There continues to be a battle in Tennessee to allow municipalities that provide Internet service to expand beyond a certain range. Companies like AT&T and Comcast, and other cable companies, are fighting to keep their territories monopolized.
Comcast’s strongest point with customer retention as a do with long-term customers who don’t like change or are afraid of change.
Personally, I have not been a Comcast Xfinity customer for a very long time, but since Comcast contacted me about changing from EPB, I decided to indulge myself with a little bit of research and comparison between Xfinity and EPB Internet services.
To be clear, this is not a comparison between bundle packages; this is strictly Internet service. Let’s also understand that with any Internet service regardless of how fast a data plan that you purchase, you can only get information as fast as the source can send it to you.
Let’s start off with taking a look at what Xfinity offers [pulled directly from their website 2/04/2016]:
This is an absolute horrible, horrible package from Xfinity. It’s almost insulting to the customer and it should be embarrassing to Xfinity. The starter performance package offers 10 Mb transfers for roughly $20 a month (for 12 months), but then it goes to roughly $50 a month after the promotion is over.
And according to the chart, even though your Comcast customer, you don’t have access to the hotspots that Comcast has established. This is just a flat out ripoff; it’s incredible how Comcast is taking advantage of the lower income people with this plan.
The Blast plan is ridiculous. Your roughly paying a little over a dollar a megabyte for Internet service. The Blast plan charges roughly $80 a month for 75 MB downloads. With this plan, Comcast Xfinity says you have access to millions of hotspots nationwide.
This may be true, but this is also a reflection of Comcast installing Wi-Fi routers in people’s homes and then using their Wi-Fi routers to provide hotspots. It may be a little odd that Comcast has installed a Wi-Fi router in your home that complete strangers can use; putting your home network at a security risk. Maybe you can join the lawsuit?
The Performance plan lists itself as 25 MB per second downloads, with access to millions of hotspots for the price of roughly $67 per month. Decent Internet service, but overpriced.
Blast ™ [w/paperless billing]
We’re back to the Blast plan, but this time we have bundled with paperless billing and automatic payments. If you go with paperless billing you get some money knocked off for the first 12 months; paying only about $50 a month [for 12 months]. But the promotional net plan expires and then the cost of the Internet service plan goes back up to roughly $80 a month; Comcast gives you no benefits, no more rewards for having paperless billing. Where’s the benefit?
I like the idea of paperless billing, but I don’t like the idea of automatic payments because I’ve been a recipient of Comcast billing errors. They had no problems with taking my money, but they have huge issues on issuing credits. In my case, they would not get my money back, they would only credit my account with Comcast. You let me know if this is the wrong way to handle customer service.
Gigabit service [1Gb or 1000 Mbps]
Xfinity also is trying to offer gigabit service in select areas. It’s not listed on the website [not for me anyway] and when I tried to contact Comcast about getting a quote on their gigabit service, they would not talk to me unless I gave them a ZIP Code. I had to do research on the Internet to find out what their gigabit service was going to cost.
Xfinity is going to offer gigabit service in select areas starting at the rock-bottom price of $299 per month. Xfinity does not guarantee that this is a constant/consistent connection and does not guarantee that the VPNs works with it.
Data Caps/”Data Usage Plan”
According to Xfinity’s website the cap the amount of data that can be transferred per month to 300 GB. So if you’re getting full speed out of your gigabit connection, you’re not going to get much of an opportunity to use your Internet service. Xfinity does offer a solution to that problem— for a recurring fee of roughly $35 a month you can get true unlimited Internet service.
There’s been a lot of reports of bad customer service with Comcast Xfinity. Comcast customer service is rated the worst year after year, but Comcast reports that they’re trying to make improvements with their customer service, but to be honest, I don’t want to be part of an improvement process I want to be treated as a valued customer. I want good service, not treated like a number and find myself doing the bulk of the legwork when they got problems [troubleshooting modems, returning hardware, etc.]
