Adelphia/Comcast change disrupts internet service
As of this week, Comcast is officially the Island provider of cable and Internet services, but for many Island subscribers the transition was problematic. Several customers said they experienced difficulty sending e-mails and accessing the Internet starting on Sunday, and got little help when they called customer service.
Comcast started to implement their cable services last week, and Internet this week, replacing Adelphia Communications, which has served the Island for the past 11 years.
Comcast officials spoke with The Times last week and said Internet customers would be receiving an e-mail alerting them to the transition. The e-mail was supposed to contain a link leading customers to an online migration tool, which would instruct them to choose a new e-mail address and transition their address book over to the new domain.
Several Island subscribers said they never received that e-mail, and Comcast spokesperson Marc Goodman confirmed Tuesday that he was not sure that the e-mail had been sent out.
Mr. Goodman said there were no major outages in service this week, and that the customers who were having trouble on Martha's Vineyard may have individual problems with their equipment.
Stephen Warriner of MVTV said he was not able to access the Internet at all on Monday. He said the Comcast customer service representative he spoke with told him that it was his computer that needs repair, and so he bought a new modem. Mr. Warriner said after hooking up the new modem the Internet was still not functioning.
Tisbury ambulance coordinator Jeff Pratt said that when he came into his office Monday morning his computer displayed a "Welcome to Comcast" page, but would go no further. When he called customer service, he said he was transferred about 10 times to various Comcast and Adelphia extensions.
"After 35- and 40-minute hold times, they're claiming this needs to be transferred, and this needs to be pushed, and that needs to be registered," Mr. Pratt said in frustration. As of yesterday, his Internet service was still not working.
Matt Hobart, the winter caretaker at the Youth Hostel in West Tisbury, said their Internet connection was completely down this weekend. As of yesterday, they appeared to be back in service.
Mr. Hobart said when he called the Adelphia customer service number he was routed to a Comcast representative, who attributed the loss in service to the migration. There are three computers hooked up to the Internet and a Wi-Fi system at the Youth Hostel, and none of them were functioning.
Other subscribers said they had problems with the Adelphia customer service representatives saying it was now Comcast, and the Comcast extensions telling them it was still under Adelphia's jurisdiction.
According to news reports, similar problems have occurred in Los Angeles and Minneapolis when those cities went through the transition this month.
In June of 2002, Adelphia Communications filed a $24 billion bankruptcy claim, which did not alter Island service at the time. On July 31 of this year, Comcast and Time Warner Cable Inc. closed a deal in which Comcast gained control of certain Adelphia franchises, including the one on Martha's Vineyard, which has approximately 9,000 subscribers.
Comcast is headquartered in Philadelphia and employs 80,000 people nationwide. It is the largest cable provider in the country, with a total of 24.1 million cable customers, 11 million high-speed Internet customers, and 2.1 million voice customers.
Brian Roberts, chairman and chief executive of Comcast, is a West Tisbury summer resident.
Starting with small changes such as new decals on trucks and working up to advanced products like digital telephone service, Comcast is beginning to implement their brand and services on Martha's Vineyard. Nineteen other former Adelphia communities in Southeastern Massachusetts are going through the transition process, including Duxbury, Pembroke, and Bourne.
Comcast regional vice president Tom Coughlin spoke with The Times last week, discussing various changes and upgrades that Island customers will start to notice within the next few months.
"We're working diligently out in the field to bring the network, the cable plant, the lines on the poles, the electronics, the fiber optic cables, to bring all that up to Comcast standards," Mr. Coughlin said. "We're hardening the plant. We want the plant out there to be as reliable and high-performing as possible."
He said changes began last week, and full implementation should be complete by early next year.
While Comcast has no plans to alter the channel lineup or pricing system for cable customers, the company will offer expanded cable packages, enhanced high-speed Internet, On Demand and Digital Voice, Comcast's digital telephone calling system.
Island customers will have many choices for cable service. Basic and standard cable service, which offer local news, area sports coverage and various cable channels, costs $15.80 and $57.42 per month respectively. These Comcast prices are the same as the current Adelphia rates.
With digital service, customers can choose from Digital Preferred and Digital Classic, priced at $60.70 and $68.12 per month, respectively. With these two options, viewers can utilize the On Demand service, in addition to news, movie and cable channels.
In comparison, a Comcast subscriber in Boston can choose from basic cable plans starting at $8.20 a month, and expand to the Digital Platinum plan with On Demand option, which offers a complete cable lineup including five premium movie networks for $102.86 a month.
Another feature new to the Island is Comcast's "bundling" service, which offers customers the opportunity to purchase cable, Internet, and phone service together for a reduced price. For $99 per month, customers can get the "triple play bundle" which includes cable, Internet, and Digital Voice.
Comcast Digital Voice, which was first rolled out to Comcast customers nationwide last year, is a digital telephone service with unlimited local and long-distance calling to anywhere in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Priced at $39.99 as a stand-alone service, features such as caller ID, call forwarding and voice mail are included at no additional cost. It will be available to Island customers in January.