Cox has launched a fiber to the home trial in Orange County, California
, joining a growing number of companies that are offering fiber to the home service -- albeit only in select higher-end developments where the cost of deployment is minimal. Cox's first fiber to the home trial is estimated to cover just 1,000 homes at the moment, though that total will reach 14,000 as Cox runs fiber to the entire development over the next year or two. Even though there's fiber, Cox says the services and data speeds being offered "are similar to what Cox offers over traditional HFC." AT&T has done something similar with their FTTH U-Verse deployments, capping them at the same speed
as their copper-based offerings to deliver a "consistent experience."
As we've often noted
, more than a few cities are annoyed that Verizon ignored them when they deployed FiOS, including Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Alexandria and Albany. Those cities frequently complain they weren't told why they were left out of the upgrade loop, or when (if ever) Verizon will get around to upgrading them. Albany, New York is the latest to complain, State Senators speaking at a rally last week accusing Verizon of "redlining"; something Verizon didn't appreciate
"Albany cannot be redlined," Breslin said. "I urge them to reconsider and come to Albany and other upstate cities." Verizon is adamant that its decision not to build a fiber-optic infrastructure in the city of Albany at this time is not motivated by any concern about the financial viability of some parts of the city. "Frankly, someone suggesting that is an insult to us and how we do business," said spokesman for Verizon John Bonomo.
Verizon continues to state they're busy expanding FiOS only in regions they've struck existing franchise agreements, but refuses to state if there will ever be a serious new FiOS expansion effort beyond that.
Comcast has slowly but surely
been expanding their usage cap trials, predominately in less competitive Southern markets. Portions of Maine and Augusta, Georgia appear to be the latest market to face caps and overages.
"As I understand it, Google Fiber is basically a science experiment," cable overbuilder RCN tells Ars Technica
in a piece on why most carriers aren't matching Google Fiber's 1 Gbps speeds (spoiler: limited competition). "I have no doubt that there will come a day that gigabit speeds are necessary in our daily lives, but I'm not sure that day is here yet," insists RCN. "When it's here, RCN will be offering it." As I've noted a few times
, carriers would prefer the national conversation be focused on why you don't need 1 Gbps
, instead of why their services are slow and very expensive (spoiler: limited competition).
Add Cox Communications to a long list of ISPs
whose usage meters don't appear to be entirely accurate. For much of the last few years our readers have been complaining in our forums
that the company's online usage meter falsely reports usage (both over and under estimates).
The cable industry has historically found itself at the very bottom of customer satisfaction rankings across nearly all industries
, in large part because of the constant rate hikes
, but also because quality customer support never scaled with their merger and acquisition ambitions. Comcast is no exception, and has spent most of the last decade trying to, as they put it, "combat consumer perceptions" that they're not very good at actually making their customers happy.
Google's interest in Africa as a developing market with huge earnings potential has been exemplified by their White Space broadband experiments there
, though the search giant has turned up the speed a notch on the news they'll be deploying a significant amount number of fiber connections to African cities. According to the Google Blog
, the company's "Project Link
" initiative will begin with Google deploying fiber throughout the Ugandan capital of Kampala.
Suddenlink executives recently suggested that the company is seeing a sharp uptick in the number of broadband-only customers who aren't taking TV service. Similarly Charter CEO Tom Rutledge recently expressed surprise
at the fact more customers are going broadband only and forgoing traditional television services.
According to the latest Speedtest.net data from Ookla
, the United States has fallen to 31 in mean downstream broadband speed, behind such countries as Uruguay, Estonia, and Latvia. Ookla notes they collect the data from millions of user connections, measuring the "rolling mean throughput in Mbps over the past 30 days where the mean distance between the client and the server is less than 300 miles." Lack of competition plays a role in the poor U.S. showing, as does the country's significant geographical mass (Russia is ranked 35, Canada is ranked 37). As our commenters are quick to note, many users also may not subscribe to the fastest connection available, often due to cost.
