News tagged: alternatives
Comcast has officially joined the 4KTV era, but like other providers they're only dipping a big toe into the higher-resolution waters -- offering very select content on only very specific hardware. A Comcast announcement
states that customers can now watch current seasons of NBC and USA Network shows in the 4K, UHD format -- but only via an on-demand programming app specifically on Samsung UHD TVs.
Here's instructions for the likely limited number of people who've already made the 4KTV leap specifically via a Samsung set:
Beginning today, Xfinity TV customers with 2014 Samsung UHD TVs can simply download the Xfinity in UHD app from the SMART Hub, login using their Xfinity credentials, and immediately begin streaming, via the Internet, every episode of the current season from hit series including Chicago Fire (NBC), Suits and Covert Affairs (USA), with Parks and Recreation (NBC) set to debut in February.
Comcast's limited entry into the 4KTV market comes on the heels of a similarly timid and Samsung-only on demand launch of 4K content by DirecTV
. DirecTV repeatedly stated their caution in getting into 4K was in part due to the overhype of 3DTV, but also because the company's latest satellite is not commercially operational yet.
This is relatively funny (at least the ending is). Hopefully we'll see AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam post similar fireside Christmas video chats soon too, right?
Mexico's competition watchdog has signed off on AT&T's $2.5 billion acquisition of Mexican wireless carrier Iusacell, a deal that was originally announced last month
. According to Reuters
, Mexico's Federal Competition Commission did impose some unspecified conditions on the deal to "avoid risks to the process of competition." AT&T's Iusacell will compete with Carlos Slim's America Movil, in which AT&T owned a minority stake until shortly before this new deal was announced.
Back in September, representatives of state and local governments in Hartford, New Haven and Stamford joined forces
to try and bring faster broadband networks to Connecticut. The collective group issued an RFQ to promote the deployment of gigabit broadband networks and services in "targeted commercial corridors" and locations "with demonstrated demand."
At the time, the group also put the call out to any additional under-served communities, who can add an addendum to the RFQ to get involved.
Dish Network appears to be the first major pay TV player willing to integrate Netflix into the company's set top box hardware. Reports recently emerged
that Netflix was making a refocused push to get Netflix on the set tops of the biggest cable operators.
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 (plain old telephone) and DSL users they simply don't want to upgrade
. The name of the game is terminating these unwanted users and pushing them users toward significantly more expensive (and capped) LTE wireless service.
Add Tucows' MVNO Ting to the growing list of companies pushing into the 1 Gbps field after being inspired by Google Fiber and community broadband efforts. Ting was one of several companies to try and disrupt wireless industry pricing last year by incorporating a "free" tier of mobile data service, layered with a more civil treatment of its subscribers. story continues..
As part of a broader effort to appeal to would-be cord cutters and join the modern era, Comcast's NBC Universal is preparing to offer live streams of the company's programming. According to the Wall Street Journal
, the streams will be available on computer starting next Tuesday, with tablets and smartphones supported sometime next year. The catch? As with all cable industry "TV Everywhere" initiatives, you'll need to prove you're a cable customer and authenticate your credentials before gaining access to the streams. Despite this, the NBC mantra for marketing the new initiative will be "Watch TV Without the TV."
In June of last year Google unveiled Google Loon
, the latest in a long line of similar projects that will use hot air balloons to deliver broadband and wireless services to under-served or emergency prone areas. Project Loon will use hot air balloons 49 feet wide stationed 12 miles above the planet, well above the range of commercial aircraft.
T-Mobile this morning unveiled their latest "Uncarrier" press salvo, announcing that the company will now be offering customers roll over data. According to a company announcement
, both new and existing T-Mobile customers will be given what T-Mobile's calling a "Data Stash," or a data allotment where they can store unused data at the end of each month.
Windstream CEO Jeff Gardner has resigned his leadership post from the telco. "The Board and I agree that a change in perspective is needed in order to accelerate the pace of change within the company and to more effectively respond to the rapidly evolving needs of our customers," Gardner said in a prepared statement
. Gardner has been the company's CEO since its spin-off from Alltel back in 2005, to be replaced by former Windstream CFO Tony Thomas "effective immediately." As our user reviews
and frequent forum complaints document
, Windstream has suffered for several years from poor network performance, with many of the company's users often struggling to get 1 Mbps
from the company.
1 Gbps has of course been the marketing buzzword du jour this year, companies offering a smattering of 1 Gbps connections to developments -- then heavily marketing them to give the impression of significantly larger upgrades. Cincinnati Bell is no exception, the company late this year launching their own "FiOptics" 1 Gbps offering
for $90 a month.
Just about thirteen months ago Charter Communications began their digital transition
, company CEO Tom Rutledge also right around that time admitting that the company's TV services were "inferior
," leading a lot of people to only buy broadband from the company.
Speaking at the UBS Annual Global Media & Communications Conference this week, Rutledge told attendees Charter's digital transition has been completed on time and on budget, and as for their TV services still being inferior? They're now at least better than most satellite TV offerings
, proclaims Rutledge:
"We now have a product that is inherently superior to satellite," said Rutledge. "Reliability: more superior. Channel capacity: more superior." And, he added, Charter has the advantage over its satellite TV competitors of operating on a two-way interactive TV platform.
Charter's still behind other cable and telcoTV operators in terms of technology, but Rutledge says they hope to have cloud DVR functionality deployed sometime next year.
T-Mobile took the fight more intensely to AT&T and Verizon today with the unveiling of a new $100, two-line family plan with unlimited data. According to the T-Mobile announcement
, the new Simple Choice plan offers unlimited data, talk and text for $100 a month, and up to 10 additional lines can be added for $40 each.
Back in October we noted
that thirty-two cities had joined forces to form the "Next Century Cities
" coalition, tasked with improving local broadband services. "The leaders whose communities participate in Next Century Cities know that reliable, affordable, and fast Internet is no longer a luxury," states the organization. "Like electricity and plumbing, it is now essential infrastructure." The Washington Post
notes that the coalition topped 50 members this week, and has been funded by numerous foundations -- and Google.
Back in May Cox Communications announced
that the company would be launching faster 1 Gbps services. While the company said the majority of the company's footprint wouldn't even begin
to see 1 Gbps until sometime in 2016 (when DOCSIS 3.1 sees broader deployment), Cox will start delivering 1 Gbps speeds to some new housing developments in a number of scattered markets this year.
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.
Netflix today released their Netflix streaming ISP performance rankings
for the month of November, which indicates that Verizon FiOS still tops the chart among large ISPs in the States (though Google Fiber tops the list among all ISPs, large and small). There's again only minor movement in the rankings, with Cox Communications dropping two spots and Comcast gaining two spots.
After a brief weather delay, DirecTV says that the company's seven-ton DirecTV 14 satellite was successfully launched in Kourou, French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 launch vehicle by Arianespace. According to the company announcement
, the satellite is functioning perfectly and will enter tests ahead of broader commercial use. The satellite is the cornerstone of DirecTV's 4K TV ambitions, which involve launching live 4K broadcasts by February or March
. "In addition to 4K Ultra HD services, the satellite expands DIRECTV’s capacity for future growth for advanced services via the reverse band spectrum along with spot beam coverage for more local HD," notes the company.
AT&T has announced that the majority of U-Verse broadband and TV customers can look forward to a number of different rate hikes starting in the new year. According to a company website announcement to U-Verse users
, the company's U-family, U100, U200, U200 Latino, U300, U300 Latino, U400, U450, and U450 Latino TV service plans will all see a $3 price hike.
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