Earlier this year we noted that Comcast was toying with the idea of getting into the electricity business
in their home state of Pennsylvania. That effort has now gone live
, with Comcast teaming up with a unit of NRG Energy to effectively bundle electricity with Comcast's suite of phone, cable, broadband, and home security services.
The program, dubbed Energy Rewards
, offers users who sign up for Comcast's new energy services prepaid Visa cards and three free months of HBO, Showtime or Starz.
You can check out the Comcast energy plans here
. There's two options: a six-month, "Guaranteed Savings" plan that provides a 10% discount from the utility's variable price, or a fixed plan that locks in a price for power for the next 12-month period.
It's obviously too early to tell if this promotional effort will see expansion into additional states. Comcast is already the nation's largest cable TV provider, largest broadband provider, and third-largest phone company. Perhaps getting into dental hygiene is next?
There's really no doubt that Comcast has its tendrils in deep when it comes to lobbying for approval of their $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable. The revolving door helps; former FCC boss Michael Powell now heads the NCTA, the cable industry's largest lobbying group. story continues..
Back in December we noted
that a software bug in the Xbox One game console prevented Comcast users from using the console's Wi-Fi connection -- if they were connected via IPv6. According to a Comcast blog entry
(via Multichannel News
), the companies have squashed the bug. The software glitch only impacted Arris-made XB2 (TG852/TG862) integrated wireless DOCSIS 3.0 gateways that were operating in Comcast areas where IPv6 had been enabled. "Comcast and Microsoft have collaborated closely since this issue was discovered and are happy to report that this issue has been resolved," Comcast states.
Netflix has released the company's latest month rankings
of ISP Netflix streaming performance. Not too surprisingly, the results show that Comcast Netflix streaming performance has improved two spots after Comcast and Netflix last month struck a new interconnection agreement
that eliminated middlemen like Cogent Communications from their transit routes.
The country's top antitrust official, Bill Baer, will be recused from reviewing Comcast's proposed $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable, reports Reuters
. Baer represented NBC Universal owner, General Electric, when Comcast successfully acquired NBC Universal back in 2011. Leading the antitrust review will be Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse and Deputy Assistant Attorney General David Gelfand. Renata Hesse was the FCC's top antitrust official during the review of the AT&T's rejected attempted takeover of T-Mobile.
HBO has announced that they continue to expand availability of their HBO Go streaming effort, which is this week being made available on the Sony Playstation 3
. However, once again highlighting the fractured and often annoying tendency of content agreements and the "TV Everywhere" approach, Comcast users won't be able to use the new functionality.
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.
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 some protests in Philly
) over the years for being a bit of a public relations show pony, with people complaining Comcast intentionally made the program cumbersome and difficult to qualify for.
Comcast has quite a chore ahead of it in order to gain regulatory approval, given concerns about vertical integration, overall reach and concentrated market power when it comes to content licensing. One of the ideas being considered as a merger condition would be to spin off some of the acquired customers into an entirely new company. story continues..
ISPs don't reveal the number of copyright violation warnings they send out as part of the entertainment industry's "copyright alert system," or the number of users who've received multiple warnings. In fact, as the "six strikes" system reaches its one year anniversary, no hard data on the program has been released by anybody involved, whatsoever. story continues..
Slowly but surely, city governments are realizing just how bad it can be for their residents when one TV provider has the exclusive right to provide cable TV services. In Spokane, Washington, Comcast is the exclusive provider for cable TV services
and believes that it should no longer have to follow federal price regulations.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled what should be the first public forum for debating the benefits and drawbacks of Comcast's planned $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable. Judiciary Committee chair Sen. story continues..
According to a new Ranker.com poll
, AT&T is considered the worst at customer service with Time Warner Cable ranked second and Comcast ranked sixth. The next telecom company doesn't even appear on their list until Verizon Wireless shows up at spot 21. "Younger consumers appear particularly frustrated by Time Warner and Comcast, naming them the #1 and #3 worst companies in our data, which suggests that these companies’ reputations are worst amongst the very consumers most likely to opt for internet television," states Ranker.com Data Analyst Ravi Iyer.
It looks like Verizon won't be too far behind Comcast, who over the weekend struck a deal charging Netflix for direct interconnection
to Comcast's users. "I'm not here to pre-announce and I'm not here to change my hand at the negotiating table, but I think there's a good opportunity here," Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam stated in an interview with CNBC
. "Both [Netflix CEO] Reed [Hastings] and I have talked about it and we think it's in both of our interests." McAdam revealed Verizon has been in talks about such a deal for much of the last year, as subscriber Netflix streaming performance has increasingly gotten worse.
Comcast users should start seeing improvement in the abysmal streaming performance they've been complaining about for several months
. A report in the Wall Street Journal
reported this afternoon that the two sides have come to an agreement regarding a more direct connection between the Comcast and Netflix networks.
Comcast is getting prepared to expand their 505 Mbps down, 65 Mbps up "Extreme 505" into additional markets. A source tells Multichannel News
that Comcast will be launching the ultra-fast tier in Chicago, Atlanta and Miami as soon as next week, followed by a more formal launch in April.
As we've noted previously
, short-lived new Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus stood to profit quite handsomely from getting an acquisition deal done just months after taking over the CEO spot from Glenn Britt. Language in his contract has Marcus potentially making $56 million (depending on stock fluctuations) on Comcast's proposed acquisition of the company, assuming it makes its way past regulators.
A Time Warner Cable shareholder has sued to stop Comcast's $45.2 billion takeover over the company, arguing the deal faces steep regulatory approval hurdles and was the result of "unfair dealing." According to Bloomberg
, the lawsuit aims to stop the "sale of the company at an unfair price through an unfair and self-serving process to Comcast." Shareholder Breffni Barrett argues that Comcast's massive size raises antitrust concerns that wouldn't have come with a smaller suitor like Charter (even though Charter refused to make an offer above $132 per share
The lobbying/regulator revolving door has been spinning so quickly for Comcast that it should greatly help ease approval of their Time Warner Cable acquisition (as an aside, somebody should harness it for renewable energy). You'll recall that former FCC boss Michael Powell now heads the cable industry's top lobbying organization, the NCTA. story continues..
Talks to embed Netflix service on Time Warner Cable set top boxes are on hold courtesy of the Comcast merger acquisition, a source informs Bloomberg
. The piece notes that Comcast is much less likely to want Netflix on their set tops due to their heavy focus on the new(ish) X1 set top platform, which Comcast has increasingly linked to their own Streampix video services. Time Warner Cable had recently announced new "Maxx" broadband, cable and set top upgrades
, but it remains unclear how many subscribers will actually get to see them before the deal is completed.
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