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Suddenlink Communications, formerly Cebridge Connections, is a top-10 cable broadband services provider in the United States with approximately 1.3 million subscribers. Suddenlink operates in 19 states in primarily medium-sized communities. Its corporate headquarters are located in St. Louis, MOmarker and is part of Cequel Communications, LLC. Cequel III, an affiliated company, was founded in January 2002 by Jerry Kent, Howard Wood, and Dan Bergstein as an investment and management firm that focuses on development of cable and telecommunications companies.





Products and Services

Suddenlink provides business and residential products and services in the areas of Advanced Digital Television, High Speed Internet, and Digital Phone.

Advanced Digital Television

Suddenlink is moving toward all-digital in most markets to help expand capacity and allow more offerings . These offerings include:

High Definition (HD) Programming

Suddenlink Advanced Digital Television includes access to a growing number of high-definition (HD) channels. As of 2009, nearly nine in 10 Suddenlink TV customers have access to HD programming, with an average of 24 HD channels .

Video on Demand (VOD)

Suddenlink VOD allows viewers to order movies, sporting events, and episodes of their favorite television series at any time, via remote-control, and have access to the titles for an extended period, typically 24 hours. Other features include pause, rewind and fast forward. About one-third of Suddenlink’s VOD selections are free of charge, while the remaining are available for either a per-view charge or monthly subscription . In 2009 Suddenlink bumped VOD capacity from about 3,000 hours to about 10,000 hours and has begun negotiating with programmers and networks to fill that capacity . Suddenlink is beginning to provide local programming in VOD and refreshes about one-third of its inventory each month . As of 2009, Suddenlink VOD is available to about half of its customers.

Digital Video Recorders (DVR)

A DVR allows viewers to pause and resume live TV shows and to record television content for future viewing . The DVR may be pre-programmed to record multiple channels simultaneously, and saved content is automatically organized for easy retrieval. DVRs are available to the majority of Suddenlink customers.

CableCARDS

CableCARDS are an alternative to cable set-top boxes. The cards can be inserted into digital cable-ready TV sets with CableCARD slots and built-in digital QAM tuners. The cards may be leased from Suddenlink.

High Speed Internet

Suddenlink High Speed Internet services most commonly include offerings with download speeds of up to 1 megabit per second (mbps), 5 mbps and 10 or 12 mbps offers in most markets. The higher speed services include access to e-mail via WebMail, personal WebSpace and Spam Blocker. The most popular services also include a free security suite with parental controls, anti-spyware, anti-virus, firewall and pop-up blocker. In late 2008, the company began deploying DOCSIS 3.0 technology and launching a new service, Suddenlink High Speed Internet MAX 20.0, that features up to 20 mbps per second download speeds. As of 2009, DOCSIS 3.0 has been deployed to about 25 percent of Suddenlink’s HSI markets .

Digital Phone: Unlimited

Suddenlink Digital Phone: Unlimited uses IP technology to transfer calls over the company’s own private, managed IP-based network. Phone customers receive unlimited local and domestic long-distance calls, Caller ID, Call Waiting, 3-Way Calling, Anonymous Call Rejection, Call Forwarding and automatic access to the FCC-mandated Enhanced 911 system. Voice Mail and international calls are also available at additional rates. Customers transferring from another provider can keep their existing phone number and use existing wiring. Suddenlink’s Phone service is compatible with most modern alarm monitoring equipment . As of 2009, it’s is available in nearly 85 percent of Suddenlink markets .

History

Suddenlink traces its origins to February 2003, when its senior management team assumed responsibility for the assets of Classic Communications, which served remote suburban areas, smaller towns, and rural communities. Starting in 1992, Classic completed a series of acquisitions of various cable systems. In 2001, it filed for bankruptcy and emerged from bankruptcy in January 2003. At the time Classic was the twelfth largest MSO with 325,000 customers in nine states (Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Colorado, and Ohio) . Classic’s customers had been largely deprived of advanced services like high-speed Internet access. The new management team claims to have invested tens of millions of dollars to upgrade Classic systems and improve the quality and quantity of services they offered.

The company was re-named Cebridge Connections and continued to acquire new cable companies and new cable systems. As Cebridge, the company acquired cable systems previously owned by Alliance, Tele-Media, Thompson and USA Media. In 2006, Cebridge became Suddenlink Communications after the deals to acquire cable systems from Cox Communications and Charter Communications closed.

Use of Nortel Products

On June 21, 2006 Suddenlink began providing cable VoIP services using Nortel Technology . Suddenlink uses Nortel's VoIP solutions to provide digital telephone services to customers from California to North Carolina, including 30,000 acquired customers from Cox .

Agreement with Sprint Nextel

On November 8, 2006, Suddenlink and Sprint Nextel announced a five-year agreement to enable wireline VoIP solutions to residential and commercial Suddenlink subscribers. The new contract awarded Sprint Nextel the right to facilitate Suddenlink's residential telephone service, available to approximately 2.2 million households in Suddenlink franchise areas, with more than 200,000 active customers as of March 2009.

TV Programming

Sinclair dispute

After Suddenlink completed the purchase of cable systems from Charter Communications in West Virginia, the right to retransmit two local stations, WCHS-TVmarker and WVAH-TVmarker, expired. Parent company Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns WCHS but operates WVAH under a local marketing agreement, wanted to pull the two stations on July 1, 2006 unless Suddenlink paid $40 million to Sinclair up front in retransmission fees and $1 per subscriber. Suddenlink countered that FCC rules prohibited Sinclair from pulling the two stations during the middle of Nielsen Media sweeps week. Suddenlink was allowed to carry the stations in Charleston and Parkersburg until July 26, 2006. Sinclair pulled the stations on July 1 from viewers in the Beckley, WV market.

