Broadband

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
broadband, competition, prices, secrets

Companies:
fairpoint



One ISP's Prices Are So Bad, It Refuses To Tell Anyone What They Are

from the pampered-duopolist dept

Given that the lack of competition keeps broadband prices sky high, it's really no surprise that most ISPs make their pricing as confusing as possible, either hiding what you'll pay behind a prequalification wall, or sacking users with a bevy of bizarre fees to covertly jack up the advertised rate post sale. While the industry is quick to issue a slew of press releases every time they bump their downstream speeds a few megabits, they'll usually do their best to avoid mentioning what customers pay for the honor of these faster services, well aware that they're only drawing additional attention to competitive shortcomings.

Still, even with layers upon layers of obfuscation, broadband ISPs will usually tell you what they charge users when pressed. Not so with FairPoint. When an industry outlet recently reached out to FairPoint as part of a series trying to compare prices, FairPoint actually refused to tell the news outlet how much it charges for DSL service. When pressed, the company would only provide what has to be one of the most long-winded non-answers I've ever seen:
"We offer internet access to both consumer and business customers through a variety of technologies leveraging both copper and fiber infrastructure, including digital subscriber line ('DSL'), dedicated fiber and lit buildings throughout our footprint," FairPoint said in an e-mailed statement. "Certain of these services provide speeds up to 1 gigabit per second. In select markets, we also offer cable modem internet service, 'Fiber to the Home', and wireless internet access. We sell Internet service as both a standalone, managed or packaged solution. Many customers like to simplify vendors and utilize our packaged and bundled solutions to meet their communications needs."
That's code for saying that FairPoint faces so little competition in its territories, it not only doesn't have to disclose how much it charges for service, it doesn't have to care whether you find that kind of stonewalling obnoxious. If you need FairPoint's broadband service, there's a pretty good chance that FairPoint service is your only option, so you'll have to wait until you've actually signed up to truly learn how much you'll get to pay.

Correction: In the initially published version, we accidentally called FairPoint, Frontier in some places. We apologize for the error.

Reader Comments

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2015 @ 6:35am

    Just start posting the charge as ∞ in tables and see how long it takes them to come back with a number.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2015 @ 6:35am

    I assume you mean Fairpoint, not Frontier.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ed Hurst, 9 Apr 2015 @ 6:53am

    Fairpoint Pricing

    Probably out of date, but I did find this link to a PDF:

    http://news.trcmaine.org/2012/11/Maine%20Municipal%20FairPoint%20Internet%20Offering.pdf

    "Competi tive pricing" seems to be a foreign concept.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2015 @ 7:27am

    Fairpoint are idiots

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    limbodog (profile), 9 Apr 2015 @ 7:37am

    What's the saying?

    "The best way to get a correct answer from someone online is to post the wrong one"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Nolin, 9 Apr 2015 @ 7:58am

    Not valuable at any price

    My brother had the misfortune of FairPoint DSL just 5 towns East of where I have great fiber service through another vendor. During the strike that started last October, his service mysteriously began slowing down and by Thanksgiving it was so spotty as to be unusable.
    By year end FairPoint arranged to get an out of area manager to come and make a service call. After the fellow spent the day making adjustments at the house and the service box up the street, the service failed completely.
    After waiting another month for a second service call to come and fix the repair the first one had made, my brother gave up and got Xfinity as it was his only other choice. Within 4 days he had newer and faster service for $15 more per month than had been paying.
    FairPoint has fiber in the region, just not in my brother's town. Verizon has high speed in his town, just not to his neighborhood. Xfinity is more costly, but at least it works where he is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2015 @ 8:25am

    Meanwhile, 300mb/s is alredy the norm in eastern-europe, some ISP's are willing to promise 1gb/s for the insanely high price of 20euro a month.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mark Gisleson (profile), 9 Apr 2015 @ 8:31am

    The only reason

    Frontier is not more hated than Comcast is that Comcast has far more customers.

    In Wisconsin where I live Frontier is worse than a joke. Basic phone service runs about $60 a month. You can go without features, but they will — one way or another — trick your landline bill into being $60 a month. DSL is imaginary and any google search for Frontier and DSL will find tons of angry missives from customers of this alleged service.

    They do not upgrade phone lines and the entire company is an invisibly owned Ponzi scheme. Apparently control of the company keeps getting sold to new investors who loot and then move on.

    Worst phone company ever.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Karl Bode (profile), 9 Apr 2015 @ 8:48am

      Re: The only reason

      Yes they're forcing a lot of people with no options to take a vanilla landline as well, turning what should be a $40 DSL line into a $90-$110 price tag in some areas. A friend in upstate NY has to pay nearly $100 a month for 3 Mbps DSL.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2015 @ 9:39am

        Re: Re: The only reason

        Are there ADSL vendors that don't do that?

        AT&T has been forcing DSL customers to use POTS on each DSL line they provision. I use Sonic.net as my DSL vendor and since they provision an AT&T circuit, I still have to pay for a POTS line.

        Furthermore, I have 2 DSL lines in this house (one for work, one for everything else), and I have to pay for two separate phone numbers as a result... it's asinine, but I just assumed all DSL provides do this.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Karl Bode (profile), 9 Apr 2015 @ 9:55am

          Re: Re: Re: The only reason

          Five years ago, there was a big push by consumers and regulators to force many of the telcos to offer "naked" DSL, so there was a notable uptick. AT&T had to adhere to it as a BellSouth merger condition. But over the last few years they've all shifted back to forcing people to bundle the landline, and regulators no longer seem to care.

          They usuaully offer up all kinds of ridiculous justifications for why. One telco claimed that if they weren't allowed to offer voice over copper those lines would "oxidize and fail."

