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CenturyLink; Getting the Job Done

CenturyLink is consistently providing above-average services to both residential and business customers. They've got a few awards to prove it too!

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CenturyLink, based out of Monroe, LA, has been consistently working hard to help both residential and business customers stay connected. The argument could be made that all internet service providers (ISPs) do this. That is, after all, their main job. Because an ISP who doesn’t keep their customers connected will not be around for long. Despite this, there are still the okay, the good, and the exceptional ISPs. The difference between the ISPs who are exceptional, and those who aren’t, is not defined by awards. Sure, awards are nice. And it’s easy to point to them and say “we won that because we did X really well.” In fact, CenturyLink earned Frost & Sullivan’s Growth Excellence Award for 2018. And earned their Top Hybrid Service Provider in the Asia-Pacific region for the fourth year in a row. And that’s just naming the awards won for this year. But it’s not about the awards. The mark of a good ISP is when they can deliver this service without anyone noticing. In the ISP industry, as with many others, customers are quick to point out when things go wrong. Even if it’s a minor detail, there is always that “one” customer who will make a fuss about it. This is where the bulk of customer complaints/reviews come from. While these are helpful in deducing quality, they’re to be taken with a grain of salt. Reviews are usually written by someone who’s upset and wants to vent about it. As the old saying goes “You only notice it when it goes wrong.”

When It’s Obvious

Think of a college football game. There’s the team you’re rooting for, most likely your alma mater. If not your alma mater, then you’re most likely rooting for the team that’s playing against your most hated rivals. Anyway, there are the offensive players, charging up and down the field as they work to score points. And then there are the defensive players. These guys are tasked with keeping the other team from scoring points as well. They battle each other on the field, scoring, intercepting, kicking, and this is where the main action is. Throughout all of this, what’s the one thing in the background you can count on? The marching band. Each team brings their band with them to play the school fight song, covers of current pop hits, and other tunes to get the crowd involved. These bands work hard to do this every week. And these efforts usually go unnoticed. That is until someone makes a mistake. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFB7y5j8UWc

When It’s Not

CenturyLink is the band that’s not making mistakes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ed_oZOiUwBM Go Warhawks! On a side note; I would have highlighted Texas A&M’s Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band. Not because it’s my alma mater, but because many of my in-laws went there. To keep peace in the family, I root for them when it’s appropriate. In this instance, however, priorities are different.

Back to CenturyLink…

CenturyLink, just like the Warhawk Band, consistently helping the team out on the field. And during halftime, they get to show off their stuff. But the “marching band” metaphor can only go so far. CenturyLink is not only working and earning awards for it, but they’re also helping their local communities. Back in June, they held a campaign benefiting Fight Hunger. By the end of the campaign, they’d raised over $2.4 Million for Fight Hunger. Beyond that, they helped during Hurricane Florence. CenturyLink offered free Emergency Call Forward to its North Carolina customers during the event. This service allows customers to forward calls to their wireless number to an alternate number. It’s a “just-in-case” plan for when residents need to evacuate or can’t get service to let their families know what’s happening. They may never use it, but it’s nice to have it for peace of mind. And CenturyLink provided this service for free.

By the Numbers

CenturyLinkWith a presence in 39 states and 7,339 zip codes, CenturyLink is one of the top ten largest ISPs in the nation. They’re working to expand that presence, hence, the recent merger with Level 3. CenturyLink is also expanding overseas. They have a presence in other countries and are looking to reach out into more. But let’s focus on just the United States for now. CenturyLink provides internet, cable, and voice services through three technologies. What they’re best known for is their DSL service, which is consistently ranked as one of the best in the nation. When it comes to fiber, CenturyLink has fiber connections in fifteen states, offering Gigabit Download speeds. Lastly, CenturyLink also offers fixed wireless. This service is available to both rural and urban customers. It’s a good option for those who don’t want a DSL connection, fiber is unavailable, and don’t want to go with satellite. Check out the best internet deals to find out CenturyLink’s availability in your area. The common complaint with ISPs is their speeds “as fast as” marketing. This means that the speed they’re advertising is not always the speed you get. When it comes to CenturyLink, they’re ranked in the top 60 ISPs when it comes to speed during peak hours. Peak hours are generally between 5 pm and 10 pm. This is when Netflix notices higher than average downloads through their service. They monitor each provider to see how fast they’re downloading during these times and post the results online. For CenturyLink, from August 2017 to August 2018, they averaged 3.31 Mbps for both their fiber and DSL services. This is a good score.

