Archive for Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sunflower Broadband acquired by Georgia-based company

The Riverfront Plaza is the site of the Lawrence offices for Sunflower Broadband. The World Company announced Wednesday that the cable company had been sold to Georgia-based Knology for $165 million.

The Riverfront Plaza is the site of the Lawrence offices for Sunflower Broadband. The World Company announced Wednesday that the cable company had been sold to Georgia-based Knology for $165 million.

August 4, 2010, 8:59 a.m. Updated August 4, 2010, 9:05 a.m.

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In the beginning there was the vision. Forty-five years later, it was a spectacular reality. Today, the baton is being passed to a new owner.

Knology of Kansas Inc., a newly formed part of West Point, Ga.-headquartered Knology Inc., will acquire Sunflower Broadband from The World Company. Sunflower employees were told Wednesday morning about an agreement signed Tuesday that will end a chapter in Lawrence history that began in the late 1960s. That’s when Dolph C. Simons Jr., then publisher of the Journal-World, returned from a meeting of the American Newspaper Publishers Assn. At the meeting he’d learned of something called community antenna television (CATV). He was intrigued by this “cable television.”

He invited Bill Daniels, then the nation’s foremost authority on cable TV, to Lawrence to help evaluate the city as a cable market. Daniels drove all over town. He took note of the many rooftop antennae, and the fact that television signals from both Kansas City and Topeka were available off the airwaves. His decision was that Lawrence was not a suitable market for cable.

Dolph Jr. has recounted many times the visit he then had with his father, Dolph Simons Sr., who was in charge of The World Company. “I told him that the man who’s the expert says he wouldn’t invest in cable here. But I said I thought we should go ahead.”

Dolph Sr. told his son that if that’s what he believed the company should do, they would do it.

“I’d rather have tried it and failed than to have let somebody else come into my home town and try it and succeed,” Dolph Jr. says, outlining a philosophy that governed many company decisions.

That cable system, initially known as Sunflower Cablevision and today as Sunflower Broadband, became an award-winning industry innovator through its locally originated programming and its versatile adoption of emerging technology, making it an Internet provider and a telephone company, in addition to its television programming offerings.

Knology is a telephone, Internet and broadband provider operating in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida and South Dakota. Ironically, the World Company was represented in the transaction by RBC Daniels, the legacy company of Bill Daniels, who said cable never would work in Lawrence. Managing Director Randall Wells led the RBC Daniels effort. Knology sources valued the transaction at $165 million and said closing is expected in the fourth quarter.

The new owner is acquiring a system that went on the air Jan. 5, 1972, with Max Falkenstien—yes, the same Max who was the voice of the Jayhawks so many years—as general manager. He started in May of 1971 and left at mid-year in 1972, turning over the managerial reins to John Dennis, who had led construction of the plant for Jerrold Electronics.

Since that time, the operation has grown to serve more than 33,000 basic video customers in three counties, more than 28,000 Internet customers and more than 15,000 telephone lines.

World Company personnel will provide 6News programming under a contract with Sunflower’s new owners.

Sunflower: The history

Sunflower broadcast the Kansas University-Louisiana State University baseball game March 31. 1972. It was the first time the KU team had been on TV.

In July of 1981, Sunflower began televising Lawrence City Commission meetings. It has done so ever since, at its own expense.

Sunflower launched with live newscasts (Bob McMullen was news director) and other local programming, including a DJ show hosted by Tim Bradley. The company did 622 news shows in its first year alone. News eventually was discontinued for awhile but resumed in September of 1985. Surveys today indicate that the news on Channel 6 is more highly viewed by subscribers than any other newscast in the time slots.

Rich Bailey, the late Bob “The Old Jayhawk” Nelson and Chuck Woodling, along with weekly guests, were fixtures on a sports show that picked winners and losers for Big 8 football games. At the end of the season, the loser got a pie in the face. Charlie Crabtree also was a regular on the long-running show.

The World Company wired buildings on the KU campus at no charge to the university. For whatever reason, the university never really utilized the system that had been provided.

HBO programming was launched on Sunflower in October of 1978. The 10-meter “earth receive station” installed to make it possible was only the third one in the Midwest. It’s still at the tower location on East 15th Street.

In its first year of programming, Sunflower carried news conferences, speeches and interviews by these notables, among others: Then-U.N. Ambassador George H.W. Bush, Sen. Birch Bayh, Sen. Bob Dole, Rep. Julian Bond, Kansas Atty. Gen. Vern Miller, Dr. Benjamin Spock, Dr. James Fletcher, Tom Wolfe and Pierre Salinger.

When Major League baseball’s All-Star game was canceled by a players’ strike in 1981, Sunflower filled the gap by cablecasting a table-top game with players picked by local fans. Rich Bailey called the action. Bill James (yes, THE Bill James) and Chris Ketzel were the managers.

Phil Harrison was a pioneer of sorts with the “Gill Tour of Homes,” a weekly video tour of homes for sale. Such shows are common now on TV and the Internet, but it was pretty cutting edge when done on Sunflower. He also hosted Sunflower’s first cooking show, “Chinese Home Cooking,” with Nancy Loo Bjorge. They did eight shows in 1984. Both still live in Lawrence. Harrison is retired and Nancy’s a local artist.

Sunflower produced and televised the 1994 Kansas Shrine Bowl live to the state.

Sunflower provided the TV production pool feed for President Bill Clinton’s speech in Allen Fieldhouse.

When Danny Manning played basketball at Lawrence High School, Sunflower provided a closed-circuit feed of the game into the cafeteria because the games were standing-room-only in the gym.

