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by Karl Bode 06:06PM Wednesday Jul 23 2014
Billing glitches for Verizon's new "free" symmetrical FiOS upgrades are resulting in rate hikes for some users. Verizon recently announced that the company would be bumping FiOS upstream speeds so they match the company's downstream speeds, effectively making all FiOS tiers symmetrical.

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Even though FiOS prices have jumped significantly in recent years, Verizon's move is a significant competitive jab at cable operators, who have lagged in delivering faster upstream speeds despite their recent round of DOCSIS 3.0 upgrades.

While the upstream speed boost is absolutely and undeniably welcome, users in our FiOS forum are noticing a few abnormalities in Verizon's billing process at sign up. While the upgrade is supposed to be free, a number of users have noted that signing up for the faster speeds has bumped their broadband bill, or has involved Verizon pushing them back onto long-term contracts. Notes one user:
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I got my "free" speed upgrade by joining the rewards program yesterday. As I always do, I went online this morning to check my account for any changes. To my dismay, I find that my bundle price increased $10.
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by Karl Bode 02:56PM Wednesday Jul 23 2014
While Verizon's legal victory over the FCC did gut the agency's net neutrality rules, it kept some of the FCC's authority over ISPs intact -- specifically the agency's transparency rules -- which require that ISPs be straightforward about the "network management practices, performance, and commercial terms" of their broadband services.

In a statement issued today, the FCC "reminded" wireline and wireless ISPs alike that those rules are still intact and need to be adhered to, lest the agency lightly slap a wrist or two -- maybe.
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by Karl Bode 11:44AM Wednesday Jul 23 2014
Verizon has been taking a hammering of late for their decision to tell Sandy victims, a year after the storm, that they will never see their POTS and DSL lines repaired. Instead, Verizon foisted a wireless service called Voice Link upon those customers, a service that didn't include data, suffered from numerous feature shortcomings, and generally wasn't much of a replacement for DSL and POTS whatsoever.
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by Karl Bode 09:25AM Wednesday Jul 23 2014
It's no mystery that wireless carriers have pushed hard to get users on metered data plans, hoping to raise data revenues as the SMS and voice minute cash cows head out to pasture. After introducing shared data plans carriers grandfathered unlimited usage users, but have used every trick in the book to get those users to switch to metered options.
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by Karl Bode 09:25AM Wednesday Jul 23 2014
The inventory issues that plagued Comcast's deployment of their newish X1 set top box late last year are a thing of the past, and the company is speeding up deployment of the more sophisticated set top. “Our X1 additions nearly doubled this quarter, and we are looking again at further increasing the eligibility,” Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said on this weeks earnings call with analysts and the media. Comcast has long offered the set top to triple play customers, and recently started offering it to double play customers.

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by Karl Bode 06:24PM Tuesday Jul 22 2014
Verizon's second quarter earnings once again topped Wall Street expectations as the company posted a net income of $4.32 billion on revenues of $31.48 billion. The company added 1.4 million postpaid wireless connections on the quarter, most of which were tablet customers taking advantage of the company's shared data plans.
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by Karl Bode 04:34PM Tuesday Jul 22 2014
Back in March I pointed your attention to a study that noted just 30% of all consumers had even heard of 4KTV, and of that 30%, less than a third actually had a 4K set. Four months later and a new study notes that of broadband users, just 17% have any idea what 4KTV is.
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by Karl Bode 02:41PM Tuesday Jul 22 2014
Comcast is still scrambling to recover from last week's PR backlash over a recording of a company PR rep refusing to let the customer cancel, followed by a flood of criticism from existing Comcast employees. Comcast execs are now tasked with making the bad PR go away, even though they historically want their reps to aggressively upsell customers.
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by Karl Bode 12:49PM Tuesday Jul 22 2014
After spending millions of dollars over countless years on plans to implement "three strikes" anti-piracy measures on the ISP level, the UK government has finally come to the conslusion that having ISPs play content nanny does little to deter piracy. Instead of previous, more aggressive plans to boot repeat offenders off of the Internet, a new plan taking effect in 2015 would simply warn users four times that they're violating copyright -- with no follow up punishment:
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Starting in 2015, persistent file-sharers will be sent four warning letters explaining their actions are illegal, but if the notes are ignored no further action will be taken. The scheme, named the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP), is the result of years of talks between ISPs, British politicians and the movie and music industries. The UK’s biggest providers – BT, TalkTalk, Virgin and Sky – have all signed up to VCAP, and smaller ISPs are expected to follow suit.
The UK's approach now more closely approaches the six strikes anti-piracy practices now established in the States, where users are bombarded with "education material" and warned several times about copyright abuses, but are never disconnected -- with offenses untracked as users move between ISPs.

The concern now is that these data collection efforts will ultimately be used for either fines or legal action down the road as the entertainment industry pushes for expansion of these programs into the sort of heavy-handed territory they originally envisioned.

