CableLabs continues to push the DOCSIS 3.1 standard to completion, which means that significantly faster cable speeds are just over the horizon. According to a CableLabs announcement
, six unnamed hardware vendors have completed the first round of interoperability tests for new DOCSIS 3.1 products, gear that will someday be capable of offering 10 Gbps downstream and 1 Gbps upstream.
CableLabs plans to host a follow up interoperability testing session during the week of January 19, 2015.
"The success of this first DOCSIS 3.1 interop validates that multi-Gigabit services will soon be a reality for cable broadband customers," states Tom Lookabaugh, chief research and development officer at CableLabs. "Operators around the world can now look forward to a new generation of capabilities added to their DOCSIS based networks."
Most of the 1 Gbps promises you're seeing made by companies like Cox
will rely on the DOCSIS 3.1 standard, which isn't expected to see significant commercial deployment until sometime in 2016. Back in September CableLabs said they were slightly ahead of schedule
with development of the standard, which will take significantly less time to deploy than it did to design.
You might recall that back in February Blackberry CEO John Chen insisted he was "outraged
" that T-Mobile was running a promotion aimed at selling discounted iPhones to Blackberry users. A few months of subsequent snark resulted in Blackberry stating they wouldn't be renewing an expiring licensing arrangement with T-Mobile. Comments made by both T-Mobile and Blackberry
suggest that the companies are healing any rifts made by the verbal scuffle, even though it remains entirely unclear when exactly an actual deal could emerge:
Answering media questions after T-Mobile's Uncarrier 8.0 launch on Tuesday, Legere said that he's open to finding a way for T-Mobile customers to have BlackBerry phones, provided the handset maker cooperates. Chen then told CNet today at its BlackBerry Classic event that he was also open to it and should connect with Legere (although I imagine he'd like to do it in person and not over Twitter).
Chen's move was curious given that after the last few years, Blackberry still needs all the friends it can get.
HBO Go this week announced
that the streaming service has been made available to Amazon Fire TV owners today, with Fire Stick customers having access to the app sometime in the Spring. Of course if you head to activate your device
, you'll find that Comcast and Charter aren't supported.
At the beginning of the month, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai sent Netflix a curious letter
(pdf). In it, Pai politely accused Netflix of being a hypocrite on net neutrality, strongly hinting that because Netflix operates a free CDN (Open Connect, which ISPs can and have refused to use), they're violating net neutrality by advocating for "fast lanes." Both sides of the net neutrality debate have repeatedly used "fast lanes" as a sort of dirty word without functional context, and Pai's letter was no exception.
This week roughly sixty hardware vendors including Cisco, Intel, Pace, Sandvine and Broadcom joined the incumbent broadband providers in opposing tougher Title-II based net neutrality rules. In a letter sent to Congress and FCC Commissioners
(pdf), the companies bring out some familiar arguments against Title II -- namely that it will stall innovation and harm investment (though even ISPs themselves this week admitted that isn't the case
In fact, the vendors up the ante -- insisting that Title II will damage the entire economy:
While many experts have noted the damage Title II could do to network investment, the harm would cascade out far beyond the provision of broadband service because the Internet is now so entwined with our entire economy...Reversing course now by shifting to Title II means that instead of billions of broadband investment driving other sectors of the economy forward, any reduction in this spending will stifle growth across the entire economy.
Except in reality, plenty of folks (including Sonic.net CEO Dane Jasper) have argued that Title II really will only impact ISPs if they engage in bad behavior
(like use the lack of competition to impose arbitrary tolls or prioritization), and other wise any additional regulatory burden would be light.
Of course should the AT&T, Comcast and Verizon's of the world not face meaningful net neutrality rules, one guess who gets paid to build the intelligent devices that will power these brave, new, neutrality-infringing efforts? In that case, why would gear makers want tougher net neutrality rules if it shoots revenue growth right in the foot?
The Pirate Bay website
was taken offline yesterday after a raid by Swedish police confiscated servers and site hardware from a Mountain-side data center in Nacka
(pdf). Two years ago the remaining, un-arrested Pirate Bay members proclaimed
that they'd moved the website entirely to the cloud, making it raid proof.
Comcast is facing a new class action over the company's push to turn customer routers into publicly available Xfinity hotspots. In June of last year Comcast announced
that the company was launching a new, Fon-like effort that involved new router firmware that turns your gateway into a publicly-accessible hotspot.
