I'm the owner of a cable company in a small town in Mississippi. We offer TV, Internet, Phone and managed services for businesses. I've owned it for a year as of November 1, 2015. It's been quite an adventure the first year. I handle everything from running the back end of the business to maintaining the outside plant and headend myself. I'm prepared to answer any technical and non technical questions. Keep in mind I may be a little general about some things if I'm bound by a contract to not make exact figures public. I'll be in and out throughout the work day, so answers may be slow from time to time. I'll update when I'm done taking questions.

http://www.belzonicable.com posted about this AMA on our home page.

EDIT: This has blown up more than I ever anticipated. I'm heading out to do some work for my paying customers, I'll be back later with more answers. Thanks for all the response!

EDIT2: http://imgur.com/a/x3y5h there are some random shots, also, thanks to everyone for the questions and comments. I've enjoyed this. I'm more or less shutting this down now, I may pop back in and answer a few more questions tomorrow if there are any more.

Comments: 1132 • Responses: 79  • Date: 

Raskolnietz460 karma

are you the only cable company in town and do you like to rub your niples?

Stephend2534 karma

We are the only cable co and no comment

Mizerka301 karma

What does it take to start your own ISP/tv/telephony company? do you "borrow" internet services from another ISP?

Stephend2400 karma

It would be extremely tough to start a new one from scratch these days. What we did was purchase an existing company that was on the way to failure due to aging owners that just could not keep up any more. They had seriously dropped the ball on maintenance. It took a lot of work but still a lot less than building all new.

AsinineSophists160 karma

What's your opinion on Net Neutrality and the way it's being treated, especially now since buried in a must-pass House appropriations bill are riders that would prohibit the FCC from enforcing rules protecting an open Internet?

Stephend2296 karma

It's all a bunch of BS. The internet as a whole has had no problems regulating itself. A few bad actors like Comcast who intentionally let peering connections get congested then bully content providers into paying for peering with their network are the problem. Net Neutrality did nothing for that situation.

meyerjaw91 karma

Can you please elaborate on how "a few bad actors" including the largest ISP in the nation is something that is fine the way it is? I'm also assuming you agree in the "few bad actors" would include TWC which is #2 largest.

Stephend296 karma

I didn't really mean to say its fine, I just don't agree with the government trying to regulate something they don't understand. Maybe it will shake out better, but really, it doesn't seem that the regulation has done anything meaningful.

linh_nguyen23 karma

What would your solution to competition be? I'm damn lucky Verizon stopped fiber roll out after they got to me (despite being in a roll out state/county). But it feels like it's just a matter of time before they start capping, too

Stephend248 karma

We compete on price and service. If another video provider rolled in, I would just have to adapt. I barely count satellite, we do fairly well against them, and the people that do switch come back pretty quickly.

keep in mind I'm in a poor MS delta town, the people here as a whole are not so worried about HD and the latest greatest, they want to watch their TV, most of them still have old CRT TVs that they will use until they won't work any more. In a larger market, my approach wouldn't work.

keepcalm2121 karma

Are you the sole operator in your town, if not who else is competing in your market?

Stephend2165 karma

AT&T is here...barely. They're doing data and voice only, no video play

puddingmonkey48 karma

That's a bit surprising considering they own DirecTV now. You'd think they'd offer it most anywhere.

Stephend279 karma

I'm watching this. I doubt much happens really, the people here know about their tactics and games, they appreciate our honesty. Our prices are inclusive of all taxes and fees, nothing is hidden below the line.

billcube108 karma

It seems that a 22mbps increase is billed 30$, is it because of upstream costs ? Market segmentation ?

Stephend2181 karma

We kept our pricing structure more or less comparable to what AT&T is doing. It's worked well for us, we're a little cheaper than them and offer faster speeds than they can do here. Bandwidth does cost us a little more up here as we are buying from ATT with no other options. I am working on a deal with a small rural telco that has fiber up the road. If we strike up a deal, I'll build to them to pick up additional bandwidth.

