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Archive for Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sunflower Broadband’s new owners change name to Knology

Knology CEO Rodger Johnson talks about the company that purchased Sunflower Broadband.

January 18, 2011

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So long, Sunflower. Hello, Knology.

The new owners of Lawrence’s Sunflower Broadband officially changed the name of the service Tuesday to Knology.

The Georgia-based company — which bought Sunflower from the Journal-World’s parent company late last year — is changing signs, trucks and logos to reflect the new Knology brand name and its red corporate colors.

The company uses the Knology brand name in its 12 other markets across the Southeast and Midwest. Knology CEO Rodger Johnson, who was in Lawrence for the kickoff, said consistency is important for marketing purposes.

“But I hope everything else looks pretty much the same for customers,” Johnson said. “I hope the service and high quality that Sunflower folks established will continue. We think there will be minimal change as we go forward.”

Johnson said customers also should not expect dramatic changes in rates that are charged for the company’s cable, telephone and Internet services.

“I would expect the rate strategy would be very, very similar,” Johnson said.

He said Knology — which is a publicly traded company on the Nasdaq — belongs to the same cooperative that was used by Sunflower to negotiate fees the cable providers pay to cable networks. He said the amount of fees being asked for by regional sports networks was one of the larger issues in the cable industry. But Johnson said he absolutely understood the importance of having Jayhawk basketball on the airwaves in Lawrence.

“Now that I’m a Kansas fan, I should say I think Ohio State is overrated,” Johnson said, referring to the team that is one spot ahead of the Jayhawks in the latest basketball polls.

On other issues, Johnson said:

• The company is strongly committed to continuing the local programming on Channel 6 and the 6News broadcasts. Originally, Knology had planned to sign a contract for the Journal-World’s parent company to provide content for the 6News operations. But just prior to the closing of the sale, Knology decided to operate 6News on an entirely independent basis. Johnson said the company now is using Channel 6 to determine whether local programming could be used to strengthen their systems in other markets.

“We are very excited about both 6News and Channel 6,” Johnson said. “We’ve made a very major commitment to make that a viable piece of our business structure in town. We’re going with all guns blazing to be successful with 6News and Channel 6.”

• Local layoffs that were announced near the end of last year were part of the process of eliminating redundancies between the two companies. Johnson confirmed the majority of the layoffs were in Sunflower’s customer service call center and accounting and finance positions. Knology operates call centers in Augusta, Ga., and Sioux Falls, S.D., that serve all of Knology’s markets. Johnson said he was confident customer service would not decline as a result of the change. The company expects to have about 130 employees in Lawrence initially, and then “grow from there.” Previously, Sunflower had employed about 200 people.

• Extending broadband service to additional unincorporated areas of Douglas County will be studied. Johnson said the company since 2008 has been implementing an “edge out” strategy that attempts to broaden the geographical footprint of its markets.

“Our business is very healthy and we have the capital to consider investing in expanding the footprint in and around the Lawrence area over time,” Johnson said.

Shortly after the name change Tuesday, questions emerged about what the change would mean for e-mail users who have @sunflower.com as part of their e-mail address. A company spokeswoman said that the @sunflower.com addresses would continue to work, and that the company had not yet made any decision on whether it would attempt to change the addresses in the future.

“We have not finalized any e-mail migration plan, so as of today, it is just going to be business as usual,” said local Knology spokeswoman Maria Preston Cargill.

Comments

frank mcguinness 4 years ago

“Now that I’m a Kansas fan, I should say I think Ohio State is overrated,” Johnson said

Thats some serious stuff to some of us locals so please don't just say that to try to appease us.

Lindsey Buscher 4 years ago

I'm sure it was toungue-in-cheek humor but it's still pandering. The only kind of pandering I want from my cable company CEO is assurances that rates won't go up for customers stealing cable.

Bladerunner 4 years ago

I checked the date to see if it was April Fool's day!

