RealTime IT News

Cable Firms Still Coping With Disgruntled Customers

While cable and telecom companies rush to deploy broadband services to bandwidth hungry consumers, cable firms are discovering that customer service relationships are more intimate and immediate than their cable television clients demand.

One area where cable firms are battling to stay up to speede is North Texas which is experiencing great growth in the demand of high-speed Internet services for both home and business use.

Prioritizing customer service at telephone companies is nothing new for the firms that have been providing basic phone services to homes and businesses for decades. Because the cable minimizes its customer approach while telecom companies provide personal contact, cable modem connectivity may be popular now, but telecom companies and Internet service providers are on delivering high-speed Internet access that meet customer's service expectations.

Software developer Randy Dryburgh operates Calista Technologies out of his home office in North Texas on eight networked computers joined to the Internet through AT&T@Home cable services.

When Dryburgh's cable modem access goes down, so does his business and the lack of broadband competition in North Texas means that AT&T@Home, a division of Angel Biasatti, AT&T spokesperson, said Dryburgh's claims were completely unfounded.

"We serve 37 communities in North Texas and his claims are unfounded," Biasatti said. "We are up right now, but we did have periodic downtime last week when technicians replaced a server. Everything is up and the e-mail problem is resolved."

Biasatti added that all cable companies in the area were experiencing the same problem, including Cox Communications, Inc. But Cox could not confirm any regional cable service issues.

AT&T delivers cable broadband services to the region through its partnership with Excite@Home. Allison Bowman, Excite@Home spokesperson, said the network did have some issues last week but that there were no outstanding service tickets in Texas at this time.

"Last week we had a server issue and we called in the manufacturer to replace it," Bowman said. "It was not an e-mail server though, it happened early last week and all service issues were resolved by Wednesday."

Dryburgh said he understands that cable access is not perfect, but the customer runaround he gets when reporting downtime is motivation enough to make him to want to switch broadband providers.

"I spent four hours total on the phone and not one customer service representative or technician has ever returned my call," Dryburgh said. "I've had AT&T@Home service at two different locations after moving from an apartment to my home. It's not the downtime that aggravates me, but the runaround I get when I'm trying to get a credit for downtime and have to face AT&T's 'prove it' challenges. I'm switching as soon as I can get DSL service."

GTE Corp. is working to deploy digital subscriber line services to the North Texas region. While SBC Communications, Inc. de