| story continues..
Billing glitches for Verizon's new "free" symmetrical FiOS upgrades are resulting in rate hikes for some users. Verizon recently announced that the company would be bumping FiOS upstream speeds
so they match the company's downstream speeds, effectively making all FiOS tiers symmetrical.
Even though FiOS prices have jumped significantly in recent years, Verizon's move is a significant competitive jab at cable operators, who have lagged in delivering faster upstream speeds despite their recent round of DOCSIS 3.0 upgrades.
While the upstream speed boost is absolutely and undeniably welcome
, users in our FiOS forum are noticing a few abnormalities in Verizon's billing process at sign up. While the upgrade is supposed to be free, a number of users have noted
that signing up for the faster speeds has bumped their broadband bill, or has involved Verizon pushing them back onto long-term contracts. Notes one user
I got my "free" speed upgrade by joining the rewards program yesterday. As I always do, I went online this morning to check my account for any changes. To my dismay, I find that my bundle price increased $10.
Dissatisfied with service from the likes of Time Warner Cable, last fall the city of Los Angeles used an innovative approach to get 1 Gbps connections to all city residents: they simply asked if any companies wanted to come to town to build and fund an all fiber network. As we noted at the time this was a fairly obvious pipe dream
, experts noting that the city wasn't really bringing any inducements to the table to lure companies to invest.
Google announced back in February
that they were working with 34 potential new Google Fiber cities, requesting those cities fill out and agree to a fiber ready checklist
to make installation easier. Speaking on the company's earnings call last week
, Google SVP and CFO Patrick Pichette stated that the economics behind Google Fiber continue to improve, and that their work with those 34 cities continues. "Over the coming months we’ll actually be going through all of the details with them, whether it would be right away or permitting or otherwise, and that’s what we’re going to use to make decisions as to how broad a program will have," states Pichette. It remains entirely unclear how many of those 34 cities will actually see future Google Fiber builds.
Verizon's shaking things up by making all of the company's FiOS broadband tiers symmetrical, bringing upstream speeds in line with downstream offerings. When Verizon FiOS originally came out the company's fiber-based offering was the cream of the crop, though Verizon has dulled their market-leading edge in recent years with a seemingly endless series of rate hikes and annoying fees
A report in the Telegraph
claims that Google may be interested in someday expanding Google Fiber into the UK. Google has held talks with a British company by the name of CityFibre, though those talks broke down after the company began worrying a partnership would damage their relationships with UK incumbents.
writes in to note that Netflix has offered their latest streaming performance rankings for broadband ISPs
. Cablevision, Cox and Suddenlink continue to take the top three spots among the largest ISPs (head here
and click on "expand results" to see smaller ISPs like Google Fiber included in the rankings).
Google's working hard on an update to the rather minimalist
, black set top boxes the company uses for their Google Fiber TV service. Dave Zatz at Zatz Not Funny
noticed the new device over at the FCC website. The GFHD200 will replace the GFHD100, and will integrate 10/100 Ethernet, MoCA 1.1/2.0, dual band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and HDMI 1.4. Zatz also notes Google's cooking up a new remote for the device that uses Bluetooth LE. There's no indication yet of what the new device will look like or when we'll see an official release.
While there has been some concerns over whether or not Google Fiber will leave some potential neighborhoods high and dry, the latest stats suggest
that 95% of Kansas City neighborhoods have now qualified for service. There's a large chunk of neighborhoods scattered around the Kansas City area that didn't qualify, and criticism continues over how Google's "fiberhood" approach excludes some. Google's quick however to point out that almost all of the area’s 20 poorest neighborhoods qualified for Google Fiber. "A lot of people in Kansas City want Google Fiber, and we’re going to do everything we can to get it to them by the end of the year," insists company spokeswoman Jenna Wandres.
Previously, we have discussed a number
in Kansas City where those installing Google Fiber were "butchering
" the homeowner’s property. Although Google says they're learning as they go, complaints are still rolling in about installers tearing apart property with rutted lawns and busted gas lines.
Back in April, AT&T stated they were in advanced talks
with the North Carolina Next Generation Network (NCNGN) to offer Gigapower over the region's core fiber ring, which was constructed with the cooperation of numerous companies. AT&T now says they've ratified an agreement with the City of Winston-Salem
to offer 1 Gbps service in parts of the Triangle and Piedmont Triad regions, with pending ratification looming for Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh.
