Dish has offered up a little more detail on an already-announced plan to offer fixed wireless broadband service. Dish announced back in May
that the company would be offering fixed LTE services in a new partnership with nTelos. At the time, the companies stated they'd be ultimately offering the service in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky -- though June deployments were very unspecific and limited in nature.
In October Dish and nTelos stated the trial was going well and they intended to extend it into Roanoke, Staunton, Waynesboro and Charlottesville with the goal of reaching "up to" a half-a-million homes.
Still, pricing and speed details have been hard to come by (drop us a line
if you're a trial participant). Speaking at a recent investor conference the companies did state they aim to be able to offer at least 5 Mbps to subscribers
, even though trials have obtained speeds of 30 to 40 Mbps.
The companies plan to offer LTE using roughly 20 MHz of spectrum belonging to nTelos, with Dish's growing spectrum holdings potentially being incorporated sometime down the road. The focus is pretty clearly going to be more rural markets, where the service should offer faster speeds than DSL provided over aging copper.
"We may blow away fixed line provider(s)," nTelos CEO and President Jim Hyde told conference attendees.
Dish CEO Charlie Ergen continues to insist that he thinks a merger between Dish and DirecTV would be a good idea. "There’s obviously a business case that [consolidation] makes a lot of sense in the satellite industry," Ergen stated this week
. "Whether it ever comes to fruition is another story. But both Dish and DirecTV realize that it could make a lot of sense." It remains unclear if regulators would approve such a deal, after blocking exactly this specific merger back in 2002. Ergen clearly likes to hope so -- his rhetoric this week almost exactly matches the same statements he made back in August.
Dish has spent much of the last year kicking broadcasters in the shins and fighting off broadcaster lawsuits in court
-- simply for offering useful consumer products like their Hopper auto-ad-skipping DVR. The tactic appears to be working with users, as the company's latest quarterly earnings
suggest Dish has added more subscribers than Wall Street expected.
Time Warner Cable suffered some significant subscriber losses
last quarter due to their feud with CBS -- roughly 3% of their entire customer base leaving because of lost programming. Judging from DirecTV's earnings report
, it seems likely that at least some of those users fled to DirecTV. Despite the fact that satellite TV providers recently joined cable in losing subscribers (in part to cord cutters) and
despite the fact DirecTV raised rates on many users, the company still managed to add a net 139,000 video subscribers
. The average DirecTV subscriber paid $102.37 per month last quarter, a 6.2 percent increase over the year before.
DirecTV CEO Michael White this week told attendees of an investor conference in New York that subscribers should probably expect more rate hikes in 2014
. The company hit subscribers with an average increase of 4.6% last February, with White stating that 2014 hikes "might be not as much" the increase "is still going to be meaningful." White blames soaring programming costs and retransmission fees, which have jumped 50% this year and 600% since 2010. "I would say clearly I've seen an impact from consumers on churn in terms of their feelings about the bill," White said.
Broadcasters aren't having a very easy time suing Dish's convenient ad-skipping Hopper DVR technology into oblivion. Last week, ABC lost a ruling in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
in their attempt to impose an injunction on the technology.
Our user reviews for satellite broadband have traditionally been rather dismal
, with users complaining of high prices, low usage caps, and inconsistent connection quality. ViaSat's new Exede service, launched last year
, has changed that dynamic somewhat by offering faster speeds up to 12 Mbps with three plans
offering users caps of 10 GB ($50), 15 GB ($80) and 25 GB ($130).
HughesNet has announced
that the company is now offering their satellite broadband customers the ability to bundle in voice services. The company's website
doesn't get specific on pricing, only stating that plans start out at around $20 per month. "HughesNet Voice customers enjoy high Quality of Service (QoS) calling as a result of new technology Hughes developed in its latest HughesNet Gen4 service delivery system, which establishes dedicated bandwidth for voice traffic, eliminating interference with data running over their satellite Internet connection," insists the company. While the company's new Gen-4 broadband service has been well hyped, many customers state HughesNet has struggled to deliver promised performance
with the new service.
In continuing what is not a particularly great week for the government's surveillance programs, hacker group Anonymous last night leaked a cache of internal DOD documents
(pdf). The documents are from 2008, shortly after the NSA began its just-unveiled PRISM spying program
, and outlines key portions of the DOD's "strategic vision" for monitoring and controlling information online.
