The FCC today announced that the regulatory agency is pausing the 180-day "shot clock" on both the Comcast/Time Warner Cable and AT&T/DirecTV mergers. According to the FCC's order
, eight content companies including Disney, Time Warner, CBS, Twenty First Century Fox and Viacom raised opposition to competitors and other companies being able to see confidential carriage agreement details, even though companies that view this information must sign non-disclosure agreements.
Meanwhile, companies like Dish and RCN and organizations like the Writers Guild of America say they're able to fully comment on these two mergers without seeing such details. The FCC agrees, stating the companies need to see this information to participate in the merger review process.
"We agree with these commenters that their current inability to review Highly Confidential Information that has been submitted in these dockets significantly hampers their ability to meaningfully comment and participate in these proceedings, in both Docket 14-57 and Docket 14-90," states the FCC. "Accordingly, we are suspending the pleading cycles and stopping our 180-day informal time clock in both dockets."
The agreements are particularly contentious given the current debates regarding soaring retransmission fee rates, which have resulted in a growing number of annoying content blackouts for consumers
. In a statement sent to DSLReports and other outlets, Comcast doesn't appear particularly fazed by the potential delay.
"...It is routine for the FCC to pause the review of significant transactions as it works to create a full record," states Comcast. "The Commission is working to hear the concerns of various parties. In the meantime, review of information and evidence already in the docket will continue. We are confident that the Commission will quickly resolve these issues while continuing its work so that review will be completed in early 2015."
The National Advertising Division (NAD) is telling CenturyLink to stop lying
when they compare their Internet speeds versus those offered by Comcast. As noted previously NAD is essentially an industry self-regulatory firm that avoids regulatory intervention by settling marketing disputes in house.
At the tail end of September I noted
how Comcast had hired a new VP of "Customer Experience," Charlie Herrin. Herrin was monumentally tasked with shoring up Comcast's dismal customer satisfaction reputation and being the face of damage control for what seems like an endless stream of consumer missteps.
Quite some time before 1 Gbps fiber to the press release
became the industry PR trend du jour, Comcast had started offering a 505 Mbps down, 100 Mbps up tier
. The tier isn't cheap -- it runs users around $300 a month, comes with a $1,000 ETF, a $250 activation fee, and
a $250 installation fee.
is running a unique Comcast complaint story in which an individual claims he was fired for simply complaining about Comcast service. According to the story, the individual spent years battling the kind of service issues and errant billing mistakes Comcast is well known for, including receiving and being billed for $1,820 in equipment he never asked for.
The FCC has announced that they've extended the comment period for Comcast's $45 billion proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable and paused the "shot clock" on the review. According to the FCC announcement
, the agency has extended the comment period for interested parties until October 29. The FCC notes that Comcast and Time Warner Cable belatedly filed a 850-page document supporting the deal, and the agency wanted to provide all parties time to digest the filing and respond. The agency also paused their 180 day shot clock limit on making a decision on the deal, currently on day 85. The agency also made it easier to comment on the deal by creating a ComcastTWCMerger@fcc.gov you can use to file your thoughts.
While most large incumbent ISPs have rushed head-first into the home security and home automation market, few of those companies have been willing to specify how many users have signed up for such services -- suggesting they're not yet seeing quite the uptake they'd like. One other threat has now arisen for ISPs looking to be home security experts: lawsuits. story continues..
With Seattle city leadership complaining about the lack of broadband competition in the city
and making noise about building their own networks, Comcast has taken to a unique approach to win the hearts and minds of the cities apartment dwellers. According to the local news outlets
, Comcast has taken to throwing pizza parties to warm locals to their brand, insisting that if "we can we can get people in front of our products they can see the advantages we have over our competitors and learn to like those products."Reddit users
are having a little fun at Comcast's expense in regards to the new marketing strategy, offering up some pizza party advice -- Comcast style:
1.) Take all the pizza before it arrives.
2.) Call up the party host AS the pizza company.
3.) Inform them the pizza delivery is down between the hours of "Now till now+3 hours." But if they want to buy the pizza+hotdog bundle together for an additional 100 bucks, it'll increase their pizza delivery speed by 10 minutes.
In February of 2012 Comcast unveiled Streampix
, their effort at trying to prevent cord cutting by offering a Netflix-esque service of their own. Like most ISP run services however, Streampix was really just a substandard "me too" offering, as cable companies are always very afraid of offering an over the top offering that could cannibalize existing TV services.
ISPs have already been whining quite a bit
about the fact that the FCC wants to raise the current minimum definition of broadband from 4 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up -- to something ranging from 10 to 25 Mbps. Now AT&T and Verizon are whining about the possibility that the FCC would like to make sure bandwidth caps are considered when defining the quality of a broadband connection.
