Comcast

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Comcast Corporation
TypePublic
Traded asNASDAQCMCSA, CMCSK
NASDAQ-100 Component
S&P 500 Component
IndustryTelecommunications
Mass media
FoundedTupelo, Mississippi,
United States
(June 28, 1963)
Founder(s)Ralph J. Roberts
Daniel Aaron
Julian A. Brodsky
HeadquartersOne Comcast Center
1701 John F Kennedy Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19103-2838[1]
Area servedWorldwide[2]
Key peopleBrian L. Roberts
(Chairman, President, & CEO)
Michael Angelakis [3]
(Vice Chairman, CFO)
ProductsCable television
Broadband internet
VoIP phone
Television broadcasting
Motion pictures
Radio broadcasting
Sports franchising
Theme parks
Venture capital
RevenueIncrease US$ 64.657 billion (2013)[4]
Operating incomeIncrease US$ 13.563 billion (2013)[4]
Net incomeIncrease US$ 6.816 billion (2013)[4]
Total assetsIncrease US$ 158.813 billion (2013)[4]
Total equityIncrease US$ 50.694 billion (2013)[4]
Employees136,000 (Dec 2013)[4]
SubsidiariesComcast Cable Communications[5]
NBCUniversal (100%)
Comcast Business
Comcast Spectacor (63%)
Comcast Interactive Media
Comcast Ventures[6]
Websitecorporate.comcast.com
 
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Comcast Corporation
TypePublic
Traded asNASDAQCMCSA, CMCSK
NASDAQ-100 Component
S&P 500 Component
IndustryTelecommunications
Mass media
FoundedTupelo, Mississippi,
United States
(June 28, 1963)
Founder(s)Ralph J. Roberts
Daniel Aaron
Julian A. Brodsky
HeadquartersOne Comcast Center
1701 John F Kennedy Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19103-2838[1]
Area servedWorldwide[2]
Key peopleBrian L. Roberts
(Chairman, President, & CEO)
Michael Angelakis [3]
(Vice Chairman, CFO)
ProductsCable television
Broadband internet
VoIP phone
Television broadcasting
Motion pictures
Radio broadcasting
Sports franchising
Theme parks
Venture capital
RevenueIncrease US$ 64.657 billion (2013)[4]
Operating incomeIncrease US$ 13.563 billion (2013)[4]
Net incomeIncrease US$ 6.816 billion (2013)[4]
Total assetsIncrease US$ 158.813 billion (2013)[4]
Total equityIncrease US$ 50.694 billion (2013)[4]
Employees136,000 (Dec 2013)[4]
SubsidiariesComcast Cable Communications[5]
NBCUniversal (100%)
Comcast Business
Comcast Spectacor (63%)
Comcast Interactive Media
Comcast Ventures[6]
Websitecorporate.comcast.com

Comcast Corporation is the largest mass media and communications company in the world by revenue.[2] It is the largest cable company and home Internet service provider in the United States[7], and the nation's third largest home telephone service provider. Comcast services residential and commercial customers in 40 US states and the District of Columbia.[8] The company is headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Comcast has grown into a Fortune 100 company with 24.1 million customers and 100,000 employees.[citation needed]

As the owner of the international media company NBCUniversal since 2011,[9][10][11][12] Comcast is also a producer of film and television contents, operates cable channels (E! Entertainment Television, the Golf Channel, and NBCSN), national channels (NBC and Telemundo), the major film studio Universal Pictures, and Universal Parks & Resorts.[13] Comcast also has significant holding in digital distribution (ThePlatform). In February 2014 the company agreed to merge with Time Warner Cable in an equity swap deal worth $45.2 billion. Under the terms of the agreement Comcast is to acquire 100% of Time Warner Cable.[14]

Comcast has been the subject of criticism for activities including its stance on net neutrality,[15][16] as well as poor results on customer satisfaction surveys.[17][18]

Overview[edit]

Corporate offices[edit]

One Comcast Center, the headquarters of Comcast in Philadelphia, PA.

