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As the hype machine for 3DTV dies off
, the hype machine for 4K (aka "ultra HD") television is starting to kick into overdrive, and cable operators insist they'll be ready. The first 4K TV channel was launched in Europe earlier this year, operating in progressive mode at 50 frames per second, encoded in MPEG-4 and transmitted at 40 Mbps in four Quad HD streams. On the heels of their 3 Gbps cable demonstration at this week's NCTA show
, Comcast also demonstrated a 4K TV test, insisting that "if the 4K market develops, were ready for it
In the IP-based demo, Comcast piped in an Ultra HD stream encoded in H.264/MPEG-4 running at 50 Megabits per second on a DOCSIS 3.0 modem that was provisioned for the MSOs 105 Mbps (downstream) speed tier. That was paired with a PC outfitted with Intels fourth-generation Haswell processor. The QAM demo shined the light on H.265/High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), an emerging compression technology that is 50% more efficient than H.264.
According to Comcast the trial "show(s) we're capable of doing this now," though by "now" Comcast probably means late 2014 or early 2015. Netflix recently stated that they expect to offer 4K streams in a year or two
Comcast, like most of their contemporaries, in late 2010 started offering a home security and automation platform
under the Xfinity brand. Xfinity Home Security has slowly been deployed nationally since, and offers users two packages ($30 and $40 per month) of combined security and automation tools ranging from window sensors to remote climate and lighting controls. Now Comcast says they're offering just a stand alone package of home automation tools
starting at $10 a month and requiring a $100 starter pack. The platform offers users all manner of options including the ability to receive a text when windows open or close, though in many cases users can save a lot over time by buying and installing third party options themselves.
The cable industry today announced that their creatively named joint "CableWiFi" initiative now offers access to more than 150,000 hotspots if you're a paying customer of Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Bright House Networks, or Cox Communications. That number is up from the 50,000 offered just last year. The initiative piggybacked initially on the back of Cablevision's idea to deploy free Wi-Fi to paying customers across NYC commuter regions. Users simply have to look for the CableWiFi SSID and log in with their cable credentials. Time Warner Cable offers this hotspot location map
, as well as a Wi-Fi finder app available both via Google Play
or the iTunes store
Comcast this morning announced
that the company will be significantly expanding their free (for Comcast customers, anyway) Wi-Fi initiative, noting that alongside other cable partners they not provide more than 150,000 hotspots
in major cities across the nation. More interestingly, Comcast says that the company is also launching an initiative that allows users to share their home bandwidth with other Comcast customers as part of a new project that mirrors similar efforts by companies like Fon
You can go to pretty much any broadband statistic warehouse (from Akamai
and the FCC
to the OECD
and OOkla's Net Index
) and find that the United States is indisputably and utterly mediocre in nearly every single meaningful broadband metric, whether it's price, availability or speed. There's no debate here.
While Verizon has been essentially kicking Sandy victims to the curb, Comcast says it's taking great lengths to get them up and running again. As we've been discussing
, Verizon has been going up and down the coast telling Sandy victims who've been waiting seven months for repairs that they'll never see their DSL lines restored.
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.
directs our attention to the fact that for the first time, a Comcast user has been sued three different times for one download of an animated film. "Plaintiffs technical monitoring personnel failed to notice the repeat entries of the identical IP address after sorting and filtering and filed 3 different federal lawsuits," the John Doe writes in his own defense. "This calls into question their accuracy in managing their cases properly." Torrent Freak
and the plaintiff speculate that he was sued three times in the hopes nobody would notice, thereby increasing the chance of getting a subpoena from at least one of the three Judges. Instead, all three cases landed on the desk of one Judge.
