News tagged: alternatives
The New York Times
recently explored the statewide protectionist bans paid for by incumbent ISPs that hinder or outright prohibit communities from building their own networks. As we've long covered, these bans don't really care if ISPs aren't willing to service these same areas, and some even block public/private partnerships. The FCC has hinted they may fight to overturn some of these bills
to help accelerate broadband deployment.
CenturyLink, which has a very long history (both currently and as Qwest) of passing such laws and suing muni-operations, justifies this behavior to the Times by insisting consumers don't want fiber upgrades anyway:
“We build our network to meet customer expectations,” said Bill Hanchey, a CenturyLink regional vice president who oversees government affairs. But customers are not clamoring for the speed provided by fiber, he said. “It does us no good to go out and build networks that customers don’t need or aren’t requesting."
The idea they don't want to be upgraded might be interesting news to the CenturyLink users in our forums
still stuck on increasingly-antiquated and capped
DSL connections. In reality, CenturyLink's stagnation when it comes to upgrading the lion's share of its market simply comes from the fact the have no competitive incentive to do so.
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.
Midcontinent Communications is the latest ISP to throw their hat in to the 1 Gbps ring, unveiling a plan to bring gigabit Internet access to homes and businesses in hundreds of communities in South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota. Unlike many such release MidContinent's announcement
is specific in terms of deployment scope, noting the deployments will make 1 Gbps speeds available to 600,000 homes and 55,000 businesses through a fiber network that will span roughly 7,600 miles.
According to the company, the first cities with access to gigabit service will be the metro areas of Sioux Falls and Rapid City in South Dakota -- and Fargo, Bismarck and Grand Forks in North Dakota.
"We won't cherry-pick the communities or neighborhoods we will access with our gigabit services," president and CEO Pat McAdaragh said in a statement. "We won't limit it to a few neighborhoods in the largest cities."
Prices have yet to be announced by the company, which states the 1 Gbps deployment should be completed by the end of 2017.
Back in October Netflix rather quietly raised rates
for anyone eager to view the company's growing catalog of 4K content. Users who want to view 4K or "Ultra HD" content now have to sign up for Netflix's $12 a month "family" plan, which provides simultaneous streams of up to four programs at once. Amazon this week stated that the company will be offering its first 4K TV streams later this year, and won't charge extra for the content
. Of course Amazon just got done raising the subscription price of their Amazon Prime service to $99 not all that long ago, so another price hike just to watch a smattering of 4K content likely wouldn't be particularly bright anyway.
While locations like New York and San Francisco have been getting significant speed increases as part of Time Warner Cable's Maxx upgrades
, the cable company's now also throwing a small bone to users in all of the company's markets. Stop the Cap
notes that Time Warner Cable is boosting the company's "Basic" broadband tier, which usually runs $30 to $40 a month depending on the market, from 3 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up to 6 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up at no charge. Maxx markets, in contrast, see the company's 15 Mbps Standard Internet plan bumped to 50 Mbps, and the company's 100 Mbps Ultimate plan pushed to 300 Mbps -- for the same rates (which vary by market and regional competition).
Sony is preparing to begin testing its new "Playstation Vue" streaming video service later this month in New York on an invite-only basis for Playstation 3 and Playstation 4 customers. After that, notes the Wall Street Journal
, it will see staggered deployment across major U.S.
September of last year wireless operator C Spire issued a rather surprising announcement
saying they were going to start deploying fixed-line broadband networks capable of 1 Gbps in several markets within their (mostly Southern) footprint. C Spire's initial focus will primarily be on Mississippi, where nine cities are currently in the running to be the first to get the speedier service.
Add Tesla CEO Elon Musk to the growing list of people investing in the idea of less-expensive satellite broadband technology. According to the Wall Street Journal
, Musk is working closely with satellite-industry veteran and former Google employee Greg Wyler on building a network of roughly 700 satellites, each weighing less than 250 pounds.