Comcast is headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and also has corporate offices in Atlanta, Detroit, Denver, and Manchester, New Hampshire.[19] On January 3, 2005, Comcast announced that it would become the anchor tenant in the new Comcast Center in downtown Philadelphia. The 975 ft (297 m) skyscraper is the tallest building in Pennsylvania.

Employee relations[edit]

Comcast had been rated highly in "top places to work" lists. In 2009, it was listed in CableFAX magazine's "Top 10 Places to Work in Cable", which cited its "scale, savvy and vision".[20] Similarly, the Philadelphia Business Journal awarded Comcast the silver medal among extra-large companies in Philadelphia, with the gold medal going to partner organization, Comcast-Spectacor.[21][22] The Boston Globe found Comcast to be that city's top place to work in 2009.[23] Employee diversity is also an attribute upon which Comcast receives strong marks. In 2008, Black Enterprise magazine rated Comcast among the top 15 companies for workforce diversity.[24]

Despite high ratings in these fields, Comcast has earned a reputation for being "anti-union". According to one of the company's training manuals, "Comcast does not feel union representation is in the best interest of its employees, customers, or shareholders".[citation needed] A dispute in 2004 with CWA, a labor union that represented many employees at Comcast's offices in Beaverton, Oregon, led to allegations of management intimidating workers, requiring them to attend anti-union meetings and unwarranted disciplinary action for union members.[25] In 2011, Comcast received criticism from Writers Guild of America for its policies in regards to unions.[26]

Branding[edit]

Previous Comcast logos

Comcast logo from 1969 to 1999 when it was replaced with the crescent logo
A variation of the Comcast logo used between 1999 and 2012
Current Xfinity logo

In 2010, Comcast began promoting Xfinity, the company's rebranded trademark for triple play services in Comcast's largest markets, including the company's digital cable, cable Internet access, and cable telephone services and radio.[27] Comcast Digital Cable was renamed "Xfinity TV", Comcast Digital Voice became "Xfinity Voice", and Comcast High Speed Internet became "Xfinity Internet". Comcast Business Services remains under the "Comcast" name.[28] A marketing push involving the new Xfinity brand took place during the 2010 Winter Olympics coverage on NBC, which was in the early stages of a merger with Comcast.[29]

The Xfinity rebranding has been controversial as a purported effort to sidestep the negativity of the Comcast brand.[30][31][32] In February 2010, TIME listed Xfinity at number 2 in their Top 10 Worst Corporate Name Changes list.[33]

Financial performance[edit]

The book value of the company nearly doubled from $8.19 a share in 1999 to $15 a share in 2009. Revenues grew sixfold from 1999's $6 billion to almost $36 billion in 2009. Net profit margin rose from 4.2% in 1999 to 8.4% in 2009, with operating margins improving 31 percent and return on equity doubling to 6.7 percent in the same time span. Between 1999 and 2009, return on capital nearly tripled to 7 percent.[34]

Comcast reported first quarter 2012 profit increases of 30% due to increase in high-speed internet customers.[35] Comcast saw 7% rate increase on cable services in 2012.[36]

Lobbying efforts[edit]

With $18.8 million spent in 2013, Comcast has the seventh largest lobbying budget of any individual company or organization in the United States.[37] Comcast employs multiple former US Congressmen as lobbyists.[38]

History[edit]

Early history (1963-1990)[edit]

In 1963, Ralph J. Roberts purchased American Cable Systems[39] as a corporate spin-off from its parent, Jerrold Electronics, for US $500,000. At the time, American Cable was a small cable operator in Tupelo, Mississippi with five channels and 15,000 customers.[40] Other early figures include Daniel Aaron, Julian A. Brodsky, and Pete Musser.