Sunflower awards

Some of the more significant awards earned by Sunflower and its personnel over the years:

Sunflower Broadband

2009 CableFax Independent Technology Award

2008 Governor's Distinguished Community Service Award (Only corporate recipient)

2007 CED Pacesetter Award

2007 Cable World Top 7 Operators to Watch (Only non top 10 MSO listed)

2005 CED Top 50 Technology Company (Only non top 5 MSO listed)

2003 Cable World Operator of the Year

Free State Studios/ Channel-6 Original Programming

2007, 2008, 2010 : Silver Telly Award

2001, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010: Bronze Telly Award(s)

2000, 2001: NCTA Community Spirit Award

2007: APME Award for Online Convergence

2007: KAB, 1st Place

1994, 1998, 2000- 2010: MIDI, 1st Place

2004, 2005: Communicator Award

1997, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005: National Mature Media

1981 Cable Ace Award for “Bringin’ It All Back Home,” produced by Randy Mason

Channel-6 News/Sports

2004: Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in

Television Political Journalism

1996, 1997: Cable Ace Award

1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1998: Cable Ace Finalist

1986-2009: MIDI, 1st or 2nd Place

Free State Studios/ SenoReality Short Films

2008: Emmy (Heartland Region)

2007: Fright Night Film Festival, Best of the Fest

2006: Kansas International Film Festival: Audience Award

Marketing

2001, 2002: Bronze Telly Award

2007: KAB, 1st Place

1997-2010: MIDI, 1st Place

Commercial Production

2005 ADDYS

2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009: KAB, 1st Place

1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010: MIDI, 1st Place

Comments

DillonBarnes 4 years, 11 months ago

This makes me very nervous, I hope they can maintain the same level of service I have experienced the last few years.

Truthspeaker 4 years, 11 months ago

Masochist, huh?

Frankly, the service can only get better. The next positive experience I have with thwir service will be the first.

DillonBarnes 4 years, 11 months ago

Well the fact that you think I'm a masochist from that simple statement tells me a little bit about your attitude and knowledge; hence I think I know why you've never had a good experience with customer service. You have to be kind and respect the people on the other of the line and you'll be greatly rewarded, it looks like you have neither of those qualities.

Truthspeaker 4 years, 11 months ago

Perhaps if anyone at had shown an ounce of compentency, they'd earn respect. But that's fine, make assumptions about me all you want and continue to shill for that poorly run organization. There's a reason people have flocked to AT&T UVerse and various satellite companies in this town, and the piss poor service of Sunflower is one of them. You can't deal with that fact, that's your issue.

Truthspeaker 4 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, reading is difficult for you isn't it?

Where did I say it is WORTH flocking to? The fact is that people ARE because Sunflower is so awful.

CreatureComforts 4 years, 11 months ago

As far as customer service, I cannot say enough good things about Sunflower - they've always been great to me.

But the actual service of cable and Internet is less than spectacular.

So, I hope they can keep the CUSTOMER service, but improve the PRODUCT service!

DillonBarnes 4 years, 11 months ago

Well I can't really argue with that, there is always room for improving your product. I just worry it will slid the other way.

Tristan Moody 4 years, 11 months ago

You've never had to deal with Cox or Comcast, have you?

gsxr600 4 years, 11 months ago

I would say, the product can only get better. Sunflower has excellent customer service reps, from my experience at least.

forgetful 4 years, 11 months ago

Congratulations to all who helped build a company from scratch that now is worth $165 million. As a business owner in Lawrence, I can appreciate the hard work, effort and investment that went in to making the successful venture what it is today.

That said, I'm still a little sad to see control of the company move outside Lawrence.

Kudos to the Simons and all the employees for their hard work!

Phillbert 4 years, 11 months ago

"In the beginning there was the vision."

Somebody has a bit of a Messiah complex...

BigPrune 4 years, 11 months ago

Does this mean Lawrence is free to grow?

:-)

DillonBarnes 4 years, 11 months ago

I have never had a bad experience with Sunflower customer service.

geekyhost 4 years, 11 months ago

Interesting that they say they receive more complaints from Sunflower users than anyone else.

Kent Fisher 4 years, 11 months ago

This article sounded more like a self-serving documentary, rather than a news-worthy press release. Not much was said about the fate of the employees.

yankeevet 4 years, 11 months ago

yes; could mean a few employees will be gone; replaced with "their" folks

Joseph Jarvis 4 years, 11 months ago

Self-serving documentary? Try misty-eyed propaganda. The byline says as much ("Staff Report"). So much for journalistic integrity at the LJW.

Steve Jacob 4 years, 11 months ago

If the LJW is a stand alone company, that's bad. I always thought the paper stayed alive due to the partnership of Sunflower. I never had problems with Sunflower, so I will give them a chance. But we have more options now.

pooter 4 years, 11 months ago

Good.

Now if they'll just remove the bandwidth caps their customer base will grow.

*

lionheart72661 4 years, 11 months ago

there is a good reason for the band width caps. Here it is: your neighbor uses 500 G of band width and you use only 15. You are obviously on the same line. Someone has to pay for it. Would it be right for you to pay for your neighbors bandwidth. Example: I used to live in an area where all of the electric meters were centrally located, The electric company would read the meters and average it out and divide it among the residence. So i was paying for someone elses usage. NOT FAIR!! You're right. Same thing with bandwidth. So call a CSR and find out more if you like. Oh did I fail to mention I was once a CSR for SFBB and the Simons were Great to work for and they did take care of their employees

waswade 4 years, 11 months ago

just another outsider killing the small town feel of Lawrence.

