Will Sonic finally end equipment rental fees?

Internet access discussion, including Fusion, IP Broadband, and Gigabit Fiber!
26 posts Page 3 of 3
by dane » Mon Sep 07, 2020 3:10 pm
apl wrote:
From what I can tell, the section I quoted became law on Dec 20 2019 (as part of the appropriations act, as you said), and is slated to take effect (after some delay) on Dec 20 2020.
And unless I am misunderstanding, it applies to any broadband provider, and makes mandatory rental fees for equipment not wanted by the consumer illegal.

Bundling of services is NOT the same as mandatory rental fees for equipment, and I thought it was already clear that I was only talking about the latter.

I guess I need to let this go for now and hope that the new regulations are able to make a difference industry-wide.


This is the legislation that actually became law: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-con ... -bill/1865

Some of the protections in this legislation do apply to both Cable TV and fixed broadband, but do not apply to telephone service. With regards to fixed broadband internet access, the primary protection is against inaccurate billing - charging customers for equipment they provided themselves.

This is likely in response to the rental fees that Frontier was charging to customers who used their own equipment - some news on that here: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/202 ... 20fee%20to

I also don't think this will stop AT&T from renting equipment, because they lock the network down to the equipment they provide and rent, so consumers cannot return it.

Aside from these components, the primary protections of the legislation are for "covered services", which are defined as "multichannel video" service, which is subscription television. They require TV companies to disclose post-introductory rates, likely to deal with some of the sneaky practices that Cable companies have done with teaser rates and long term contracts. And they allow consumers to get an emailed copy of the terms of the offer they've agreed to, and allow for a 24-hour cancellation window if they disagree. This assures that call center reps at a Cable company who mislead consumers can be found out via the written terms.

So no, this doesn't disallow ISPs renting equipment for broadband internet and is not at all related to voice services, VOIP or otherwise.
Dane Jasper
Sonic
by bayfiber » Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:38 am
dane wrote:
@bayfiber,

Today for all of the services which are on the Sonic network (Fusion X1 and X1 ADSL2+ and VDSL2 and Fiber) customers can opt to use their own equipment. Customers who go this way lose a number of support features and of course equipment updates (including security updates to firmware) and equipment replacements, and also the wiring plan which provides free technician visits when repair is required. Because of the pitfalls of the DIY process, would discourage it for all but very technical customers.

Related:
https://routersecurity.org/bugs.php

https://www.welivesecurity.com/2020/07/ ... ity-flaws/

https://threatpost.com/asus-home-router ... ks/157682/

TL;DR version: Consumer grade routers often have security issues that could affect the devices in your home, and your data and privacy, and there is no mechanism for the manufacturer to notify you that an update is required. Many are never updated: once they’re sold, they’ve got minimal incentive to keep them up to date with new firmware when security issues are revealed.

Carrier grade CPE platforms like the Pace and SmartRG systems are managed as a fleet, allowing us to track and manage deployment of updated firmware or configuration changes when needed, as well as access connection statistics when you’re having an issue that help us decide if an issue is caused by your circuit, the WiFi, or the equipment itself. This helps support determine what is required to resolve it quickly, either a technician visit, CPE replacement via UPS, etc.

But for the ATT network IP Broadband products, they require the CPE be used as part of their end-to-end management of the network, all the way to the in-hole device. Sorry, it’s not a policy decision we can change.

I'm aware of these issues and I manage my own router with OpenWRT which is always kept up to date, which is why I suggested the 3rd option of paying Sonic a monthly fee for repair visits without taking any equipment.

