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News tagged: alternatives


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by Karl Bode 01:23PM Thursday Apr 17 2014
Back in February Google announced they were working with thirty-four new cities in nine regions on making it easier for those locations to see Google Fiber deployed. While not all of those cities will receive Google Fiber, the company announced they'd be working with all of the cities to help expedite the arrival of faster broadband services -- whether it's courtesy of Google Fiber, somebody else, or the city itself.

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Target cities were given a list of questions regarding infrastructure issues and municipal laws. Some cities have moved beyond that; San Antonio for example has already struck a preliminary agreement for the placement of some 40 fiber huts should San Antonio get selected. Portland is another city that's moving quickly, recently reworking city ordinances restricting cabinet placement.

Despite some early grumbling from city council leaders, Portland's hurdles appear to be resolved, and the city announced this week they've struck a preliminary ten year franchise agreement with Google and are hashing out potential cabinet placement arrangements.

"This franchise agreement is an important step along the path to Fiber. It gives us permission to build here, and it also outlines the ways that we’ll partner with the city to invest in local infrastructure and give back to the community," Google spokeswoman Jenna Wandres said in a written statement. "There’s still a lot of work to do beyond this one agreement, but we hope to provide an update about whether we can bring Fiber here later this year."

Some of what Google is doing is obviously for press impact as much as hurdle jumping; most of these cities won't see Google Fiber, but the very public press exposure these preliminary agreements see as cities bicker over who'll get to be next is some of the very best free marketing a company can get.

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by Karl Bode 08:23AM Thursday Apr 17 2014
Google executives and employees were a little annoyed at recent revelations that the NSA was hacking into data centers to grab user data, in addition to being given user data directly by the company. As such they've made it a priority to encrypt as much of the traffic moving between data centers as possible. Now a report by the Wall Street Journal suggests to speed up encryption adoption overall, the search giant is considering giving search result priority to websites that utilize encryption:
quote:
Google is considering giving a boost in its search-engine results to websites that use encryption, the engineer in charge of fighting spam in search results hinted at a recent conference...Cutts also has spoken in private conversations of Google’s interest in making the change, according to a person familiar with the matter. The person says Google’s internal discussions about encryption are still at an early stage and any change wouldn’t happen soon.
It seems fairly unlikely that this would ever come to fruition, given that while well-intentioned, it would compromise the purity of the results, something Google consistently professes to hold to a high standard.

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by Karl Bode 10:17AM Wednesday Apr 16 2014
Recently the New York Times ran a fairly standard article praising fiber to the home service, while lamenting the lack of overall fiber in the United States. Verizon Regulatory Affairs VP David Young has posted a rather odd blog response, taking the opportunity to pretend that people are somehow stopping the company from deploying more FiOS (even though they've put the brakes on deployment themselves).
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by Karl Bode 08:14AM Wednesday Apr 16 2014
According to a blog post by Verizon Wireless, the company is preparing another small tweak to its data pricing plans. Starting on Thursday, Verizon says that month-to month contract users, and users who bring their own phones to sign up for "More Everything" shared data plans, can save some money on the attachment fee Verizon charges per smartphone. Users that sign up for data buckets smaller than 8 GB can add a smartphone for $30 a month ($10 discount), while customers who sign up for plans with 10 GB or greater allotments save $15 per month (saving $25). If you're bringing your own phone it will of course need to be compatible with Verizon's network, which for many users isn't particularly likely.

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by Karl Bode 08:13AM Wednesday Apr 16 2014
The Boy Genius Report has grabbed an exclusive leaked set of photos that claim to show what Amazon's upcoming entry into the smartphone market will look like. The device looks like countless other devices before it, though BGR claims Amazon "has spent years creating a unique and, at times, novel user experience." Amazon has not only been working on the phone, but they've also been testing their own wireless network, using MSS spectrum (specifically the "Big LEO" band at 1610-1618.725 MHz on the uplink, and the Upper Big LEO band at 2483.5-2500 MHz for the downlink) owned by Globalstar.

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by Karl Bode 05:49PM Tuesday Apr 15 2014
HBO's hit fantasy series "Game of Thrones" has historically been one of the most pirated TV shows on the Internet, thanks largely to HBO's stubborn refusal to offer streaming HBO content without subscribing to a traditional (and expensive) cable TV package. With the show's recent season four premiere, "Game of Thrones" is again lighting up BitTorrent distribution networks like a Christmas tree.
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by Karl Bode 10:26AM Tuesday Apr 15 2014
Google recently stated they were considering expanding Google Fiber to a list of 34 cities in nine metro areas. While New York City wasn't on the list, Geek.com has noticed that Google Fiber is advertising for a Google Fiber regional sales manager for the New York City region.
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by Karl Bode 08:22AM Tuesday Apr 15 2014
In a move that's certain to ruffle the feathers of larger operators AT&T and Verizon, ReCode suggests that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is circulating a proposal that would reserve two thirds of upcoming auction spectrum for smaller carriers. If the report is accurate, the agency is going to uncharacteristically do something that angers larger carriers for the sake of competition, heeding DOJ advice given last year that allowing AT&T and Verizon to gobble up all the spectrum could be a death blow to real wireless competition.