The company was incorporated in Pennsylvania in 1969, under the new name Comcast Corporation.[41] The name "Comcast" is a portmanteau of the words "Communication" and "Broadcast".[42] Comcast's initial public offering occurred on Jun 29, 1972, with a market capitalization of US $3,010,000.[43]

Comcast bought 26% of Group W Cable in 1986, doubling its number of subscribers to 1 million.[44][45] Although Comcast lost a bidding war with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts to buy Storer Communications in 1985, in 1988, it was able to buy a 50% share of the company's assets in a joint deal with Tele-Communications.[46] Comcast also acquired American Cellular Network Corporation in 1988 for $230 million,[47] marking the first time it became a mobile phone operator. Comcast combined with Metrophone in 1990.

Increasing market share (1990-2000)[edit]

In February 1990, Ralph Roberts' son, Brian L. Roberts, succeeded his father as president of Comcast.[48]

In 1994, Comcast became the third largest cable operator in the Untied States with around 3.5 million subscribers following its purchase of Maclean-Hunter's American division for $1.27 billion.[45][49] Following a bid in 1994 for $2.1 billion, Comcast increased its ownership of QVC 15.5% of stock to a majority, in a move to prevent QVC from merging with CBS.[50] Comcast later sold its QVC shares in 2004 to Liberty Media for $7.9 billion.[51]

Comcast offered internet connection for the first time in 1996, with its part in the launch of the @Home Network.[52] When Excite@Home went bankrupt in 2002, Comcast took over providing internet directly to consumers.[53] Comcast purchased Sarasota Online from Richard Swier.[citation needed] Microsoft invested $1 billion in Comcast in 1997.[54]

In February 1998, Comcast sold its UK division to NTL for US $600 million, along with the division's $397 million in debt.[55] Additionally, Comcast sold their cellular division to SBC Communications in 1999 for $400 million, releasing them from $1.27 billion in debt.[56]

Comcast acquired the Greater Philadelphia Cablevision in 1999.[45] In March 1999, Comcast offered to buy MediaOne for $60 billion.[57] However, MediaOne decided to accept AT&T Corporation's offer of $62 billion instead.[58]

Largest US cable provider (2001-present)[edit]

Proposed merger name logo, 2001

In 2001, Comcast announced it would acquire the assets of the largest cable television operator at the time, AT&T Broadband, for US$44.5 billion.[59] The proposed name for the merged company was "AT&T Comcast", but the companies ultimately decided to keep only the Comcast name. In 2002, Comcast acquired all assets of AT&T Broadband, thus making Comcast the largest cable television company in the United States with over 22 million subscribers.[59][60] This also spurred the start of Comcast Advertising Sales (using AT&T's groundwork) which would later be renamed Comcast Spotlight. As part of this acquisition, Comcast also acquired the National Digital Television Center in Centennial, Colorado as a wholly owned subsidiary, which is today known as the Comcast Media Center.

On February 11, 2004, Comcast announced a $54 billion bid for The Walt Disney Company, as well as taking on $12 billion of Disney's debt. The deal would have made Comcast the largest media conglomerate in the world.[61][62] However, after rejection by Disney and uncertain response from investors, the bid was abandoned in April.[63] It was later discovered that the deal was mostly for Comcast to acquire one of Disney's most profitable operations, ESPN.[citation needed]

On April 8, 2005, a partnership led by Comcast and Sony Pictures Entertainment finalized a deal to acquire MGM and its affiliate studio, United Artists, and create an additional outlet to carry MGM/UA's material for cable and Internet distribution.[64][65] On October 31, 2005, Comcast officially announced that it had acquired Susquehanna Communications a York, PA-based cable television and broadband services provider and unit of the former Susquehanna Pfaltzgraff company, for $775 million cash.[66][67] In this deal Comcast acquired approximately 230,000 basic cable customers, 71,000 digital cable customers, and 86,000 high-speed Internet customers. Comcast previously owned approximately 30 percent of Susquehanna Communications through affiliate company Lenfest.[66] In December 2005, Comcast announced the creation of Comcast Interactive Media, a new division focused on online media.