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            John Fenderson (profile), 9 Apr 2015 @ 10:23am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: The only reason

            "One telco claimed that if they weren't allowed to offer voice over copper those lines would "oxidize and fail.""

            I have to say that if they're going to make up BS reasons, this is doing it right: at least that one's funny!

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2015 @ 11:26am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: The only reason

            That's unfortunate...

            About 15 years ago, I actually did have naked circuit provisioned for IDSL through some other DSL vendor (Speakeasy?)... I think it was a New Edge Networks circuit.

            As soon as ADSL came to my neighborhood, I was quick to switch to Sonic.net and avoid paying the $120/mo for 144kbit ;) - since I already had a landline for voice, I didn't think it was a big deal at the time, but these days I wish it was unbundled. Especially with dual DSL lines.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jilocasin (profile), 9 Apr 2015 @ 8:35am

    Count me as one of the unfortunate ones.

    unFairPoint user myself (unfortunately).

    Good points: When it works, it's stable.

    Bad points: Where to begin....

    If something _ever_ happens, it can make George Orwell seem terribly naive, Franz Kafka a model of directness.

    Examples include:

    Failed connection, FairPoint confirms the issue is a blown card in their central office. They refuse to repair the issue until you schedule a technician's visit. Yes, it's in _their_ facility, no they never did actually show up at my house.

    Can not connect outside of FairPoint's walled garden to the greater internet (they are still using PPOE on DSL). After more than 4 hours and three levels of support, FairPoint discovers that they have changed the PPOE password without notice. Entering the updated password re-enables internet access.

    But wait there's more (sounding like a 2:00AM infomercial). The next day a FairPoint tech arrives at the house unannounced. Insists on coming inside to "check on the issue". When he is refused entry with the explanation that the issue has been resolved, he proceeds to climb up a near by telephone poll to disconnect internet service to the house. It takes several phone calls to FairPoint corporate and complaining to the PUC to get service restored several hours later.

    Can not connect to the internet, or even their walled garden. No green lights on the DSL 'modem', one red, a few yellow. Call tech support. Passed around and put on hold for 16 hours. The last time I was put on hold was from a male 'supervisor' for more than 3 hours. Finally, in the wee hours of the morning a female supervisor picks up the phone and asks how she can help. I explain that I can't connect, she asks; "What does the DSL modem look like?"

    I answer; "Red, yellow, yell..."

    She breaks in and says;
    "Your modem is defective, we'll ship one out overnight. You can throw away that one if you want."

    Finally, FairPoint doesn't limit themselves to just technical incompetence. One month I notice my bill (phone & DSL) has gone up $5.00. When I called to ask just why my bill has gone up the FairPoint employee says;

    "Oh, you noticed that."
    "We add that fee to everyone, but it's O.K. because we'll remove it if anyone complains."

    Which they promptly did.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mark Gisleson (profile), 9 Apr 2015 @ 8:36am

    Huh

    Read this as an RSS feed and didn't see the post was corrected from Fairpoint to Frontier.

    Should have realized Frontier wouldn't refuse to tell you rates, instead they'd just lie about the service you'd allegedly get.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Karl Bode (profile), 9 Apr 2015 @ 9:33am

      Re: Huh

      Yes my mistake. Sorry about that.

      They're both comparably bad. Fairpoint may be a little worse in that it struggled through bankruptcy and is a tad smaller. But I'd avoid both. Most of those second tier telcos have a near-disdain for their subscribers.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Adam (profile), 9 Apr 2015 @ 10:41am

    Poor pricing?

    Recently my ISP showed up the competitor in the area... The competitor offered 15MBit in (and like 1MBit out) service for about 60 bucks (pre-tax/fee price) a month. I was paying 90 (pre-tax/fee price and not including my cost for dedicated ip) for 75MBit in (and 10Mbit out). The competitor dropped their pricing and upped their speed. You can now get 25MBit in and 2MBit out for 45 bucks. My provider promptly responded with a notice about my service. Effective immediately my rate would be raised to 110MBit in and 15MBit out... at no additional charge. Now that's how you compete. To compare apples to apples, comparable speeds are offered at 25/4MBit and costs just 30 bucks. I can't imagine anyone's shopping the competitor when they have any choice.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jeremy Lyman (profile), 9 Apr 2015 @ 11:10am

    In other words

    What do you charge?
    "As much as you can pay."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Drunkard, 9 Apr 2015 @ 5:54pm

    Sounds like a canned answer

    These sort of canned answers are given to underlings and sometimes to Execs who are too stupid be trusted.
    My guess is that this was answered by someone at the lowest level possible. Maybe even a customer service representative.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ollie (profile), 10 Apr 2015 @ 2:51pm

    I have Fairpoint, it's awful, but we're in the middle of nowhere Maine so it's literally all there is. Competition, eh?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nina Anne, 15 Apr 2016 @ 4:11pm

    Fairpoint

    My bill for internet through fair point is $50.62 for premium DSL. But connections suck and it is either fair point or hughesnet. Can't win for losing...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bicoid, 10 Feb 2017 @ 11:21am

    I pay $42 for 15 Mbps from Fairpoint. I dropped my phone line and have naked/dry-loop DSL. One of the biggest problems with their DSL connections is that it significantly suffers from bufferbloat. The routers they give out don't correct for it, and many people in our town in NH (where Fairpoint has a monopoly) constantly complain about how their connections are never stable. The way to fix this, and have an EXCELLENT Fairpoint connection, is to get a router that can better manage packets. This can be done by either installing OpenWRT firmware running the Smart Queue Management protocol. If that's a pain in the butt, you can find companies selling TP-Link routers running similar software - the IQrouter is a very good example of this. Both options worked well for me and others in our town, and have made many (but not all) Fairpoint headaches a thing of the past.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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