at whether companies adhered to merger conditions in the past (as in: not at all), Comcast’s hubris here was understandable.
Every month Google receives dozens of millions of DMCA takedown requests from copyright holders, most of which are directed at its search engine.
However, with Google Fiber being rolled out in more cities, notices targeting allegedly pirating Internet subscribers are becoming more common as well.
These include regular takedown notices but also the more controversial settlement demands sent by companies such as Rightscorp and CEG TEK.
Instead of merely alerting subscribers that their connections have been used to share copyright infringing material, these notices serve as automated fines, offering subscribers settlements ranging from $20 to $300.
The scheme uses the standard DMCA takedown process which means that the copyright holder doesn’t have to go to court or even know who the recipient is. In fact, the affected subscriber is often not the person who shared the pirated file.
To protect customers against these practices many ISPs including Comcast, Verizon and AT&T have chosen not to forward settlement demands. However, information received by TF shows that Google does take part.
Over the past week we have seen settlement demands from Rightscorp and CEG TEK which were sent to Google Fiber customers. In an email, Google forwards the notice with an additional warning that repeated violations may result in a permanent disconnection.
“Repeated violations of our Terms of Service may result in remedial action being taken against your Google Fiber account, up to and including possible termination of your service,” Google Fiber writes.