In July 2006, Comcast purchased the Seattle-based software company thePlatform. This represented an entry into a new line of business – selling software to allow companies to manage their Internet (and IP-based) media publishing efforts.

On April 3, 2007, Comcast announced it had entered into an agreement to acquire the cable systems owned and operated by Patriot Media, a privately held company owned by cable veteran Steven J. Simmons, Spectrum Equity Investors and Spire Capital, that serves approximately 81,000 video subscribers. Comcast will acquire Patriot for a net cash investment of approximately $483 million.[68] By acquiring the niche provider the deal will plug a hole in its central New Jersey service.[69]

Comcast announced in May 2007[70] and launched in September 2008 a dashboard called SmartZone.[71] Hewlett-Packard led "design, creation and management". Collaboration and unified messaging technology came from open-source vendor Zimbra.[70] "SmartZone users will be able to send and receive e-mail, listen to their voicemail messages online and forward that information via e-mail to others, send instant messages and video instant messages and merge their contacts into one address book".[70] There is also Cloudmark spam and phishing protection and Trend Micro antivirus.[70] The address book is Comcast Plaxo software.[70]

In May 2008 Comcast purchased Plaxo for a reported $150 million to $170 million.[72]

Comcast won the Consumerist Worst Company In America ("Golden Poo") award in 2010.[73] A gold trophy in the shape of a pile of human feces was delivered to Comcast Corporate Headquarters to commemorate the unmatched level of enmity flowing from their customer base to their business. Competitor Verizon congratulated Comcast on their award via the Verizon Twitter feed. Comcast immediately publicly acknowledged the award, claiming ongoing efforts to improve their customer service.[74]

Adelphia purchase[edit]

In April 2005, Comcast and Time Warner Cable announced plans to buy the assets of bankrupted Adelphia Cable.[75] The two companies paid a total of $17.6 billion in the deal that was finalized in the second quarter of 2006—after the FCC completed a seven-month investigation without raising an objection.[76] Time Warner Cable became the second largest cable provider in the U.S., ranking behind Comcast. As part of the deal, Time Warner and Comcast traded existing subscribers in order to consolidate them into larger geographic clusters.[77][78]

In August 2006, Comcast and Time Warner dissolved a 50/50 partnership that controlled the systems in the Houston, Southwest Texas, San Antonio, and Kansas City markets under the Time Warner brand. After the dissolution, Comcast obtained the Houston system, and Time Warner retained the others.[79] On January 1, 2007, Comcast officially took control of the Houston system, but continued to operate under the Time Warner Cable brand until June 19, 2007.

NBCUniversal[edit]

NBCUNI logo

Following a tentative agreement,[80] Comcast and GE formally announced an agreement to for Comcast buying a 51% stake in NBC Universal for $6.5 billion in December 2009.[81][82] GE would take over the remaining 49% stake in NBCUniversal. Comcast will also contribute $7.5 billion in programming including regional sports networks and cable channels such as Golf Channel and E! Entertainment Television. GE plans to use some of the funds, $5.8 billion, to buy out Vivendi's 20% minority stake in NBCUniversal.[82] After the transaction completes, Comcast will reserve the right to buy out GE's share at certain times. GE will also reserve the right to force the sale of their stake within the first seven years. Regulators approved the proposed sale on January 18, 2011. With the completion of the sale by January 28, 2011, Comcast owned 51% of NBCUniversal and GE owned 49%.[9][82][83][84] Roberts is part of NBCUniversal's board of directors. On March 19, 2013, Comcast purchased the remaining 49% of NBCUniversal.[11][85]

Media outlets began reporting in late September 2009 that Comcast was in talks to buy NBCUniversal. Comcast denied the rumors at first, while NBC would not comment on them.[86] However, CNBC itself reported on October 1 that General Electric was considering spinning NBCUniversal off into a separate company that would merge the NBC television network and its cable properties such as USA Network, Syfy and MSNBC with Comcast's content assets. GE would maintain 49% control of the new company, while Comcast owned 51%.[87][88] Vivendi, which owns 20%, would have to sell its stake to GE. It was reported that under the current deal with GE that it would happen in November or December.[89][90] It was also reported that Time Warner would be interested in placing a bid, until CEO Jeffrey L. Bewkes directly denied interest,[91] leaving Comcast the sole bidder.

