The Problem with Triple-Play Providers

Rich Tehrani : Communications and Technology Blog -
Rich Tehrani
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The Problem with Triple-Play Providers

I am a cable quadruple customer. VoIP, broadband, TV and the reason I switched from standalone VoIP to cable had to do with dropped packets on my network. After spending days trying to figure out what the problem was with the network I finally threw in the towel and went with cable because I figured they would now own any problems I had. Surprisingly my problems went away as soon as I switched, leading me to believe that either my old cable modem was at fault or the ATA from my VoIP service provider which intercepted every packet on the network.

Yesterday I wrote about Jon Arnold's analysis of Vonage and I said it would be sad if Vonage was to go away. Quite simply, pure-play VoIP companies do a better job in general of providing VoIP service than the integrated players. They generally give you access to features you can't get from the larger triple-play companies. I mentioned specifically the fact that pure-play VoIP providers allow things like a do-not-disturb feature allowing you to set times when callers are told that you aren't taking calls. This is great when you have people who like to call very late at night or early in the morning.

In addition, they allow you to take your ATA with you anywhere and some like Packet8 allow you to upgrade inexpensively to video calling and even give you access to an application allowing you to make VoIP calls easily from your cell phone.

Recently, I have found yet another area where cable services are lacking. As I mentioned, I watch time-shifted TV via a DVR and have found that the device sometimes stops recording before the program is over. In other words you miss the last 30 seconds to a minute of your favorite programs. To date, I haven't found a way to solve this problem and calls to the cable provider did not help.

But still, one wonders if the engineers at Scientific Atlanta/Cisco use their own products or is my cable provider to blame? Did they tell Cisco to *not* record a few minutes on each side of a program to save hard disk space?

Since I have never used a TiVo, I have to take the word of my colleagues that TiVo has a feature allowing you to record a few minutes before and after your program to ensure you don't miss anything.

For people that don't know any better, integrated services such as triple-play work but I wonder if customers begin to realize how much better pure-play services can be, would they still use integrated providers? I know I am now seriously thinking of switching to TiVo.

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