Businesses

On top of earning awards from Frost & Sullivan, CenturyLink was also named the top ethernet carrier in the US for 2017 by Vertical Systems Group. It was the first year that a network provider other than AT&T won the award. Thanks to a merger with Level 3, CenturyLink was able to vault from fifth in 2016 to first in 2017. By working with Level 3’s established connections and adding their own grit to the equation, CenturyLink came first over all. To earn this award, Century Link offers a wide range of business solutions to customers. Services like Networking, Hybrid IT & Cloud, UCaaS, Managed & IT Services, as well as security. For those small to medium-sized businesses, CenturyLink is a smart option. With an established ISP like CenturyLink providing a wide range of services, newer companies are in good hands as they work to grow.

Connect with CenturyLink

Even if you’re not a marching band fanatic, the fact remains- CenturyLink is working hard to help both residential and business customers.CenturyLink It is impressive, however, how drum corps’ work to choreograph and orchestrate these halftime shows. To do so takes a lot of time and effort to perfect the routine. Marching bands showcase this skill with yearly competitions, giving them an opportunity to shine. It’s too bad they don’t get as much attention as football does. CenturyLink, while not a marching band, is working hard to make multiple pieces move and work together with little or no issues involved. It’s not easy, nor should it be. And to earn awards means that someone’s watching. So if you’re in the market for a new ISP, be it for your home or your business, check out CenturyLink. It’ll be worth your time.

WOW is Stepping Up Their Game

The ISP industry is full of tough competition. The bigger players assume they'll win. But they're ignorant of challenger brands, like WOW.

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The ISP (internet service provider) industry is full of tough competition. Much like the fabled game of golf, being an ISP requires companies to read the landscape and adjust as necessary. Larger, more established companies are seen as the favorites, easy winners. But they're ignorant of the challengers. Challengers like WOW (Wide Open West). Coming up this weekend, the PGA is hosting the Ryder Cup in Paris, France, at Le Golf National Golf Course. It’s one of the many tour championships the PGA hosts throughout the year. And much like internet service providers, there are the well-known names, and then there are the challengers.

Golf is Golf

Golf is a difficult game to play. Some would argue it’s a difficult game to watch too.WOW The golf enthusiast would argue differently though. Golf requires strategy and skill. It’s not an easy game to play. Anyone can pick up a golf club. But it takes training and commitment to play well. Talent will only get you so far. Professional golfers practice constantly to ensure they’re ready for the big games. If they don’t perform well, then they’re not going to get sponsored. Then they don’t have a job. To get an edge in the game, golfers need to know how to read the elements around them. This is why you usually see a golf player staring pensively at the horizon as they get ready to tee off. They’re calculating the slope of the ground, wind speed, and how much force they’ll need to put into their swing. If a professional golfer were writing this, they’d likely add a lot more detail, discuss the nuance, and explain the exact science behind evaluating a shot. To summarize- it’s a lot! Luckily for golfers, the only time they need worry about this is doing this during a game. Companies like WOW, on the other hand, have to worry about this constantly.