On November 1, 2009, The New York Times reported Comcast had moved closer to a deal to purchase NBCUniversal and that a formal announcement could be made sometime the following week.[92] On December 3, 2009, the parties announced that Comcast will take a controlling 51% stake in NBCUniversal.[93] On January 18, 2011, the FCC approved the deal by a vote of 4 to 1.[94] The sale was completed on January 28, 2011.[95][96][97] In late December 2012, Comcast added the NBC peacock symbol to their new logo.[98] On February 12, 2013, Comcast announced an intention to acquire the remaining 49% of General Electric's interest in NBCUniversal.[99][100] Comcast completed the purchase on March 19, 2013.[11][12]

Time Warner Cable[edit]

On February 12, 2014, it was reported that Comcast was seeking to acquire Time Warner Cable in a deal valued at $45.2 billion.[101] On February 13, it was reported that Time Warner Cable agreed to the acquisition.[102] This will add several metropolitan areas to the Comcast portfolio, such as New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Charlotte, San Diego, and San Antonio.[103] Time Warner Cable and Comcast aim to merge into one company by the end of 2014. The deal has yet to receive regulatory approval from the FCC. Critics have noted that the head of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, is the former head of both the largest cable lobbying organization, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, as well as largest wireless lobby, CTIA – The Wireless Association.[104][105]

Services[edit]

Internet provider[edit]

Comcast began offering internet services in late 1996, when it helped found the @Home Network, which sold internet service through Comcast's cable lines. The agreement continued after @Home's merger with Excite.[52] When the combined company Excite@Home filed for bankruptcy in 2002, Comcast moved their roughly 950,000 internet customers completely onto their own network.[53]

As of Jun 30, 2013, Comcast has 19.986 million high-speed internet customers.[106] According to the Comcast High Speed Internet terms of service, residential customers are provided with dynamic IP addresses.[107] Comcast's "PowerBoost" delivers bursts for all but their highest-end and lowest-end tiers, allowing subscribers to use all excess cable node capacity to speed up the first few seconds of downloads.

In 2008, Comcast moved to a data cap system, in which customers whose usage exceeded 250GB would have their bandwidth capped. A spokesperson stated that this policy had been in place for some time, but was the first time Comcast has announced a specific usage limit.[108] As the cap provoked a strongly negative reaction from some,[109] Comcast decided to modify its policy in 2012. Under the new system, the cap was increased to 300GB, and consumers who exceed the limit are charged $10 for every 50GB above the limit.[110][111]

Currently available Comcast High-Speed Internet Plans: (pricing varies slightly)

NameDownload SpeedUpload SpeedDOCSIS VersionPrice (excluding promotions)
Economy1.5 Mbit/s384 kbit/s1.1, 2.0, 3.0$24.95/mo.[112]
Economy Plus3.5 Mbit/s768 kbit/s1.1, 2.0, 3.0$39.95/mo.[113]
Performance Starter6 Mbit/s1 Mbit/s1.1, 2.0, 3.0$49.95/mo.[113]
Performance20-25 Mbit/s4-5 Mbit/s2.0, 3.0$59.95/mo.[113]
Blast!50 Mbit/s10 Mbit/s3.0$69.95/mo.[113]
Extreme 105105 Mbit/s20 Mbit/s3.0$114.95/mo.[113]
Extreme 505505 Mbit/s105 Mbit/sMetro ethernet[114]$399.95/mo.[115]

Speeds are given in megabits per second, where 1 megabit = 0.125 megabytes = 125000 bytes.