Vinny1 4 years, 11 months ago

Lawrence is not a small town anymore. Regardless of how you WANT to see it, you have to face the facts. Lawrence is a large and growing city. If you want small town, head down to Ottawa or Baldwin or somewhere that is actually a small town.

waswade 4 years, 11 months ago

I didn't say it WAS a small town. Some people would like to keep a small town feel; kind neighbors, close communities, locally owned businesses. Lawrence is not Johnson county.

Lindsey Buscher 4 years, 11 months ago

Yes congratulations indeed for building up my bill to $165.

In all seriousness though, I have always hated Sunflower because it is generally overpriced and the service is mediocre. I tried to get satellite but i don't have a clear view of the south sky in my neighborhood.

Here is an example. One summer I noticed my internet speed crawling to a near hault, so I called Sunflower up. Turns out that I had been exceeding my bandwith and in retribution they intentionally slowed me down on purpose without telling me just so that I would call. Who does that? I understand paying more if one exceeds their limit, or mailing a notice, or an email, or calling me, but intentionally slowing me down just so I would call so they could scold me, really?

nonbeliverofprint 4 years, 11 months ago

Are you for real? Sunflower does not scold their customers for over using their bandwidth. You are just making stuff up to find a reason to hate them. That is the funniest thing I've heard all day.

nanimwe 4 years, 11 months ago

I've known other folks that have experienced this.

tomatogrower 4 years, 11 months ago

The cable company in Ottawa, Ks is owned by an out of state company. They recently shut down most of their office, and only have one customer service person. If she's sick, they shut down the office. They still have support staff, but I think they are all scheduled remotely. I hear the service is pretty bad. I don't think this is the same company, but I worry that's what you get when your cable company is based in another state.

nonbeliverofprint 4 years, 11 months ago

Allegiance is in Ottawa. And you are right. I have heard their service is terrible.

rbs 4 years, 11 months ago

I just hope the new owners keep the local customer service reps. . . I would hate to think these jobs would get contracted out to a call center in India. . .

JayCat_67 4 years, 10 months ago

And if they do, I hope the Indian employees at least get to keep their real names.

Thats_messed_up 4 years, 11 months ago

Oh No! What if they close the comments section after each story? What will you hippies do?

akt2 4 years, 11 months ago

This concerns me. We like Sunflower and have been customers for over 20 years. The good thing is that there are no contracts. If I have to deal with an out of state company and receive mediocre service, even once, that will be the end of it for me. That will include the bundle. Phone, internet and cable. There are AT&T offers in my mail weekly. I'm sure we'll be bombarded with offers from everywhere now. Dish Network reps were just in the neighborhood last week.

kernal 4 years, 11 months ago

I've never opted for Dish Network because everyone I know who had it told me horror stories about it and eventually went back to Sunflower, or still plan to. By the way, I have no financial interest in The World Co. or any of their subsidiaries.

Jeff Cuttell 4 years, 11 months ago

I had Dish for awhile and it was terrible! Every weather system that came through the area knocked it out. I realized how good I had it with Sunflower pretty quick.

All I hear is how bad AT&T is also.

Sunflower has been and I'm sure they will continue to be a great service company whatever the name.

laiie430 4 years, 11 months ago

I find all of the AT&T ads on this page particularly amusing. Maybe the new company won't limit bandwidth...

monkeyspunk 4 years, 11 months ago

Almost everybody puts cap on speeds for different pricepoints. Not everybody uses or needs maximum Mbps. The infrastructure couldn't handle it anyway.

Are you referring to data transfer allotment?

Jeff Cuttell 4 years, 11 months ago

I do think At&T is smart enough to realize that they should advertise where people are looking. It also shows how Sunflower/LJW isn't afraid to sell competitors advertising.

mr_right_wing 4 years, 11 months ago

Wow....some little unheard of company...not Commcast or Cox or TimeWarner??

I don't use any Sunflower Broadband products, so I'm not too concerned.

Should be interesting...

he_who_knows_all 4 years, 11 months ago

By commenting here you just used a product of theirs.

kansasredlegs 4 years, 11 months ago

Anyone think that the market was getting ready to be opened up to outside companies and the one-local company monopoly was about to collapse with new franchise agreements for other companies? The City Commission has staved off competition for years, the most recent vision the Simons had this time must have been, "Get out while the gettin's good". Let the free market reign. We all should start receiving better offers, i.e., lower prices, real soon as the monopolized market opens up.

geekyhost 4 years, 11 months ago

Witness their wall-to-wall coverage of the Lawrence bid to get Google fiber optics recently. Oh, you didn't see a lot of coverage other than a brief single mention in a city commission summary? Huh, what a big shocker. They didn't even mention that Topeka had renamed their city to "Google, Kansas" for a month, something of considerable local and national interest that even the NYT picked up on, and they neglected to mention that several other nearby cities were vying for Google Fiber. Why? Because citizens might have then indicated interest in the program.

They might have been able to stave off the Google threat, but they couldn't keep Sprint Wi-Max or other mobile 4G networks out forever. They also couldn't keep people subscribed to cable TV, especially not after this Christmas when all the new internet-connected TV devices start selling like hotcakes.

Byrne 4 years, 11 months ago

They didn't mention the Google, Kansas, thing you say.

But that's not how I remember it, and a search indicates there were three different stories.

Maybe you just missed them. Hope this helps.

geekyhost 4 years, 11 months ago

You're right. There was an AP article. I'm blaming LJW search, because I searched for this coverage daily at the time and only found a sentence in a city commission report.

And I apologize for seeming to move the goalposts, but the news blackout happened before April 1. That's an important distinction, because Google had a submission deadline sometime in March. Otherwise, they'd have never done the April fool's prank.

The only Google-Topeka mention that looks like it happened before the end of March cutoff for the bid process was the AP article, and it was an AP article instead of something that could very well easily have been written locally with local city commission reaction to Topeka's move. That would have required the LJW mentioning the Lawrence bid, though. Perhaps even talking about local and community impact of having an ultra high speed network that charged competitive prices.