ISPs are Not Like a Game of Golf

While golf is a challenging game, it’s only during games that competition is stiff. ISPs are competing constantly. The larger brands, like AT&T and Verizon, are well-established and have huge budgets behind their marketing. It’s “easier” for them to expand and try out new technologies. Even though they are the fifth-largest ISP in the nation, WOW is a challenger brand. They have the skills to compete with the big brands, yet, they’re having to break into markets. WOW! isn’t small by any measure. It’s just that other companies are so huge. WOW! is using this to their advantage. As a challenger brand, they’re working harder to compete on price, service, and cutting-edge technology.

Whole-Home Wi-Fi

A common complaint with wi-fi is the loss of signal even when you’re inside your home. The router may be centrally located, but the signal is getting blocked by other materials and elements in the house. As the concept of mesh wi-fi gains in popularity, WOW! is taking part in the newest trend.WOW A mesh wi-fi uses extra devices to connect to your wi-fi router. These little devices, dubbed satellites, are plugged in throughout the home and create a miniature wi-fi network within your home. WOW is partnering with EERO to provide mesh wi-fi to its customers. As part of their Whole Home Wi-Fi package, customers not only get wi-fi, but the mesh satellites are included with the service. Whole Home will help eliminate dead zones within the home. They also help when friends and family come over as well. All those extra devices on the network can bog down your speed. With a mesh wi-fi network, you’ll be able to handle the extra load.

Mesh Wi-Fi

With a mesh wi-fi, you’ll get to enjoy consistent speeds within your home. This will give you the speed you’re paying for and deliver it most of the time. Another perk of mesh wi-fi is you can move the satellites from room to room. These little satellites will work so long as they’re plugged in and within range of the router. If you want to expand your network to your garage so you can play your music while you work on your car…you can. Or say you have friends coming over and they want to hang out outside. You can move one of your satellites to an outdoor plug so you don’t have to sacrifice wi-fi coverage.

WOW! as a Challenger

Beyond mesh wi-fi, WOW! is already a solid ISP. Just ask Netflix. Netflix has a speed index rating system. They constantly check the download speeds during peak hours. These hours are generally between 5 and 10 pm at night. It’s during this time that most families are home. And when they’re home, they listening to music, watching TV, or surfing the web. To do that, they use up the wi-fi. Then there’s the house next door that’s full of people using their wi-fi too. ISPs generally see a dip in performance during this time. As everyone gets online and uses their bandwidth, the ISP compensates. This usually means slowing down to handle moving all that data at once. From August of 2017 to August of 2018, WOW! averaged 4.03 Mbps. Considering the best ranking on the index is 4.19, that’s not bad at all. WOW! is able to consistently deliver even during peak hours. So if you’re a golf enthusiast who has WOW! as your ISP, you’re in luck!

Competing 24/7

Unlike golf, WOW! is competing 24 hours a day, seven days a week with companies that are bigger and more established. This hasn’t seemed to be a problem. Back in August 2018, WOW! partnered with Breland Companies to provide fiber internet to Town Madison. Town Madison is a new housing development in Huntsville, AL. As more and more home features are going digital, WOW! getting in on the development of the homes themselves and installing the necessary equipment to make them “digital ready” when they’re finished. Fiber optic internet, the fastest internet connection available, is going to be installed in Town Madison. Residents will get to enjoy above-average speeds. This will be especially helpful as the community grows and smart home devices become more prevalent.

Check out WOW!

For those who enjoy golf, or any sport for that matter, make sure to check out coverage of the Ryder Cup this weekend. Better yet, make sure to check out WOW! internet deals and packages. By combining your internet, cable, and voice through WOW! you’ll be able to cut back on bills and save time. All your services will come through one provider. And for those who are not golf enthusiasts or have never been on a golf course in your life, there are plenty of other sports to watch and enjoy. Or movies, or music! Make sure you take advantage of the mesh wi-fi. You’ll be able to move freely about your home without worrying about stumbling into a dead spot.

Get to Know Windstream

For those who haven’t heard of Windstream yet, consider this your first introduction. As they expand, and help more people, we'll hear a lot more.