Along with the price of internet subscriptions, Comcast charges users an additional $7.95/month for to rent a cable modem.[116] This fee has been seen by some as unfair,[116][117] but is waived for customers who buy their own modems.[118] Comcast charges $20 for internet installation,[119] but the fee is waived for customers who opt to install themselves.[120]

In 2011, Comcast launched its "Internet Essentials" program Comcast offers low-cost internet service to families with children who qualify for free or reduced price school lunches. The plan launched at $10 per month, with discounts on a computer and free training are also provided.[121][122] The FCC required this budget service as a condition for allowing Comcast's acquisition of NBCUniversal in January 2011.[121] About 100,000 households in urban areas were being served by the program as of January 2013.[123] A similar program is available from other internet providers through the non-profit Connect2compete.org.[123][124] Comcast has stated that the program will accept new customers for a total of three years.[121]

Network management and peering[edit]

In September 2007, a rumor emerged among tech blogs that Comcast was throttling or even blocking internet traffic transmitted via the BitTorrent protocol.[125] Comcast vehemently denied the accusations of blocking traffic, stating that "Comcast does not, has not, and will not block any Web sites or online applications, including peer-to-peer services", and that "We engage in reasonable network management".[126] After more widespread confirmation that Comcast was throttling Bittorrent traffic,[127] Comcast said it occasionally delayed BitTorrent traffic in order to speed up other kinds of data, but declined to go into specifics.[128] Following the announcement of an official investigation by the FCC,[129] Comcast voluntarily ended the traffic discrimination.[130] The FCC investigation concluded that Comcast's throttling policies were illegal.[131] However, Comcast ultimately won an appeal of the decision in 2010, with the court ruling that the FCC lacked the authority to enforce net neutrality under the FCC's current regulatory policy. The court suggested instead of its current framework, the FCC move to a common carrier structure to justify its enforcement.[132] As of February 2014, the FCC has announced a new justification,[133] but avoided the more extensive regulation required by the common carrier framework.[134]

In 2010, Netflix signed an agreement with Level 3 Communications to carry its data. Shortly after, Level 3 entered a heated dispute concerning whether Level 3 would have to pay Comcast to bridge their respective networks, in an agreement known as peering.[135] The disagreement continued as Netflix's current carrier, Cogent Communications, explicitly placed blame for Netflix bottlenecks on Comcast and several other ISPs.[136] In February 2014, after rumors surfaced that Comcast and Netflix had reached an unspecified agreement,[137] the companies confirmed that Netflix was paying Comcast to connect to its network.[138]

Land line telephone[edit]

Comcast has transitioned from traditional land line service to voip style delivery. Beginning in 2005, Comcast launched its voip Comcast Digital Voice.[139] As of the end of 2013, Comcast has 10.7 million voice customers.[140]

At the start of 2012, Comcast stood as the United States' third-largest residential telephone provider.[141] At that time the company supplied 9.34 million residential telephone lines.[141]

NameDescriptionPrice (excluding promotions)
Voice Local With MoreUnlimited local calls, long distance 5¢/min. inside the US$34.95/mo.[142]
Voice UnlimitedUnlimited calls inside the US$44.95/mo.

Cable television[edit]

Comcast not only delivers third-party television programming content to its own customers, but also produces its own first-party content both for subscribers and customers of other competing television services. Fully or partially owned Comcast programming includes Comcast Newsmakers, Comcast Network, Comcast SportsNet, SportsNet New York, MLB Network, Comcast Sports Southeast/Charter Sports Southeast, NBC Sports Network, The Golf Channel, AZN Television, and FEARnet. On May 19, 2009, Disney and ESPN announced an agreement to allow Comcast Corporation to carry the channels ESPNU and ESPN3.[143] The U.S. Olympic Committee and Comcast intended to team up to create The U.S. Olympic Network, which was slated to launch after the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games.[144] These plans were then put on hold by the U.S. Olympic Committee.[145] The U.S. Olympic Committee and Comcast have ended the plans to create The U.S. Olympic Network.[146]

Comcast's content networks and investments also include E!, Esquire Network, Golf Channel, NBC Sports Network, Sprout, TV One, G4 (defunct) and the regional Comcast SportsNets. When Comcast took majority ownership in NBCUniversal, significant number of cable networks were added to this list. Comcast's NHL deal obligated them to create a U.S. version of NHL Network, launched in October 2007.