Google was using community engagement and user submissions as a gauge of user interest, so not mentioning the bid can be seen as an attempt to scuttle it. Here's the only mention I could find of the Lawrence bid before the submission cutoff. One sentence. http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2010/mar/02/city-commission-rejects-plan-more-apartments-west-/#c1171809

Wouldn't readers have been interested in knowing where they could find the city website for submitting supplemental materials for the Google bid? Or that Lawrence was pondering the bid before the city commission meeting?

Your search seems to be better than mine, so can you find anything before April 1 that mentions Lawrence submitting a bid for Google fiber optics other than a brief mention in a city commission report? Can you find the Web address the city set up?

Let's compare and contrast with how Topeka reported. Well before the Google, Kansas thing: http://cjonline.com/news/business/2010-02-21/google_plan_sparks_area_interest One of dozens of articles they wrote on the subject.

geekyhost 4 years, 11 months ago

I can't wait for 4G flavored hotcakes.

frankwiles 4 years, 11 months ago

Just because no one has stepped up to be competition does not make one a monopoly. Even if you can somehow overlook their actual competitors such as AT&T, Dish, and DirectTV. Anyone can apply for a cable franchise in Lawrence, there has never been a restriction.

If you do a bit of research you'll find Sunflower to be one of the most reasonably priced systems overall in the nation. Sure the "Pay almost nothing for 3 months" sounds like a good deal, until you realize that the other 21 months of your contract you end up paying more than you would have with Sunflower.

geekyhost 4 years, 11 months ago

If you do a bit of research, you'll find that Sunflower Broadband pricing has changed every time they've had competition.

Adrienne Sanders 4 years, 11 months ago

Looking at the Knology website, I can't even find their basic plans and rates for the cities they currently serve. In short, their website sucks. That does not really fill me with confidence.

kernal 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm truly curious as to how you know that, HL.

a_flock_of_jayhawks 4 years, 11 months ago

Hedley doesn't. Just take a look at the details of recent M&A activity in telecom.

a_flock_of_jayhawks 4 years, 11 months ago

Better yet, look at the recent Cablevision acquisition of Bresnan. Cablevision paid about $4500 per sub. You have no idea what you're talking about.

KNOL financials a train wreck? Apparently some people would love to be a part of that train wreck. Just how do you think they could convince investment banks to help fund the acquisition, especially in this economy and at what you claim is an unreasonably high price? They beat the street estimate for 2Q and their stock is up 11% - that's after the Sunflower announcement.

jaybark 4 years, 11 months ago

Careful what you wish for. Since Everest was bought by Surewest, my monthly bill has increased $40. Service has been spotty as well. And, seriously? Time Warner? Have you ever lived in an area that gets Time Warner? Comcast thinks their service is overpriced and terrible.

jehovah_bob 4 years, 11 months ago

Lawrence, where even our local cable company has absentee landlords.

Jeff Cuttell 4 years, 11 months ago

For once, you said something correct. AT&T does lack. That is why Sunflower has done so well. They are actually well above the curve in technology.

Everest, Time warner, Cox, they all have big downfalls when it comes the channels they provide. Ask someone in KC what they think of the first two or Topeka about Cox.

jessibean 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm really disappointed in this. REALLY disappointed. Sunflower has always prided itself on being a local company, something very few OTHER cable companies can do, and all the local company morals get shoved out the window.

If my partner didn't WORK for Sunflower and therefor we receive our services for free, I would be canceling immediately.

overthemoon 4 years, 11 months ago

Agree. Losing "local" is not a good thing.

Bassetlover 4 years, 11 months ago

Kudos to everyone at Sunflower Broadband for ten years of terrific customer service! I'm sad to see it sold but just hope the quality of service remains high and that everyone's jobs stay intact. Every customer service rep there I have talked to has been 5 stars! Wish I had a dollar every time I had to call them b/c I hit the wrong button on my remote control and lost my picture! They are patient, kind, and service-oriented. It doesn't get better than that. And they are always available, no matter how late it is! Love them!!!!!

kernal 4 years, 11 months ago

Ditto, ditto, ditto, ditto, ditto, ditto, ditto! Oh, wait. I did experience a rude person 10 years ago and seriously doubt she still works there. From what I've experienced, the Simons don't tolerate rudeness very long. Some employees may have a different take on that, but I'm saying it as a customer.

geekyhost 4 years, 11 months ago

I've had mostly good experiences with their customer service when it comes to physically installing and maintaining cables. However, I am a technically proficient person, so I know when I've got a phone tech that doesn't know what they're talking about. And I've been in that situation many times. They're undertrained phone people who read from scripts, no matter which language they speak.

nanimwe 4 years, 11 months ago

I agree. I went from sunflower to Dish Network due to a move and I'm sorry I ever said anything bad about sunflower.

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 11 months ago

I may not like his right wing editorials, but he has my respect for what he accomplished as a businessman and visionary.

I feel uneasy about this because they have received every award imaginable. They can go no where but down from here.

I hope that is not the case.

Sigmund 4 years, 11 months ago

Sunflower Broadband management (both past and present, Patrick Knorr in particular) were among the most deceitful and worst management team I have ever dealt with. On the other hand their customer service group including the technicians are/were heads and shoulders above any competitor in this market.

It does seem odd that the World Company would sell their electronic properties in favor of their newspaper division. Is selling newspapers for 50 cents a piece and then giving away the same content online for free a great model for future success, without getting government bailouts I mean; or is it simply the case of bleeding money badly and this was the only thing that anyone was willing to buy?

a_flock_of_jayhawks 4 years, 11 months ago

You obviously do not know anything about economics and finance in the telecom industry. Judging by the rest of your comments on this thread, you also lack knowledge in other areas.

