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Like many outlets I was given an early look at Dish's new Sling TV streaming video service, which the company announced back at CES
. The service won several awards at the show, and it's an the vanguard at a slew of offerings scheduled to be released in 2015 that finally appear ready to challenge the traditional cable TV paradigm. Is it any good? Well yes and no.
I have to say that the ease at which you're able to switch channels impressed me as somebody who has had a front row seat to the buffering, stuttering growth trajectory of Internet video.
While there's a notable delay, channel surfing is largely seamless and the experience is fairly consistent across supported devices (I tinkered with the app on an iPad, my LG G3, and a Roku 3). Unlike some other services, you're restricted to a single live stream at a time.
I'm marginally picky but not a videophile (I'm still using a 2006 Panasonic 780p Plasma TV), but the image quality was consistently good to great when compared to the often pixelated Internet video content I'm used to watching via my Plex/Roku 3 combination. Of course I've been experimenting with the service on a symmetrical 50 Mbps FiOS connection, so your mileage may obviously vary.
Cablevision this week jumped face-first into the Wi-Fi calling pool, unveiling a new service they're calling "Freewheel." According to the Freewheel website
, the service will offer non-Cablevision users unlimited data, texts and voice for $30 a month starting in February. If you're a Cablevision customer, that price tag falls to $10 a month.
A new survey of Computer World readers
suggests that T-Mobile is making huge strides in customer satisfaction thanks to the company's "uncarrier" efforts. Verizon usually sits on top of most surveys when it comes to overall satisfaction, and does so again here with 69% of Verizon customers satisfied (compared to 67% for AT&T, 54% for T-Mobile, and 39% for Sprint).
AT&T will likely have a hard time crying spectrum poverty after reports suggest the company gleaned the lion's share of spectrum at the AWS-3 spectrum auction. The auction tallied more than $45 billion in proceeds for the federal government, and estimates analyzing AT&T's financial moves suggest that AT&T alone may have spent between $20 and $22 billion
. One analyst firm AT&T likely purcharsed the J Block ($18.2 billion) and part of the G Block ($2.6 billion); while Verizon purchased the H Block ($8.4 billion) and I Block ($8.4 billion); With T-Mobile nabbing 30% of the G Block ($2.2 billion) and Dish nabbing the 15 MHz of unpaired uplink spectrum (for around $2 billion)."
by Revcb 06:51AM Monday Jan 26 2015
Hi there! Come here often?
As we noted yesterday
, news reports indicate that Google's longstanding interest in being a wireless provider may soon be coming to fruition. The search giant appears to have struck deals with both T-Mobile and Sprint to operate some form of MVNO that likely fuses Wi-Fi and cellular service.
Speaking on the company's earnings conference call this week, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo stated that customers waiting for Verizon to follow the industry trend of roll over data plans shouldn't hold their breath. Long a seemingly common-sense idea, Southern carrier C Spire was the first to offer the option of pooling and keeping unused bits and bytes in early December
AT&T might dump the DirecTV brand name if AT&T's acquisition of the satellite company is approved, says AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. "We haven't decided yet on how we are going to brand it," Stephenson told reporters
at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "We're testing the DIRECTV brand. We're testing the AT&T brand, so we're doing a lot of thinking." Of course that's assuming regulators approve of AT&T's elimination of one of its biggest competitors in the television space. That's certainly not a given, though Comcast's acquisition of Time Warner Cable appears to be getting the lion's share of media attention.
Google is of course considering whether or not to deliver Google Fiber to a possible 34 potential cities
, of which only a few are likely to be chosen. Right before Christmas Google delayed the announcement
of the next city (or cities), but stated they'd be announcing the next Google Fiber city early next year.
A new bill introduced in Congress this week would aim to overturn the kind of state protectionist broadband laws this site has written about for roughly fifteen years. The Community Broadband Act
, introduced by Sens.
Dish Network has been found guilty of violating the Federal Do Not Call Registry more than fifty million times. According to an FTC notice
, Dish Network ignored consumer opt opt preferences in millions of cases, calling customers with sales pitches who had clearly stated they didn't want marketing calls. The report notes Dish also violated the "abandoned-call" provision of FTC rules some 49,738,073 times (read: Dish's automated service called, but then hung up on the user before connecting them to an agent, resulting in those users being tossed back into the system again for more errant calls). Given that the FTC penalty for each instance of DNC violation can be up to $16,000, Dish may be looking at a sizable fine for interrupting your dinner.
Initially in flight broadband providers had a lot of trouble selling Wi-Fi connectivity to customers that expected Wi-Fi to be free. Now the New York Times
is running a profile piece that notes as more people sign up for in-flight service, the technology is having a hard time keeping up with demand.
by Revcb 06:29AM Friday Jan 23 2015
According to a blog post by T-Mobile CEO John Legere
, 63% of Americans have a less than perfect credit score. Bad credit, the CEO argues, keeps most consumers from being able to qualify for most of the best wireless service and device deals made available.
Verizon's fourth quarter earnings
were certainly nothing to laugh at, but they continue to indicate that Verizon's feeling increasing competitive pressure on the wireless front. The company added a whopping 2.1 million new wireless connections during the fourth quarter, though Verizon did see its contract customer turnover (or "churn") rate increase 18 basis points from last year to 1.14% (it historically never heads above 1%). On the wireline front, the company's financial sheet
(pdf) notes that while Verizon added 387,000 net new FiOS TV customers and 544,000 net new FiOS Internet customers, they continue to heavily hemorrhage (quite intentionally) unwanted DSL and POTS customers.
Senator John Thune and Representative Fred Upton are spearheading a new attempt to pass weak net neutrality rules before the FCC can vote to craft tougher, Title II based rules on February 26. The press is being incredibly polite about this effort, often painting it
as an honest, bipartisan solution to net neutrality from two gentlemen that have changed their tune.
In what's either a great bit of comedy or ridiculous treatise over at the company blog
, Blackberry CEO John Chen this week gave his two cents on net neutrality (or as he puts it, "app neutrality"). Blackberry, which currently sees around a 2% market share versus iOS and Android, hasn't had a particularly great few years as new products have struggled to resonate with the marketplace.
Preparing for a protracted fight over net neutrality and municipal broadband, FCC boss Tom Wheeler has been making a significant push to redefine the baseline broadband definition at 25 Mbps
. Why? To justify legal action on both fronts, the agency needs to fall back on its Congressional mandate to ensure that broadband is deployed in a "reasonable and timely basis." That's why the FCC has been highlighting that two-thirds of the public can't get access to 25 Mbps from more than one carrier.
"Freemium" wireless carrier FreedomPop
has announced a new plan that offers consumers unlimited access to a network of 10,000 Wi-Fi hotspots for $5 a month. Noting that 90% of data consumed by mobile devices is over Wi-Fi networks, FreedomPop says the 10,000 hotspots
will cover roughly 120 million people and between 65% and 90% of the 100 largest metro markets. The company has released an Android app
, and an iOS app is in the works. "iOS is far more closed, whereas Google has committed to make Wi-Fi as seamless as possible, something else that should scare carriers," states the company.
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