Rumors of cable consolidation have been heated for much of the year, thanks largely to Charter board member John Malone and investors looking to cash in on the gossip-inflated stock gains. Said rumors exploded last week with a report claiming that both Comcast and Charter had contemplated a joint bid for Time Warner Cable
AT&T is sending an e-mail to customers
) informing them that the company will no longer allow Xbox 360 users to use the game console as a video set top box starting December 31. The company stated that they will be issuing a credit for impacted customers that needed to get an Xbox Live Gold subscription to make the service work. Numerous companies including Comcast and Verizon (FiOS) had allowed the Xbox 360 to be used as a set top, albeit with limited video quality and channel lineups to prevent cannibalization of set top rental revenue. There has been no word of similar Xbox One support from AT&T or Microsoft, though Verizon has announced
their FiOS TV app is coming to Xbox One.
indicates that Intel is looking for around half a billion dollars for their broadband TV streaming project that recently hit a progress wall courtesy of broadcast licensing restrictions
. Reports had already indicated
that both Liberty Media and Verizon were interested in acquiring the technology, though Bloomberg confirms existing rumors
that Verizon would like to offer an IP-based TV service outside of the company's traditional FiOS or DSL footprints, and would integrate Intel's technology into their own solution:
Verizon, one of the biggest US phone and wireless operators, runs the FiOS fiber-optic pay-TV service that competes with cable companies. OnCue would let Verizon sell pay-TV outside the current FiOS footprint. The company has been asking media companies if a streaming service would require new contracts for shows, or whether existing FiOS TV agreements could be amended to include the additional rights, the people said.
Even with Verizon's size and leverage it's not clear they'd have any greater luck at getting broadcasters to loosen their iron grip on programming rights, since they remain terrified of just the kind of disruptive services Intel and Verizon were interested in developing. That's fundamentally the only reason such services haven't seen more traction in recent years, regardless of the company (Google, Apple, Microsoft) attempting it.
Some years ago Verizon froze FiOS expansion to focus on making more money off of FiOS users (rate hikes), improving uptake rates in existing FiOS areas, and converting stubborn DSL users in those areas to FiOS. Speaking recently at an investor conference, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo estimated that the 300,000 DSL to FiOS migrations Verizon performed this year saved the company about 600,000 truck rolls and $100 million
in repairs and maintenance in 2013 alone.
Cable operator Suddenlink's recent earnings
indicate that the company lost 3,000 TV subscribers last quarter but added 21,900 broadband and 18,000 net phone subscribers. Those broadband adds are a stark improvement to the 9,000 broadband subscribers the company lost last quarter, the company taking a bit of a PR hit earlier this year for new usage meters
that didn't accurately track consumer bandwidth usage. According to statements made by company executives on their earnings call, the company is seeing an uptick in non-TV broadband customers, who now account for 20% of the company's total customer relationships.
Following right on the heels of a similar offer announced by AT&T back in October
, Verizon is now offering users the ability to buy an LTE "day pass" for tablets. According to the Verizon announcement
, the company's new $5 Daily Plan provides 300 MB of data to tablets and connected devices (like the Samsung Galaxy Camera). The prepaid allotment expires after twenty four hours or after you've consumed 300 MB, whichever comes first. After that, you can buy additional allotments of 300 MB for another $5.
Security research firm Renesys has authored an interesting blog post
noting how they're seeing a significant uptick in the number of large-scale man in the middle attacks. What's more, insists the firm, these attacks are increasingly gobbling up a larger and larger share of overall Internet traffic without most people bothering to notice.
While Microsoft really wants
the Xbox One to be the center of the television universe, the fact is that for all of its technological improvements, it still hasn't eliminated its biggest obstacle to that goal: the cable and broadcast industry.
As we saw with the Xbox 360
, licensing restrictions designed to prevent disruption result in video services where content is only available on a console if you have a traditional cable connection -- or in some cases only if your broadband ISP has struck a deal with a broadcaster.
The tail end of the year usually means cable TV and broadband rate hike announcement season for most users, and AT&T's U-Verse appears poised to be one of the first out of the gate. CoolMan
directs your attention to a post in the official U-Verse forums
highlighting upcoming pricing changes submitted to the Connecticut Public Utilities Reglatory Authority. According to the post, most channel bundles will increase $3, the price of non-DVR TV receiver rental will increase $1, and AT&T's "Broadcast TV Surcharge" (their way of burying retrans fee hikes below the line) will jump $1 to $3. The hikes should take effect on January 26 for most users.
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