After recently taking a $170 million hit for poor sales of their Fire smartphone, Amazon Senior Vice President of Devices David Limp has acknowledged the company screwed up the pricing
of the device -- which initially cost $200 with a new two-year contract. Omitted from that admission is the fact that Amazon also made the device an AT&T exclusive, which only worked to compound lackluster sales.
While Amazon previously admitted their errors, this week the company made it clear that their experimentation with Fire phones is far from over. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos this week kind of backtracked on those admissions, indicating that the company is cooking up some additional Fire phone versions
Bezos said on Tuesday at Business Insider’s conference in New York that “it’s going to take several iterations” before he’ll be able to judge the Fire phone, the device that led to Amazon taking a $170 million write-down. "Ask me in some number of years,” he told interviewer Henry Blodget, CEO of Business Insider, in which Bezos is an investor.
It's certainly possible Amazon could make headway in the smartphone market, but it would certainly be wise if for their next act they ditched the AT&T exclusive and offered a better spec'd phone with less of a heavy reliance on gimmick.
The International Telecom Union has put their final stamp of approval on the "G Fast" standard, which may usher the delivery of 1 Gbps speeds over older copper networks. Like many similar fiber to the node (FTTN) efforts before it, G Fast is heavily distance constrained. An ITU announcement
declares the standard "combines the best aspects of fibre and DSL" -- assuming you're within 400 meters of a distribution point. In short most users won't have the loop lengths to ever see anything close to 1 Gbps from this product, but like similar FTTN implementations it's cheaper than running fiber all the way to the home.
In June of last year Comcast announced
that the company was launching a new, Fon-like effort that involved new router firmware that turns your gateway into a publicly-accessible hotspot. More specifically, updated routers would now offer two signals: one being yours, and the other being a "xfinitywifi" SSID signal providing free Wi-Fi to other Comcast users in your general area.
Austin's not only getting Google Fiber, they're first in line to check out some of the updated second generation set top box hardware that Google has been cooking up for some time
. According to a product primer
(pdf) sent to me by Google, the company has consolidated their previous network and storage boxes into one device.
AT&T has had their wrist slapped by the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Better Business Bureau for not being entirely honest when it comes to the availability of the company's 45 Mbps U-Verse tier. While AT&T started offering a 45 Mbps U-Verse tier last year, as we noted at the time it's not available to all U-Verse subscribers
, depending on your loop length, the availability of an extra copper pair, or the quality of local copper.
A blog post at Symantec
this week is turning heads after the team uncovered a new, previously undetected piece of malware that has been used for years to spy on government operations. Dubbed "Regin," Symatec states that the construction of the malware "displays a degree of technical competence rarely seen," resulting in the malware remaining largely undetected since it arrived on the scene back in 2008.
The EFF this week unveiled Let’s Encrypt
, a new certificate authority (CA) initiative the company is building alongside Mozilla, Cisco, Akamai, IdenTrust, and researchers at the University of Michigan. According to an EFF blog post
, Let's Encrypt aims to speed up the deployment of HTTPS by automatically issuing and managing free certificates for any website that needs them.
Claiming to be the fastest and largest Free Wi-Fi deployment in the world, New York City this week announced LinkNYC
, an initiative the city promises will provide Wi-Fi at speeds of a gigabit. The initiative will replace the city's aging pay phones with Wi-Fi hotspots and device charging stations, with the project funded by bright display ads that will pitch services to passers by.
According to a company post to the Time Warner Cable blog
, the company has completed their "Maxx" upgrades in New York City and Los Angeles. Said upgrades involve not only improved video services and a new "Enhanced DVR
," but significantly faster speeds.
With the debate coals already hot due to the President's surprisingly clear support for Title II
, Sonic.Net CEO Dane Jasper adds some wood to the fire in a blog post
suggesting we also take this opportunity to bring back unbundling. Net neutrality violations are only a symptom of limited competition, argues Jasper, something that could be fixed if the country returned to discarded rules requiring that incumbent ISPs open up their infrastrcuture to competitors.
Verizon has agreed to pay $1.37 million to settle an investigation into the company's FiOS billing practices in Maryland. According to the The Baltimore Sun
, the settlement settles a six-year investigation into misleading Verizon promotions (like those televisions the company had a hard time ponying up years back
) incorrectly charged early termination fees, and instances where Verizon failed to adequately outline equipment fees. "Verizon's activities when it was rolling out FiOS established it as one of our office's biggest complaint generators," Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said in a statement. "I'm pleased that Verizon is changing its marketing practices to accurately reflect the total cost of its services and that a significant number of consumers will receive restitution as a result of this agreement."
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