Comcast told one DC-area grandmother that she could no longer be a Comcast Internet Voice subscriber after she cast an immense amount of votes for an "American Idol" contestant. According to local DC Fox affiliate Fox 5
, Comcast sent the notification after the woman called the "American Idol" hotline "several hundred times in an hour." The 72-year-old woman was confused by the termination letter because Comcast advertises its Digital Voice service as unlimited, a word that generally means the exact opposite in telecommunications markets. After the letter was publicized, Comcast claimed the termination notice was sent in error but reiterated their right to warn or terminate excessive voice users.
The Supreme Court this week ruled for Comcast in a case that was levied against the company alleging they'd intentionally created a monopoly in the Philadelphia area -- then jacked up prices to punitive levels (we've been talking about the case since it was filed in 2003
). According to the decision
(pdf), the ruling fell along the usual 5-4 partisan lines.
Comcast VP of public policy Rebecca Arbogast informed attendees of a Free State Foundation conference this week that the "alleged failing and falling state of U.S. broadband" is "based on misunderstood and misused statistics." According to Arbogast, the claim that the United States is 22nd in broadband is effectively a lie, used by critics to unfairly attack what is secretly a top ranked broadband infrastructure. Arbogast went on to argue that comparing the United States to markets in Asia is "silly at best" and that those criticizing United States broadband are just engaging in "hand wringing
(Arbogast said) the absolute price of broadband was essentially flat while speeds increase 900%. She pointed out that over the same time the cost of college has increased 72%.
Comcast today stated that customers in California will now be seeing some of the speed upgrades we've been seeing deployed elsewhere
around the country at no extra cost. Specifically, Comcast's Blast tier is going from 25/4 Mbps to 50/10 Mbps, their Extreme tier will be going from 50/10 Mbps to 105/20, and their Performance tier will be going from 12/2 Mbps to 25/5 Mbps for all users. The Comcast press release
lists a handful of communities that won't be getting the upgrades until later on this summer -- because you were bad I'm guessing. An insider tells me that the 12/2 Mbps to 25/4 is running behind the other upgrades for many users, who'll see that specific bump in April.
A reliable source at Comcast has provided me with the March launch schedule for the company's speed increases that have been slowly deploying nationwide. As noted last month
, Comcast's Blast tier is going from 25/4 Mbps to 50/10 Mbps, their Extreme tier will be going from 50/10 Mbps to 105/20, and their Performance tier will be going from 12/2 Mbps to 25/4 Mbps for all users.
Comcast has now put information on their implementation of six strikes online
. According to the nation's largest broadband company, their version of the program will involve a persistent nagging pop up that continues to alert the user after the fourth warning.
Despite the faster speeds now being pushed through fiber and DOCSIS 3.0, there's many users who continue to suffer from the inability to quickly and consistently stream YouTube videos. Spend a few minutes in any of our forums and you'll find this is a universal problem with many carriers, including AT&T U-Verse
, Verizon FiOS
and Time Warner Cable
After several significant delays, the entertainment industry and most of the nation's largest ISPs are set to launch their "six strikes" graduated response anti-piracy efforts starting today. Sources familiar with the plan timetable have told both Daily Dot
and Torrent Freak
that six strikes starts today, and a new Center for Copyright Information website
run by the entertainment industry appears to have been freshly launched for the occasion (see new video, below).
A month or so ago Time Warner Cable proudly proclaimed that the company would be banning some
gun ads, specifically "ads showing semi-automatic weapons and guns pointed at people." As I noted at the time
, it was unclear if the company had ever run any of this type of ad in the first place. Now Comcast has taken things one step further by banning ads for all gun stores. Angry gun shops tell ABC News
the ban is "a direct infringement on our constitutional rights," while Comcast says it's becoming standard practice. "Consistent with long standing NBC policies, Comcast Spotlight has decided it will not accept new advertising for firearms or weapons moving forward," said the company. "This policy aligns us with the guidelines in place at many media organizations."
Back in 2011 the FCC began collecting real-world user broadband data from customized routers, then issuing reports on which ISPs were failing to deliver advertised speeds. It's one of the few FCC policies in recent years that has truly paid dividends for consumers. story continues..
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