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For those who haven’t heard of Windstream yet, consider this your first introduction. If this were a movie, there’d be this cool intro where the CEO of Windstream would walk in and start talking about…something important. Or, if the movie was created and produced for younger ages, there would be a song and dance number. As a comedy, Windstream would be portrayed as the hardworking company that was getting no love in the media. What’s important to understand is that Windstream is expanding and they’re doing so at a consistent rate. Whether they ever make their story into a movie is not the point. Would make for an interesting movie though.

By the Numbers

Windstream currently has a presence in all fifty states.Windstream Of the 42,000 zip codes in the United States, you can find Windstream in 14,854 of them. If my math is correct, that’s 35% of the country. That’s not bad. The 35% of the country that can get Windstream service, there’s a range of options available. Depending on the area, customers can choose DSL, cable, fiber, and fixed wireless. Check with the best Windstream deals to find out what’s available in your area. Their top download speeds, for fiber, is 1 gigabit. That’s their fastest. Unfortunately, their fiber coverage is only 20% of their total areas served. But it’s not all bad, there are other services that you can get to make it worth your while. Windstream is also one of the top providers when it comes to downloading times during peak hours. Netflix has this handy speed index that calculates every provider and how well they handle downloads during peak hours. These peak hours are usually 5-10 pm every night. The average for their DSL connections over the last year is 3.17 Mbps during peak hours. This makes them one of the more reliable ISPs out there. That reputation for reliability has also helped them as they seek to expand. Within the last two years, they’ve merged with Earthlink and acquired Broadview Networks. Through these expansions, they’ve been able to utilize and incorporate these networks into their unique branding.

What Have They Been Up To?

Like any good company, Windstream has been busy.

Veterans and Military

In August, they were named ranked among the best companies for veterans. US Veteran’s Magazine listed Windstream on their Best of the Best Top Veteran-Friendly Companies. Windstream stood out among the other 350 companies that participated. The Military Friendly Designation was also bestowed on Windstream by VIQTORY with help from the Military Friendly Advisory Council. They were ranked eighth for the 2019 fiscal year.

Fixed Wireless

Windstream has also been working to expand their fixed wireless capabilities. Unlike satellite, which can be affected by weather, fixed wireless uses line-of-sight. A receiver, installed on the home or structure, will connect with the transmitter on a tower or a tall structure. So long as the line-of-sight is unimpeded, customers can get reliable internet. This method is far more cost-effective for rural customers, and for ISP startups. Windstream utilized this technology to connect Poteau, OK. Located in Eastern Oklahoma, Poteau is like any other city; they need reliable internet to connect to the larger world. Given Poteau’s rural location, however, deploying fixed broadband to the area has been economically challenging. Windstream took on that challenge and rolled out fixed wireless technology to the area. So far, the first phase allows 900 residents to get fixed wireless installed. When the entire project is completed, about 8,800 residents will have access to fixed wireless. As fixed wireless technology expands, residents who once had their options severely limited, if any at all, now have the same opportunities as those in more urban areas. And Windstream is part of realizing that dream.

Their Biggest News

WindstreamWhile Windstream is helping to connect rural areas, as well as residential customers, they’re all helping small businesses. To do this, they created OfficeSuite UC. OfficeSuite provides a means for small to medium-sized businesses to run their operations through the cloud. Like most UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service), OfficeSuite provides a means for small business to send messages, collaborate, and meet, among other things, all through cloud connectivity. What’s set OfficeSuite apart is the fact they’ve grown by 20% year-over-year. While this may not sound terribly exciting to most people, when you stop to think about it, it’s quite mind-boggling.