MaraudersNap58 karma

How can you undercut AT&T if you're buying from them?

Stephend239 karma

I'm buying wholesale access from them.

pitlane17108 karma

What are your data caps? Looked on site but didn't see them. And if they are below 350gb, does offering more really hurt your profit or is this a big company scam?

Thank you.

Stephend2267 karma

No data caps..and we really push that to people that are on the fence. I need to update the website to reflect that.

Fallen_Wings144 karma

Stephend2134 karma

That's right. The only way I'll ever do it.

_korbendallas_93 karma

Cisco or Arris?

Stephend2121 karma

Cisco. I've never been a fan of Arris CMTS gear.

Altecice33 karma

I'm not sure if you can answer this question but an ISP in the UK (Virgin Media) has decided that they will move their CMTS gear from Cisco to Arris. What would be the deciding factors in doing this as it seems a massive thing to do for a large ISP. I guess it down to cost?

Stephend258 karma

If you're talking new equipment, Arris has the better pricing. Everything we use we get on the used market as we can't afford new. If I was buying new, I would be way behind the times.

RyanCap2176 karma

THANK YOU. I'm so glad we switched to Cisco.

Stephend223 karma

I had an Arris CMTS one time at an apartment building...Never again. Worst. Configuration interface. Ever.

keepcalm269 karma

How is your service delivered, assuming coax? Do you worry that as bigger cities are moving to higher speeds over fiber that you'll become antiquated? How are you planning for future service expansion?

Stephend2140 karma

That is correct, Coax. In our area, we're so isolated, the town had never seen above 1.5mbps a year ago. We are going to upgrade to DOCSIS 3.0 next year. I've been prepping the plant for it all this year and we are now running 4 downstream and 4 upstream channels per node with no splitting/combining in the headend. Total of 16 downstream channels and 28 active upstream channels for the system. Still doing DOCSIS 2.0 right now, hence the 25mbps limit. We are still building fiber closer to the customer over the next year along with the CMTS upgrade that is planned. We are also launching new business services that are delivered over fiber. We plan to offer 100mbps download, 50mbps upload over coax when the upgrades are completed.

iLLNiSS55 karma

Have you ever caught wind of any users stealing cable internet? If so, what did you do?

Stephend2119 karma

no stealing of internet, not in provisioning, no service. Try to spoof mac address, auto ban, again, no provisioning, no DHCP, modem put in disabled state which shuts down ethernet port. Cable TV theft is another matter all together. We are in the middle of an audit and have disconnected over 50 illegals in two weeks.

iLLNiSS39 karma

What about users who are cloning the certs though? I'll be clear, I'm not stealing Internet, nor am I with your ISP.

I'm just wondering how the CMTS's are now because even with docsis 3.0 every ISP I knew of did not have the CMTS's communicating what Mac's were online with each other.

Stephend242 karma

our provisioning looks for duplicate MACs and shuts down that MAC automatically. Not everyone does this. If there is a situation like this, it would affect the paying customer as well. We have not had that happen yet.

GiantAcroyear48 karma

Would you rather fight one Comcast sized horse or 100 AT&T sized ducks?

Stephend276 karma

I suppose the ATT ducks. They've made it clear they don't really care about these small markets.

Hypergrip43 karma

As a service provider, how serious do you take data security and privacy for your users/customers? Have things like the Patriot Act, etc. impacted your work (directly or indirectly)? What do you think about companies trying to be as transparent as legally possible, imploying things like warrant canaries, etc.?

Stephend266 karma

I take privacy seriously. I'm not volunteering anything, not until a court order shows up saying I have to. I have had that happen once. Some bad stuff I cant talk about happened, court asked for information on a customer, I complied, thats it, only what they asked for. We are small enough we really don't have to worry about regulators looking down on us all the time. With that said, we control who can access customer information, we will not discuss any account with anyone unless they can identify themselves and are listed on the account in question. We are only legally required to do that for phone customers, however, we do that for any account. We also require identification for new service, which the old owners did not, had a big problem with a balance being racked up, disconnected then someone else from that household setting up a new account to get around paying the past balance.

