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News tagged: alternatives


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by Karl Bode 06:48PM Wednesday Jul 30 2014
CenturyLink, formerly Qwest, has spent much of its life suing community broadband efforts that might spur the company to improve its service offerings. They've also written (via draft legislation) and paid-to-pass legislation in numerous states that restrict or outright ban a community from deploying its own broadband infrastructure -- even in cases when CenturyLink couldn't be bothered to.

With cities like Wilson, North Carolina and Chattanooga, Tennesee now pushing the FCC to void bills that were written by CenturyLink lawyers and exist solely to protect CenturyLink revenues (at the cost of local citizen rights), CenturyLink is handing out lectures on responsible ethics. According to CenturyLink, Wilson really isn't playing fair:
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"CenturyLink currently is able to serve 96% of the homes in our North Carolina service area with high-speed Internet. We feel that with the passage of HB129, the North Carolina General Assembly has outlined a clear pathway for cities to build municipal networks with specific consumer protections. This law puts the decision of whether to incur debt into the hands of the citizens, and is similar to the ways that municipalities allow the citizens to decide whether to build schools or improve roads. The City of Wilson is simply trying to bypass their citizens, governor, legislature, and state policy."
Of course in typical lawyer and lobbyist "up is down" fashion, CenturyLink insists a bill they paid for that strips away local rights -- somehow puts rights back into the hands of the locals. Apparently, CenturyLink can bribe throw money via SuperPAC at public officials to pass laws CenturyLink wrote, but a city urging the FCC to block bills that hinder the FCC's mission to ensure broadband is deployed "in a reasonable timely basis" is just going way too far.

39 comments


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by Karl Bode 04:28PM Wednesday Jul 30 2014
With Google Fiber slated to potentially make its way into the Portland market, Frontier is trying to shift attention away from the fact that Frontier has historically offered very sluggish speeds at relatively high prices, courtesy of limited competition. The company tells the Oregonian that they may offer 1 Gbps speeds someday too (maybe), though Frontier CEO Maggie Wilderotter believes that Google Fiber is "hype" and that Google Fiber is "confusing" customers by offering symmetrical 1 Gbps for $70:
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"Today it's about the hype, because Google has hyped the gig," said Wilderotter, in Portland this week for a meeting of her company's board.
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by Karl Bode 12:30PM Wednesday Jul 30 2014
AT&T has been on a bit of a tear the last week or so, announcing that they're deploying their faster 1 Gbps "Gigapower" service to customers in Dallas, Nashville and San Antonio. Now AT&T is announcing that Charlotte too will be getting the faster service:
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AT&T today confirmed it will expand its ultra-fast AT&T GigaPower network to the City of Charlotte.
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by Karl Bode 08:49AM Tuesday Jul 29 2014
Even though in some instances consumers may wind up paying more, recent wireless earnings reports indicates that many users are happily signing up for early upgrade handset programs. Such programs allow users to spread the cost of a device out over numerous payments, in some instances in exchange for a lower monthly rate (programs, of course, vary).

These programs are about to get another boost on the news that Apple will soon start pushing AT&T's Next, T-Mobile's JUMP, and Verizon's Edge upgrade programs in stores:
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Apple is preparing a significant expansion of its iPhone sales capabilities in its official retail stores, according to sources. Late in August, many Apple Stores in the United States will kick off a pilot program for customers to be able to purchase a new iPhone via the latest carrier upgrade programs: AT&T Next, T-Mobile JUMP, and Verizon Edge.
As it currently stands, iPhones purchased at an Apple store must either be bought subsidized with a new two-year contract, or unlocked at full retail price. Apple employees are to be trained on the new programs during August ahead of a presumed new iPhone(s) launch announcement late summer, early fall.

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by Karl Bode 11:13AM Monday Jul 28 2014
Regulators have formally approved Frontier's acquisition of AT&T's networks and operations in the state of Connecticut. According to an announcement by the companies, the $2 billion deal to acquire AT&T’s local wireline, broadband and video operations in Connecticut (originally announced last December) has received approval from the FCC. The deal has already received approval from the Depatment of Justice, but is still awaiting approval from Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA). AT&T is working to back away from millions of DSL users they don't want to upgrade under the guise of the "IP transition."