Back when cities were clamoring and climbing over one another to be chosen as the first city for Google Fiber back in 2010, Portland's Hopworks Urban Brewery offered a brief run of "Gigabit Indian Pale Ale" to try and draw some attention to Portland. It didn't work (Kansas City was initially chosen as the first launch market), though the beer is making a brief appearance this week as the city votes on a preliminary franchise agreement
with Google Fiber in the hopes of being one of Google Fiber's 34 possible next launch cities
. As noted recently
, Portland has had to rework several city ordinances on telecom cabinet placement to win Google's potential affection.
As we noted yesterday
Verizon is going to miss the company's deadline for providing FiOS to all of NYC, something that shouldn't surprise you if you actually understood the loophole-filled deal, closed-door deal Verizon and Mayor Bloomberg signed back in 2008
. That agreement allowed Verizon to conflate the terms "homes served" with "homes passed," as well as wiggle around certain deployment obligations with some lawyer elbow grease.
The cities of Urbana and Champaign, Illinois have formed a non-profit venture that will expand the regional network
and eventually offer 1 Gbps to locals. After a public bidding process, non-profit UC2B (Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband) has formed a partnership with private ISP iTV-3 to build and operate the broadband network, with TV services potentially down the line.
In contrast to most of the 1 Gbps offerings we've seen popping up around the nation (including Google Fiber), the project backers state
(pdf) this particular effort will be open access -- meaning other ISPs can come in over the top and compete on the network for your broadband dollar.
Illinois towns and cities have a very long and ugly history
of incumbent ISPs in the state using every trick in the book to shut these kinds of networks down.
Jefferies analyst George Notter wrote a note to investors this week
that AT&T "significantly reduced" the company's spending on their fixed-line network last month, something that has spooked AT&T hardware vendors like Ciena, Juniper and Adtran. If you've been reading our reports this shouldn't shock you; AT&T's been cutting fixed-line network investment each year for some time.
TDS Telecom is the latest company to jump into the 1 Gbps pool, announcing they're offering 1 Gbps service to select customers in portions of New Hampshire. According to the company's press release
, Hollis, New Hampshire will be the first location to get the faster service. TDS isn't revealing pricing for the speedy option, but states it's available "for less than $100 per month with a bundle." The move comes on the heels of TDS' introduction of a 300 Mbps tier back in December
. "While Hollis is the first TDS-served community with 1 Gig service, it won't be the last," insists the company. "This is just the start for our launch of super-high speed Internet."
Verizon recently unveiled their new "Quantum TV" ultra-DVR in select markets
, including North Texas, Harrisburg, portions of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The new IPTV DVR hub offers 6-tuners and 1 terabyte or storage for $22/month over the price of your HD service. Users can utilize two VMS boxes to obtain 12 tuners and 2TB of internal storage for $32/month on top of existing HD service. After a selective early launch, Verizon today announced that the service is now available in the Tampa area
, with additional markets getting the new DVR "in phases over the next few months."
Google has been very quiet about sign up totals for Google Fiber so far, so Bernstein Research recently conducted a door to door survey across five Kansas City neighborhoods
(via Multichannel News
). Bertstein says the firm is seeing significantly higher adoption in those neighborhoods than they previously suspected, suggesting that in the admittedly-limited areas that Google Fiber is deployed, the ultra-fast service is delivering a bit of a beating to incumbent ISPs.
Last week we noted how AT&T's decision to maybe
deploy 1 Gbps fiber to 100 cities was a major bluff
, in that AT&T isn't willing to actually spend the money to make that happen. Fixed-line investment is dropping year over year, and "GigaPower" is largely just a PR exercise aimed at countering Google Fiber in the media.
Verizon years ago froze any and all FiOS expansion (with the exception of come franchise promises in major cities) in order to focus on driving uptake in markets where FiOS was already deployed. Judging from the company's recent FiOS uptake numbers, they are starting to hit a wall in that regard, with many of their deployment markets saturated. story continues..
·more stories, story search, most popular ..
Recent news contributors
, Karl Bode
, Bill Neilson