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Time Warner Cable has fired off an e-mail to the company's users to assure them that being acquired by Comcast will be in everyone's best interests. In the e-mail, embedded in its entirely below, new Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus (who stands to net more than $56 million personally from the deal
, should it be approved by regulators) claims that the new company will "innovate faster" and "deploy even better products and features, including a superior video guide, faster Broadband Internet speeds and even more WiFi access points so you can access the Internet wherever you go."
Dear Valued Customer:
Recently, Time Warner Cable announced plans to merge with Comcast, forming an industry-leading technology and media company dedicated to delivering great customer experiences.
Above all, this merger will benefit you, our customers. Our two companies have been behind many of the innovative services that you enjoy every day—digital cable TV, high-speed Internet, DVRs, Video On Demand and WiFi in the home and on-the-go—to name just a few. The combined company will innovate faster and deploy even better products and features, including a superior video guide, faster Broadband Internet speeds and even more WiFi access points so you can access the Internet wherever you go.
We expect the merger to close around the end of 2014. In the meantime, all of us at Time Warner Cable remain committed to providing you with great TV, ultra-fast Internet, rock solid phone service and innovative home security and monitoring. And we will continue to make significant investments to improve reliability and to enhance our customer service.
In June of last year Comcast announced
that the company was launching a new, Fon-like effort that involved new router firmware that turns your gateway into a publicly-accessible hotspot. More specifically, update routers would now offer two signals: one being yours, and the other being a "xfinitywifi" SSID signal providing free Wi-Fi to other Comcast users in your general area.
A number of companies including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter, Google, and Microsoft are expected to announce a new coalition named WiFiForward
that will push for expansion of access to unlicensed spectrum for wireless networks. The new coalition was supposed to be announced yesterday, though the announcement appears to have been delayed out of fears it wouldn't have been noticed under the din of the Comcast Time Warner Cable announcement.
Notably absent from the coalition is AT&T and Verizon, who use Wi-Fi for offloading, but would obviously prefer you pay them for accessing cellular networks:
...after spending billions of dollars to upgrade to faster, so-called LTE technology, AT&T and its peers are now looking to bring that traffic back. "We are now at a place where the pricing is right, LTE is performing very, very well, and you want to drive utilization of these networks," AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said at an analysts conference in December.
The cable industry originally had cellular ambitions but after acquiring spectrum (now owned by Verizon) realized that competing with AT&T and Verizon on their turf would be very cash intensive. They've instead worked together to offer a broader array of publicly available hotspots in higher traffic areas, which are free if you subscribe to traditional cable services.
Comcast this morning confirmed reports from last night
that the company would be buying (or trying to buy) Time Warner Cable in a deal estimated to be worth around $45 billion. In a statement
released this morning, Comcast promises the deal will create a "world-class company" and "meaningful operational efficiencies" resulting in a "superior experience for our customers." You'll of course get to be the judge of that, provided the deal even gets past regulators wary of vertical integration who may not be eager to see Comcast grow larger. Comcast states they expect the deal to close by the end of 2014.
The other day we exclusively reported
that Comcast was rolling out yet another round of speed improvements for the company's customers, with many of the company's existing tiers seeing their speeds doubled yet again. Specifically, Comcast will be boosting their "Performance" tier from 25 to 50 Mbps, their "Blast" tier from 50 to 105 Mbps, and may
(this is not set in stone) be bumping their "Extreme" service from 105 Mbps to 305 Mbps.
As we noted the upgrades are to be limited in scope initially, restricted to certain bundles. Comcast has since confirmed the upgrades to Multichannel News
, noting they'll initially only be made available only in the company's Central Division:
Comcast is presently limiting the new bundle packages to its Central Division, a region that operates in 15 states and covers markets such as Chicago; Detroit; Atlanta; Detroit; Miami; and Nashville, Tenn. Comcast has not announced when or if it will offer similar speed packages in its West and Northeast divisions.
Our source noted that while limited in scope, additional markets would be seeing these speed upgrades in March.
We've noted before
that Aereo's business plan was likely to face scrutiny by the US Supreme Court. The case, an appeal of a pro-Aereo decision by the 2nd U.S.
So says David Clark, president of The Weather Channel, currently in a carriage dispute with DirecTV. He urges customers to appeal to Congress to intervene in the dispute. story continues..
, the nation's largest deployment of municipal broadband service, has been turning heads for a wave of non-disclosure agreements they've made the mayors of the network's 11 partner cities sign. According to the Standard Examiner
, the NDAs require that Utopia partners remain quiet about a "possible major new partner and project." That partner isn't named, but the story calls said partner an "Internet giant."