Marcy McGuffie 4 years ago

That's my best guess (what jonas said) too, but it's been driving me crazy. I'm glad you asked that question, seeker.

1029 4 years ago

This being a Georgia company, it is likely that this word is of Kartvelian origin, in which case I believe it would be the 'N' that is silent, and not the 'K'. This would make the pronounciation more like "college-y", which would also make sense given that KU is located in Lawrence and thus the choice of "Kology" is very clever. Plus, these days it is considered hip to replace C's with K's in words.

DanR 4 years ago

Watch the video... "Nawl-uh-gee" if you're from Georgia.

"Now-ledge-ee" if you're north of the mason dixon.

puddleglum 4 years ago

you must say it properly with a savanah accent: let the words sorta melt off your tongue like sweet molasses

kingjoe 3 years, 11 months ago

Is your username from the Terry Goodkind books?

DillonBarnes 4 years ago

This sure makes me nervous, time will tell.

Danielle Brunin 4 years ago

"Moland? I wouldn't drink anything called 'Moland.'"

boltzmann 4 years ago

I guess they can't expand to Nebraska, because everyone there knows that N is for Nology.....

Hazel Ripstra 4 years ago

Hello Knology reps, who I hope are reading these comments. It would be very important to me that you retain the sunflower.com email addresses indefinitely. I, like many others, have had my email address for a long time, and not only is it known by the many people I correspond with, it's also linked to dozens of online accounts. Having it change would be a major, major pain.

And I'm fond of the sunflower part - it says Kansas.

So please do what you can to hold on to the rights to sunflower.com for email, and let us that want to keep our email addresses.

Thanks

Noah Benham 4 years ago

Yes, Jack put it perfectly. And keeping the domain for the foreseeable future is not the same as indefinitely. Sure, maybe in 20 years subscribers will feel differently, but the plan at this point should be to keep the emails indefinitely.

WhiteDog 4 years ago

Yes. Exactly. The only reason I wouldn't let my husband even talk to the ATT rep that came to the door a couple of months ago was because I didn't want to deal with having to change the email address I've had for so many years.

There's no way I would ever keep an email address domain name I had to spell each and every time I gave it out.

Orwell 4 years ago

Exactly. I've never had to spell "Sunflower" for anyone.

If I have to start spelling "Knology" every time I want to give out my email address over the phone, I'm taking my broadband – and phone, and teevee – business elsewhere.

Tammy Copp-Barta 4 years ago

PLUS .. think of all the logos, advertising on trucks, and business cards .. oh man .. that would be TERRIBLE for customers to have to redo all their business stuff.

lawslady 4 years ago

I 2nd and 3rd and 4th that motion!

Curtis Lange 4 years ago

Like I said in the other thread, dumping the Sunflower name was a dumb move. Quickest way to piss off your customers...

overthemoon 4 years ago

There is now no advantage to Sunflower over any other national ISP. I'm shopping.

Christine Anderson 4 years ago

Dear Mr. Johnson: Thanks for putting my daughter and many others out of a job. But that's okay, right-since you are a millionare. Chamber pot!

Christine Anderson 4 years ago

What? Not allowed to criticize Knology or call the old ugly bald guy a chamber pot? Tisk, tisk...

Scott Drummond 4 years ago

The accepted term is "capitalist" and it is uttered in hushed tones by fellow thieves and the dim-witted. Usually possesses a background in sales, marketing, or other socially accepted forms of prevarication. Selfish and self-centered to an extreme degree, today's capitalist is increasingly free of governmental and societal restraint and frequently blathers incoherently in support of his current grift. Note the ability of this specimen to state much and say little.

average 4 years ago

If they went off the cap model (or the Palladium, with intermittently wretched speeds according to people I've known with it), I'm still open to switching. But, I certainly wouldn't tie my e-mail to them, much like I haven't with AT&T.

kuhusker 4 years ago

Be nice if they would offer competitive internet speeds. Their top-of-the-line 1 megabit upload speeds are a joke. AT&T has faster uploads on their cellular network!

