• Suddenlink

    Suddenlink

    Though still a relatively young player in the ISP market, Suddenlink Communications has become an increasingly popular high speed Internet service provider in recent years. Founded in 2003, Suddenlink–then known as Cebridge Connections–grew through a series of cable system acquisitions dating back to June 2003. It was only after acquisitions from Charter Communications and Cox Communications in 2006, which gave Cebridge hundreds of thousands of new subscribers, that the name Suddenlink Communications was adopted.

    Its expansion continued in the following years, leading up to its most recent acquisitions of several cable systems from Windjammer Cable and News-Press and Gazette Company in 2010 and 2011, respectively. In its ten years of existence, Suddenlink’s revenue has grown to $1.93 billion at the end of 2011, and its most recent estimates show that it has nearly 1.4 million active subscribers.

    One factor that drives Suddenlink’s success has been its innovative “Project Imagine”, which strives to increase the average quality of service to its subscribers. Project Imagine aims to make HD channels more widely available, video on demand, and to spread the technology that enables high-speed Internet in the realm of 100 megabits per second, sometimes even faster. The project is ongoing, but has already made vast strides toward these goals. Suddenlink has also received various awards, many of which are smaller, regional awards for quality service. Among the more notable of these is the 2010 Business of the Year award in Lubbock, Texas, which it received from the Chamber of Commerce and Children’s Advocacy Center.

    Pricing, Plans, and Connection Speed

    Suddenlink’s pricing and availability vary greatly depending on the area. Currently, they offer services in select parts of Arkansas, California, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. In some of these states, however, only the most populated metropolitan areas are serviced. To find out what plans, if any, are offered in your area, you can visit Suddenlink’s website.

    On the lowest end, some subscribers can get a 512 kbps–that’s kilobytes per second–connection for about $15 per month. This type of connection would only be ideal for the most minimal users, as most DSL services come with triple this speed. If all you plan to do is send email and visit a few websites, and you’ve got time to spare, this plan is a cheap way to get by. Keep in mind, though, that all of Suddenlink’s plans require a modem. In most cases, this means renting one from your Internet provider for around $10 per month, further increasing your monthly bill. It may be possible to avoid this if you already have a modem of your own, but not all modems are compatible or allowed with Suddenlink’s services.

    From there, the speeds increase dramatically, and the prices increase along with them. Though the exact speed and pricing varies depending on the area, the next step up the ladder is a 1 mbps connection. For the less tech-savvy readers, that’s megabytes per second, and each megabyte is equal to 1,000 kilobytes. Continuing on, there are 3 mbps, 5 mbps, 8 mbps, 10 mbps, 15 mbps, 30 mbps, 50 mbps, and 100 mbps plans available. Keep in mind, most DSL connections clock in at around 1.5 mbps. The advantage that cable Internet service has over DSL Internet service is its higher speed, though neighborhoods generally share the cable. This means that when more people in your area are using cable Internet, your connection speed may suffer, while DSL service isn’t affected by anyone but you.

    This higher speed does, however, come with a price. At the top tier of service, you’re generally paying around $125 per month or more for high speed Internet service alone. That being said, very few people actually need a 100 mbps Internet connection, and for most users, even 30 mbps is relatively fast. Remember, a lot of people still have DSL Internet service, which is far slower than the speeds we’re talking about here. Because prices vary by location, monthly costs for the middle range of plans can only be accessed by entering an address on Suddenlink.com.

    The final thing to note about Suddenlink’s service plans are its three different “data caps”, or limits to the amount of data that can be used per billing period. For speeds under 10 mbps, users will have a monthly limit of 150 GB, or gigabytes of data. As far as data caps go, this is a very nice number to see. Most Internet users don’t come anywhere near this limit, even with liberal video streaming. In addition, some Internet service providers have much more strict data limits, some dropping under 10 gigabytes. For plans from 10 to 30 mbps, the bar is raised to 250 GB, and any speeds higher than 30 mbps will get 350 GB to use each month. Though data limits may seem inconvenient, these are actually high enough that most users will never even have to worry about them.

    Additional Features and Benefits

    Suddenlink’s customers are given access to a handful of bonus features. Parents can set parental controls, regulating the content that can be viewed to help protect their families. Users are also given 10 free email accounts with up to 2 GB of free storage space. Online bill pay and automatic billing are also offered at no additional cost. Finally, customers who subscribe to 3 mbps plans or higher are offered a free copy of McAfee VirusScan Plus, a virus protection program that normally retails for $24.99. Though there are free antivirus programs available online, the fact that Suddenlink’s customers get access to a paid program is definitely a plus.

    Beyond the bells and whistles, customers are also offer no-contract services, meaning users can cancel their service at any time without paying outrageous cancellation fees. This is more valuable now than ever, with many Internet providers requiring long contracts and charging hundreds of dollars to cancel service before the contract end date.

    Help and Support

    A lot of thought appears to have gone into the Suddenlink customer service department. They’ve gone so far as to set up an entire help website, listing each of their services, the top five questions, and a link to see the full list of frequently asked questions for that category. Beyond that, 24/7 technical support is offered, which can be a godsend if an issue comes up late at night or during the weekend. There’s also a live chat service available, which tends to go a lot more smoothly than automated call-in systems. Rather than navigating an audio menu, trying to find your way to an actual person, live chat gets you straight to a living, breathing human being.

    Of course, if there’s an issue with your Internet connection, you may not be able to access the live chat feature in the first place. If that’s the case, there’s always the old phone method to fall back on, and again, it’s offered 24/7.

    Summary

    Overall, Suddenlink Communications is an up-and-coming player in the Internet service game, and it’s hard to ignore its record of continually improving its services. Now over 10 years old and continually growing, Suddenlink’s future is looking bright. It offers Internet service for everyone from the most modest email users to the data-demanding video game addicts. If you’re in the market for high speed Internet, DSL Internet service is no longer at the top of the game. Instead, cable Internet is becoming the way to go, and if you’re one of the few lucky enough to be in its service area, it may just be the best choice.