Hearing all the complaints people have about the RG and the Eero discourages me as a pre-order customer currently in the city permits phase and I hope by the time that I do get Sonic Fiber installed, there will be a better option than the current RG's and Eero currently offered because right now, I am leaning towards not accepting any equipment at all. Please take it as feedback that if you want consumers to accept rental equipment, Sonic has to work towards obtaining equipment that have been proven to satisfy most users, such as the offerings from Ubiquiti, etc.
by dane » Tue Sep 08, 2020 4:08 pm
bayfiber wrote:
Hearing all the complaints people have about the RG and the Eero discourages me as a pre-order customer currently in the city permits phase and I hope by the time that I do get Sonic Fiber installed, there will be a better option than the current RG's and Eero currently offered because right now, I am leaning towards not accepting any equipment at all. Please take it as feedback that if you want consumers to accept rental equipment, Sonic has to work towards obtaining equipment that have been proven to satisfy most users, such as the offerings from Ubiquiti, etc.


I don't think I would agree with you that the Ubiquity product is the best one for most households. And, we've got great feedback from customers on the Eero mesh WiFi platform. And where the rubber meets the road - support interactions about WiFi issues, we see Sonic members with Eero equipment making far fewer support contacts about WiFi issues, which points toward good operational success.

The Ubiquity comparison is not entirely apples to apples either. You might be using the Ubiquity wired access points, but that's often not a feasible solution in consumer households. They don't have Ethernet to multiple rooms, and it's not practical to wire it. Or, the cost of the equipment is not viable. The Ubiquity AmpliFi product is closest in configuration to the Eero mesh WiFi solution, and we didn't feel the AmpliFi measured up to the Eero. I'm also not aware of a carrier management platform for AmpliFi, but haven't looked lately. To support our members, we need a way to provision and deploy equipment, as well as help them with troubleshooting and configuration remotely.

Clearly, our goal is to deliver the most reliable and highest performance WiFi we can to our members, and we will of course continue to assess and deploy the best solutions for achieving that.
Dane Jasper
Sonic
by bayfiber » Tue Sep 08, 2020 9:43 pm
dane wrote:
bayfiber wrote:
Hearing all the complaints people have about the RG and the Eero discourages me as a pre-order customer currently in the city permits phase and I hope by the time that I do get Sonic Fiber installed, there will be a better option than the current RG's and Eero currently offered because right now, I am leaning towards not accepting any equipment at all. Please take it as feedback that if you want consumers to accept rental equipment, Sonic has to work towards obtaining equipment that have been proven to satisfy most users, such as the offerings from Ubiquiti, etc.


I don't think I would agree with you that the Ubiquity product is the best one for most households. And, we've got great feedback from customers on the Eero mesh WiFi platform. And where the rubber meets the road - support interactions about WiFi issues, we see Sonic members with Eero equipment making far fewer support contacts about WiFi issues, which points toward good operational success.

The Ubiquity comparison is not entirely apples to apples either. You might be using the Ubiquity wired access points, but that's often not a feasible solution in consumer households. They don't have Ethernet to multiple rooms, and it's not practical to wire it. Or, the cost of the equipment is not viable. The Ubiquity AmpliFi product is closest in configuration to the Eero mesh WiFi solution, and we didn't feel the AmpliFi measured up to the Eero. I'm also not aware of a carrier management platform for AmpliFi, but haven't looked lately. To support our members, we need a way to provision and deploy equipment, as well as help them with troubleshooting and configuration remotely.

Clearly, our goal is to deliver the most reliable and highest performance WiFi we can to our members, and we will of course continue to assess and deploy the best solutions for achieving that.

The Eero complaints are more about privacy and the mediocre hardware. I'm sure Eero is getting high marks for ease of use, though. I think we'd have to wait for 3rd Gen/Wifi6 hardware before the hardware complaints start to fade.

Based on that feedback and that statement about goals to "eliver the most reliable and highest performance WiFi we can to our members", do you plan to go Eero-only? It makes more sense than keeping the old RG's that just produce more support calls.

I only mentioned Ubiquiti since I've seen people here and other threads say they love their products. I know Amplifi is the only product that could work for Sonic users but that was just 1 example. Moving away from consumer-grade hardware was more the point I was trying to make.

