For the last few weeks, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy has been sending letters
to the nation's largest telecom companies, urging them to commit to avoiding paid prioritization and "fast lanes" on the Internet. The government is using AT&T and Comcast merger approval as regulatory bait, but as usual on the net neutrality front the wild card appears to be Verizon.
In a letter
(pdf) addressing Leahy's concerns this week, Verizon complains that concerns about paid prioritization are "demagoguery," stating several times that no ISPs have plans to erect such systems. Verizon also proceeds to insist that the FCC has enforcement authority to protect consumers from such plans without resorting to Title II:
All of the other major broadband providers and their trade associations have agreed that the FCC has authority under Section 706 to address harmful paid prioritization, limiting the universe of parties who could potentially challenge FCC rules on this point and making any move to ill-fitting Title II regulation gratuitous. Unfortunately, the fever pitch over “paid prioritization” and “fast lanes” among advocates of greater Internet regulation is just demagoguery since no major ISP has expressed an interest in offering “paid prioritization” and all agree that the FCC has a valid legal path to prohibit it.
Of course this is not only the same Verizon that annoyed the rest of the industry
by suing to overturn neutrality rules that didn't do much of anything in the first place. Verizon also proceeds to call the move to Title II an "unprecedented" shift toward heavy-handed regulations that would harm the industry, again ignoring that their wireless services -- and in some cases FiOS
are classified under Title II with no problem in investment or profit.
Meanwhile, this is the same company with a very long history
of waging heated war on competitors and disruptive technologies, so it's not clear what promises of good behavior are exactly worth when coming from big red.
Earlier this week we noted that AT&T's handoff of their DSL and landline users to Frontier in Connecticut hasn't been particularly smooth
, with a lot of customers complaining about prolonged DSL and TV outages. As the week has rolled on the outages seem to have resolved, but the company's Facebook page
is littered with apologies for a wide variety of continuing issues, from DVR and VOD problems, to heavy pixelation of TV signal.
Time Warner Cable's earnings
this morning indicate that the company lost 184,000 video subscribers on the quarter, more than most Wall Street analysts expected. The company did add 92,000 broadband and 14,000 voice subscribers on the quarter, but lost 24,000 triple play customers overall. Overall company revenue fell 6% as a result. While the company is offering its Maxx upgrades
to key locations, much of the company's footprint remains in a holding pattern as it awaits regulatory approval of their $45 billion sale to Comcast -- something company CEO Rob Marcus today admitted is taking longer than he anticipated.
The MPAA and the National Association of Theatre Owners have formally announced they're banning Google Glass and other wearable electronics from movie theaters, effective this week. In an updated policy statement
, the MPAA insists the organization has a "long history of welcoming technological advances," something not supported by history given Hollywood's continued assault on a long list of emerging and disruptive technologies including the VCR
-- which the MPAA in 1982 likened to the Boston strangler.
Looking to better understand the recent traffic slowdowns experienced during interconnection feuds, M-Lab has released a new study
(pdf) that analyzed transit and connection points between large last mile ISPs and transit operators such as Level3 and Cogent. While the report is clear not to affix specific blame for the sort of Netflix streaming issues seen by customers of Verizon and Comcast, they do clearly point out that the problems were the result of choices made by ISPs in their business relationships, and not congestion.
Apparently it's "huge telecom companies get in trouble for misleading behavior" week. On the heels of AT&T being sued by the FTC
for misleading advertising and Comcast settling a class action for monopolistic over-billing
comes the news that Verizon will be paying out $64 million for over-billing customers.
"As an industry, we need a competitor - a serious competitor - to Netflix and Amazon," News Corporation Rupert Murdoch stated
at the Wall Street Journal’s WSJ.D conference in Laguna Beach, California. The problem? The company that drove MySpace into the ground has had problems competing with Netflix via services like Hulu, because to succeed they need to be disruptive -- and if they're truly disruptive they would ultimately cannibalize traditional TV viewers. As a result of this timidity, services like News Corp's Hulu wind up being little more than a glorified ads for traditional cable
, unwilling to take the extra step to truly step into the ring with the rising Internet video services.
by Revcb 07:50AM Thursday Oct 30 2014
At the beginning of the month story continues..
the FCC announced that they were considering allowing over the top (OTT) video providers FCC-enforced access to vertically integrated programming. That sounds dull but it's a landmark shift that could potentially give Internet video companies the same rights as traditional cable operators.