Jeff Cuttell 4 years, 11 months ago

It is worth that much. Don't only consider the rates you pay. You have to count the dollars in advertising revenue. HL, you don't say much that makes any sense. I feel like you must just sit at your computer all day and night with no job or friends and try to think of the craziest things you can to throw out there and pretend you are changing peoples ideas and making friends.

Keith 4 years, 11 months ago

"or is it simply the case of bleeding money badly and this was the only thing that anyone was willing to buy?"

Yes.

kernal 4 years, 11 months ago

Maybe the LJW has been loosing money and up until now has been used as a tax writeoff for the World Company? If that is the case, those of us who enjoy the free online access and commenting may have to start subscribing for access. If The World Company sold Sunflower Broadband, seems to me they may have to pay the new owner for our online access. Or, or, or...

Just gave myself a headache. What's the rest of the story, please? We chomped down the carrot and want more.

helloannie 4 years, 11 months ago

Sunflower has great customer service. I just wish they had great products and some choice in this town would be nice. Our cable and internet service is terrible and there is no other choice in Lawrence.

PebblesFlintstone 4 years, 11 months ago

What do you mean there's no other choice in Lawrence? I have AT&T internet (basic service, $19.95 a month with no bandwidth caps) and DirecTV ($50/month). This is much cheaper than what I paid for Sunflower for fewer channels and similar internet speed (and the bandwidth overages always jacked the bill sky high). Only twice have I lost satellite signal since January and I've never lost internet service. Yes, Sunflower's customer service reps were always lovely to deal with but their product was sub-par.

geekyhost 4 years, 11 months ago

Depends on where you are in town. AT&T isn't available everywhere.

The bandwidth overages drove me nuts, too.

Do you use AT&T for video streaming? If so, how does it do? I might want to switch when they're on my end of town.

PebblesFlintstone 4 years, 11 months ago

I have the very slowest AT&T service at the moment (it's summer and I'm rarely home) and have noticed the limited video streaming I have watched is comparable to my old Sunflower Bronze level. But if I'm desperate to watch something, I just let it load while I do something else and then watch it. Other friends have the $34.95 AT&T level and watch all their Hulu and Netflix instant stuff without incident.

I may upgrade once the winter hits. AT&T isn't perfect, but I'm much happier with it than I ever was with Sunflower.

whats_going_on 4 years, 11 months ago

Do some research on DirectTV...they are a nightmare. Bad choice. :\

PebblesFlintstone 4 years, 11 months ago

To each his own. I had DirecTV for years (right after they became an option in Lawrence) before a move forced me to use Sunflower again for awhile and never had a technical problem or an instance of bad customer service. And like I said above, since I switched back to DirecTV in January, I've had better service and better prices than I ever got from Sunflower. Sunflower who admitted that my cable/internet signal was weak due to issues on their end but never offered a fix or a discount.

bkreed1960 4 years, 11 months ago

I switched to DirecTV 19 months ago and everything was great. The satellite didn't go out once (even with the crazy weather this winter), but now since May it has been going out at least once or twice a week for hours at a time. When my contract is up, I'll be switching to something else.

gccs14r 4 years, 11 months ago

Sounds like your dish is out of alignment. You could probably have that fixed.

bkreed1960 4 years, 11 months ago

I switched to DirecTV 19 months ago and everything was great. The satellite didn't go out once (even with the crazy weather this winter), but now since May it has been going out at least once or twice a week for hours at a time. When my contract is up, I'll be switching to something else.

Christine Anderson 4 years, 11 months ago

This sucks. And, their employees knew about it yesterday. Officially, they were all told at a meeting at the Arts Center this morning at 0730. I am angry and worred on behalf of my daughter who works in customer service. She only recently got fulltime hours with health insurance. Now this crap-who knows wnat will happen?

grammaddy 4 years, 11 months ago

A friend of mine is also in customer service. They were told by Knology that they would keep their jobs if they were good at them but there would be cutbacks and redundancies. Sounded like a nice way to give them some false hope. She did say that the new company had broader bandwidths and cheaper internet service.As far as that transferring into any savings, I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

overthemoon 4 years, 11 months ago

You'd think the newspaper owned by the same people would know what their readers/subscribers would really be interested in. Like...are the rates going up? Down? What about customer service? Will the guys in trucks still show up within a short period of time from a distress call? Instead we get a list of awards won. Not a good thing to try to distract the reader away from the obvious worries here.

kernal 4 years, 11 months ago

They can't tell us; they don't own it anymore. That's what this story is about.

overthemoon 4 years, 11 months ago

journalism isn't dependent on ownership. besides, sale won't be final til lat fall.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 4 years, 11 months ago

The question is: what does the World Co. plan to do with $165M dollars? There is no reason to unload the business unit, unless there are plans in the works that require a lot of dough and promise to produce more income than the cable unit would have. That's what has me intrigued.

Sigmund 4 years, 11 months ago

OldEnuf2BYurDad (anonymous) says… "The question is: what does the World Co. plan to do with $165M dollars?"

Pay taxes on the gains today before they sky rocket next year.