Paula Kissinger 4 years ago

Switched to AT&T UVerse. Get 300 more TV channels including ALL the movie channels, faster internet and better phone service for $16 a month less than I was paying Sunflower. No crying here...

skinny 4 years ago

Ya, I called Sunflower yesterday asking them what they'd do to keep me as a customer as I was thinking about switching to DirecTV. To my suprise they said there was nothing they could do so I am switching to Directv. I'll get a lot more HD channels at half the price for the first year. Good Bye Sunflower!

Scott Drummond 4 years ago

Now if only we could get someone to start another newspaper.

tir 4 years ago

Unfortunately, U-verse is not available everywhere in Lawrence. I keep checking to see if this has changed for my area, but still no joy. I am just waiting to see how things shake out with Sunflower/Knology. Switching is a hassle, and I don't want to do it unless I'm sure there's a better alternative, one that would not involve dishes or bait and switch contracts.

Ricky_Vaughn 4 years ago

Broadband is still a better product than DSL, which is what AT&T offers...

kuhusker 4 years ago

Knology (neé Sunflower) is faster then regular DSL, but the newer VDSL (i.e. U-Verse) is three times faster then the best that Knology offers, at least for upload speeds, which are equally - if not more - important then the more-advertised download speeds, at least if you want to actually do productive work as opposed to merely watching Hulu all day.

Cindy Bracker 4 years ago

Despite the layoffs, there are still a significant number of Lawrence employees at Knology, and i still consider it the local option. I'm not going to switch just out of protest, to do so would jeopardize more Lawrence jobs. As long as Knology continues to provide the same kind of service I got from Sunflower, I will stay with them.

KnologySarah 4 years ago

We've noticed a lot of discussion regarding the @sunflower.com email domain. It is important to note there is no email migration plan at this time. Our customers will retain @sunflower.com email addresses for the foreseeable future; customers in many other Knology divisions have legacy email addresses.

Thank you, Sarah Scoular Call Center Supervisor Knology of Kansas

troll 4 years ago

Hi Sarah,

How do you pronounce "knology"? Is it "knowledge-ee" or, as as someone else suggested, "college-ee"?

Thanks!

llama726 4 years ago

Sarah,

Please tell your bosses that we do not appreciate having our local tech support "right-sized." Thanks.

ivalueamerica 4 years ago

You say that here, but your boss made it very clear that loosing sunflower was a very possible.

Which is it?

HalsteadHawk 4 years ago

Key words are "at this time" and "foreseeable future". Of course, nobody can foresee the future.

That said. Having your email through your ISP is a bad idea, if you go delinquent or dispute your bill for any reason, they can shut down your email account (because they own it). Always best to use a free on-line email like gmail.

1029 4 years ago

I'm predicting that "@sunflower.com" email addresses will be worth a lot of money someday.

Nikki May 4 years ago

I do have to say, the fact that there isn't a customer service here irritated me when I called the other day. I "get" why they did it. Business sense, although, local jobs are nice. Got it. But for me to call and they say things like "the address is blah blah blah, do you know where that is?" Was offensive. What the heck, of course I know where the freakin' cable store is. How are you going to tell me when you haven't been there? I should have said no. I think I might, next time, just to see what they say. They can't tell me it's right by the water place or next to Abe and Jakes, or kinda a block from waxman's. That's what we would do as a local. We'd know where something is related to something else.

bevandrex 4 years ago

We are still here answering your calls in Lawrence! Your call is being answered by a fellow Lawrencian as of right now...

Faircloth 4 years ago

The customer service is still local at this time. Sorry you took offense to someone in the LOCAL call center asking you if you knew where the address was....with things like Google Maps I am sure the new call center will be able to help direct you where you would need to go and it not be in an offensive manner.

