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by Karl Bode 05:24PM Thursday Jan 29 2015
Phillip Swann at TV Predictions notes that Verizon, Time Warner Cable and Cox have all recently either lowered the price of traditional HBO or are offering promotional HBO offers. The reason? They're likely trying to get out ahead of this year's release of a standalone HBO streaming option. The long-awaited option was announced last October and is expected to launch sometime around April. Of course many wonder if the ISPs themselves will be the ones selling the HBO streaming service, and I can't help but wonder if there will be any caveats to ease the impact on pay TV subscriber tallies (like requiring users subscribe to a certain price and speed tier of broadband service).

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by Karl Bode 03:02PM Thursday Jan 29 2015
Remember how the broadband and wireless industries have been claiming that Title II net neutrality rules will chill network investment? Well that doesn't appear to be a problem when it came to the recent AWS-3 spectrum auction. The auction just closed with an FCC record $44.899 billion in total bids. While bids are confidential for now (probably until February when payment is due), most analysts believe that AT&T and Verizon grabbed the lion's share of the spectrum, with T-Mobile and Dish also making a much more modest investment.

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by Karl Bode 12:54PM Thursday Jan 29 2015
After hinting at such a move for some time, the FCC today voted (along partisan lines, of course) to bump the standard definition of broadband from 4 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up, to 25 Mbps down, 3 Mbps up. It's a change the broadband industry and friends aren't happy with, because it will only further highlight the fact that a lack of competition has left large portions of the country with pricey and slow broadband service.
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by Karl Bode 10:39AM Thursday Jan 29 2015
Anonymous sources tell Bloomberg News that the FCC will be taking a much stronger oversight role when it comes to the interconnection deals struck between companies like Netflix and ISPs. The FCC has been investigation such deals ever since Netflix, Level 3 and Cogent began claiming that large ISPs were intentionally letting peering point capacity degrade to force companies like Netflix into direct interconnection deals.
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by Karl Bode 09:11AM Thursday Jan 29 2015
On the heels of fresh Google Fiber launch announcements in Nashville, Charlotte, Atlanta and Durham/Raleigh, Google is again reiterating their doubts that new net neutrality rules will impact broadband investment, something companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast continue to insist.

In an attempt to woo GOP lawmakers Google has actually kept their public support of net neutrality to a minimum the last few years, but talked this week to the Washington Post briefly to note they don't think the FCC's new rules will hurt them in the slightest:
quote:
"The sort of open Internet rules that the [Federal Communications Commission] is currently discussing aren't an impediment to those plans," Google said in a statement, "and they didn't impact our decision to invest in Fiber."
In fact, Google previously told the FCC they thought Title II could actually help Google Fiber deployment by streamlining their access to utility poles. In addition to net neutrality, Google's new Google Fiber launch locations are all designed to draw attention to municipal broadband issues as well, since all four locations reside in states that have some form of protectionist state law written by ISP lawyers to help keep competition at bay.

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by Karl Bode 08:24AM Thursday Jan 29 2015
AT&T's fourth quarter earnings indicate that the company's U-Verse related growth is slowing rapidly as the company shifts the lion's share of attention (and money) toward wireless. AT&T said the company added just 73,000 U-verse TV customers in the fourth quarter, down from the 216,000 added in the third quarter and the 194,000 subscribers added during the quarter a year ago. AT&T fared much better on the broadband front, adding 405,000 net broadband users during the fourth quarter.

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by Karl Bode 07:49AM Thursday Jan 29 2015
New York State regulators have put off a decision on Comcast's $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable for a third time. "Because of the proposed merger's potential impact on consumers, and the complexity of the issues raised in the proceeding, Gov. Cuomo has asked the PSC to do a full and complete review of all of the issues surrounding the transaction," the NY PSC tells the Albany Times Union. "This is a complex matter and requires consideration of numerous facts that can affect millions of New Yorkers." A merger most thought would see guaranteed approval is now being seen as much less of a sure thing.

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by Revcb 07:30AM Thursday Jan 29 2015

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by Karl Bode 05:31PM Wednesday Jan 28 2015
Just when you think you can go a month without a Comcast support horror story making headlines, a Comcast support horror story makes headlines. The Consumerist notes that one Comcast customer was surprised to see that his first name had been changed to "a**hole" when he received his monthly bill.
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by Karl Bode 02:41PM Wednesday Jan 28 2015
You can add TracFone to the large list of wireless operators who simply don't understand what the word "unlimited" means. The FTC's complaint (pdf, via The Consumerist) notes that starting in 2009, TracFone advertised and sold a number of "unlimited" data offers under the Straight Talk, Net10, Simple Mobile, and Telcel America brands, but failed to inform consumers that these plans would be throttled after a certain amount of usage.