Hudson Luce 4 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, this looks like the Simons family is cashing out of their business. I'm pretty sure the World Company (which I think is the holding company for the media outlets) is closely held by the Simons family. I wouldn't be surprised to see the LJW and its regional affiliates get sold to someone like McClatchy or Capital Cities, albeit for less money. I also think it's interesting the deals are going forward this year, as well, probably due to impending changes in the tax laws. As for "supporting local business", everyone makes the best deal they can, and if a local business gets a good offer for a buyout, there's no reason for them not to go ahead with it, especially in an economy like this. The only locals that are likely to survive are those who own their own physical plant free and clear of debt (or own their own buildings and don't have to pay rent), whose raw material costs are relatively low and likely to stay that way, and which provide services with a high degree of expertise/value added. I'd say that the Free State Brewery and Ernst Hardware are good examples of this. Any business in Lawrence which has to pay rent is going to be unsustainable for anything more than about a year, that's how long they last, by and large.

Sigmund 4 years, 11 months ago

Agree completely, in fact it makes sense to sell your winners (i.e. Sunflower Broadband) in the lower tax environment and your losers in a high tax environment (i.e. LJWorld) and offset other income from the higher tax rates.

Jeff Cuttell 4 years, 11 months ago

That will never happen. They would go to an online paper only before they would sell it. 1890 is a long time to own something. It would be pretty hard to dump it.

Sigmund 4 years, 11 months ago

No matter how old something is, if it is losing money eventually you go broke. I think the Family is too comfortable and smart to do that. Even Ford gave up and brought in new management (just in time) and it is working out pretty well.

mistygreen 4 years, 11 months ago

I have always had positive experiences with Sunflower customer service. I hope that will continue. However, I do not like their caps on bandwidth and limited cable channels.

artwhore 4 years, 11 months ago

considering the cable company is the only part of the world co making any money, this doesn't make any sense at all.

slowplay 4 years, 11 months ago

"That cable system, initially known as Sunflower Cablevision and today as Sunflower Broadband, became an award-winning industry innovator through its locally originated programming and its versatile adoption of emerging technology, making it an Internet provider and a telephone company, in addition to its television programming offerings."

An innovator and adopter of emerging technology??? Was this a clip and paste from their prospectus? I've had techs out to my apartment at least 10 times because of pixilation and internet crawl speeds. They have split the signal over too many users but refuse to install another repeater or switch.

Still waiting for AT&T U-verse to be available.

frankwiles 4 years, 11 months ago

You obviously do not know how cable works. For example, there are no such devices known as "switches" for cable tv, at least in the way you describe.

There is no degradation of signal because of more people "listening" to it. 9 times out of 10 the problem is signal interference within the last 100 ft before the home. In many cases a cable company cannot fix a problem in an apartment complex due to the landlord not wanting to pay for or allow the work to be done.

It works like radio, over a cable... the Laser doesn't have to install another tower because I tuned in, just another tower to increase their range.

slowplay 4 years, 11 months ago

Frank, We both know that the dB will vary depending on the length of coax. Hence the repeater/amplifier. Same analogy as your radio antenna's. The broadband is controlled by edge switches. Capacity is diminished by the amount of users trying to connect. Like water flowing through a pipe. Only so much can get through at one time the rest backs up. In this case it's IP packets. There are too many users in my complex for the current infrastructure to support. Many of us have complained, but no response.

Mari Aubuchon 4 years, 11 months ago

Let us hope that our experience is better than these:

http://www.my3cents.com/productReview.cgi?company=KNOLOGY

To sum up: billing issues that are NEVER resolved and no after hours or weekend tech support

tir 4 years, 11 months ago

Sounds like Sunflower's customers have just been sold out, big time.

I am really sorry that this is happening. I have stayed with Sunflower because of its customer service, despite the ever increasing rates. If service turns as crappy as those complaints against Knology suggests it will, look out, U-verse here I come.

Chrissy Neibarger 4 years, 11 months ago

The unfortunate things about the site that you linked to, they never tell the good stories, only the bad. Most sites and product reviews cater to the bad stuff. So we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

greenworld 4 years, 11 months ago

Does this mean that I will finally be able to get internet in Mclouth finally??

uncleandyt 4 years, 11 months ago

Media consolidation is your friend. We should feel blessed to pay whatever they charge. Knoledge ain't free. The new owners might keep C-SPAN 3 and add LINKTV, and FreeSpeechTV, and Al Jazeera, and BBC, and a hundred more shopping channels. Now is not the time to worry about Net Neutrality. We can wait until it's gone.

pace 4 years, 11 months ago

Sunflower wasn't the best bang for the buck, but they were local and they, for me, had good service, You could get those guys on the phone and they would come the day they said. You could go in the office. I had trouble with their greed. When my friends house burned down, they charged her new prices for 4 year old boxes, which they had been collecting rent on for years. It was a thousand dollar bill. Service and local, sold me. Now I will probably go out hunting for best deal. This is a loss.

slang4d 4 years, 11 months ago

If it even works for you. I've lived in two houses with AT&T DSL. In one it worked fine, in the other, for some reason, it never ever worked properly. It was miserable and we were never refunded for many outages. Maybe 20 out of 30 days of the month did we actually have internet service because it would randomly go haywire.

slang4d 4 years, 11 months ago

If it even works for you. I've lived in two houses with AT&T DSL. In one it worked fine, in the other, for some reason, it never ever worked properly. It was miserable and we were never refunded for many outages. Maybe 20 out of 30 days of the month did we actually have internet service because it would randomly go haywire.

Paul Geisler 4 years, 11 months ago

Overall I'm rather disappointed to read this as I do prefer to deal with local businesses, but this comment about Sunflower's history and their efforts to work with KU really ticks me off. "The World Company wired buildings on the KU campus at no charge to the university. For whatever reason, the university never really utilized the system that had been provided."

If any of you think that is the entire story you're sadly mistaken. It's rather ironic that the LJW would include a point like that in the Sunflower Cable/Broadband history when KU and KU Students have been major sources of revenue for Sunflower Cable/Broadband for many years!