Do_not_Geddit37 karma

In Sacramento, Comcast delivers the contracted MB as I assume you do but ATT is a horrible joke due to 40 yr old copper. Why aren't they sued for selling "up to" 15MB that is really a flaky 1MB or WORSE?

Stephend260 karma

If they say "up to", its legal. I don't agree with it but it is.

I'm on a cable modem setup for 25mbps at my house, on one of our busier nodes, worst I have seen is 24mbps when we were near the point of congestion on our circuit coming in. It was that point I started planning the upgrade.

TheStig_____9 karma

I am on a 15 Mbps plan at my house. This is the mid-speed plan. I didn't upgrade to the higher speed because where I live (somewhat rual) I wonder if paying extra really gets you much faster. Does this happen? Buying the faster speeds without much speed increase?

Stephend221 karma

depends on the network and your usage. If you're watching netflix in 3 rooms at the same time, you might benefit from an upgrade, otherwise, maybe not. Are you getting the 15mbps you are paying for now ? That would be an indicator of what you might get if you upgrade. I try to deliver what is advertised, I can't speak for other companies.

Occamsrazor133 karma

Hello, I live in a small town outside of Albany that uses a "Mesh Network". Everything in the city (from this company) is wireless. It's cool because I basically have internet access all over the city, but unfortunately the speeds are very slow. They claim the speeds are slow because they don't have enough customers yet, so they are only allowed to give us UP TO 15mb.

Have you ever seen a business model like this, and do you think it's sustainable? We get equipment for free, equipment that I can't imagine is cheap.

Have you run into the same issue of not enough customers?

Stephend247 karma

That sounds like a cop out or an equipment limitation. I've never known a mesh system to be very fast. 15mbps is reasonable over wireless in any density. Previous to this company, I built a wireless company that had around 600 subscribers when I left. It offered up to 24mbps in some areas and was reliable at delivering it. Wireless is sustainable if done right. If its done wrong, it will lose money and die.

gremlinclr32 karma

As a smaller provider, how do you deal with people who torrent? I mean do copyright holders contact you and ask for the torrenters identity? Are you legally obligated to comply? Can you tell who torrents and who doesn't?

EDIT: Replaced a word.

Stephend240 karma

I pass along the notice, nothing else ever becomes of it.

RenegadeEagle31 karma

What do you think of companies that throttle their customers for streaming netflix and whatnot too much?

Stephend268 karma

BOO. Design the network properly and don't throttle. Bandwidth is cheap these days.

pants600029 karma

Got IPv6 yet?

Stephend232 karma

We have the allocation, I'm waiting to deploy it once we fully cut over to new provisioning system.

Stankydude3326 karma

Does it actually cost more to support a customer that would use 1tb a month versus a customer that would use 50gb a month?

It would only cost for speed right?

Stephend240 karma

I don't differentiate. I just take my costs and average over the customer base. I don't really feel the difference in usage. I pay for a pipe of a certain speed with unlimited usage. Right now I have 250 mbps, will upgrade that to at least 500 shortly, if I get the right deal, 1 gig.

zeldaisaprude23 karma

What are your thoughts on people cable cutting?

Stephend2135 karma

I'll sell them faster internet and make more money off them than I did on cable TV.

Ignited2223 karma

Since you know the ins and outs of what it takes to successfully provide internet service... Do you believe customers are over paying for service with giants like Comcast? I would assume they are carrying a high profit margin.

Stephend241 karma

I can't really say I know their pricing, I will say that internet is one of the most profitable services I offer. Internet costs me on average $7.82 per customer per month. Phone is about $12.50 per customer per month, although I'm working on getting this cost down with some changes in the next couple months. TV is the lowest margin of them all. My expanded basic lineup costs around $45 per subscriber per month.

i3igNasty19 karma

You mentioned in another reply that you are doing an audit to catch illegal cable use.

