Self-destruction of a monster?

My cable company seems to be self-destructing. We can only hope.

Recently I wrote about my cableco cutting off my service, and not turning it back on until I answered questions about my and my wife’s social security numbers and download habits.

Last Monday I called to complain that despite the premium I was paying for 3Mb/s service, I was getting 300 Kb/s downloads and worse. They responded by cutting me off completely. I’ll spare you the dialog, but you can just substitute any page from Franz Kafka or Lewis Carroll. A guy came on Wednesday to replace my cable modem and splitter, and it appeared in his immediate testing to yield close to the expected 3000 Kb/s.

Over the next few days I found that I only got that speed immediately after rebooting the cable-modem. After a few minutes, it would drop to 1500, 600, 300, 150, and finally 30 Kb/s. Slower than an acoustic modem from before my children were born. All through the rest of the week, I would reboot, and watch as the speed fell off.

Charter stopped taking my calls altogether. They just hung up on me over and over again.

After one of these calls we ordered DSL from our local phone company. The modem arrived Friday. I plugged it in and it worked! 3.5 to 4 Mb/s. And it has stayed that way ever since. I’ve been trying to get my mail and Webpages copied off from Charter, but they won’t let me log in.

Since then, I’ve discovered two things I didn’t know or pay any attention to when things just worked:

  • Charter Communications is run by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. What an asshole.
  • Despite increasing their revenue from saps like me by more than 10% over this quarter last year, they announced this week that they’re losing even more money than ever, and their stock lost nearly 20% of it’s value. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving group.
  • About Stearns

    Howard Stearns works at High Fidelity, Inc., creating the metaverse. Mr. Stearns has a quarter century experience in systems engineering, applications consulting, and management of advanced software technologies. He was the technical lead of University of Wisconsin's Croquet project, an ambitious project convened by computing pioneer Alan Kay to transform collaboration through 3D graphics and real-time, persistent shared spaces. The CAD integration products Mr. Stearns created for expert system pioneer ICAD set the market standard through IPO and acquisition by Oracle. The embedded systems he wrote helped transform the industrial diamond market. In the early 2000s, Mr. Stearns was named Technology Strategist for Curl, the only startup founded by WWW pioneer Tim Berners-Lee. An expert on programming languages and operating systems, Mr. Stearns created the Eclipse commercial Common Lisp programming implementation. Mr. Stearns has two degrees from M.I.T., and has directed family businesses in early childhood education and publishing.


    1. Talk to your local franchising authority.

    2. Indeed. My state government (Wisconsin) is in the throws of selling itself out to the telcos and doing away with local franchising authorities.

      A bill has passed the state senate that allows preferred parties to get a franchise from the state, bypassing local franchise authorities. It additionally frees such providers from having to carry local or state government processes or other local public access/public affairs programming.

      A huge add campain is claiming that this will increase competition and lower rates, but there is no evidence that this has happend where such bills have passed elsewhere. Supporters have also presented to the legislature a “list of supporters” of the bill that included people such as myself and my representatives who are quite firmly against it.

      As I see it, the bill has no consumer benefit whatsoever, and the majority of state senators and many newspapers that support it are simply revealing themselves as complete corrupt stools.

    3. As much as I hate going with the *other* incumbent, this is pretty much the only way to express ones’ disappointment with the status quo.

      Neal Stevenson hit upon a great idea when he talked about universal ‘net access as nothing more than a fact of life; I’m sure we’ll get there, but in the meantime, we’ll have to put up with bullshit like Stearns reports.

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