Perhaps this is just another example of how Lawrence is falling apart economically. If the World Company is willing to sell off some of their business in Lawrence, what will go next?

a_flock_of_jayhawks 4 years, 11 months ago

You're right, there is more to the KU story. They were being very gracious. The rest of the story is not particularly flattering for KU.

mommydaycare 4 years, 11 months ago

I bet Local Freenet company is happy now, please people turn to ATT, not them, nothing but headaches and bad customer service, when the service is actually working!!!!!

pinecreek 4 years, 11 months ago

They must have heard that we were moving to AT&T this month. :)

Seriously, $165 million? That is simply amazing, The Holidays should be really nice this year at the Simons house.

kernal 4 years, 11 months ago

The taxes on that will be even more amazing.

Sigmund 4 years, 11 months ago

The taxes nest year would be even more amazinger!

whats_going_on 4 years, 11 months ago

I hope I hope I hope they are cheaper, have better service, and are cheaper. I used to have cable from Sunflower with DVR, and at least 3 times the DVR just erased everything on it and just shut down...wouldn't let me even watch TV. and I REFUSE to get DirectTV from ATT, it is the worst company on the planet. (Please, I beg you...if you are even thinking about DirectTV, do research first, their ratings on everything are F because theyve scammed thousands and thousands of people)

With that said, I now have internet with ATT and I'm happy, although my boyfriend hates it because his Xbox gaming isnt as fast (lame).

independant1 4 years, 11 months ago

Get him his own internet connection, bigger hard drive and memory for XBox then find yourself a boy toy cause he'll be useless.

Ricky_Vaughn 4 years, 11 months ago

Probably trying to drum up some scratch for a new, local business venture....any ideas?

Bursting 4 years, 11 months ago

dear georgia owners, can we please get some better rates on our cable and internet?

ToriFreak13 4 years, 11 months ago

Applause to the phrase "better to try and fail". Major Fail Sunflower! It used to be easy to succeed in business when you could con 4000 new customers (and their parents) each year. Now with the power of social networking: the word gets out very quickly about poor service, outrageous pricing, and unacceptable usage contracts. Don't let the door hit ya Broadband Man!

Chrissy Neibarger 4 years, 11 months ago

I refuse to go back to AT&T. Refuse. I have had nothing but issues with them, we never had our internet working when we were on them and they stuck us with a "cancellation" fee when we could never get it working in the first place. (yes, there techs came out and they kept "moving up in level" to see what the issues were.. costing me more time off work to wait for their sorry rears. ) I will just wait and see what happens, because other than AT&T, i'm not aware of any other cable/internet providers in this area.

slang4d 4 years, 11 months ago

Me too, AT&T internet never worked properly at our house. We'd wait days for service and by the time a repairman came it was magically working again. Waited months to switch because we couldn't handle the bandwidth caps (we don't have cable television and rely on streaming internet tv for entertainment), finally gave in and haven't regretted it other than one bill with a $100+ overage of bandwidth charge.

dontcallmedan 4 years, 11 months ago

You can get about 30 crystal clear channels through the air with a roof antenna . And not a penny per month.

Mike Hatch 4 years, 11 months ago

Where does one find a $50,000 house in a "nice" neighborhood in Lawrence?

Keith 4 years, 11 months ago

Those HOA restrictions against antennas were struck down years ago with the help of the satellite dish companies. Have at it!

a_flock_of_jayhawks 4 years, 11 months ago

You're right, there is more to the KU story. They were being very gracious. The rest of the story is not particularly flattering for KU.

EJ Mulligan 4 years, 11 months ago

Is Broadband Man in his cave weeping today? What will become of him?

nytemayr 4 years, 11 months ago

How many employees got fired this year?

I wonder if there is a connection?

Eric TheCapn 4 years, 11 months ago

Whoa, that is the most (forgive the pun) flowery, romantic story about a cable company being bought ever.

"In the beginning there was the vision. Forty-five years later, it was a spectacular reality. Today, the baton is being passed to a new owner." Lol-bot.

I thought this was a business story, not some sort of self-serving eulogy about the genius of Sunflower workers and totally biased 'history' and awards list. What about the employees? What might it mean to residents' bills and service? What about anything that matters, 'news' story?!

slowplay 4 years, 11 months ago

I think this was a PR statement from Sunflower reprinted exactly as they sent it under the guise of a news story.

kernal 4 years, 11 months ago

Ooo, if they were to do that I'd match your contribution. That's the best idea I've heard in months.

Moderateguy 4 years, 11 months ago

Bummer. We just switched back to Sunflower from AT&T. BOHICA.

kernal 4 years, 11 months ago

To bad we can't subscribe to individual channels. I only watch fifty channels that are part of the Bronze package and even some of those I rarely watch.

Don Whiteley 4 years, 11 months ago

A new owner is synonymous to a new name for a product: it means the price went up.

Belinda Rehmer 4 years, 11 months ago

I have been a VERY Satisfied customer of Sunflower Broadband for 20+ years. Their Customer Service should be an example to every CS business. But I do have questions from the story... maybe they will be addressed tomorrow? 1. Will the current staff still have jobs? 2. What happens to FreeState Studio? 3. How will this change my service? 4. Did they just buy the internet/phone/tv services or did they buy 6News? 5. This would probably be answered with the answer to #4 but... what about KTKA 49News? 6. Will there be more services offered with the new company? 7. With a wider network capability will shows like 1 on 1 Trivia, Janie's Kitchen and River City Weekly become syndicated? :-) Congratulations to the Simons family! I trust you made provision for your faithful employees as well as Lawrence as a whole. I know you are committed to this community and I look forward to smiling when the rest of the information comes out. I just can't imagine you would leave this community in the bag... unless you are tired of all these attacks day in and day out on every single article you put out for us.

slang4d 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm glad something was finally posted about this considering other news sources published articles about the pending buy a week ago. (way to not be on the ball LJW)

Hope they keep the local customer service center. Hated dealing w/ AT&T and their system of transferring me to ten different people in three different states and two different countries to get a straight answer.