Avery Pearson 4 years ago

I hope this company recognizes the needs of the gaming community as sunflower did not. Palladium totally sucks but it's the best bet.

midwestmom 4 years ago

When @sunflower.com goes away so does my business. I hope enough people have similar feelings will cause dumbnameology to keep it.

lionheart72661 4 years ago

“But I hope everything else looks pretty much the same for customers,” Johnson said. “I hope the service and high quality that Sunflower folks established will continue. We think there will be minimal change as we go forward.” They also told the employees at their meeting that "NOTHING" would change. Loss of at least 70 jobs! Not good! Customers should not see a dramatic change in charges! Meaning rates will go up! Well at least the paper is safe! (sarcasm)

SpeedRacer 4 years ago

I was thinking what effect an email address change would have on me. I didn't realize how much I depend on it. This would drive me nuts to have to correct all of my bill notices.

jayhawklawrence 4 years ago

I tried to access the internet yesterday with my Android phone while in a store downtown. The Knology site came up and I was asked to accept terms and conditions which is always an annoyance, then it started to download a program to my phone which scared me.

Perhaps I read clicked the wrong option, but in viewing the site again I realized that it was not that easy to understand and it just annoyed me more.

There seems to be a problem today with companies trying to pry into our lives, like a salesman putting his foot in your door so you cannot shut it. Like FACEBOOK always trying to steal private information or take it legally in the name of free enterprise.

I have talked to Knology sales people over the phone and you ask questions and you get sales pitches back without necessarily answers which is, again, very annoying.

I was able to delete the downloaded Knology program on my phone...I hope.

Kontum1972 4 years ago

Hi, Maria Preston Cargill e & z we still miss Kitt

Chester died now we have MaXX

Kat Christian 4 years ago

Well there goes Customer Service down the drain with another company. I hate out of state customer service...hope they speak English. I liked dealing with locals who know where places are, or compare town gossip, games scores and the likes. It is so impersonal when customer service reps are out of state. My bill has already gone up $5.00 this month and now that I read this article I expect it to continue to climb. That's how they do it inch by inch just like Westar. Well guess its time to look into ATT cable service now. I hear they have a great deal on a combo package that undercuts Sunflower anyway. If I'm going to have to deal with out of state reps might as well be at a cheaper rate.

Faircloth 4 years ago

You do realize that most of ATT service is outsources out of this country right??? People outside of Kansas speak english too =)

bballwizard 4 years ago

if you change my email I will drop your services. thx

pinecreek 4 years ago

Hey email is the least of it...you will also get to help pay for those acquisition costs of Sunflower--$160 million is a lot for a local franchise. When do the rate increases begin?

Linda Aikins 4 years ago

We are fortunate to have AT&T in our neighborhood, so as soon as we heard Sunflower was sold to an out-of-state conglomeraion, we switched. And then when everyone was laid off, we knew we did the right thing.

Knologized 4 years ago

Is the purple tie a corporate hope to gain market share in Manhattan as well??

maisysboys 4 years ago

I'm very upset with the change. I don't like changes, but unfortunately that's the part of life we deal with day in and day out. I'm more pissed off at Dolph Simons for selling the company in the first place. He obviously wasn't concerned about his community when he sold it to an outsider. He was more concerned about the mighty dollar that keeps his family secured long after Knology has ruffled the feathers of the JAYHAWKS. If a local person would have purchased the company, we wouldn't be dealing with this mess!!

Also, since Dooph lives in Lawrence, is he going to keep Knology or switch to a different provider?

maisysboys 4 years ago

For the record... my original message had Jayhawks in all caps, but it did not take for some reason. Go Hawks!!

wmathews 4 years ago

We have software in place that changes comments with all caps into lowercase letters.

Whitney Mathews Assistant Community Editor for Online

ralphralph 4 years ago

Must have to be more than 6 letters to trigger the all-small-olator.

Don Whiteley 4 years ago

That's what you get when your local service is replaced by Georgians. But then again, them Georgians has always been in the Kno.

