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While there has been some twitching from the corpse of LightSquared in DC, it has been fairly clear to everyone that the company has been dead for quite some time
. Now insiders tell Bloomberg
that Charlie Ergen made a $2 billion "stalking horse" bid to acquire LightSquared's assets and spectrum. One problem with such a deal -- the FCC still hasn't given their approval for use of the interference-prone spectrum, the core reason that LightSquared died in the first place. LightSquared has until May 31 to accept the bid. Dish has slowly been engaged in a series of spectrum acquisition deals to aid the company's potential launch of their own LTE network.
In late 2011 after several delays, ViaSat finally launched their new KA-band satellite ViaSat 1, which allowed the company to finally start offering consumers some faster residential bandwidth speeds via the Exede brand. Now the company has announced
that they're hard at work on ViaSat 2, with plans to launch it sometime in the middle of 2016 (in satellite launch parlance, that means probably around 2018). According to ViaSat, the launch of ViaSat 2 will double their existing bandwidth capacity and expand coverage across much of North and Central America. While satellite broadband is still considered the black sheep of the broadband industry because of high prices, high latency and low caps, the faster speeds made availability by this added capacity has clearly been reflected in our user Exede reviews
While there's absolutely no doubt that Google Fiber has been a positive thing for the industry, critics have singled out two problems with Google's ultra-fast offering. One, the company backed off of open access promises
that would have allowed multiple companies to come in and truly compete over the infrastructure.
Time Warner today announced that the company's TBS and TNT channels would offer subscribers the option to stream live television on their tablets and iPads
-- but only if you subscribe to traditional cable TV. The news comes on the heels of a similar announcement from ABC
that they'd be trialing live streaming in New York City and Philadelphia. All of these announcements are of course in response to Aereo, who the broadcasters are trying to sue into oblivion. By offering their own streaming options -- even if tying them to existing cable subscriptions makes them immensely less appealing -- the studios can claim they're giving consumers what they want, even if with the other hand they're suing innovators out of existence.
Samsung this week turned heads by announcing that the company had discovered the "world's first 5G mmWave mobile technology." The new technology is capable of transmiting data in the millimeter-wave band at a frequency of 28 GHz at a speed of up to 1.056 Gbps to a distance of up to 2 kilometers. story continues..
The shorter wavelengths being used traditionally weren't thought to be useful for wireless transmissions -- but Samsung is overcoming those problems using array transceiver technology with 64 antenna elements to tackle the weaker propagation characteristics of millimeter-wave bands.
As I've been discussing a lot lately
(because it's the most important issue facing the broadband sector right now), both AT&T and Verizon are in the process of gutting regulations that require they continue offering copper landlines -- and by proxy DSL -- to tens of millions of Americans. Both companies insist that they're simply interested in "modernizing regulations" and ushering us into an "all IP age." In reality, both companies simply want to exit the fixed-line market in areas they're unwilling to upgrade.
According to a company insider, additional Verizon customers impacted by Sandy will soon be informed -- some seven months after the fact -- that they too will never have their DSL lines repaired. As we've seen in New York and New Jersey
, the telco is foisting a service upon those customers called "Voice Link," which connects user home phones to the Verizon wireless network.
AT&T is pulling the plug on selling the HTC First (aka the "Facebook phone") after the device failed to interest consumers. An anonymous source at AT&T tells the Boy Genius Report
that the device is being discontinued by AT&T with all unsold stock being returned to HTC. Sales were so tepid that AT&T reduced the price to $0.99 just a month after the phone launched, and even that didn't attract buyers -- with just 15,000 units moved after the price cut around a week ago. It's unclear if the phone's rather mundane specs -- or the obnoxiously tight integration with Facebook -- were to blame for the phone's failings.
A few weeks back, in response to Google Fiber, AT&T announced a plan for fiber to the press release in Austin
. That is, the company issued a very weaselly-worded statement claiming they were "prepared to build" an "advanced fiber optic infrastructure" technically capable of 1 Gbps if
they saw the precise perks they wanted from regional regulators.
The FCC this week announced that they're targeting 500 MHz of additional airwaves
that could be opened up to help improve in-flight broadband services. Currently, most in-flight broadband either rely on congested satellite broadband bandwidth, or skyward-pointed ground to air EVDO antenna arrays.
Representative Anna Eshoo this week asked the GAO to conduct a study on how usage caps and overages are applied to both wireless and wired networks. Eshoo urged the GAO to collect data on how caps are determined, when they're applied, how they change in response to costs, and also asked the FTC and FCC for a list of complaints related to said pricing. "I'm concerned that usage-based pricing, particularly when applied discriminatorily or at arbitrarily low levels, could discourage the innovation, competition, and consumer choice that have been the hallmark of the Internet's success to date," Eshoo wrote. The FCC has thus far been a bit wishy washy on the subject
, and has failed to notice that usage meters on both wired
networks often aren't accurate.
Cablevision's quarterly earnings
this week indicated that the company posted a net loss of $16.1 million for the quarter, while also seeing a drop in video revenues and a quarterly loss of about 4,700 customers. The company did add 23,000 broadband and 23,000 Internet voice subscribers on the quarter, increasing those customer totals to 2.8 million and 2.3 million, respectively. Cablevision insists that a large part of their problems relate to continued Sandy recovery, and that they still haven't been able to contact many of the customers hit hardest by the storm last fall. Cablevision's continued struggles come after a stretch of high profile executive departures from the company
, which have also been accompanied by renewed rumors of a possible sale
As had been expected
, AT&T this week took the wraps off
of a new prepaid product brand they're calling AIO Wireless (short for "all in one"). According to the company website
, AIO offers consumers plans ranging from $35 to $70 for unlimited talk, text, and set allotments of data.
Since around 2004
I've talked about the significant amount of fraud involved in the government's IP Relay service, which is intended to help the hearing impaired communicate with phone users via the Internet with the help of paid transcription workers (I remember talking with my grandfather over TRS versions of the service as a child). Unfortunately, for the better part of a decade the service has been abused by scammers and other assorted technoscumbags, with carriers doing nothing about it because they're paid by the FCC (aka you) about $1.50 per minute to carry this traffic.
This picture (click to enlarge) says it all, though Dan Frommer says some more
CenturyLink users report that the company is suffering what appears to be a nationwide broadband outage across a significant portion of the company's 38 state footprint. Users in our forums
in locations ranging from Olathe, Kansas to Fort Hood Texas say they're unable to get any broadband connectivity whatsoever, and that the company's support lines have been busy for the last few hours.
It appears that Comcast is killing off its Skype service for set top boxes just a year after unveiling it. In May of last year Comcast launched the product offering
, which for an extra $10 a month allowed users to video chat -- if
users subscribe to the Comcast triple play of Digital Starter TV (or above) with HD service, Performance Internet (or above) and Unlimited Voice service.
As I noted last week
, CenturyLink has announced a very small trial whereby they plan to offer around 40,000 people in Omaha, Nebrasks fiber to the home connections. The trial, which appears to be piggybacking on older Qwest "Choice TV" discontinued hybrid coax trial technology, will run users $150 standalone, or $80 when bundled with existing television and phone services.
The last few months have seen several developer and insider leaks
across several outlets
claiming the next Xbox will require an "always on" broadband connection as a way to counter both piracy and used game sales. Needless to say the rumors angered a lot of possible customers with the botched launches of Diablo 3 and SimCity (both requiring always-on connections) freshly in mind.
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Recent news contributorsKarl Bode , telcodad