Can you touch on two things: A.) How do you know that there is an additional party using the same cable service(neighbors albeit)? I'm assuming that usage amounts would reflect higher but I can't wrap my head around how all that is figured using a coax connection.

B.) Similar to above, can you explain how TV ratings are collected? If all of the cable for one home comes in through a central connection, however 1 bedroom is watching a soap opera and another is watching ESPN... what mechanism collects this data?

Thanks for doing this AMA!!

Stephend235 karma

A. On TV, I don't really know. We look for suspicious connections, we also ride around with leakage meters on in our trucks all the time. Usually, illegal connections are sloppy and leak, we pick up said leak and investigate.

B. TV ratings are based on a diary kept by the rating home. It's up to them to report what they watch and send it in.

You're welcome, I've enjoyed being able to share what really goes into an industry thats dominated by huge companies.

GoldenRule1118 karma

I have a possibly dumb question but it's still something I think about, where does the Internet come from that you sell to your customers? Is there like an upper level internet seller that you and like time Warner cable goes through... Or am I just vastly misunderstanding all of this.

Stephend227 karma

We buy a wholesale ethernet circuit from ATT currently. We are looking at connecting with a nearby rural telco for additional bandwidth and redundancy.

Big companies like TWC and Comcast operate their own nationwide network.

Tiny31118 karma

Do you plan on greatly expanding or are you satisfied with the amount of people you service now?

Stephend228 karma

We are looking at a small town about 5 miles south, about 200 homes passed. It greatly depends on whether I can strike up a deal to lease fiber from a rural telco on their route that passes through to get there. If I have to build my own, its not feasible to build. Other than that, we are building a few small plant extensions to reach new homes that have been built since the system was designed. We pass about 2200 serviceable addresses currently.

kellhus18 karma

What do you think about Alcatel-Lucents Vectoring?

Stephend229 karma

I think its a solution for DSL providers to get a little more, but the main problem with DSL these days is the poor quality of the copper wire thats been patched for 40 years.

Dovakhbear17 karma

Can you give us tips of how to start our own ISP?

Stephend228 karma

I may look at doing a future post on this. Feel free to PM me with some more specifics if known, there are a lot of questions to ask and get answers to before even getting to the startup point.

quadnips15 karma

As a consumer, how do you think could I help small cable/internet providers get into my market to help drive up competition? Or do you think that is basically impossible to do?

Stephend223 karma

the problem with cable is in most states, right of way access is regulated by the municipality or in some cases at the state level. In most places, the franchise agreement that is in place has language that prohibits the municipality from allowing another provider to come in. There are exceptions to this. The other problem is companies like comcast are so scared of competition that they will sue small companies out of business that try to come into their areas. For those reasons, I'll stick to my small town.

csgraber14 karma

Are there other distribution models of internet on the horizon? instead of laying pipe. . .is there anything you are like (now that would help me . . .)

Stephend234 karma

We are dabbling in wireless as well. We have about 10 test customers on that system at this time, most are able to get > 50mbps download and upload. I have one customer on that service that brough me a speedtest result of 99/86 and he is 9 miles out from the tower. We have since limited those customers down to the speed they are paying for.

GingerDonald12 karma

I assume you mean limit them back down to near 50down 50up. Why would you do this? Do you lose money if they are getting a higher speed than they are paying for? Surely they would be impressed with the higher speeds.

Stephend238 karma

It's more about differentiating the two tiers of wireless. We offer 25/25 and 50/50. I obviously don't want a 25mbps getting the higher priced plan for less. It's a little about making money, the higher plan doesnt really cost me any more, I just offer a choice, with the higher priced choice being more profitable. The lower priced choice gets me customers that otherwise would just pass on the service.

savageartichoke11 karma

For your wireless, I assume (could be wrong!) you're doing some line of sight type service (need to see the tower, be +/- 30km away)? My company used to offer similar and what a nightmare.