Local Channels:

Comcast's cable television customers peaked in 2007, with about 24.8 million customers.[147] Since then, Comcast has lost customers every year, with the first quarterly gain in customers since their peak occurring in the fourth quarter of 2013.[148] As of the end of 2013, Comcast serves a total of 21.7 million cable customers.[140] Comcast has managed to increase its cable revenues in the same period, going from $23.7 billion in 2007[149] to $48.1 billion in 2013.[150] The average cost Comcast's Digital Basic cable subscription has increased from $39.04 in 2003 to $67.49 in 2012.[151]

NameDescription
Digital StarterAround 80 channels
Digital PreferredAround 160 channels
Digital PremierAround 200 channels

In addition to the prices of subscriptions, since July 2012, Comcast has charged charges a Regulatory Recovery Fee of varying size in order to "recover additional costs associated with governmental programs."[152] Beginning in January 2014, Comcast also charges a $1.50 Broadcast TV Fee to “defray the rising costs of retransmitting broadcast television signals.”[153]

Retransmission fees[edit]

Beginning in the mid 2000s, television stations increasingly required cable companies like Comcast to pay retransmission fees in exchange for permission to broadcast their content.[154] (historically, TV broadcasters made money almost exclusively through advertising) These fees have been the subject of heated negotiation between broadcasters and distributors, with a few high profile blackouts prompting the FCC to publicly express serious concern in 2011.[155] Comcast currently has ten year agreements with CBS[156] and Disney,[157] as well as deals with Fox[158] and others, but the financial details of these deals are not public. Based on professional estimates, ESPN charges $5.06 to transmit their channel per viewer. However, most channels charge much less.[159]

Since the rise of retransmission fees, distributors like Comcast pay substantial fees for retransmitting broadcast television, which is free over the air for consumers. Comcast has instated a $1.50 Broadcast TV Fee to cover part of the cost of getting permission from stations to retransmit the free stations, itemized separately for consumers. Comcast's subsidiary, NBCUniversal, is one of several broadcasters currently in legal dispute with Aereo, over the question of whether the company is a retransmitter (which would require it to pay retransmission fees).[160] The case is currently set to appear before the US Supreme Court.[161]

Home security and automation[edit]

Comcast now offers a home security and home automation service known as Xfinity Home, in some of its service areas. This service provides residential customers a monitored burglar and fire alarm, surveillance cameras, and home automation.[162]

Business services[edit]

In addition to residential consumers, Comcast also serves businesses as customers, targeting both small businesses with fewer than 20 employees and also mid-sized businesses of 20–500 employees.[163] In 2009, Minneapolis–Saint Paul became the first city in which Comcast Business Class offered 100 Mbit/s Internet service, which includes Microsoft Communication Services.[164] Comcast Business Class Internet service does not have a bandwidth usage cap.[165][166]

Comcast Business services were initially sold exclusively through direct sales employees. In March 2011, Comcast created an indirect sales channel called the Solution Provider Program, a comprehensive indirect channel program that enables telecommunications consultants and system integrators to sell Comcast’s services such as Business Class Internet, Voice, and high-capacity Ethernet services to small and mid-market businesses. The program offers recurring commissions for sales partners based on monthly revenue, and Comcast will provide, install, manage and bill for these services. For the initial launch of the Solutions Provider Program, Comcast enlisted three national master representatives—Telarus, based in Salt Lake City, Utah; Intelisys, based in Petaluma, California; and Telecom Brokerage Inc (TBI), based in Chicago. Sub-agent sales partners must work with one of these three partners in the early stages of the program.[167] The head of the Comcast Business indirect sales channel is Craig Schlagbaum, former head of the Level 3 Communications channel.[168]

