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by Karl Bode 07:22PM Thursday Oct 23 2014
Critics of Comcast's proposed $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable have heated up their assault on the merger, with more than thirty economics and antitrust law experts this week warning the FCC that the proposed merger would hurt competition and be a detriment to consumer welfare. According to the sixteen-page letter, the Comcast merger would give the cable giant control of 40% of the broadband market, and the leverage necessary to wage an aggressive anti-competitive war on both large and small competitors alike.

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The professors are quick to bring up the government's blocking of AT&T and MediOne back in 2000 as legal precedent for blocking the Comcast deal outright. That deal too would have provided AT&T with 40% of the home broadband market at the time, and was blocked by the DOJ because the immense leverage would likely lead to anti-competitive behavior.

"By increasing Comcast’s leverage over OVDs (online video distributors), the merger, if allowed, would exacerbate competitive concerns similar to those in AT&T/MediaOne," the professors write. "Enhanced leverage would increase the likelihood of Comcast’s exclusionary conduct, and increase the likelihood that other broadband carriers would follow in kind."

A 40% broadband market share for a company whose usage caps continue to expand is a significant threat to both competition and emerging services, notes the authors. If Comcast can't use usage caps as a weapon, they'll likely use interconnection as a way to hinder online competitors, the authors insist.

"Comcast can extract payment for interconnection by allowing the routes into its network to congest, blocking or degrading an OVD’s access to a substantial share of its current or potential customers.
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by Karl Bode 04:30PM Thursday Oct 23 2014
In a new blog post, the FCC's Gigi Sohn notes that the agency has so far received 3.9 million comments on the agency's net neutrality proceedings to date, filed both through the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) and the agency's dedicated openinternet@fcc.gov email address. If you're in the mood for some light reading this weekend, Sohn notes that the agency has ow released some 2,444,672 of those comments in one zipped XML file. "As before, we encourage those with the requisite technical skills to analyze the raw data and build visualizations or other tools and to share them with the public," states Sohn.

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by Karl Bode 02:58PM Thursday Oct 23 2014
While T-Mobile's industry disruption has resulted in some pricing shifts by AT&T and Verizon, most of these changes by bigger players have been cosmetic in nature, focusing on upselling heavy users by reducing prices for bigger data allotments (usually customers on 10 GB plans or above). Today Sprint bucked that trend slightly by announcing some changes to one of their lower-end plans: upping the 600 MB allotment on their $20 Family Share plan to 1 GB. "That’s double the data offered by Verizon and more than 3 times the data offered by AT&T at the same price point," Sprint crows in their release.

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by Bill Neilson 12:30PM Thursday Oct 23 2014
Over the last few years, arguably the biggest factor for rising cable bills can be attributed to the price of sports programming. DirecTV is spending close to $1.5 billion annually to offer the NFL Sunday Ticket.
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by Karl Bode 10:34AM Thursday Oct 23 2014
For many years Verizon has wanted to offer an Internet TV service outside of the company's traditional FiOS and DSL footprint, earlier this year paying $500 million for Intel's failed dreams and streaming TV technology. Efforts on this front so far haven't gone as planned; the company was forced to shutter their underwhelming streaming joint venture with RedBox due to low interest.
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by Karl Bode 09:13AM Thursday Oct 23 2014
Bruce Kushnick laments how cable promotional offers can very quickly become costly, illustrating how his $90 Time Warner Cable Promotional bundle quickly ballooned to $190.77. Most readers will quickly and correctly state that this is how promotional offers work.
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by Karl Bode 08:23AM Thursday Oct 23 2014
While T-Mobile's tactics may not yet be truly hurting Verizon, AT&T's latest earnings report indicates they're feeling the pesky upstart's assault. AT&T's latest earnings missed Wall Street estimates, and the company had to lower growth projections due to what has largely been superficial price competition with T-Mobile. Still, AT&T posted net income of $3 billion on revenues of $32.9 billion, adding a healthy 785,000 postpaid wireless subscribers. AT&T also sports a 0.99% churn rate, suggesting that the majority of the company's customers are staying put, unswayed by John Legere's sultry advances.

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by Karl Bode 08:11AM Thursday Oct 23 2014
Comcast's latest earnings indicate the company's third-quarter net income jumped nearly 50% courtesy of income tax "adjustments," leading to profits of $2.59 billion on revenue of $16.79 billion on the quarter. Comcast lost 81,000 net video subscribers on the quarter, but managed to add 315,000 broadband users and 68,000 voice users. Those voice additions are down from 169,000 the previous quarter, and most analysts expect voice totals to slow then start to reverse as users look for ways to reduce soaring TV costs (read: cut digital voice and go cell only). The average Comcast customer bill climbed 4% to $137.24 per month, largely courtesy of early 2014 price hikes for most users.