What is the biggest obstacle with wireless service from your side?

Stephend228 karma

LOS, Ubiquiti AC radios. Working well. It is LOS only, land is flat here, I can go out 15 miles from tower and see it standing on ground.

AscotV13 karma

Do you use Skyline Dataminer to monitor your network? If not, what software do you use?

Stephend236 karma

I do not, we use our own in house developed tools for provisioning and billing, use several open source tools for monitoring ports and such. Really a simple operation, we make sure everything is isolated properly and let the customers go other than that. We are in the business of providing unrestricted internet access, not policing what anyone does.

Electricengineer12 karma

What is average rate of return on Internet and phone?

Stephend232 karma

400% on internet, > 200% on phone, ~40% on cable TV.

justler612 karma

When you purchased the cable tv plant and franchise stuff, were they only offering Cable TV? Did you add internet and phone when you took over?

What is involved in the phone service portion? Do you whitebox vonage or another brand to cut down the amount you have to deal with problem/management of the voice portion?

Since the plant you bought was failing/in disrepair, was there significant subscriber base drop from month to month? If so, over the last year have you been able to pick up a lot of the customers the previous owner had lost?

Stephend223 karma

They were doing video and internet, although the internet was very poor. We immediately upgraded and a few months later added voice when we were sure the system was stable enough to support it. We don't whitebox anyone's service, we have our own switch in our headend, we do our own provisioning and buy wholesale sip trunking and DIDs. We manage every aspect of our services in house, that's been a long road to get to, previous owners outsourced everything. There were about 800 subscribers when we got the company. I'd have to look closely to really tell you if we dipped below that, we may have, but now, as we have completed repairs and added some TV channels that were requested, we are over 1300 subscribers and gaining at this point. We keep our prices reasonable, we have been able to get to 60% penetration in our market, another company 40 miles from here tells me they can't get more than 25% penetration in their market, their price is much higher than ours.

TR_Ollington10 karma

Hello and congratulations on your first year! I've been in the cable business for about 6 years, 3 in sales and tech support 3 in their network Operations Center and I find this very interesting. So here's a few questions I have about your experience:

  • How impacted by sports blackouts on local and sports channels of national events and games?
  • Ad insertion seems like a royal pain in the ass for local content, have you had any issues on that or do you perceive running. I to those problems with expansion?
  • I saw that you work with Coax, are you strictly coax or are you Hybrid Fiber Coax? (HFC for anyone one else)
  • do you plan on getting into Fiber at all in at least a commercial level with growth or do you not see the need yet?
  • Does you business work with digital set top boxes and if so, are you IP based video gear( my company provides video through RF and CMTSs)?
  • what's the general attitude your customers have towards you/your company since you've purchased and run it over the year? Has it changed at all, better or worse?

  • being a small company have you dealt with damaged coax(or Fiber if you're HFC) and what's your response time for plant repairs and maintenance, and how much of that do you do yourself?

  • do you rely mostly on contractors or do you prefer in house employment? ( my company relies on contractors in low interest areas and for seasons of brief influx of need of man power to protect in house jobs.)

Thanks for doing this AMA and again congratulations on the company and good fortune to you and your family!

Stephend24 karma

Sports blackouts are handled by the network. We have alternate feeds wired to each of the sports networks receivers just for this. ESPN for example will change the feed the receiver is using for the duration of the blackout with no action on my part.

We have outsourced ad insertion with mixed results. I'm not at all pleased with the current vendor and that is a future project to bring that in house.

We are HFC.

We are launching commercial fiber shortly.

No digital set tops yet, when we do it will not be IP, not financially feasible at this time for our small operation.

customer attitude is much better. We get constant compliments about the great job we are doing.