Reuben Turner 4 years, 11 months ago

i've had 1 experience with the cable company, but it was handled quickly and properly so. since then, we have been on the up and up. hopefully this change doesn't mean increase in service. hopefully service doesn't go downhill.

Sigmund 4 years, 11 months ago

This is probably very good news for Sunflower Broadband users, despite the fact that The World Company is "local" and Knology is not. Take a look at how this is being covered by DSLReports.com and the users there.

"Sunflower was among the first to implement the idea of low caps and high overages ($2 for each additional gigabyte). However, the company has slowly been raising their caps as AT&T begins pushing uncapped U-Verse service harder into their markets. Sunflower customers may be interested to learn that Knology has no caps and is pushing forward with DOCSIS 3.0 upgrades." http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Knology-To-Buy-Sunflower-Broadband-109612 and "that's good news for consumers, given Knology is faster with network upgrades and doesn't cap their customers. It of course may not be good news for employees, who are being gathered for a three hour meeting on the deal this morning." http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Knology-Confirms-160-Million-Purchase-Of-Sunflower-Broadband-109725

I might even consider switching from ATT Uverse. However on the Cable TV front we may see encryption of more of the HD Bronze Level (basic service) TV channels which means additional fees for digital cable boxes for the most basic HD services. If that happens I'll be switching cable TV to Uverse.

a_flock_of_jayhawks 4 years, 11 months ago

"If that happens I'll be switching cable TV to Uverse."

Which also requires a settop unless or until DCAS hits the street.

Sigmund 4 years, 11 months ago

True enough, but the only reason I use Sunflower Cable is because all of my TV's already have QAM tuners and many Bronze Level HD channels are ClearQAM. If that changes and I have to get a set top box for every TV I will then prefer Uverse.

ToriFreak13 4 years, 11 months ago

Anyone that claims they have had none to only one issue with their Sunflower the last 5 years is a bold face liar. Sunflower itself has had a minimum 3 outages at the base over the last 5 years. When they have an outage...you have an outage. How many times do you have to reset your modem? How many of your stations on the bronze level suddenly got a bit fuzzy? How long did you have to wait for Sunflower to work out the contracts for channel 5 and 9 out of Kansas City? How many internet providers in the US turn off your service when they find a virus on your computer? A virus that you acquired through their very own local network. How many internet providers cap your usage...only to allow you to go over that cap and bill you for it before warning you? Sure their customer service was awesome...give credit to the many Lawrence residents that work there and cared about their neighbors. Keep in mind a customer service department gets good with experience...you only get experience by dealing with issues over and over again.

ps. Kudos on the library idea...would be a miracle though.

weeslicket 4 years, 11 months ago

wait a minute here.... from the article: "Knology is a telephone, Internet and broadband provider operating in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida and South Dakota. Ironically, the World Company was represented in the transaction by RBC Daniels, the legacy company of Bill Daniels, who said cable never would work in Lawrence. Managing Director Randall Wells led the RBC Daniels effort. Knology sources valued the transaction at $165 million and said closing is expected in the fourth quarter."

the closing in in the fourth quarter. ljw-- when was this deal penned?

H_Lecter 4 years, 11 months ago

I have to commend Sunflower for the superior service that I've received both in-person and over the phone. I hope as Knology, that legacy continues.

I'd also like to thank Sunflower for helping me keep the freezer stocked. All I have to do is report that my cable isn't working...

pace 4 years, 11 months ago

I was looking around the internet on the new company. Several sites but it looks like noone pays top dollar for a service company and plans to cut prices, service is more likely to be rationed. I hope my predictions are incorrect and we retain at least the same level of service.

http://www.my3cents.com/showReview.cgi?id=78952

SpeedRacer 4 years, 11 months ago

I have had nothing but outstanding service over the last 30 years, although I was disappointed when tech people stopped taking calls and they started going through customer service. My beef, as it would be with any provider, has always been that I have to pay for all those tiers to watch the few stations I actually want. I also hate that I can't get certain stations without having to rent a box, and that my tv's own channel guide cannot operate through Sunflower. Having said this, my dad has Comcast and that has got to be the most godawful company I have ever encountered.

vega 4 years, 11 months ago

Gave up cable a while ago - but now it seems that my internet connection is in peril. Checked the Knology website, doom and gloom.... hard to figure out what to expect since they have a different plan for every single town they cover. I just wish we had that Clear 4G available here in Lawrence, or if the Freenet could expand all over the town...

Sigmund 4 years, 11 months ago

TV over IP is getting traction . ATT Uverse is here and although it's not quite eating Sunflower's Cable's lunch, it is staring hungrily at it and snatching more than a few fries when Broadband Man isn't looking. With Sprint launching HTC's EVO 4G is coming although I don't think Lawrence is officially listed on the 4G roll out map as yet. Good luck with HD over FreeNet's patchwork and sadly barely usable wireless service.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

Paying that price will produce two things:

  1. increase rates

  2. some staff will be laid off

Charles L Bloss Jr 4 years, 11 months ago

It makes me really nervous. We receive our internet service from Sunflower by radio wave. We have an antenna on our tower pointed toward the Sunflower tower at the Lecompton turnpike interchange area. Except for ice storms, we receive excellent broadband internet service at a cost of $ 50 a month. We live in the country where there is no cable service. Thank you, Lynn

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