Comcast last night filed their reply comments to the FCC as the agency considers approving the company's $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable. The filing is filled with the sort of arguments we've seen countless times already
over the past few months, including Comcast's repeated claim that they face so much competition on every front
there's simply no way they'd ever engage in anti-competitive behavior.
To get their acquisition of NBC approved by regulators, Comcast proposed a merger condition requiring they provide $10, 1.5 Mbps broadband to all of the homes that qualify for the National School Lunch Program. This "Internet Essentials" program has seen significant criticism
(and even protests
) over the years for being a political show pony that in reality was intentionally hard to qualify for.
In a sane world, protecting the Internet marketplace from giant ISPs who've all-but purchased the government would be a bi-partisan issue
, since everybody benefits from a healthy, vibrant broadband industry. But this isn't a sane world, and net neutrality over the last decade has become a highly toxic, partisan issue with Republicans generally against neutrality rules, and Democrats generally in favor of them (even if neither side understands half of the technical issues being discussed).
A report over at DeepDotWeb
claims that Comcast has contacted some users telling them that they risk disconnection if they continue using the privacy-minded Tor browser. Tor (as our recent report explores
) is an entirely legal browser used by 1.2 million people, only some of whom use the browser to buy narcotics and other black market goods.
New York State, emboldened by a new state law that requires mergers to benefit the public, is taking a tougher stance on Comcast's $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable, according to Bloomberg News
. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who the outlet notes has received more than $200,000 in campaign contributions from the companies, hasn't formally taken a position -- though the NY PSC is making it clear they'll likely want tougher concessions than most states. Of course the definition of "tough" is relative; Comcast has a long history of volunteering their own "tough" conditions
that even then they've historically had a tough time adhering to
Comcast this week announced that they're introducing a new wireless gateway for residential subscribers the company claims is the "industry's fastest." According to the Comcast announcement
, the new DPC3941T Xfinity Wireless Gateway integrates 802.11ac Wi-Fi and a 3x3 MIMO design with 3 spatial streams that can provide up to 1.3 Gbps of raw throughput (700 Mbps actual, Comcast claims), 80 MHz wide Wi-Fi channel support, and 256-QAM modulation.
There's a discussion thread in our forums
, and users have found a guide
and some additional detail in the FCC database
There's no word on what you'll pay for the honor of using this new device, but users can also e-mail Comcast at AC_WirelessGateway@cable.comcast.com for more detail. Comcast says the device will be available "later this fall to customers in select markets and over time across our footprint."
Over the years we've seen a number of ISPs
and even hotels
run into user backlash and PR problems when they've decided to use deep packet inspection and ad injection to force their ads into user content. Many users don't like any ISP hijacking of site code, much less advertising injection -- especially if users aren't being told the system is being used.
Netflix has thrown their support behind cities eager to build their own broadband without interference from incumbent ISPs and lobbyists. In a filing with the FCC
, Netflix argues that the FCC can and should over-rule states like Tennessee, North Carolina and elsewhere, which have allowed ISPs to literally write the state telecom laws prohibiting towns and cities from improving their own broadband networks -- even in cases where nobody else will.
For months now Netflix has claimed that the largest ISPs have intentionally let their peering points get congested so that Netflix would be forced to pay them for direct interconnection (an argument companies like Level 3 and Cogent support
). So why is Netflix paying AT&T, Time Warner Cable, Verizon and Comcast for these links if they feel they're being railroaded?
According to Netflix filings made with the government
(hat tip to Quartz
), the company was beginning to lose customers who were told by Comcast Netflix was responsible for the problems:
“For many [Comcast] subscribers, the bitrate was so poor that Netflix’s streaming video service became unusable,” he writes, then notes that Comcast reps eventually told subscribers to take their beef to Netflix. “Those customers complained to Netflix and some of them canceled their Netflix subscription on the spot, citing the unacceptable quality of Netflix’s video streams and Netflix’s inability to do anything to change the situation."
You'll recall that when Netflix started giving impacted customers warning message blaming ISPs, Verizon rather quickly threatened to file a lawsuit
, insisting they
were the ones losing customers over the fracas. The FCC launched an investigation
into whether incumbent ISPs were acting anti-competitively back in June.
A TiVo support note
first spotted by Dave Zatz
is the first to highlight Comcast's looming migration away from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4. According to the note, Comcast is transitioning its systems in Augusta, Georgia, from MPEG-2 format to MPEG-4, meaning "that cable channels in this region will not be viewable on older equipment that is incompatible with the new format." I contacted Comcast who confirmed that they were migrating HD channels from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 in Augusta (SD channels will remain on MPEG-2), which the company notes will provide a "much more efficient use of bandwidth." The company could not offer any information on upgrade timelines for other markets.
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