I've not run across a fiber problem yet, plenty of coax issues, small outage under 10 customers affected waits til next morning, anything more than that we will roll out in the middle of the night.

All in house, no contractors. Don't trust them as far as I can throw them.

Whalemusic10 karma

Now that you run an ISP yourself, is there anything that you used to hate as a consumer but now are more understanding?

Also, is there something you realized the big guys do that you thought was reasonable but now see is a giant load?

Best of luck to you!

Stephend215 karma

I've been in the ISP space for about 6 years, cable just over 1. I suppose I have a better understanding of how it all works. I guess I realize just how slow the big companies are to upgrade some areas.

It seems to me their processes are overly complicated, I like to keep things simple.

Thanks for the wish of luck.

cactusfried10 karma

how were you able to start?

Stephend213 karma

I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and meet an investor that helped make it happen. I knew about the system being for sale as I was doing some consulting work for them previously to keep things going.

available_username29 karma

when will you be instituting data caps?

Stephend239 karma

NEVER!!! I'm completely against caps. I price my service fairly and that includes unlimited usage. I have some customers that are using close to 2 TB a month, they don't bother me.

death_to_topknots6 karma

Do those high use customers affect your service in any way?

One claim of the big telcos is that heavy use customers put excessive strain on their network. It sounds like BS but I'd like to hear an honest appraisal

Stephend210 karma

not a big deal if the network is designed right. Admittedly, its easier to do this on a small scale like I'm doing.

myfriendwonders3 karma

So when you buy backhaul or bandwidth or whatever from whoever is higher upstream from you your company doesn't have data caps, just that instantaneous bandwidth that you pay for, yeah?

Stephend212 karma

we only buy dedicated internet access with no restrictions beyond the speed we pay for.

KyBourbon8 karma

Where did you acquire all the technical knowledge necessary to build up and out your company?

Did you previously work in the cable/internet industry or did you do the Franklin D. Roosevelt method and hire a bunch of smart people?

Stephend215 karma

I've always tinkered with everything since I was old enough to hold a screwdriver. I built an ISP previously, dabbled with cable, then dove in head first and figured it out. I made some mistakes but recovered from them.

BlindGuyMcSqueezy68 karma

What drove you completely mad enough to start your own cable company? (Veiled compliment of your bravery)

Stephend217 karma

I was never content working for "the man" and lining his pockets and getting a few peanuts thrown my way every now and then. I saw a need in this community to do something before the company just folded up and went away.

FatBabyBrother7 karma

I used to run a dial up ISP and our key metric was user to modem ratio to limit busy signals (8:1 was the sweet spot) and needed 3 T-1s (yes, the lowly copper T1 ruled back in the day). What kind of 'oversell' do you aim for on a cable system? What does your upstream ratio sit at? A cable service must need OC-3 or better??

Stephend25 karma

everything is ethernet now. We have 250mbps delivered on a gigabit circuit. Upgrading is as easy as turning in a new contract and waiting for provisioning to complete the change.

themegabyte7 karma

Hello, thanks for doing the AMA I am from Pakistan, a country in SE Asia which is still developing its IT infrastructure.

does 5 mbps for one user mean you have to buy 125mbps? Or the lease company uses a different unit or a different method of pricing or how do you calculate your required BW. I have always wondered this.

EDIT: wording

Stephend28 karma

we just watch for trends in usage as a whole, plan accordingly. Once we reach 80% capacity at peak times on a circuit, we start planning an upgrade.

waynster6 karma

What about your backend IT? Just wondered what you were using for billing, CRM

(Used to work for a couple of CATV/Triple play providers back in the day)

Stephend25 karma

in the process of migrating away from Platypus for billing, IBBS/Momentum for provisioning. We are putting the finishing touches on an in house developed system that will integrate everything in one place. We found this to be the much less expensive option. I really liked GLDS, but couldn't justify the cost.

dreadofdemise6 karma

I'm curious about the plant aspect of things. Do you own the system your using or are you leasing it from a larger company? Did you have it built from scratch? Is it coax, copper, or fiber? How do you get channels to see you as a legit cable provider and give you channels to offer your customers?