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by Karl Bode 11:30AM Tuesday Jul 22 2014
Comcast released the company's earnings report this morning, and while the company continues to make more than healthy profits (quarterly net income of almost $2 billion on revenues of $16.84 billion), the company's quarter video subscriber losses (144,000) were greater than Wall Street predicted.

Two straight quarters of subscriber growth had led analysts to think that Comcast had reversed the industry trend of cable defections, and the 144,000 reductions is the worst quarterly loss in a year.
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by Karl Bode 08:54AM Tuesday Jul 22 2014
Before being deflated by the Supreme Court, Aereo's solution to broadband TV viewing received plenty of attention in the press for the disruptive precedent, but it received significantly less attention from actual users in the real world. In paperwork filed with the U.S. Copyright Office, Aereo this week finally revealed subscriber numbers: just 77,596 subscribers overall at the end of last year. 27,000 of those subscribers were in New York City, with 12,000 subscribers in Boston, and 10,000 in Atlanta. Earlier this year Aereo ran out of New York City, leading CEO Chet Kanojia to insist his infrastructure in NYC could support 350,000 potential subscribers.

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by Karl Bode 08:54AM Tuesday Jul 22 2014
Netflix's latest earnings report (pdf) indicates the company ended last quarter with 50.05 million global subscribers, up from 37.56 million in the second quarter of 2013. The company added 570,000 subscribers in the U.S. alone last quarter, bringing their subscriber total in the States to 36.24 million. Netflix imposed a price hike on streaming users back in April, but that didn't seem to dent subscriber growth in the slightest (though existing customers rates were grandfathered for a year or so). That of course raises the question: just how far can Netflix raise their prices before they destroy the value proposition?

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by Karl Bode 06:56PM Monday Jul 21 2014
Verizon Wireless today announced that the company is now offering their customer rewards program (previously only tested in select markets) nationwide. Verizon's new "Smart Rewards" program (see the FAQ) lets Verizon Wireless customers earn points for paying their bills, upgrading phones, and other routine activities. In turn, users can use those points for gift cards or select Verizon goods and services. The catch: to participate you have to sign up for Verizon Selects, a program that monitors your online behavior for advertisement and monetization purposes.

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by Bill Neilson 04:51PM Monday Jul 21 2014
Could the FCC soon have the ability to stop a large amount of regional sports network blackouts? Regional Sports Network (RSN) prices are out of control. Time Warner Cable wants every cable subscriber in Los Angeles to pay $3.84 in order to watch JUST the Los Angeles Dodgers.
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by Karl Bode 02:13PM Monday Jul 21 2014
Dissatisfied with service from the likes of Time Warner Cable, last fall the city of Los Angeles used an innovative approach to get 1 Gbps connections to all city residents: they simply asked if any companies wanted to come to town to build and fund an all fiber network. As we noted at the time this was a fairly obvious pipe dream, experts noting that the city wasn't really bringing any inducements to the table to lure companies to invest.
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by Karl Bode 12:49PM Monday Jul 21 2014
Google announced back in February that they were working with 34 potential new Google Fiber cities, requesting those cities fill out and agree to a fiber ready checklist to make installation easier. Speaking on the company's earnings call last week, Google SVP and CFO Patrick Pichette stated that the economics behind Google Fiber continue to improve, and that their work with those 34 cities continues. "Over the coming months we’ll actually be going through all of the details with them, whether it would be right away or permitting or otherwise, and that’s what we’re going to use to make decisions as to how broad a program will have," states Pichette. It remains entirely unclear how many of those 34 cities will actually see future Google Fiber builds.

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by Karl Bode 10:53AM Monday Jul 21 2014
Verizon's shaking things up by making all of the company's FiOS broadband tiers symmetrical, bringing upstream speeds in line with downstream offerings. When Verizon FiOS originally came out the company's fiber-based offering was the cream of the crop, though Verizon has dulled their market-leading edge in recent years with a seemingly endless series of rate hikes and annoying fees.
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by Karl Bode 08:14AM Monday Jul 21 2014
Multichannel News has uncovered an FCC filing that suggests TiVO and Comcast are working together on a new set top box that would eliminate the CableCARD. An FCC filing doesn't get into technical specifics or illustrate clearly how this new implementation would work, but most assume it would involve some downloadable version of video security. "This agreement demonstrates that the marketplace is working to provide innovative device solutions for consumers to access MVPD services and thereby advance the Commission’s navigation device goals,” Comcast and TiVo state in the filing. Comcast says they'll offer the tech to other cable companies 'on commercially reasonable terms."

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by Karl Bode 01:35PM Saturday Jul 19 2014
Deposit something interesting into the comment section conveniently provided below.

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by Karl Bode 04:24PM Friday Jul 18 2014
Colin Nederkoorn, CEO of software company Customer.io is a bit annoyed that his 75 Mbps FiOS connection can't stream a Netflix video. In a blog post and accompanying test video, Nederkoorn notes that his normally-speedy 75 Mbps FiOS connection struggles along at 375 kbps.
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