EPB [EPB Fiberoptics]
EPB is a local municipality out of Chattanooga, Tennessee. At last count and had a customer base of over 75,000 customers. Since EPB introduced fiber-optic Internet service, the city has adopted the new name of Gig City®. It’s the only place in the country that offers 10 Gb residential Internet service.
One thing I like about EPB fiber optics is that they don’t haggle over price. There’s not an introductory rate on any of their services; they simply are what they are. I think this helps remove any situations where customers may feel like they’ve been gouged by promotions dropping off. EPB’s prices are posted clearly and I’ve never had a problem with billing.
Here’s their prices as of February 4, 2016:
EPB’s Internet service plans are very simplified, straightforward and based on speed. Another benefit to EPB is that they don’t require rental of a modem. The installation of EPB fiber optics to your home means that they come in and set up an Ethernet jack somewhere in your home and you plug your computer or your router into it and you have Internet service.
EPB transfer speeds are equal upstream and downstream. So if you’re sending files up or bringing files down you’re going to get that transfer speed depending upon the [source or destination].
This is the lowest tier Internet service that EPB fiberoptics offers. It’s 100 MB per second, faster than any published Internet service offering from Xfinity [excluding gigabit]. Xfinity’s lowest tier Internet service is 10 Mb per second for $50 per month, plus tax. Even with EPB’s lowest offering, this is the best option.
1000 Mbps / 1 Gb
If you’re serious about transferring data on a regular basis [streaming, movies, media, large files, etc.], EPB offers the one gigabit transfer speeds uploading and downloading. At roughly $70 a month, you’re only paying about one quarter of what Comcast offers for their Gigabit Pro service.
To my knowledge, EPB is the only Internet service provider in the country that offers 10 Gb residential Internet service. This obliterates any Internet service offering that Xfinity could offer. EPB offers 10 Gb residential Internet service for $299 per month. In comparison to Xfinity, you get 10 times more bandwidth/transfer rates with EPB.
EPB has no published data transfer limits. EPB simply says it reserves the right to enforce bandwidth based upon the level of usage of the service provided. It goes on to say that acceptable use shall mean the usage up to 10 times the average for your specific customer classification. Many users of EPB fiberoptics reports data transfers of 600 GB plus per month with no issues.
I’ve been a customer of EPB fiberoptics for about five years. My Internet service has only gone out in periods where power has been lost as well; due to downed power lines or utilities being interrupted. As far as transfer rates with my Internet service, I get excellent transfer rates; far better than anything I’ve ever gotten from Comcast in the past.
In regards to ancillary equipment like cable modems, I don’t have to deal with that. I have an ethernet jack in my home. There’s nothing to reboot, power up or configure. It just works.
Full disclosure; I did once contact EPB about having slow transfer rates on uploads. I was able to contact EPB customer service very quickly. I call it right through to a technician and he was able to verify their network was up and running just fine but he pointed out to me that the router that I was using had an older firmware. After checking, the firmware on my router was older and there was a problem with it, so I updated it. Afterwards, must be problems disappeared.
All this happened within a matter of 15 minutes. My particular case never got transferred to another technician and I got quick resolution. Overall, it was a very positive experience.
If you’ve gotten to the bottom of this article and you’re still reading, you know who wins this battle. Comcast Xfinity is charging a premium for their service. Xfinity would not be updating their service at all if it wasn’t for EPB fiberoptics [Chattanooga, Tennessee] pushing their services out to the 75,000 happy customers they have. EPB has shown that they can provide quality Internet service at a reasonable price and provide great customer service to go along with it.
One of the things that this article shows blatantly is that Comcast is giving their customers horrible service at high prices. Companies like Xfinity/Comcast and AT&T are scared of municipalities like EPB coming in and out working them top to bottom. In addition to outworking them, EPB understands that customers who have high-speed Internet service are going to use it and that “data usage plans” are stupid.
I think EPB does a great job of providing Internet service to their customers and to reference the article and the respective websites, when you look at the comparison between Internet speeds and the prices that are being offered; it’s not hard to make a decision.
If you have any thoughts or opinions on this, let me know in the comments below…