Stephend26 karma

We own the entire plant. We have pole attachment agreements, we pay yearly rent to the pole owners. It was existing when we purchased the assets of the company, we have done extensive repairs but the majority of the original plant still remains. We have coax and fiber. We have many contracts for all the programming that we provide.

BlindTruth-5 karma

Do you think in the future that isp's will become less oligopolized for the lack of a better word. Where well funded entrepreneurs can open up an isp company in any market just like someone opening up a restaurant?

Stephend25 karma

the problem is the capital required to build the access infrastructure. Anyone can start an ISP now, I don't expect the cost of entry to drop very much for a while.

abadabazachary5 karma

What's your opinion regarding TV White Space, the technology to reach customers without line-of-sight access to your wireless towers?

Stephend27 karma

good idea in theory, still needs more development to become feasible. Speeds attainable right now are not really that great.

shiguma5 karma

Would you say you enjoy owning a cable company, and has it been profitable?

Stephend234 karma

Its been fun. I enjoy being able to do something where the results can be easily seen, we see it in the happiness of our customers which drives our growth in this short period of time. We take customers from satellite all the time, we take internet customers from ATT all the time. I'm not bragging about it, just stating facts. I speak with the local ATT guys regularly, they send me customers that they can't service. We all work together, if they have an outside plant problem like a line falls across the highway, I'm out there with my bucket truck helping them get it up, likewise, they're there if I need an extra hand.

Zonifys5 karma

Did you need to take out any loans to start up your business?

Stephend210 karma

had the previous owners finance the majority of the purchase price.

AlfLives5 karma

I recently got a quote from Comcast to run ~6000 feet of underground cable to connect one house on the outskirts of Denver. They wanted $65,000 just for laying the cable. In your experience, is that a reasonable amount or is that Comcast telling me they don't want the business? Any tips on how to get high speed internet (50+ mbps) in slightly rural areas?

Stephend210 karma

That sounds like a "go away" quote. I just delivered a quote to a customer to do an 8000 ft fiber run to them, it was less than $10k

mediumhydroncollider4 karma

So do you own a small company that makes regular cables, a regular sized company that makes small cables or a own small cable TV station?

Stephend28 karma

Cable TV company that also does internet and phone

IMO4u4 karma

How much of the average cable customer's bill goes to ESPN?

Stephend210 karma

more than it should be.

Kubiedo3 karma

Just curious, and interested in how providers provide internet or upgrade overtime. If you wanted to provide internet like fios (from verizon, but I assume it's fiber optics?), what would you need to do as compared to providing cable? For instance, is it a lot of work to install the lines? Do you have to apply for permits to install lines? Does it cost a lot? Just curious because my area never had cable, but we had fios available. I'm moving now, and only cable is available, no fios.


Stephend26 karma

fiber is still more expensive to build out, has a lot more active electronics out in the field, further driving up the cost. Cable is still the cheapest last mile for now, I suspect that will change in the coming years. We are taking fiber closer and closer to the customer as we can.

QuebecMasterRace3 karma

What's your educational background?

Stephend221 karma

High school dropout, been working since 17. Always had a knack for picking up anything put in front of me, just did it. Never looked back either.

petcson3 karma

Why make a new tv service provider when netflix is a thing?

Stephend24 karma

we picked up an operating provider, I would be scared to launch a new linear TV service these days. Netflix also doesn't have live programming. We have that.

SmilingAnus3 karma

I'm an Att lineman. How do you connect new customers? Do you rent cable from Att or another provider or do you run every cable of your own?

Stephend25 karma

We have our own cable. We own everything from the headend to the customer. Just like ATT owns their outside plant. We coexist on the same poles with you in a lot of places.

wtfxstfu3 karma

My small, local cable company was bought out to a middling cable company which was then bought out by a slightly larger cable company (Atlantic).