I still think that appealing to customers with a lower cost, no-equipment rental monthly fee is a solution worth pursuing. Do a poll here on this very forum and I bet you would get a favorable response to my idea. Consumers love having choices and the 3rd option of not using equipment while still paying for "truck rollout insurance" would be more welcome than you think. Most people who have my current ISP want to avoid ISP hardware as much as possible, and embracing that as a consumer-friendly solution would just make Sonic stand out as an ISP that pioneers new ways to accommodate customers instead of being yet another ISP that sticks to the old way of encouraging equipment rentals.
by bikedude » Tue Aug 10, 2021 1:13 pm
dane wrote:

Today for all of the services which are on the Sonic network (Fusion X1 and X1 ADSL2+ and VDSL2 and Fiber) customers can opt to use their own equipment. Customers who go this way lose a number of support features and of course equipment updates (including security updates to firmware) and equipment replacements, and also the wiring plan which provides free technician visits when repair is required. Because of the pitfalls of the DIY process, would discourage it for all but very technical customers.

...


First let me say that while I may be one of those "VERY technical users" Dane/you mentioned above, having been a Network Engineer for over 20 year (and even meeting Dane in a prior life when I was at Apple), I have continued to support Sonic over the years by ALWAYS accepting their leased equipment despite being able to acquire and maintain much better equipment for much then I have paid without complaint.

HOWEVER I find the above statement to above to be a bit disingenuous. Given the ongoing annual charge of $120/yr (LONG after recovery of any sunk CPE cost and any reasonable associated finance charge) I find it hard to see how you can justify TODAY shipping software that's over THREE YEARS OLD (2.6.1.6) released in June of 2018https://supportcommunity.adtran.com/jmaxz83287/attachments/jmaxz83287/SmartRG_Release_Notes/32/1/SRG%20Software%20Release%20Notes%202.6.1.6.pdf

In contrast the current release R2.6.2.6 was released to three months ago Again as an engineer myself I myself I have no desire to immediately hop on a software build as soon as it's released but it’s been available for 3 month as a PRODUCTION release, and as an engineer, I suspect you also had access to pre-release builds before that which should have streamlined your testing and qualification process prior to it’s GA release.

To further my point here are all the releases between today and the one Sonic has installed on my Sonic "Managed"/paid gateway

Code: Select all

Version   Date                  Lag                            Note
R2.6.2.6  May-21          2 months              Current production release from Developer
2.6.2.5   June-20         1 year, 1 months
2.6.2.4   March-20        1 year, 4 months
2.6.2.3   September-19    1 year, 10 months
2.6.2.2   June-19         2 years, 1 months
2.6.2.1   April-19        2 years, 4 months
2.6.1.9   November-18     2 years, 8 months
2.6.1.8   October-18      2 years, 9 months
2.6.1.7   September-18    2 years, 10 months
2.6.1.6   June-18         3 years, 1 months     Sonic's CURRENT Production deployed firmware as 8/10/21

In summary, Sonic's CURRENT deployed gateway firmware is over 3 years out of date and 9 releases behind Adcom's current production release. This is NOT acceptable an acceptable situation for an PUBLIC Internet facing device, and represents not only inconvenience to users like myself (since I can't manage the firmware myself as Adcom ONLY allow's it's partner/licensees to download generic firmware releases from it's servers), but presents a RISK I can't myself fully mitigate... In addition to making me question what the $120 a year I pay in equipment rentals is actually paying for...

PLEASE ACTIVELY manage the CPE equipment you provide and consider offering us a way to independently correct the defects that specifically effect us directly (as some other ISPs have, by re-post firmware releases for their more technical customers).

Thank you again for all your efforts in these forums and hopefully you can light a fire under your support team. My apologizes there is a better place to post this (and will repost/link back here if I find a more appropriate location). Likewise if you already make firmware available, numbers searches of your support AND forum pages have yet to surface the information, so any pointers would be helpful.

Regards,
Tom
by brianjenkins » Tue Aug 24, 2021 12:16 pm
We have finished the testing of the latest SmartRG Firmware rev 2.6.2.6 in our lab and we will be rolling it out network wide starting tonight. We hope to have all the SmartRG models fulling upgraded in the next three to four weeks.
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