What this Means for Windstream

Winning awards, accolades, and exceeding sales goals are all signs of healthy company growth. But it’s nothing new. What really matters is what Windstream is doing. And more important than that, what is Windstream working towards? Let’s see... Windstream is on target to expand and help more and more customers connect to the internet. With this as their main goal, Windstream is working hard to make this a reality. The fact that they’re winning awards and hitting sales goals is just icing on the cake. These metrics are really pointing to how many new customers they’re helping, and how they’re running their business. And it’s working. Windstream, though considered “small” is doing more than what the bigger companies are; they’re utilizing different technology and targeting unique markets. They’re doing things differently. While the bigger companies are still around, they’re expanding into more and more markets. If AT&T’s purchase of Time-Warner isn’t contested, then AT&T’s focus will shift. They’ll begin to expand HBO and other entertainment properties held by Time-Warner. Providing more and more entertainment options seems to be their top priority, rather than reaching more and more customers. Windstream is moving up into the void created by such expansion. While it probably won’t hurt AT&T too much, Windstream stands to gain a lot from AT&T’s lack of focus in this area. If this were a movie with a good scriptwriter, there’d be some intriguing scenes written about this expansion. Instead of a boardroom, there’d likely be shots of exec’s walking around, talking with sharp wit about what to do now that AT&T is distracted. That is if this were a movie.

Try out Windstream

I know I keep bringing up the movie analogy, but what can I say? I watch a lot of movies. Out in the real-world Windstream is a solid company with more than just internet to offer. They have OfficeSuite. They’re also actively utilizing fixed wireless and working with veterans and the military. It wouldn’t be so surprising to see them overtake one of the “bigger” names soon.Windstream Even if that doesn’t happen, Windstream is one of the many ISPs available across the United States. To find if they have a presence in your area, input your zip code through Bundle Your Internet. This way you’ll see the deals, and who’s providing them, in your area. And then you can stream any movie, or show, written by Aaron Sorkin that involves lots of walking and dialogue. One can easily get the impression that all company executives talk this way. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The truth is that despite no snappy dialogue, Windstream is doing above-average work and is worth taking a lot into.

The 3 Laws of Starting a Streaming Service

Apple, and Disney, have been teasing their streaming services for some time. Instead of launching, they're following 3 laws for starting a streaming service

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Apple, much like Disney, has been “working” on launching a streaming service for quite some time. Most recently, on August 23, they announced they’ve greenlit a series based on Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” series. It’s expected to debut in March of 2019. This is all well and good, but they could have launched this already. They seem to be following a set of rules, or laws, to starting a streaming service. These laws are great for starting one, yet, laws on launching a streaming service seem to be missing. Instead, we’re just getting more and more updates on series while Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, continue to increase their content offerings, as well as solidify their subscriber bases. It’s somewhat frustrating. The good news is that Asimov’s “Foundation” series will get some series power behind it.

Who’s Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov was a prolific writer of science fiction. He saw the genre as a place where true intellectualism could reign. Ideas could be thought over, developed, and allowed to expand without anyone putting restrictions on them. Asimov was also a curious one and loved science fiction from a young age. He taught for some time at Boston University and wrote on the side. But when income from his writing surpassed his professor’s salary, he went to writing full time. If only we could all be so lucky.

The Three Laws of Robotics

Asimov created and developed The Three Laws of Robotics. It's also what he’s most well known for. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2z7a8MTYrDE
  1. A robot may not injure a human being, or through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. Robots must obey orders given to it by human beings except when such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First and Second Law.
These laws have become commonplace among the die-hard science fiction fan. Not only do they provide a basis for robotics to behave, they also provide constraints. Without constraints, there’s no conflict, and even robots need conflict. Asimov developed the laws for his Robots stories. A series of short stories and novels that revolved around the autonomous creations was also where the term “Robotics” was birthed. Asimov saw robots as another character in his stories. At the time this was a novel concept and one that remained solely within science-fiction for some time. These robots, man-made though they were, developed their own personalities. As a result, some were good, and some were bad. While he does have a long list of published works, he’s most well known for writing “I, Robot.” This was turned into a summer blockbuster in 2004, starring Will Smith. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rL6RRIOZyCM And then the FX Network put it into syndication until it was overplayed. I heard there might be a sequel, but nothing new has come of that rumor. “Foundations”, though not as popular as “I, Robot”, has its own cult following. And now it’s part of Apple’s promised lineup of original content for its streaming service. Which leads me to believe that there are three laws for starting a streaming service.

