SkyFILES: Broadband Blues


Supporting Founder
Original poster
Supporting Founder
Sep 8, 2003
Las Vegas, Nevada
From our friends at

Mediacom has become the easiest top 10 MSO target for DBS operators looking for a cable customer or two.

Thanks to the debut of satellite-delivered local TV packages in key Mediacom markets, the operator has suffered subscriber losses. Some analysts suggest satellite-based local-into-local reaches 64 percent of Mediacom's footprint.

The company is looking to turn its fortunes around, and has increased marketing spending by more than 45 percent in the third quarter in an effort to retain basic customers. And this week, Mediacom became a stronger competitor with news that it would double speeds for its online high-speed Internet customers.

We're not saying that more marketing spending and faster broadband speeds are the only things that will save Mediacom from its DBS nemesis. But given that Mediacom has a bulk of its systems in non-metropolitan markets, enhancing the high-speed portion of its business could only complicate matters for that still-nascent satellite industry: Broadband

At the moment, the price for satellite broadband comes somewhat close (but close enough?) to the wired competition.

StarBand offers its "Starter Plan" for $39.99 a month for up to 250 kbps downstream, yet the equipment costs $699. Other plans run from $49.99 to $99.99 a month for up to 500 kbps, with equipment prices between $199 and $699, depending on package.

On the cable side, Comcast offers broadband for $42.95 a month for speeds up to 25 times faster than a dial-up connection, and consumers have the option to buy or lease equipment. A Motorola SURFboard cable modem can be bought for $59.99.

Still, even with the price comparisons, satellite broadband may lose the argument that it can deliver to areas where wired broadband can't reach.

Rural phone companies - and even some of the bigger regional bells - are getting DSL to outlying areas. Wireless technology, a big favorite among the folks at the Federal Communications Commission, also may get undeserved areas connected to the Internet.

And cable modems are making inroads into rural areas. SkyFILES has touted the virtues of Spring Creek Cable, a small operator located on the remote Western Slope of Colorado. The locally-owned company is delivering broadband service (speeds between 128 kpbs and 512 kbps) for between $39.95 and $39.95 a month.

And now Mediacom is doubling its broadband speeds for its customers.

The rural U.S. may remain stranded on a digital divide, but the services are coming to remote parts of the country. Question is, will the dish beat the wire to deliver service to underserved areas? Or will satellite broadband continue its stumble into the Internet access business?

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My sister-in-law and her family in Rancho Murrietta CA have MediaCom and they couldn't be happier with it. They have broadband over cable modem for $39.95/mo. I don't know what kind of speed they are getting but they have nothing but good things to say about it. Satellite has a better penetration where I live in a city of 250,000 than out there in the country where they live.

A larger dish...?

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