Spectrum V Frontier

Spectrum V Frontier is the battle to steal the other guys customer.

As you know cable tv, phone and internet is a pretty sad situation. In most areas you get one or two choices at best. I hear of a mythical place where they can choose among three providers.

Cable Wars Graphic Copyright 2019 Bourquin Group LLC

In Huntington Beach, at the Beach Street News offices and the CoolToys Studios, we have two choices. It is a game of Spectrum V Frontier. At home I currently have Frontier, at the office Spectrum. My neighbor is the opposite. Quite frankly they are both overpriced, but someone has to pay for all the marketing to steal new customers from the other guy.

The cable companies have a fixed market. There are only so many households in an area to serve. The way to grow the business is to 1. add services and charge each customer more and 2. get customers from the other company. The second one is called “Churn”.

For the first case to increase income, adding telephone, internet and security monitoring all increase your bill and their profits. Until the bill is so big you switch again. Internet speeds have skyrocketed this year with new technologies. Just a few years ago, 10mb internet was fast. I have 75 which was the top of the line just four years ago. Today 1000mb aka 1gb is now available in many areas for less than $100 per month. If you are a new customer that is.

Hard Yoga

My neighbor has his contract dates in a calendar, and two weeks before his “new customer specials” end, he calls up and either gets the deal extended or cancels and switches back to the other guy. Next door he was about to swap Spectrum for Frontier, and I was about to do the opposite.

Why? The answer is simple. With Frontier I pay nearly 200 per month for 200 channels, 75/75 internet and phone. They got me on the “sell more services” part right up until my “new customer deal” expired and the price jumped $40 a month, breaking the magic $200 number. It turns out most customers will churn when the bill hits $200. Frontier offered to remove services to get me back to $189. Not this time.

The tough part is these guys always want to staple wires on your house and make a mess. Even if you have wired your house correctly. I never let them in, only to the demarc point and to connect a box at each TV. The demarc is the place where the wires connect to your house. This is the line of “demarcation” between the cable companies wires and your wires. Inside the house they are all yours.

When Judge Green broke up ATT before Al Gore invented the internet, he decided that the homeowner owns the wires in the house and should not pay the phone company for them. The rule applies to cable tv and in some cases internet and security companies.

A dirty trick when you switch from cable to satellite or back is to cut the wires somewhere you can’t see them, making it more expensive to switch back. It is illegal and happens all the time.

At the end of the day the companies hit a wall where they have upsold the client to the point that they switch to the competition. Since most cable companies are a regulated utility with a fixed profit margin, they act like a small government. By spending more on marketing to the other guys customers, they can increase budgets, which increases the profits they can make since most governments use a percentage basis for utilities.

This doesn’t do anything to help the consumer, improve customer service or promote a more efficient business model. In fact it does the opposite.

Today Spectrum is a little less reliable than Frontier, and a lot less expensive if you are a new customer. But then again they both are less expensive if you are a customer of the other one. Existing customers are left high and dry by the cable companies. But don’t blame them alone. Your state representatives have some of the blame.

Streaming might be the only way to fight back, for now that is.


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