"In numerous instances, TracFone failed to disclose or adequately disclose its practice of enforcing fixed limits on the amount of mobile data service its customers could use in a thirty-day service period," the FTC said in a statement.

"In fact, until at least September 2013, TracFone did not state in most of its advertising or terms and conditions that it would suspend or throttle its customers’ mobile data service if they used more than a fixed amount of mobile data in a thirty-day service period."

As part of a settlement with the FTC TracFone is handing out $40 million in consumer refunds, which impacted customers can head here to collect.

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by Karl Bode 12:48PM Wednesday Jan 28 2015
As we noted earlier this month, things haven't been going particularly well for AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile's mobile payment platform, SoftCard. Already struggling for brand attention, the company had to change its name from ISIS due to the Islamic extremist group of the same name, and is now laying off employees as part of a reorganization.
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by Karl Bode 10:16AM Wednesday Jan 28 2015
Rumors had existed for years that Google was planning to get into wireless service, though last week Google's plans to launch an MVNO became notably more solid. What we know so far: Code named "Nova," Google's MVNO will have a heavy emphasis on free Wi-Fi calling and will use both the Sprint and T-Mobile networks.
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by Karl Bode 09:12AM Wednesday Jan 28 2015
Back in October we noted that Marriott agreed to pay a $600,000 fine to the FCC for blocking user access to their own tethered phones or mobile hotspots, instead forcing convention center attendees to use Marriott's pricey Wi-Fi. At the time we noted how this was a pretty clear example of Marriott simply using technology in an uncompetitive fashion, though in filings since Marriott has attempted to argue they were only looking out for the welfare and security of their customers.
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by Karl Bode 08:31AM Wednesday Jan 28 2015
Last year, Frontier Communications CEO Maggie Wilderotter stated that people don't really need 1 Gbps, and that the 3 to 6 Mbps most of her customers can get was just fine for most people. Last summer, trying to downplay the fact said 3-6 Mbps is painfully uncompetitive, Wilderotter called Google Fiber "hype" that "confuses customers," and that even talking about 1 Gbps services was something that was "disrespectful" to the customer base.
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by Revcb 06:35AM Wednesday Jan 28 2015

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by Karl Bode 05:25PM Tuesday Jan 27 2015
HughesNet today announced new satellite broadband plans the company claims will usher in "a new generation of performance-enhancing innovations in downloading, browsing and data usage management." According to the company announcement, the new plans come alongside an improvement to the company's SmartFetch and SmartCompression technologies that try to create the impression of faster speeds.

The company appears so proud of their new plan specifics and pricing, they've hidden them behind a prequal wall.
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by Karl Bode 02:43PM Tuesday Jan 27 2015
Confirming rumors that began bubbling forth earlier this week, Google today confirmed that Charlotte, Raleigh Durham, Atlanta, and Nashville will be the next deployment locations for the company's speedy Google Fiber service. According to a Google blog post, the company is also still considering potential deployment to Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and San Jose.
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by Karl Bode 12:36PM Tuesday Jan 27 2015
Last year, AT&T backed off their European expansion ambitions in part because European regulators weren't thrilled with AT&T's ties to the Edward Snowden leaks. Since then AT&T has shifted their attention to Mexico, buying Mexico's Iusacell for $2.5 billion, giving AT&T domain over 400 million combined Mexico & U.S.
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by Karl Bode 10:07AM Tuesday Jan 27 2015
Last Friday we reported how indications are that Google was getting ready to announce new Google Fiber build locations in Charlotte and Raleigh. Now additional reports suggest that up to four new Google Fiber cities may be announced as soon as tomorrow.
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by Karl Bode 08:34AM Tuesday Jan 27 2015
While this is sadly the status quo for most companies in most industries, The Verge does a good job in a report highlighting how Comcast has been ghost writing letters for politicians expressing gushing support for their merger with Time Warner Cable. Comcast has been frequently crowing about the amount of support their merger enjoys, often forgetting to mention that the lion's share of this support has to be paid for in some fashion.
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