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by Karl Bode 06:22PM Thursday Aug 28 2014
On the heels of a recent RootMetrics study that lauded Verizon as having the fastest, largest and most reliable network, the company is again receiving praise from JD Power and Associates. According to a new JD power study (pdf), Verizon ranked highest in wireless network quality in five geographic regions (Northeast, Southeast, North Central, Southwest and West), while AT&T ranked highest in one geographic region (Mid-Atlantic).

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The study measures mobile networks on five base criteria: dropped calls; calls not connected; audio issues; failed/late voicemails; lost calls; text transmission failures; late text message notifications; Web connection errors; slow downloads; and email connection errors.

Verizon has historically dominated the JD Power network performance rankings.

Overall, JD Power notes that "the incidence of data quality problems has risen for the first time in more than four years as the growing number of tablets and mobile broadband devices generates different usage patterns and network quality expectations from smartphone and feature phone device owners."

The good news for Verizon users is obvious. The bad news is that Verizon has consistently refused to more seriously compete on price, citing their stellar performance in network quality and wireless customer satisfaction surveys. More aggressive pricing pressure from T-Mobile and Sprint may eventually change this, but Verizon has proven highly resistant to the idea of real price competition.

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by Karl Bode 05:03PM Thursday Aug 28 2014
Sixty-five consumer, social justice and media reform groups have fired off a letter voicing their opposition to Comcast's planned $45.2 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable. The letter, sent just as the FCC's open comment period ended earlier this week, complains that the Comcast deal will "inevitably lead to unprecedented gatekeeper control over our nation’s telecommunications and media landscape." Given Comcast's history of failing to meet NBC merger conditions (many of which they themselves recommended) the groups argue that "no amount of promises or conditions would be good enough to assuage concerns about this merger" and that the "deal needs to be rejected outright."

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by Karl Bode 02:10PM Thursday Aug 28 2014
The New York Times took ample heat this week after it refused to endorse Democratic candidate for New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, but wouldn't endorse his Democratic challenger and Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout. Gawker had plenty to say about the Times being effectively complicit in Cuomo corruption, complained the Times was arguing that "rather than risk the possibility of failed reform," (by supporting a less experienced Teachout) "voters should resign themselves to the certainty of failed reform."

Fast forward a day however, and the Times came out in support of Teachout's running mate, Tim Wu for Lieutenant Governor.
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by Karl Bode 12:23PM Thursday Aug 28 2014
After months of speculation bordering on the nauseating, we appear to have a somewhat hard date for the release of the new iPhone(s) and Apple's long-awaited iWatch: September 9. ReCode had already discovered that the two different-sized iPhones would be revealed on that date, and now states the iWatch will be unveiled as well at the same media event. The iWatch is expected to have significant integration with Apple’s HealthKit health and fitness platform, as well as with Apple's home device integration platform HomeKit.

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by Karl Bode 10:44AM Thursday Aug 28 2014
In the company's filing with the FCC opposing the Comcast merger (via Ars Technica), CenturyLink accuses the cable giant of making it difficult to obtain franchise agreements and compete with the company across numerous markets. CenturyLink complains that Comcast has been "uniquely and extraordinarily aggressive" in blocking the telco's expansions into new markets, sending letters to the handful of local franchising authorities where CenturyLink is trying to expand its Prism TV services.
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by Karl Bode 09:28AM Thursday Aug 28 2014
Back in April, Netflix started offering 4K TV streaming of a select catalog, delivered at a bitrate of 15.6 Mbps using the HEVC/h.265 codec. Not to be outdone, Amazon announced their original programming would be shot and eventually streamed in 4K -- though they didn't specify when. A Samsung press release spills the beans, noting they'll start supporting Amazon's Prime Instant Video UHD streaming on most Samsung 4K TVs starting in October. For now 4K content via Amazon appears to be an exclusive to Samsung, though it's unlikely to stay that way as adoption of the standard speeds up (and bandwidth caps everywhere begin to be trampled).

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by Karl Bode 09:06AM Thursday Aug 28 2014
Back in June T-Mobile announced the company would be exempting music services from the company's bandwidth caps, though users would need to vote on their favorite music service to get it added to T-Mobile's white list. This week T-Mobile added six more music services to that exemption list: AccuRadio, Black Planet, Grooveshark, Radio Paradise, Rdio and Songza. Google Play Music was the top-voted service, and T-Mobile states they'll be adding that "later this year." While well-intentioned, consumer advocates have criticized T-Mobile's cap exemption for music services (and speed tests), arguing it creates an unlevel playing field for smaller companies trying to gain recognition.

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by Karl Bode 08:19AM Thursday Aug 28 2014
Add NewWave Communications (see our user reviews) to the growing list of ISPs large and small that are promising to soon offer 1 Gbps speeds -- albeit to a tiny portion of their overall subscribers. The company has announced that they're planning to offer 1 Gbps to a handful of rural markets starting next year, and will be utilizing the still unfinished DOCSIS 3.1 standard to make it happen. The company will begin deployments late this year and will offer the speed selectively early next year starting in Poplar Bluff, Missouri and Monroe, Rayville, Delhi and Tallulah, Louisiana. The company has yet to state prices for the speeds, but the CEO believes it should come it at less that $100 a month.