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by Karl Bode 06:24PM Tuesday Jul 22 2014
Verizon's second quarter earnings once again topped Wall Street expectations as the company posted a net income of $4.32 billion on revenues of $31.48 billion. The company added 1.4 million postpaid wireless connections on the quarter, most of which were tablet customers taking advantage of the company's shared data plans.
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by Karl Bode 04:34PM Tuesday Jul 22 2014
Back in March I pointed your attention to a study that noted just 30% of all consumers had even heard of 4KTV, and of that 30%, less than a third actually had a 4K set. Four months later and a new study notes that of broadband users, just 17% have any idea what 4KTV is.
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by Karl Bode 12:49PM Tuesday Jul 22 2014
After spending millions of dollars over countless years on plans to implement "three strikes" anti-piracy measures on the ISP level, the UK government has finally come to the conslusion that having ISPs play content nanny does little to deter piracy. Instead of previous, more aggressive plans to boot repeat offenders off of the Internet, a new plan taking effect in 2015 would simply warn users four times that they're violating copyright -- with no follow up punishment:
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Starting in 2015, persistent file-sharers will be sent four warning letters explaining their actions are illegal, but if the notes are ignored no further action will be taken. The scheme, named the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP), is the result of years of talks between ISPs, British politicians and the movie and music industries. The UK’s biggest providers – BT, TalkTalk, Virgin and Sky – have all signed up to VCAP, and smaller ISPs are expected to follow suit.
The UK's approach now more closely approaches the six strikes anti-piracy practices now established in the States, where users are bombarded with "education material" and warned several times about copyright abuses, but are never disconnected -- with offenses untracked as users move between ISPs.

The concern now is that these data collection efforts will ultimately be used for either fines or legal action down the road as the entertainment industry pushes for expansion of these programs into the sort of heavy-handed territory they originally envisioned.

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by Karl Bode 08:54AM Tuesday Jul 22 2014
Before being deflated by the Supreme Court, Aereo's solution to broadband TV viewing received plenty of attention in the press for the disruptive precedent, but it received significantly less attention from actual users in the real world. In paperwork filed with the U.S. Copyright Office, Aereo this week finally revealed subscriber numbers: just 77,596 subscribers overall at the end of last year. 27,000 of those subscribers were in New York City, with 12,000 subscribers in Boston, and 10,000 in Atlanta. Earlier this year Aereo ran out of New York City, leading CEO Chet Kanojia to insist his infrastructure in NYC could support 350,000 potential subscribers.

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by Karl Bode 02:13PM Monday Jul 21 2014
Dissatisfied with service from the likes of Time Warner Cable, last fall the city of Los Angeles used an innovative approach to get 1 Gbps connections to all city residents: they simply asked if any companies wanted to come to town to build and fund an all fiber network. As we noted at the time this was a fairly obvious pipe dream, experts noting that the city wasn't really bringing any inducements to the table to lure companies to invest.
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by Karl Bode 08:14AM Monday Jul 21 2014
Multichannel News has uncovered an FCC filing that suggests TiVO and Comcast are working together on a new set top box that would eliminate the CableCARD. An FCC filing doesn't get into technical specifics or illustrate clearly how this new implementation would work, but most assume it would involve some downloadable version of video security. "This agreement demonstrates that the marketplace is working to provide innovative device solutions for consumers to access MVPD services and thereby advance the Commission’s navigation device goals,” Comcast and TiVo state in the filing. Comcast says they'll offer the tech to other cable companies 'on commercially reasonable terms."

