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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

thuja 3 years, 2 months ago

Technology in action- making things better by making them more complicated.

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Sigmund 3 years, 2 months 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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mr_right_wing 3 years, 2 months 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.

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leeroy_johnson 3 years, 2 months ago

Man, you guys are giving Kansans a bad name.

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Slowponder 3 years, 3 months 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.

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mr_right_wing 3 years, 3 months 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.

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Agnostick 3 years, 3 months ago

"I've been dropping the new science and kicking the new k-nowledge An M.C. to a degree that you can't get in college..."

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Kontum1972 3 years, 3 months ago

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

u rock Sarah..whoo hoo!

so do u Maria...

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oneeye_wilbur 3 years, 3 months ago

That really is the name of a company? Sounds more like a proctologist exam.

This sale of Sunflower reminds OEW too much of the sale of the Colorpress and it was only for the TV Guide contract. The sellers got rich, the sellers of Sunflower are getting rich and sooner than later, the headquarters of Knology won't be in Lawrence. Just think, those in Lawrence who have cable (wilbur never has, it isn't worth the cost!!) will soon have to call India for assistance.

Let's see how community friendly Knology is. Maybe that company can fund Bert Nash, since the current newspaper staff believes it needs funding.

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pea 3 years, 3 months ago

The Knology logo is quite ugly.

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Jean1183 3 years, 3 months 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.

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uncleandyt 3 years, 3 months 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 !

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TheShaman 3 years, 3 months 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

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kuhusker 3 years, 3 months 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/

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DillonBarnes 3 years, 3 months 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.

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sunflowergal 3 years, 3 months 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.

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JGr 3 years, 3 months ago

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

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ralphralph 3 years, 3 months 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.

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DanR 3 years, 3 months 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.

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tryandkeepup 3 years, 3 months 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.

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2GenLtown 3 years, 3 months ago

"We’re going with all guns blazing"

hmmm. . . .poor timing on that one?

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melott 3 years, 3 months 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?

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fleeba 3 years, 3 months 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.

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distant_voice 3 years, 3 months 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.

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maisysboys 3 years, 3 months 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?

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Knologized 3 years, 3 months ago

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

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Gootsie 3 years, 3 months 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.

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pinecreek 3 years, 3 months 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?

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bballwizard 3 years, 3 months ago

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

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Kat Christian 3 years, 3 months 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.

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75x55 3 years, 3 months ago

"I hope the service and high quality that Sunflower folks established will continue. "

Hope?

Awesome and completely inspiring.

/sarc

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macon47 3 years, 3 months ago

At least they had one of the "good old boys" for the interview all they needed was some young turk with spiked hair like the guy in the ticket scandal to warm everyones hearts just a bit more

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Kontum1972 3 years, 3 months ago

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

Chester died now we have MaXX

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jayhawklawrence 3 years, 3 months 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.

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SpeedRacer 3 years, 3 months 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.

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lionheart72661 3 years, 3 months 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)

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midwestmom 3 years, 3 months ago

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

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averado 3 years, 3 months 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.

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Nikki May 3 years, 3 months 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.

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1029 3 years, 3 months ago

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

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KnologySarah 3 years, 3 months 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

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Paula Kissinger 3 years, 3 months 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...

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kuhusker 3 years, 3 months 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!

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macon47 3 years, 3 months ago

Note the ability of this specimen to state much and say little. kinda like obama,

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average 3 years, 3 months 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.

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Christine Anderson 3 years, 3 months ago

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

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Christine Anderson 3 years, 3 months 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!

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overthemoon 3 years, 3 months ago

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

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macon47 3 years, 3 months ago

kronogy, like corporate america doesnt have a clue they are all about "value added" which means they are trying to justify what they charge they have alot of home work to do

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Curtis Lange 3 years, 3 months ago

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

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Hazel Ripstra 3 years, 3 months 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

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boltzmann 3 years, 3 months ago

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

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thuja 3 years, 3 months ago

An even more awkward name than Moland Springs.

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DillonBarnes 3 years, 3 months ago

This sure makes me nervous, time will tell.

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macon47 3 years, 3 months ago

they want to remain a home town company just change the name, sure

i love you and the check is in the mail we have heard that too many times

kronogy has more to lose than gain unless they do something to insure customer confidence so far they are just another out of town corporation so we might as well go with who ever has the best deal and kronogy does not have the best deal i hope they smarten up before they lose what they have it is up to them to prove themselves and so far, they are not the shining star

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seeker_of_truth 3 years, 3 months ago

Simple question, how the hell do you pronounce the stupid business name. Next question, how long do I have to get all my e-mail addresses changed before sunflower.com is dumped? 3rd, I'm very glad my business account is month to month so I'm not locked in with a long term contract. Already checking all other providers so I can make prompt business choice and probable change based on what is currently happening.

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Bladerunner 3 years, 3 months ago

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

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rooster 3 years, 3 months 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.

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