Professional sports[edit]

In 1996, Comcast bought a controlling stake in Spectacor from the company's founder, Ed Snider.[169] Comcast-Spectacor holdings now include the Philadelphia Flyers NHL hockey team, the Philadelphia 76ers NBA basketball team and two large multipurpose arenas in Philadelphia. Over a number of years, Comcast became majority owner of Comcast SportsNet, as well as the Golf Channel and NBC Sports Network (formerly the Outdoor Life Network, then Versus). In 2002, Comcast paid the University of Maryland $25 million for naming rights to the new basketball arena built on the College Park campus, named Comcast Center.

Venture capital[edit]

Comcast founded its first venture capital fund in January 1999, as Comcast Interactive Capital.[170] Around 2011, following the 2009 Comcast NBC merger, Comcast Interactive Capital was merged withThe Peacock Equity Fund, the venture capital subsidiary of NBC Universal.[171] The combined company, Comcast Ventures, backs various companies such as FanDuel[172] and Vox Media,[173] for example.

Criticism and controversy[edit]

Comcast service van, Ypsilanti Township, Michigan

In 2004 and 2007, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) survey found that Comcast had the worst customer satisfaction rating of any company or government agency in the country, including the Internal Revenue Service. The ACSI indicates that almost half of all cable customers (regardless of company) have registered complaints, and that cable is the only industry to score below 60 in the ACSI.[174] Comcast's Customer Service Rating by the ACSI surveys indicate that the company's customer service has not improved since the surveys began in 2001. Analysis of the surveys states that "Comcast is one of the lowest scoring companies in ACSI. As its customer satisfaction eroded by 7% over the past year, revenue increased by 12%." The ACSI analysis also addresses this contradiction, stating that "Such pricing power usually comes with some level of monopoly protection and most cable companies have little competition at the local level. This also means that a cable company can do well financially even though its customers are not particularly satisfied."[175][176]

Comcast spends millions of dollars annually on government relationships.[177][178] Comcast employs the spouses, sons and daughters of mayors, councilmen, commissioners, and other officials to assure its continued preferred market allocations.[179][180][181]

On September 4, 2008, Comcast sued the FCC over findings that the previous Network Management policy illegally interfered with BitTorrent traffic on the Comcast network.[182]

"Excessive bandwidth" policy[edit]

Comcast introduced a controversial 250 GB monthly data transfer cap to its broadband service on October 1, 2008.[183] This policy is also reflected in Comcast Network Management page. The cap combines both upload and download for the total limit. If a user exceeds the cap, on a first offense, a warning email or phone call will be issued with information on how to track bandwidth usage by suggesting software monitoring programs. On the third offense within the next six months, the customer's residential services are terminated for one year. Comcast reserves the right to suspend any customer's internet service to examine their servers and it is up to their sole discretion on whether to issue a refund or not. Comcast reserves the right to do this without any notification. The monitoring window is from the first to last day of each calendar month.[184]

Comcast has a policy of terminating broadband customers who use "excessive bandwidth", a term the company refused to define in its terms of service, which once said only that a customer's use should not "represent (in the sole judgment of Comcast) an overly large burden on the network".[107] Company responses to press inquiries suggest a limit of several hundred gigabytes per month.[185][186] In September 2007, Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas said the company defines "excessive use" as the equivalent of 30,000 songs, 250,000 pictures or 13 million emails in a month.[187] Other company statements have said the limit varied from month to month, depending on the capacity of specific CMTS's, and that it affected only the top one-thousandth of high-speed Internet customers.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Comcast 2008 Annual Review. Comcast.com Retrieved on August 24, 2009.
  2. ^ a b IfM - Comcast/NBCUniversal, LLC. Mediadb.eu (November 15, 2013). Retrieved on December 9, 2013.
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External links[edit]