Dish Network this week stated that the company is "cautiously optimistic" that the fixed LTE trials they've been conducting
with both nTelos and Sprint been testing will someday turn into a "real business." Speaking on the company's earnings call
the company stated they're not planning a "major initiative" outside of the current tests, but they'd like to. After affixing ruggedized antennas to the side of the residence, Sprint offers users 10 Mbps speeds for $30 a month if bundled with Dish TV service, or $40 if not. At the moment it's only a trial, so there's no usage caps on the product -- but that's sure to change if expansion occurs.
CBS certainly complained and pouted
a lot during the Aereo fight, but they also repeatedly stated they'd be exploring a lot of their own online streaming services going forward. On the heels of the company's launch of a $6 on demand streaming service for its current programming lineup
, the company also appears to be prepped to launch a new streaming news outfit. According to Variety
, the service should be named CBSN and will incorporate a lot of the company's existing on-air news personalities. According to ReCode
, the company's new news venture should officially launch tomorrow.
If you've ever taken a cruise, you know that getting decent broadband signal from the boat's satellite-powered mast antenna can be an exercise in frustration. Carnival Cruise Line is promising to change that with a new service they hope will do for cruise ships -- what GoGo has done for in-flight broadband. story continues..
FCC boss Tom Wheeler has made it clear that the agency is being very careful when it comes to the "IP transition" away from copper networks. Speaking recently at Comptel, Wheeler proclaimed
that he wouldn't tolerate companies using the idea of an IP transition as justification to erode competing options.
On the heels of launching $70 per month, 1 Gbps "G1GABLAST" services in a few development communities in Phoenix
, Cox Communications this week announced they're also bringing the speedy service to portions of Virginia. According to a Cox announcement
, the company will be offering 1 Gbps speeds to "new developments across Virginia," though failed to specify precisely how many users will see the speeds. The company has previously stated they're going to offer 1 Gbps speeds to everyone else using the DOCSIS 3.1 standard -- but those deployments aren't expected to begin until early 2016.
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..
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.
FCC boss Tom Wheeler has been talking a lot lately
about raising the standard definition of broadband to at least 10 Mbps (for government-subsidized rural options) and 25 Mbps for everybody else. He's also been talking about how when you look at speeds of 25 Mbps higher there's little to no competition -- as most DSL providers struggle to offer that speed in any volume.
Last year, Frontier Communications CEO Maggie Wilderotter stated that people don't really need 1 Gbps, and that the 3 to 6 Mbps most of her customers can get was just fine for most people
. Last summer, trying to downplay the fact said 3-6 Mbps is painfully uncompetitive, Wilderotter called Google Fiber "hype" that "confuses customers
," and that even talking about 1 Gbps services was something that was "disrespectful" to the customer base.
Broadcasters got their wished-for death blow to Aereo this week as NY Judge Alison Nathan approved an injunction and denied the company's request to be licensed as a cable company. The Supreme Court's shutdown of Aereo
effectively declared Aereo a cable company -- provided as it was willing to pay retransmission fees like a cable company.
While T-Mobile's industry disruption has resulted in some pricing shifts by AT&T and Verizon, most of these changes by bigger players have been cosmetic in nature, focusing on upselling heavy users by reducing prices for bigger data allotments (usually customers on 10 GB plans or above). Today Sprint bucked that trend slightly by announcing some changes to one of their lower-end plans
: upping the 600 MB allotment on their $20 Family Share plan to 1 GB. "That’s double the data offered by Verizon and more than 3 times the data offered by AT&T at the same price point," Sprint crows in their release.
For years many of our more "serious" rural users have chosen to give their business to Verizon Wireless reseller Millenicom
, since they've continued offering larger data allotments and unlimited options (they're a "no drama
" company to quote one of our forum users). The plans were particularly popular among more rural users, whose only alternative is often very expensive and heavily capped satellite service, heavily capped LTE, or dial-up.
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