Granted whether the FCC sticks to its guns after AT&T and Verizon lobbyists get done whining isn't certain:
quote:
Details of Wheeler’s plan began leaking out Friday evening after FCC staff and company lobbyists were briefed on some details. Wheeler aides began briefing some lawmakers and staff on Capitol Hill earlier this month. The FCC could vote on the plan and release details to the public as soon as mid-May, although some details may change in the coming weeks as industry lobbyists swarm the agency.
It would be an interesting policy move for an agency that traditional talks a lot about competition, but buckles whenever it's time to implement policy that upsets two of the biggest campaign contributors in the industry.

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by Karl Bode 06:24PM Monday Apr 14 2014
A few weeks ago we noted how Facebook was considering buying drone maker Titan Aerospace, with a specific eye on using drones to deliver broadband in developing countries. Facebook won't be getting that chance, as the Wall Street Journal reports that Google has snapped up the company instead. A purchase price wasn't disclosed, but Google did state that the drone company would work closely with those involved in Google's broadband-by-balloon "Loon" initiative.

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by Karl Bode 04:51PM Friday Apr 11 2014
Less than a week after Charter CEO Tom Rutledge publicly admitted that their current TV service offerings simply weren't very good, Charter last November announced plans for a brand refresh for the company's broadband and TV services. Like AT&T U-Verse, Verizon FiOS, Comcast Xfinity, and Cablevision Optimum, Charter has announced they'll be re-branding the company's broadband and digital video services under the name "Spectrum" in the hopes of changing public perceptions.
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by Karl Bode 12:22PM Friday Apr 11 2014
For much of the last decade Seattle has explored the idea of building their own ultra-fast broadband network. Much of that motivation was fueled by the sub-standard service provided in the region by regional telco Qwest (now CenturyLink), which in turn resulted in regional cable operator Comcast not working very hard.
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by Karl Bode 10:52AM Friday Apr 11 2014
Aereo has announced that the company is bringing their live TV streaming service to Google's Chromecast dongle starting in May. According to an Aereo blog post, the company will launch Aereo on Chromecast on May 29, offering users access to Aereo's live TV and DVR service, which starts at $8 a month and up. The launch comes one month before Aereo faces broadcasters before the Supreme Court, a showdown that could result in the company ceasing to exist. Survey results released by a company called Centris this week state that 40% of subscribers would cancel TV service if Aereo was made available in their market.

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by Karl Bode 09:18AM Thursday Apr 10 2014
Currently only available in a small portion of Austin at speeds of 300 Mbps, AT&T has recently hinted that their "1 Gbps Gigapower" U-Verse upgrade will soon be coming to portions of Dallas and San Antonio. Now AT&T is hinting that the faster service could appear in portions of the Triangle and Piedmont Triad regions of North Carolina.
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by Karl Bode 06:40PM Wednesday Apr 09 2014
We've discussed at length how AT&T's "IP transition" is being framed as some sort of evolutionary transition toward a "glorious all-IP future," but is really largely about AT&T gutting regulations in order to hang up on POTS and DSL users they simply don't want to upgrade. After Verizon used Sandy as an excuse to refuse to upgrade their own unwanted POTS and DSL customers, the FCC stepped in to mandate two small IP transition trials to help analyze what kind of problems we can expect as users are cut off from the PSTN and pushed on to wireless.
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by Karl Bode 02:15PM Wednesday Apr 09 2014
Comcast and Time Warner Cable executives today headed to Capitol Hill to attempt to sell skeptical lawmakers on their $45.2 billion merger proposal. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee (whose members have, like most of DC, received ample cash from both companies), Comcast trotted out many of the same justifications for the merger the company used in their formal application for approval released yesterday.
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by Karl Bode 08:03AM Wednesday Apr 09 2014
Fed up with difficulty in striking live content streaming licensing deals with a cable and broadcast industry terrified of disruption, Microsoft is one of countless companies now exploring the creation of original content. Bloomberg notes that Microsoft is preparing to offer a slew of original content to their Xbox One and Xbox 360 gaming consoles with the help of former CBS executive Nancy Tellem.
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by Karl Bode 06:15PM Tuesday Apr 08 2014
While most of us love the faster speeds provided by fiber, over the years we've seen more than a few complaints about destroyed property. When Verizon was heavily expanding FiOS heavily back in 2005, for example, there were more than a few complaints about trampled azaleas or exploded garages.
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by Karl Bode 03:44PM Tuesday Apr 08 2014
In a new SEC filing, Sprint has stated that the company will be shuttering its existing WiMax network by the end of 2015. Most of Sprint's operations currently ride on the back of their new (and under-performing) LTE network, with the exception of former Clearwire customers (who Sprint has tried to push elsewhere via rate hikes) and Sprint's pre-paid subsidiaries, who'll be migrating their services to LTE. The shutdown will involve the elimination of roughly 6,000 cell sites, with Sprint working to upgrade the remainder of acquired Clearwire sites to TD-LTE.

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by Karl Bode 01:23PM Tuesday Apr 08 2014
With a 180-page filing (pdf) and a blog post, Comcast today formally made their sales pitch to regulators regarding approval of Comcast's planned $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable. Most of what's included in the sales pitch are things Comcast has argued repeatedly already in the court of public opinion; namely that the two companies combined will create amazing synergies that will benefit consumers in a myriad of ways, and that the merged company can't possibly engage in bad behavior because relatively tiny operations like Google Fiber will somehow keep them honest.
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by Karl Bode 08:30AM Tuesday Apr 08 2014
Cablevision appears to have responded to Verizon's new Quantum TV DVRs, which can record twelve programs at once. According to Cablevision, they've upgraded their network-storage DVR so that it now records a whopping fifteen programs at the same time.
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