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by Revcb 07:04AM Thursday Aug 28 2014

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by Karl Bode 06:28PM Wednesday Aug 27 2014
Add Canadian cable operators Rogers and Shaw to the latest in a long list of incumbent ISPs who believe they can offer a Netflix killer that will keep cord cutters in house. According to the companies' announcement, the service will be dubbed "shomi" and will emerge as a beta exclusively for Rogers and Shaw customers in November.
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by Karl Bode 02:40PM Wednesday Aug 27 2014
On the heels of yesterday's tweaks to the company's Simple Starter plans, T-Mobile has made a few more changes, including expanding the company's Simple Choice family plan to 10 lines, as well as doubling your allotment of data if you add a tablet. T-Mobile previously capped their Simple Starter plans at 5 lines per account, charging $10 a month for each additional line.
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by Karl Bode 12:32PM Wednesday Aug 27 2014
The FCC this week announced that Time Warner Cable has paid $1.1 million to settle an FCC investigation into Time Warner Cable's network outage reporting practices. According to the FCC statement, Time Warner Cable "failed to file a substantial number of reports with respect to a series of reportable wireline and Voice over Internet Protocol network outages." FCC rules require ISPs file reports on major outages within thirty minutes of the outages, and provide a follow up report dissecting the outage causes. "TWC admits that its failure to timely file the required network outage reports violated the Commission's rules," the FCC said.

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by Karl Bode 10:18AM Wednesday Aug 27 2014
The writing has pretty clearly been on the wall as Comcast slowly but surely has expanded their usage-cap trials throughout less competitive Southern markets. In Comcast trial markets, users pay the same price users in unlimited markets pay, except they get a 300 GB cap, and have to pay $10 for every 50 GB beyond that they travel.
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by Karl Bode 09:16AM Wednesday Aug 27 2014
Stop the Cap amusingly notes that some 52 Mayors have breathlessly thrown their support behind the Comcast merger, despite the fact that a long list of these cities have long suffered from horrible customer service, build issues, high prices and other problems with Comcast. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown's city is held hostage by Verizon's refusal to upgrade the city with FiOS, and Comcast and Time Warner Cable's resulting market dominance, resulting in high prices.
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by Karl Bode 08:38AM Wednesday Aug 27 2014
Netflix became the latest company to formally object to Comcast's $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable. In their hand delivered filing with the FCC yesterday (pdf), Netflix argues that a larger Comcast would result in the company turning the "consumer’s Internet experience into something that more closely resembles cable television." Netflix proceeds to argue that "through access fees charged at the interconnection points and by other means" Comcast and Time Warner Cable have incentive and capability "to harm Internet companies, such as online video distributors (“OVDs”), which Applicants view as competitors."

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by Karl Bode 08:32AM Wednesday Aug 27 2014
On the heels of a nationwide Charter DNS outage over the weekend, Time Warner Cable is the latest ISP to suffer a nationwide outage. According to user comments in our forums, the ISP early this morning suffered a routing problem, knocking all of the company's customers offline. "At 430am ET this morning during our routine network maintenance, an issue with our Internet backbone created disruption with our Internet and On Demand services," Time Warner Cable said in a statement. "As of 6am ET services were largely restored as updates continue to bring all customers back online."

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by Revcb 06:52AM Wednesday Aug 27 2014

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by Karl Bode 06:41PM Tuesday Aug 26 2014
California this week became the first state in the country to pass a law requiring that cell phones include so-called "kill switch" functionality to deter theft, enabled by default (the full law is here, pdf). Minnesota passed a similar law earlier this year, but in that version of the law, the functionality is turned off by default.
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by Karl Bode 04:26PM Tuesday Aug 26 2014
TiVO this week expanded their device portfolio with a $50 unit that the company hopes appeals to cord cutters. The new TiVO Roamio OTA DVR features four tuners, a 500 GB hard drive and the ability to record and manage over the air broadcasts. TiVO's obviously not the first to this idea; a company by the name of Simple.TV has been offering a similar product for years, though their current device comes in at nearly $200. "TiVo is devoted to making the best possible cable TV user experience available through our operator partners and in retail, but we recognize some viewers opt not to receive the benefits a subscription with a cable provider offers," states the company.

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by Karl Bode 03:03PM Tuesday Aug 26 2014
After several years of delays, Verizon says they're going to be launching higher-audio-quality voice over LTE service (VoLTE) in the "coming weeks." While Verizon's behind other carriers with their launch, company executives state they wanted to wait and launch the service as nationally as possible for a more unified experience. The upgrade will come to an unspecified number of handsets, with users able to turn VoLTE on and off in their phone's settings and utilize only CDMA 1X voice service if LTE coverage is shaky. If your phone supports Verizon LTE, the report claims you'll need to also turn on the feature via your online account.

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