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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.

Meanwhile, companies like Dish and RCN and organizations like the Writers Guild of America say they're able to fully comment on these two mergers without seeing such details. The FCC agrees, stating the companies need to see this information to participate in the merger review process.

"We agree with these commenters that their current inability to review Highly Confidential Information that has been submitted in these dockets significantly hampers their ability to meaningfully comment and participate in these proceedings, in both Docket 14-57 and Docket 14-90," states the FCC. "Accordingly, we are suspending the pleading cycles and stopping our 180-day informal time clock in both dockets."

The agreements are particularly contentious given the current debates regarding soaring retransmission fee rates, which have resulted in a growing number of annoying content blackouts for consumers. In a statement sent to DSLReports and other outlets, Comcast doesn't appear particularly fazed by the potential delay.

"...It is routine for the FCC to pause the review of significant transactions as it works to create a full record," states Comcast. "The Commission is working to hear the concerns of various parties. In the meantime, review of information and evidence already in the docket will continue. We are confident that the Commission will quickly resolve these issues while continuing its work so that review will be completed in early 2015."

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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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by Karl Bode 10:34AM Tuesday Oct 21 2014
Already under investigation in West Virginia for possible mishandling of government subsidy money, Frontier Communications is now facing a new class action in the state for failing to offer the services they advertised. According to the Charleston Gazette, the suit complains of frequent outages and accuses Frontier of failing to deliver speeds paid for.
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by Karl Bode 09:17AM Tuesday Oct 21 2014
In December of 2011, right after the cable industry struck their massive spectrum and marketing arrangement with Verizon, Sprint filed suit against Comcast, Time Warner Cable, CableOne, and Cox for supposedly violating Sprint VoIP patents. In early 2013 Comcast returned the favor, suing Sprint for violating numerous patents related to core network services, SMS/MMS, and 3G modem technology. After a four day federal trial, this week Sprint was forced to pay $7.5 million to settle the case. Sprint's original suit, which resulted in this counter-suit, isn't expected to see a court room until next year.

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by Karl Bode 07:58AM Tuesday Oct 21 2014
The Department of Justice is taking a very hard look at the anti-competitive impact of the Comcast merger, notes Reuters. The report notes that the DOJ is "digging deep" into a wide variety of issues, from programming negotiations and interconnection deals, to Comcast's growing overall share of the broadband market and the use of data caps. Cogent CEO Dave Schaeffer tells Reuters the DOJ asked a lot of questions about the Netflix peering feud in particular. "The majority of the inquiries are around very technical data showing congestion, the timing, showing the impacts on our customers," said Schaeffer. "They're very in the weeds."

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by Karl Bode 07:50AM Tuesday Oct 21 2014
32 cities in nineteen different states have formed a coalition aimed at building networks in those cities that private ISPs have so far refused to. Dubbed the Next Century Cities coalition, the organization will aim to share knowledge and resources that aid the delivery of next-generation 1 Gbps networks. "The leaders whose communities participate in Next Century Cities know that reliable, affordable, and fast Internet is no longer a luxury," states the organization. "Like electricity and plumbing, it is now essential infrastructure." The group arises as the FCC looks to dismantle portions of ISP-written protectionist state laws that prohibit towns and cities from building their own networks -- even if nobody else will. The full city member list can be found here.

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by Revcb 07:07AM Tuesday Oct 21 2014

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by Karl Bode 06:57PM Monday Oct 20 2014
If at first you don't succeed, try again. And again. And then again for good measure. Feeling bolstered by the Supreme Court ruling against Aereo, Fox recently took another legal shot at trying to argue that Dish's "Hopper" automatic ad-skipping DVR violates copyright. That's something the courts haven't been buying, both in a ruling back in July, and again today in a tentative ruling that found Dish didn't violate FOX copyright, but may have been guilty of breach of contract.

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by Karl Bode 04:25PM Monday Oct 20 2014
Anonymous sources tell Benzinga that Lenovo could announce an acquisition bid for Blackberry as soon as this week. According to the anonymous sources, Lenovo is expected to offer around $15 per share, with a deal being completed at around $18 per share. Rumors of a possible acquisition of Blackberry have circulated for several years, occasionally supported by statements of interest from Lenovo execs. Lenovo of course acquired Motorola Mobility from Google back in January of this year for $3 billion.

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by Karl Bode 02:21PM Monday Oct 20 2014
As we've covered in the past, Comcast has promised to adhere to the FCC's now-defunct net neutrality rules until 2018 in the hopes of getting their $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable approved by regulators. The problem? As we've noted time and time again -- those rules, largely written by AT&T, Google and Verizon lobbyists -- were intentionally crammed with loopholes permitting everything but the most heavy-handed fiddling with website and service access.
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