Last week Sprint responded to investor criticism
by raising their offer to acquire the 50% remainder of Clearwire they don't own, offering $3.40 per share in a deal that values Clearwire at around $10.7 billion. Not to be outdone, Dish has announced they're upping their offer as well
. Dish now says they're offering $4.40 per share in cash, a 29% increase over Sprint's offer. The latest offer provides "substantially greater value to Clearwire and your minority stockholders and a clearer path to value realization for all parties," Dish said in a letter to Clearwire.
DirecTV is contemplating embedding an antenna into their set top boxes
in order to offer live over the air broadcasts, thereby circumventing retransmission fees. Speaking at the JP Morgan Technology, Media and Telecom conference in Boston, DirecTV chief financial officer Patrick Doyle stated they didn't have a timeline on the project, but that it makes financial sense due to the soaring price of retrans fees and the landscape shift that's occurring courtesy of Aereo. He also stated that whenever it does get deployed, it would only be initially made available to new customers. "We’ll probably test in some markets an over-the-air integrated tuner set-up and make sure the customer experience is there," insists Doyle.
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
Apple, Sony, Microsoft, Google; there have been no limit of companies eager to disrupt the pay TV ecosystem, though every one of them have run face first into licensing restrictions imposed by a pay TV sector that very much doesn't want to be disrupted. That doesn't seem to stop the tech press from getting blindly bubbly and enthusiastic every time another company says they're going to try. story continues..
Dish will celebrate the new year by raising rates on most of the company's TV packages by $5 to $15 a month. According to flyers being sent out to subscribers
, most of the company's TV tiers will see a $5 rate hike starting in January, though the company's "America's Everything" package will see a $15 hike to $120 a month. The company also says the monthly rate it charges for its VIP DVR will increase $1 to $7 monthly. The company's hopper DVR service, which has angered the broadcast industry by letting users automatically eliminate ads from recorded programs, won't see a rate hike. Dish is quick to point out that this is the first price hike since 2010, and as is usually the case, blames the price hikes on higher costs being imposed on cable and satellite operators by broadcasters.
DirecTV's offering a new satellite broadband bundle the company hopes appeals to rural users, though it suffers from the bane of all satellite broadband: annoying usage caps. We've known since May
that DirecTV would soon be selling ViaSat's Exede satellite broadband service, and now we're getting a good look at some of the bundle pricing DircTV is offering.
ViaSat has bumped their lowest usage cap slightly for their new Exede satellite broadband service. According to user comments in our forums
, ViaSat's $50, 12 Mbps tier originally came with a 7.5 GB cap, but has now seen that usage allowance increased to 10 GB per month.
After successfully launching their new EchoStar XVII satellite last July
, HughesNet today officially launched
(pdf) their new "Gen4" broadband services. Despite earlier rumblings that they'd be offering speeds up to 20 Mbps, the company's new tiers come in 10/1 Mbps, 10/2 Mbps, or 15/2 flavors, which help bring HughesNet in line with the faster services recently offered by Viasat/Exede
, as well as Verizon's new fixed LTE service Home Fusion.
Back in August story continues..
word leaked out that Dish was going to start selling a nationwide satellite broadband offering, and today the company confirmed the service is going live next week. According to a Dish press release
, the new dishNET service will launch October 1 offering speeds up to 10 Mbps downstream.
Bankrupt LightSquared still doesn't have anything close to an actual product on the market, and they likely never will
-- given the FCC's decision to block a necessary waiver due to interference of their planned LTE network with GPS services. The company is also just burning through money
, having spent at least $134 million since their May bankruptcy, much of it on futile lobbying efforts. Still, that isn't stopping the company from paying at least four executives up to $6 million in bonuses
. LightSquared insists they're simply making sure they can retain these "irreplaceable employees" who again oversee no actual product and little to no hope of one.
Dish is already in hot water with the FTC for ignoring the Do Not Call Registry
, and now the satellite carrier's mailers are causing some additional annoyance for consumers. The Consumerist
points out how the company is also sending consumers a mailer with the words "INSTALLATION NOTICE," along with a specific "Appointment No." listed on the front. The additional message of "welcome to the DISH family" on the back tricks customers into thinking they've already been signed up for service, prompting them to call in to Dish. As some Consumerist
commenters note such ads are all too common, with so many mail spam these days dressed up as official correspondence designed to catch the eye. However, letting customers know you're dishonest right off the bat doesn't seem like a winning brand strategy.
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