The Three Laws

While Asimov’s three laws were meant to govern robots’ behavior and interaction with humans. The laws were a safeguard as well as a means to keep the robots in check. As displayed in I, Robot, even these laws have their loopholes which can be exploited. Beyond that, robots were free to live as they wanted. It’s different when it comes to streaming services. Especially when launching one. It seems every company these days has already launched a streaming service or is working on it. Those that have already done so have paved the way. Streaming services, as exciting as they are, still require a means to enter the world. Growth, oddly enough, needs assistance. Hence, the three laws.

The First Law

Build up hype. Streaming services are not created in a vacuum. To get one started, there needs interest among the general public. It doesn’t matter if it’s an entertainment company, a software company, or a retail giant, anyone can launch their own streaming service…well, almost. There needs to be a lot of money first to get the production companies involved, scout out properties for original content, and set up the service itself. To justify such costs, the company in question will announce they’ll be making their own streaming service. And that’s it. They just have to announce it and put out there a vague deadline somewhere off in the future. Walmart has set a definite deadline for the rollout of its pumped-up Vudu service. Disney and Apple, however, have taken their time. The deadline for each is a blurry date somewhere off in the future. But at least they’ve got the hype going for them.

The Second Law

Find an intellectual property that’s not too popular, but just popular enough. Asimov, in the science fiction community, it a well-regarded name. To those outside that community, he may be known, he may not be. But his name is tied in with some big movies, so there’s that. Now, the streaming service must create the original content to populate its new lineup that’s set to debut…sometime in the future. To ride the hype they’ve created, they need anchor content to build on. But most of the major production companies, and other streaming services who haven’t been sitting on their butts, already hold the rights to popular stuff. Unless they’re willing to shell out a lot of cash, they’ll have to go find their anchor content somewhere else. This is why Apple went for “Foundation”, and Disney has promised a live-action Star Wars show. Since Disney owns Star Wars, this is a no-brainer. They’ve got the rights and the money to do a series like that the right way. For Apple, they need something that can compete with Star Wars, and other sci-fi shows, without looking like a rip-off. Luckily, they’ve got Asimov. His work is original and already has a loyal fanbase. It also helps that Asimov consulted on the Star Trek movies. That fact alone differentiates “Foundations” from Star Wars.

The Third Law

Pack Big Names behind Anchor Content. With the hype rolling and the intellectual properties secure, a few big names are needed. John Favreau is behind Disney’s Star Wars show. Foundations will be headed by David S. Goyer, the story writer for Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, among other highly known properties. The purpose of these big names is not only to ensure these properties are done right but to also give fans the hope that they will. Favreau and Goyer are big names. They know how to create, write, and produce content that resonates and entertains. When it comes to adapting content that’s not their own, they’ve proven themselves already. This is good news, as there are a few series out there that have been soiled by big names. I’m not going to name names directly, but Star Trek got ruined by JJ Abrams, and Superman and Justice League were messed up by Zak Snyder. Just because A big name is attached to a project does not mean it is the RIGHT big name. Think I’m wrong? Just jump on Netflix, or Amazon Prime to watch these films yourself. Make sure you’ve got the best internet and cable deals first. This way you’ll save money. But you might get a headache, so consider yourself warned.

Applying the Three Laws

For Disney and Apple, they seem to be following these three laws pretty closely. And doing a good job of it. You will notice, however, that there is no law requiring a definite start date. Instead, that’s assumed. Somewhere, off in the future, we’ll get to see these streaming services. In the meantime, we’ll make do with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and the other services that have already gotten their act together.