When they were small and local the admins would post on the broadbandreport forums and you could ask small questions and whatnot. That's no longer the case.

So here's a random question: I started playing a game (League of Legends) again recently. Probably once every 10 minutes or so I'll get 10 seconds of packet loss (action in game continues around me but my character is unresponsive). I assume the drop is somewhere between my cable company and Riot's servers since not many people complain about this. Is it worth checking in with my cable company or are they more likely to just tell me it's a drop somewhere down the line and tough luck?

Sort of a specific case but I was wondering in general if cable companies had any control/cared enough with traffic routing hops messing things up.

Stephend27 karma

I had a similar situation here with packet loss, ended up being a broken coax up the road that was letting noise in the return path. Usually intermittent problems like that will be upstream rf related.

ClarkW_Griswold3 karma

Do you ever see cable becoming "a la carte"? That's one of the biggest turn offs for me... paying for 250 channels, and I might watch 15 to 20 of them.

Stephend25 karma

programming contracts prohibit a la carte...I wish they didn't

monzzter2213 karma

Do you have your own tap on the side of your house?

Stephend25 karma

Nope, I'm on a regular drop off the regular line in the neighborhood just like everyone else.

calmdownlad3 karma

Was this your first business and if so how has your first year of ownership been? Any advice for people wanting to start their own business?

Stephend27 karma

This is my first where I've been the owner. It's been fun, maybe a little stressful at times. I can't stress enough to do your research on the market you're looking to enter and come up with a solid business plan.

ph3l0n2 karma

You are the one who just hooked up your first customer aren't you? I asked a question on where I can find information on where to start but never heard anything back? I also live in a rural area and I have been looking into trying to do EXACTLY what you are doing. Any help, pointers, etc on where to start I would absolutely love.

Stephend214 karma

I don't think that was me, what all are you looking to do ? That's really more than I can answer in this small space, send me a PM with some contact info, I'd be glad to have a conversation about it.

geraldineparsonsmith1 karma

What experience did you have in this area before deciding to go into business? Thanks for doing the AMA; I'm interested in everyone else's questions, too.

Stephend22 karma

I want to make an honest, good living for my family. Working for someone else was not making that happen. I did a lot of studying on what I was getting into and decided to go.

beernsleep1 karma

Did you start the company or just buy it? How big is it - how many cities do you offer your service and how many employees do you have?

Finally, how does cable "work?" Do you negotiate contracts with stations (NBC, FOX, etc.) and then just provide connection to those stations?

Stephend22 karma

purchased the assets. Passes ~2200 servicable addresses, we are a member of NCTC, get a lot of programming through their coop agreements, have some direct agreements as well. We have direct agreements with all the local broadcast stations and pay them per subscriber for access. We receive all the off air locals with antennas on a tower, everything else is satellite delivered.


How small are we talking? If I wanted to buy a 3mm cable could you hook me up?

Stephend25 karma

3mm would have an awful amount of loss at 550mhz...probably wouldn't work.

dade_1496-2 karma

Hello ,

I am in need of a service for abroad TV watching. does your service able to stream online all channels I need ??


Stephend21 karma

Such a service would not be possible, legally speaking. We are not permitted to distribute anything outside our cable system.

Uoop-2 karma

65 dollars is steep for basic cable, no? I was paying like 20 for basic through Comcast, but it had nothing I wanted. No Cartoon Network, no TBS, just a random group of channels and the normal Fox,NBC, etc.

Stephend21 karma

what is stated as basic on the website is actually what would be expanded basic. We are about to launch a lifeline package in January. If you look at our lineup, that $65 price includes everything but HBO, MAX, SHO, TMC which are premiums for an additional charge.

mirc00-2 karma

  • Favourite food?
  • Best beverage?
  • Bong or pipe?

Stephend26 karma

whatever my wife cooks, water, neither