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by Karl Bode 05:21PM Wednesday Oct 22 2014
The FCC today announced that the regulatory agency is pausing the 180-day "shot clock" on both the Comcast/Time Warner Cable and AT&T/DirecTV mergers. According to the FCC's order, eight content companies including Disney, Time Warner, CBS, Twenty First Century Fox and Viacom raised opposition to competitors and other companies being able to see confidential carriage agreement details, even though companies that view this information must sign non-disclosure agreements.
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by Karl Bode 03:17PM Wednesday Oct 22 2014
Back in May Cox Communications stated that they'd be bumping the company's Preferred & Premier tier speeds to 50Mbs & 100Mbs respectively, at no additional cost (for the time being). They've been deploying these speed increases on a market-by-market basis ever since, with users in Nebraska, Arizona, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Nevada already seeing the bump. Last week, DSLReports forum users in Connecticut and Rhode Island said they were now seeing the increases. This week, customers in San Diego say they're seeing the upgrade (also see this press release). This leaked upgrade schedule we posted in September will let you know if your neighborhood is next.

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by Karl Bode 12:23PM Wednesday Oct 22 2014
For years many of our more "serious" rural users have chosen to give their business to Verizon Wireless reseller Millenicom, since they've continued offering larger data allotments and unlimited options (they're a "no drama" company to quote one of our forum users). The plans were particularly popular among more rural users, whose only alternative is often very expensive and heavily capped satellite service, heavily capped LTE, or dial-up.
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by Karl Bode 10:52AM Wednesday Oct 22 2014
Last November we noted that Time Warner Cable, historically a bit sluggish when it comes to next-gen broadband upgrades, was considering a brand refresh named "Maxx" that would include significant speed and TV improvements. In addition to bumping select markets to 300 Mbps (Los Angeles, New York, Austin, Charlotte, Dallas, Hawaii, Kansas City, Raleigh, San Antonio and San Diego), that will include a fancy new DVR that the company unveiled this week in Los Angeles and New York City.
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by Karl Bode 09:13AM Wednesday Oct 22 2014
The Broadband Forum's G.fast certification program has offered up more testing schedule and testing details for G.fast, a standard many hope will be able to deliver 1 Gbps speeds over copper lines. At the Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam this week, it was announced that the University of New Hampshire InterOperablity Laboratory (UNH-IOL) will be the first and only testing lab for the Broadband Forum's G.fast certification program.
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by Karl Bode 08:33AM Wednesday Oct 22 2014
If you've followed the recent net neutrality debate, you'll recall that most consumer advocates believe the most sensible way forward is to reclassify ISPs as utilities and regulate them under Title II. Combined this with forbearance, argues groups like the EFF, and you've got a system that will protect consumer effectively while at the same time keeping the FCC from aggressively over-reaching.
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by Karl Bode 08:17AM Wednesday Oct 22 2014
Eager to expand government coffers, Hungarian politicians have pushed forward a new draft bill to be debated in 2015 that would tax Internet service providers for traffic carried. A report in Reuters indicates that the upcoming proposal sets forth a tax of 150 forints (60 US cents) per gigabyte of data traffic, though the report also notes the laws would allow companies to offset corporate income tax against the new levy.

The news was immediately received poorly, with possible protests planned for Sunday. One firm estimates Hungary's annual traffic to be 1.15 billion gigabytes on fixed line networks and 18 million gigabytes via wireless, which would generate around 175 billion forints (around $725 million) for the Hungarian government annually.

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by Revcb 06:57AM Wednesday Oct 22 2014

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by Karl Bode 06:18PM Tuesday Oct 21 2014
Verizon's latest earnings were released this morning, the company seeing a net income of $3.79 billion on revenue of $31.6 billion. While Verizon slightly missed Wall Street estimates, competition from T-Mobile didn't dent big red much: the company added 1.5 million wireless customers in the third quarter, 1.1 million of which were tablets.
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by Karl Bode 04:43PM Tuesday Oct 21 2014
According to a new schedule posted to their website, CableLabs is prepped to host a DOCSIS 3.1 "plugfest" in "a multi-vendor environment" during the week of December 1. The company also plans to host a follow up interoperability testing session during the week of January 19, 2015. Most of the 1 Gbps promises you're seeing made by companies like Cox or Comcast will rely on the DOCSIS 3.1 standard, which isn't expected to see significant commercial deployment until sometime in 2016. Back in September CableLabs said they were slightly ahead of schedule with development of the standard, which will take significantly less time to deploy than it did to design.

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by Karl Bode 02:57PM Tuesday Oct 21 2014
Sprint's latest promotion has the company waiving tablet access fees -- if you're signing up for enough data. The company has announced they're now selling the Apple iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini 3, and interested individuals can add the tablets to the company's Sprint Family Share Pack for an access charge of $10 per month per line. Sprint stated the company will be waiving that $10 monthly fee "throughout 2015" if users sign up for a data plan of 20 GB or larger. It's worth noting the Air 2 supports Sprint's faster Spark upgrades, while the Mini3 does not. User IPPlanMan See Profile writes in to note that users only have ten days left if they want to sign up for Sprint's double data promotion.

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by Karl Bode 12:31PM Tuesday Oct 21 2014
Dish customers are the latest to lose access to channels they're paying for thanks to yet another retransmission fee dispute. Turner Broadcasting channels including CNN, Cartoon Network and Headline News were pulled from Dish's lineup yesterday after the two sides failed to agree to terms.
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