Sprint today announced that the company's faster Spark LTE upgrades have arrived in seventeen new markets. According to the company's announcement
, the seventeen markets include Denver, Seattle, Columbus, Sacramento, Cleveland, and Minneapolis. The company's Spark upgrades combine Sprint's 2.5 GHz, 1900 MHz and 800 MHz bands for improved regional capacity and speeds Sprint promises should top out around 60 Mbps. Sprint says the Spark upgrades are now available in 46 markets across the country, and should be available to 100 million potential customers by the end of the year.
It's pretty clear at this point that while consumers complain a lot about high cable prices, it's really not driving consumers away from traditional cable on a grand scale. While this won't be the case long term, users appear to be willing to pay a lot of money and even tolerate bi-annual rate hikes -- if they're treated relatively well. story continues..
Comcast today settled a decade-old lawsuit accusing the company of violating sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act by gobbling up competitors, then using the firm's market power to aggressively raise rates on users in Philadelphia, Chicago and Boston
. The preliminary settlement involves Comcast paying $16.67 million in cash
and another $33 million in service discounts to current and former subscribers in Philadelphia and four nearby counties.
The settlement comes as Comcast works to soothe regulator worries that the company's planned $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable will result in even more consolidated power.
Comcast Settlement 88281
For a moment there Apple's new AppleSIM -- which allows iPad users to easily compare plans and switch carriers without swapping out the SIM -- looked like it might be immensely disruptive
. It becomes less impressive once you notice that Verizon isn't supporting the technology at all and AT&T is preventing it from working as intended
Verizon is apparently getting into the news business, bankrolling a new technology news website called SugarString
, which proclaims to cover "what millennials really care about today." Verizon's apparently hoping to take aim at websites like Wired
and The Verge
, hiring editors and writers to stock the website with content. However, as The Daily Dot
points out, writers are being told they can't write about things like the NSA's domestic surveillance activities or net neutrality -- both things Verizon has more than a little role in:
News of Verizon’s publishing venture and its strict rules first came to light to multiple reporters through recruiting emails sent last week by author and reporter Cole Stryker, who is now the editor-in-chief of SugarString.
According to the latest data from ComScore
, while traditional TV still rules the roost, Millenials are increasingly moving away from the classic definition of the boob tube. The survey of 1,159 TV watchers found that 24% of Millennials don't pay for traditional TV, and 46% time shift their content. 77% of younger folks are more likely than average to never have had traditional TV, and 67% are more likely than average to be a cord cutter. Unsurprisingly, older folk are more traditional. 84% of consumers between 35 and 54 spend the majority of their time watching traditional scripted shows on TV, a number that jumps to 90% among consumers who are 55 years or older.
by Revcb 07:56AM Wednesday Oct 29 2014
After mocking other 1 Gbps deployments as "hype" that "confuses customers," Frontier Communications last week quietly started offering 1 Gbps service under the FiberHome brand to a few development communities in Durham
. According to Frontier, the 1 Gbps service will run users $220 a month.
Chatter in our Bright House Networks forum
indicates (and a press release
confirms) that the company is preparing to bump the speeds available to most of their subscribers for free. The company's 10 Mbps customers are being bumped to 15 Mbps; 30 Mbps customers are being bumped to 35 Mbps; 60 Mbps customers are being nudged to 75 Mbps; and 90 Mbps customers will be pushed to 150 Mbps. Upstream speeds are staying the same. A Bright House representative in our forums states
they should be completed by the end of December, and also confirms
that the company is also working on deploying a faster 300 Mbps tier, though so far they haven't specified how much you'll pay for the service.
The FTC today announced they've filed a complaint against AT&T for the company's longstanding practice of promising "unlimited" data, only to significantly throttle back customer connections. According to the FTC press announcement
, an FTC inquiry found that while AT&T advertised unlimited data, the company in 2011 began throttling data speeds for its unlimited data plan customers after they used as little as 2 gigabytes of data in a billing period.
Last week saw Frontier's acquisition of AT&T's DSL and landline customers in Connecticut get final regulatory approval, but customers already are complaining about a sloppy handoff. According to the Middletown Press
, the midnight weekend transfer of ownership of hundreds of thousands of customers didn't go particularly well, with an undetermined but significant number of customers losing DSL and TV service well into Monday afternoon.
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