After Google acquired the Provo, Utah municipal network
for a song, obvious speculation leads to wondering if Google would be interested in acquiring Utopia as well and integrating the two networks.
Back in January Cox announced
that they'd be offering users access to a network of more than 750 Wi-Fi hotspots (you can find a network of their hotspots here
and their Wi-Fi FAQ here
). In addition to offering users access to their own hotspots, Cox also belatedly joined the "CableWiFi" initiative that allows users to access shared hotspots in Comcast and Cablevision territories.
Cable operators have made their dislike of broadcast industry retransmission fee hikes very clear, and as you'd expect those price hikes are being passed on to you. Curiously though, instead of just raising the price of services (which they do anyway), cable operators have taken to placing these fees below the line, where they can jack up customer prices further -- but keep the advertised rate the same. story continues..
CNBC has thrown another wrinkle in the cable merger and acquisition soap opera with a report that claims Comcast may also be sniffing around the possibility of acquiring Time Warner Cable. Anonymous sources tell the business news network
that the company has been closely examining any regulatory hurdles that could arise should they pursue an acquisition deal.
On the heels of companies like Google
rushing to encrypt server to server links after the ever-blooming NSA scandal, Techdirt
directs our attention to a new report card over at the EFF
that grades the Internet's largest companies on their use of encryption.
Just four companies: Dropbox, Google, SpiderOak and Sonic.net get a perfect score on all criteria measured, including encrypting server to server links, https support, https strict support, forward secrecy support, and STARTTLS support.
You'll of course note the dismal ranking of AT&T, Verizon and Comcast who handle traffic for all of these companies -- and then some.
Anonymous sources tell Reuters
that Comcast is exploring yet another method to sell and stream movies via the company's set top boxes. Reuters doesn't really specify how this plan would differ from Comcast's existing VOD or Comcast Xfinity Streampix
offerings, though Variety
suggests that the new effort will feature a shorter release window for new films. It won't be the kind of ultra-short "Premium VOD" window we've seen previously
(featuring $30 titles fresh from theaters), but will be in the "Early EST" window -- after hotels and airlines get films, but before titles get released to DVD or VOD.
Less than a week after Charter CEO Tom Rutledge publicly admitted that their current TV service offerings are rather crappy
, Charter has announced plans for a brand refresh for the company's broadband and TV services. Like AT&T U-Verse, Verizon FiOS, Comcast Xfinity, and Cablevision Optimum, Charter has announced they'll be re-branding the company's broadband and digital video services under the name "Spectrum" in the hopes of changing public perceptions.
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the cable industry has been working on targeted ads that factor in viewing patterns, race, income, and a multitude of other factors to deliver ads specifically tailored to the viewer. However those ambitions stumbled somewhat with the sinking of the cable industry's "canoe" targeted ad venture
After signing deals to offer Netflix on cable boxes via UK provider Virgin Media and Swedish cable operator Com Hem, Netflix has signed another partnership with Denmark's Waoo! Variety
notes that Waoo! is a fiber optic provider whose 270,000 subscribers will now be able to access Netflix streaming from their traditional cable set tops. While these international deals keep expanding, it doesn't appear we'll see similar deals here in the States anytime soon. A month ago Netflix CFO David Wells stated US cable operators have been rebuffing their advances for going on two years
. On their earnings call last week, Comcast President Neil Smit stated that striking such a deal with Netflix is "not really a high priority for us
For much of the last decade Seattle has explored the idea
of building their own ultra-fast broadband network. Much of that motivation was fueled by the sub-standard service provided in the region by regional telco Qwest (now CenturyLink), which in turn resulted in regional cable operator Comcast not working very hard.
Comcast and Comcast-owned NBC Universal have joined forces with Twitter to develop a service called "See it" that will embed Tweets with links to Comcast TV programming. According to the Comcast announcement
, Tweets talking about specific programs will be embedded with a "See it" button allowing users to switch to live TV or set their DVR to record -- but only obviously if you're a Comcast subscriber. At first glance this appears more like an attempt to appear innovative and social media savvy than an attempt to develop something truly compelling, but perhaps I'm missing something commenters can clarify below.
Users in our Comcast forum
note that they're being informed of a number of rate increases, including a $2 per month hike for some users in the cost of broadband service. Users also are facing a $1 bump from $7 to $8 for the cost of renting a modem. Providers have turned to the cable modem fee as an easy way to impose a below the line price increase on customers, and executives have made no attempt to hide the fact they'd like to jack this cost as high as allowable
. As always, you're better off buying your own modem from Comcast's list of approved devices
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