Chrissy Neibarger 4 years ago

Just went to the sunflower broadband website and it's changed. It's so blah looking.. i miss my pretty kansas sunflowers :(

Only good thing they did right was keep the original user names and password for account information.

melott 4 years ago

I would switch to ATT, but they have the worst customer service in the known universe. I would switch to Direct TV, but any internet going out is very slow. Where does that leave me?

lucky7brand 4 years ago

Your comment points out the monopoly of the cable, phone, internet service in Lawrence. There are some many other companies (I'm taking about actual cable companies not Satellite) out there but not allowed in Lawrence. Maybe that will change since Sunflower was sold. I think all these companies (cable, internet, phone companies) and the services provided are a joke from the prices, contracts, all the way down to the customer service. So I guess the choice is which company will you choose to take the least of your money with the best service with the limited options there are. I don't have Sunflower thank goodness. Cut them off years ago when they miss lead me (or should I say neglected to inform me) on my internet limit and charges. Sorry to all those who lost their jobs from this change.

2GenLtown 4 years ago

"We’re going with all guns blazing"

hmmm. . . .poor timing on that one?

tryandkeepup 4 years ago

Change my "sunflower.com" and I will be gone. Marie Preston is a local gal...nice to see they kept her as a spokesperson.

DanR 4 years ago

Sad day. Sunflower might not have been flawless (usage caps and ridiculously slow upload speeds, etc.), but the local customer service was unbelievably helpful compared to any other cable/ISP I've ever dealt with.

Having moved here from Knoxville, TN, a few months ago, it's interesting (as in not surprising) that Knology tried to dump the local Lawrence programming... I'm not sure if they ever did live up to their agreement with Knoxville to simply broadcast the city and county commission meetings.

http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2009/nov/30/councilmen-want-report-from-knology/

Johnson is basically full of hot air. Knology is not a company that has ever shown any interest in being consumer-oriented at all, nor in being an honest local corporate partner. I predict this will go very badly for Lawrence... higher rates, worse service and unfulfilled promises. When they suck out all the capital they can, they'll move on and eat up another good private company.

ralphralph 4 years ago

Did we ever get an official guide to pronunciation of the name? It's a little awkward, at best ... ... unless confusion of the customer is part of the strategy of corporate mystique and utter coolness.

sezwho 4 years ago

Say the word "technology". Now say it without "tech"....silent K.

JGr 4 years ago

Watch the video - it's pronounced nah-logy.

sunflowergal 4 years ago

If our email changes to Knology then we will have to compete with 12 other markets that already have emails. Remember AOL and having to add multiple numbers at the end?

We might not be able to get any part of our current email address. I don't even remember how many places have my email as my contact.

I had one of the first email addresses from Sunflower, my email address is simply my first name at sunflower.com. Try getting that with 12 other markets ahead of you.

DillonBarnes 4 years ago

At the first sign of trouble, I will no doubt start shopping around for new service. They are walking on thin ice in my book.

kuhusker 4 years ago

This is a good a time as any for an unsolicited plug for my blog, Lawrence Broadband Observer. It originally started as a comparison blog of U-Verse against Sunflower for TV and Internet, as my family did a simultaneous comparison over a year ago, but I've kept it going with occasional posts on various aspects of broadband service in Lawrence. I will certainly report on anything Knology tries to do here in town.

http://lawrencebroadband.blogspot.com/

average 4 years ago

Curious where you are that you can get U-Verse.

I know a handful of people who got it a year or more ago. But, not at my current address. Nor any of the last 4 places I lived in Lawrence. Nor at most of my friends. Slowest buildout ever.

Not that I even want it for TV service (antenna is fine), but the internet services over 5Mb, better upload speeds, and not watching-over-my-shoulder with Knology's caps sounds good.

kuhusker 4 years ago

19th and Mass neighborhood. My understanding is about 75% of Lawrence is wired for U-Verse, and they plan to have the rest by the end of this year (2011). At least that's what the last AT&T guy I talked to said.

tir 4 years ago

I'm not very far from there, and still no U-verse at my location, according to their website. I wonder if their estimate of 75% of Lawrence being wired is very accurate.

average 4 years ago

The friends I've known with U-Verse were very near there. Everywhere else I've typed in in town, it wasn't available. 75% seems unbelievable.