After several weeks of negotiations, the two companies reached an agreement that allowed WCHS and WVAH to continue transmission over the Suddenlink cable system and both stations were restored to the Beckley market. The terms of the agreement were not released to the public.

WVAH blackout

On October 20, 2006 WVNS-TVmarker filed for both non-duplication and syndication exclusivity protections for Fox programming in the Beckley, Princeton, Lewisburg and Hinton, WV, markets. In these areas WVAH-TV, the Fox affiliate from Charleston, is also carried on Suddenlink cable systems. Suddenlink reported the only programming that will not be available from WVAH is Fox programming. All local news and other programming will still be available to customers.

NFL Network

Suddenlink, like many other top-ten cable providers, is in a dispute with the NFL Network over carriage. NFL Network wants to be carried on Expanded Basic while Suddenlink and other cable companies want to put the network on a digital sports tier.

NFL Network offered a free preview from December 24 through December 30, 2006, to West Texas area cable systems run by Suddenlink Communications and to New York area cable systems run by Time Warner Cable and Cablevision. The package included the Texas Bowl and Insight Bowl, but not that week's NFL game between the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, which was shown on WNBC for New York viewers. However, the free preview did not lead to long-term carriage agreements between the three cable companies and NFL Network.

In 2007 Suddenlink set up a section on its website called Play Fair. Suddenlink claimed that it wanted to carry the network while being fair to the customers who want the NFL Network and to the customers who don't want it. The site claimed that Comcast and Cox can carry NFL Network on a sports tier while Suddenlink would like to have the same option. Placing NFL Network on the sports tier allows customers who want the network to pay for it. The site further claimed that NFL Network doesn't have the kind of year-long programming that justifies putting it on basic cable service.

In November 2007, Suddenlink made several offers to the NFL Network, one of which included giving the NFL Network a free channel that would be widely available to the customers who wanted it. The NFL Network could make that channel available for free or for a set price that the network would want, while keeping all revenue from it, including advertising revenues. With this option Suddenlink would make no money carrying the network. The NFL Network denied this and other offers on November 27, 2007. In rejecting the offer, Suddenlink claimed that the network was "reiterating that they [NFL Network] would accept nothing less than the same $100 million ransom they demanded more than a year ago. Suddenlink states that it is ready to make a deal with the NFL Network and asks "the citizens and leaders of the communities we serve to contact the NFL and ask them to accept Suddenlink's generous offer of a free channel, widely available to customers who want it."

The other offers Suddenlink proposed were to carry the network on its digital sports tier, at a reasonable fee." The second option was to make NFL Network’s eight live NFL primetime games and the NFL Network’s Texas Bowl and Insight Bowl coverage available on pay-per-view at a rate determined by the network, with all revenue remitted to the NFL Network.

In May 2009, a long-standing feud between NFL Network and Comcast was resolved when the two agreed to a deal that might pave the way for other cable companies to reach similar deals and end the long-standing holdouts.

In October 2009, a local Suddenlink office in College Station, Texas began posting signs on their property claiming NFL Network and Red Zone are coming soon. But was soon taken down after a miscommunication about a deal being reached . At this time no deal has been signed to provide the NFL Network over Suddenlink's service .

LIN TV dispute

Carriage agreements for Austin, Texasmarker, NBC affiliate KXANmarker and Albuquerque, New Mexicomarker, CBS affiliate KBIM-TVmarker expired on December 31, 2007. LIN TV and Suddenlink were unable to reach a new agreement for both local stations. Suddenlink proposed an extension to the current contracts so the two parties could continue negotiations.

This was denied along with two offers proposed by Suddenlink on January 2, 2008, which included Suddenlink's offer for KXAN only, in areas with no duplicate NBC station, and an offer to provide KXAN its own, stand-alone channel for which LIN-TV could set the price and from which it would keep all money generated, including all customer fees and ad revenues.

KXANmarker

On January 3, Suddenlink reached a deal with Temple, Texasmarker-based KCENmarker to retransmit its signal to Suddenlink's central Texas customers. Additionally, KCEN offered NBC in high definition (HD) while the original carriage with KXAN did not. KXAN claimed that Suddenlink placed little value on local stations and said it would work closely with competitors like DirecTV and AT&T U-Verse to give viewers better options "than the cable monopoly that currently exists". The station was restored on March 25, 2008, after LIN TV and Suddenlink reached an agreement. Both the standard and HD feeds of KXAN are now available to Suddenlink customers in Georgetown, Leander and Pflugerville, Texas. In all three cities the HD feed of KXAN replaced KCEN's HD feed and customers in Pflugerville lost KCEN altogether at the request of the station owner. In Georgetown and Leander, KCEN moved to channel 16 while KXAN took over its previous channel position on channel 4.

KBIM-TVmarker

Suddenlink customers in Clovis, New Mexicomarker, were instructed to turn to KFDA-TVmarker for CBS programming, a local station on channel 5. Unlike sister station KXANmarker, KBIM/KRQE did not enter into a media battle with Suddenlink by encouraging subscribers to switch to a different service. The station was restored on March 25, 2008.

Acquisitions



Logos

Image:Cebridge logo.png|Cebridge Logo 2001-2006.Image:Suddenlink Logo.png|Suddenlink Logo 2006-present.

References

External links




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