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by Karl Bode 07:57AM Friday Jul 18 2014
A few years ago, the courts shut down a dirt-cheap broadband TV service named Ivi, arguing that over the top video services weren't technically cable companies, and couldn't just start paying retransmission fees to become them. Fast forward to the Supreme Court's recent ruling on Aereo, which seemingly argued the exact opposite -- that Internet services could be cable operators if they pay retransmission fees.
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by Karl Bode 12:32PM Thursday Jul 17 2014
Historically, unless you're willing to argue with DirecTV over whether you have satellite line of sight -- or you get it via some kind of promotion (like the Madden NFL game bundle last year) -- it can be difficult or impossible to get a standalone version of NFL Sunday Ticket. Yesterday numerous press outlets breathlessly-proclaimed that this would be changing via the introduction of NFL Sunday Ticket Live Online, which offers out of market NFL games via broadband -- without a cable TV subscription.
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by Karl Bode 07:59AM Tuesday Jul 15 2014
The Internet Association -- a trade group representing 36 different Internet companies including Google, Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Yahoo, and PayPal -- have filed a formal request with the FCC (pdf) urging the agency to pass "simple, light touch rules" protecting the even and fair delivery of content and services across broadband networks.

The companies call on the FCC to subject broadband ISPs to nondiscrimination, no-blocking, and "robust" transparency requirements, while also ensuring ISPs aren't hindering competitors through peering or other shenanigans.
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by Karl Bode 02:28PM Friday Jul 11 2014
Netflix's decision to develop original content to help bypass the quite-intentional broadcaster licensing logjam continues to pay dividends. Netflix this week was nominated for 31 Emmy awards, less than HBO (99) and the top broadcast networks, but more than AMC (26), Showtime (24) or Comedy Central (21). Netflix's haul is in large part thanks to House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, which each received twelve nominations apiece. How many award Netflix actually nabs this year will be determined on August 25.

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by Karl Bode 10:47AM Friday Jul 11 2014
In April of last year when Google announced they'd be bringing Google Fiber to Austin, the company stated they expected Austin users to start being hooked up around the middle of 2014. The halfway of the point has rolled on past, and Google now seems to be indicating the first Austin Google Fiber users will be hooked up sometime "later this year." To be fair mid-year wasn't a particularly hard deadline, and the company tells Multichannel News that projects of this scale "takes a whole lot of time to plan for":
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“Construction is underway, and we plan to open sign-ups and start hooking up our first Austin customers later this year,” Google Fiber spokeswoman Jenna Wandres said via email...“It’s a big construction project, so it takes a whole lot of time to plan for,” she added, according to the report. “We’re working as quickly as we can to get Fiber to Austin residents soon, and we hope to have more information to share soon. It’s a lot of work, and we want to make sure we are doing it right."
In the coming months the company should announce "fiberhood" rallies that will dictate which neighborhoods will be the first to get service.

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by Karl Bode 12:27PM Thursday Jul 10 2014
While Aereo claimed they didn't have a plan B if they lost before the Supreme Court (which they of course did late last month), that doesn't appear to be entirely true. In a letter filed with a lower court, Aereo lays forth their new legal strategy: insist they're a legitimate cable company that shouldn't necessarily be forced to shut down because of the ruling.
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by Karl Bode 06:37PM Wednesday Jul 09 2014
A consortium of elected officials and consumer advocates have petitioned the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) to investigate why Verizon is raising prices while its wireline infrastructure allegedly deteriorates throughout New York state. To hear Ars Technica tell it, Verizon's neglecting copper customers in particular while it focuses on fiber and wireless -- yet at the same time they neglect DSL users, they're consistently raising rates on them.
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by Karl Bode 11:09AM Wednesday Jul 09 2014
Dish has long been working on a live broadband TV service, and Dish boss Charlie Ergen recently stated that the company should launch the service before the end of the year. Rough estimates suggest the service should cost somewhere between $20 to $30, and the company recently proclaimed the service will have a specific focus on all variety of cord cutters:
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Dish wants to make inroads with people who are fed up with traditional pay TV with its upcoming internet-based TV service, said the company’s GM of Interactive and Advanced TV Adam Lowy at the TV of Tomorrow Show in San Francisco Wednesday.
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by Karl Bode 08:43AM Tuesday Jul 08 2014
Most cities have rather quickly buckled to Google's demands in order to get Google Fiber into their towns, even if those deals aren't particularly great for the communities themselves. Recently, Overland Park, Kansas became the first city to hold up Google Fiber over indemnification and liability concerns, resulting in what appeared to be Google moving on to greener pastures.
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