TheShaman 4 years ago

Is this just a name change or will we maybe see any additions/improvements to service?

When I first came here I'll admit to being a little disappointed that Sunflower (all I could get where I was) didn't offer any of the sports packages, NHL Center Ice in particular.

Somebody misses his Bruins terribly and would love if we could see any of those sports packages added to the offerings

uncleandyt 4 years ago

Media consolidation is not your friend. Knology is building an attractive package. ComCast or another Biggie shall gobble up your information delivery system. enjoy !

Jean1183 4 years ago

I have had ATT phone service for many, many years (back when it was SW Bell). I've had their DSL for many years. I have not had any problems with their customer service, unlike my neighbor who has Sunflower.

About a year ago Sunflower sent us a survey asking "if" they provided us service, would we switch....my answer: "No, why would I pay more for your service?" My DSL is WAY faster than my neighbors internet service.

mr_right_wing 4 years ago

I've never had a problem with at&t either. I have heard of some who have though. Seems like it's kinda hit and miss...I"m glad I'm on the 'hit' side.

Remember 'Jean1183' & 'none2' they use all lower-case letters for their name now...I guess it makes them look less big and scary...!

pea 4 years ago

The Knology logo is quite ugly.

black_butterfly 4 years ago

Pea, I was thinking the same thing when I went to their website. It looks like a pre-schooler "drew" it. Not professional looking at all.

Kontum1972 4 years ago

i got a compliementary litter box scooper....its super...LoL

u rock Sarah..whoo hoo!

so do u Maria...

mr_right_wing 4 years ago

Are the bills going to be the same size? Are employees paychecks going to be the same size? How about staff size? (Since this is part of a bigger corp. there won't be as much need for local management.)

What are you hardcore locals going to do? Go without broadband altogether?

I got rid of 'cable/broadband' years ago. Anything I want to watch is available online (with less to no commercials). I didn't/don't use their telephone-cellular or internet.

Jonathan Becker 4 years ago

Two days, two outages. Stellar record so far, Knology. No phones, no Internet, no business, and no taxes to pay. And I get to pay for the non service. I don't care if he roots for the Little Sisters of the Poor. One more down day and me and my 4 phone lines, one cable and two Google machines are headed to the competition.

leeroy_johnson 4 years ago

Man, you guys are giving Kansans a bad name.

mr_right_wing 4 years ago

I saw one of their commercials today, bragging about employee involvement in the community. Of course that 'sounds' good, but how does it actually happen? Are employees pushed to volunteer/do community service or are they required?

Obviously, if they are going to use that as a selling point, they better make sure their employees are high profile at most events.

Sigmund 4 years ago

With the Knology layoffs and "right sizing", I would venture to guess there are more ATT paychecks with higher pay and better benefits in the Lawrence area than Knology paychecks.

Sigmund 4 years ago

I have stand alone ATT Uverse "Max Plus" VDSL service (18 Mbps down/1.5 Mbps up) and pay $35.00/mo. Normally it is $55.00/mo but signed up for a 2 year contract with ATT and locked in a $20/mo discount. I can move up or down within their tiers with the same $20.00/ mo discount and will probably move up to their "Max Turbo" VDSL (24 Mbps down/3 Mbps up) for $45.00/mo (normally $65.00) although the current level meets all of my needs including Netflix HD streaming.

I have had ATT xDSL service since it was offered and have rarely had a problem. Most of my customer service problems have been handled by native English speaking Americans in Arizona, Texas, and Missouri.

As for TV, unless Knology changes Sunflower's current policies I'll keep my "Bronze Level" TV package for about $60.00/mo. for all the reasons I listed my "QAM Qualms?" blog. http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/sigmund/2010/aug/4/qam-qualms/

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