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by Karl Bode 09:02AM Tuesday Sep 23 2014
Earlier this month we highlighted how Google was under fire for funding the lobbyist organization ALEC, a group that helps companies submit draft legislation that then gets lobbied into law. These efforts by and large are anti-consumer, with ALEC opposing network neutrality and supporting blockades on municipal broadband.

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Criticism of Google's support of ALEC highlights a larger issue of Google hypocrisy on net neutrality that has been evident since around 2010 or so, when Google worked with AT&T and Verizon to craft flimsy net neutrality rules that were riddled with loopholes, and failed to even address wireless networks.

It appears to have been ALEC's climate change denialism, not these key broadband issues, that has since pressured Google to back away from the group. Google says they'll no longer be funding ALEC as of the end of the year, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt calling the group "liars" who are harming future generations:
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“The people who oppose it are really hurting our children and grandchildren and making the world a much worse place,” Schmidt said on NPR’s “Diane Rehm Show” yesterday. “We should not be aligned with such people. They are just literally lying.”
Microsoft backed away from the group earlier this year for, in part, "fighting policies that promote renewable energy." ALEC called Google's departure from the group "unfortunate":
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“It is unfortunate to learn Google has ended its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council as a result of public pressure from left-leaning individuals and organizations who intentionally confuse free market policy perspectives for climate change denial,” Lisa Nelson, ALEC’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.
Backing away from ALEC took Google more than a year; the company's funding of the secretive organization was exposed in a Daily Beast report from August of 2013, which noted Google original joined to fight SLAPP lawsuits (and stuck around for general anti-consumer fun, apparently). While Google was funding ALEC's efforts to crush neutrality and municipal broadband with one hand, they were also funding groups like the Internet Association and their support of those same issues with the other.

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by Karl Bode 07:17PM Friday Sep 26 2014
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by Karl Bode 04:32PM Monday Sep 22 2014
A new study by Media Science paid for by A&E networks insists that most customers actually are ok with having the ability to fast-forward disabled. Not too surprisingly, the study found that when advertisement fast-forwarding is disabled, users were more likely to recall the contents of the advertisement.
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by Karl Bode 12:08PM Monday Sep 22 2014
Ever since former AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre's "pipes for free" comment in 2005, large ISPs have insisted that they're somehow owed more money simply because content touches their network, and that companies like Google and Netflix somehow use far more than their fair share of network resources. This is nonsensical argument pops up often when ISPs try to get Google and Netflix to subsidize their network upgrades and maintenance.
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by Karl Bode 10:49AM Wednesday Sep 24 2014
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.
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by Karl Bode 12:25PM Tuesday Sep 23 2014
DirecTV says they'll begin broadcasting in the 4K ultra-high definition standard sometime this year, as the cable and broadcast industry continues to wait for 4K set ownership to reach critical mass. Even though pricing on 4KTVs have dropped in recent years, the industry remains hesitant after the mega-flop that was 3D television -- something DirecTV CEO Michael White admitted was fueling cable and broadcast reservations about 4KTV:
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“This year is probably the first year you will start to see some critical mass of television sets in the home — still tiny but more than prior years … our plan is to have an Ultra-HD [Video on Demand] VOD capability by the end of this year,” he said.
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by Karl Bode 02:07PM Friday Sep 26 2014
Over the top video players get a lot of due credit for being disruptive disruptive, though restrictive Hollywood licensing continues to prevent streaming video operators from being anywhere near as disruptive to traditional business models as they could be. Case in point: Research firm KPMG this week released a new study funded by NBC that studied the broadband streaming availability of the 808 most popular and critically acclaimed films.
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by Karl Bode 04:50PM Friday Sep 26 2014
Comcast has never been a consumer favorite, showing up in last place or close to it in nearly every customer satisfaction survey out there for much of the last decade. There's a number of reasons for this, ranging from poor subcontractor hiring practices to an endless ocean of rate hikes of seemingly endless variety, but after a decade most sensible people conclude that Comcast really just doesn't want to spend the money to make sure their customer support is top shelf.
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by Karl Bode 08:27AM Wednesday Sep 24 2014
We've talked at length about how in many states, AT&T is refusing to upgrade their broadband networks -- while at the same time lobbying (and often writing) state laws banning anybody else from doing so either. That's becoming a bigger problem than ever as AT&T hangs up on unwanted DSL users in many states, yet leaves behind the laws they helped passed preventing those towns from improving their own infrastructure.
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by Karl Bode 09:01AM Thursday Sep 25 2014
Comcast makes more money in one quarter off of the company's modem rental fees than it did for the entire Sochi Olympics, notes an analysis of Comcast's books. The company's $8 per month modem rental fee has slowly but surely been jacked up over the years, and now nets the company an estimated $300 million per quarter -- income that doesn't correspond with Comcast really doing much of anything (not entirely unlike the bevy of new below the line fees Comcast and others use to pad a user's bill).

Comcast seems to enjoy pushing their luck on the rental fee as hard as possible, and I've seen rumblings in our forums that Comcast is looking to bump the rental fee to $10 per month Customers in Portland were the first to be notified of the new $10 modem rental fee earlier this month, a hike that arrived even with the specter of possible added competition from Google Fiber:
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Rates for other services and equipment are rising by varying amounts, with big percentage increases in the cost of high-definition video service, a DVR and the cost of renting a cable modem. The changes come as Google Fiber and CenturyLink prepare to offer new cable and Internet services in the Portland area, though both Comcast and local cable regulators say the modest size of this year's increases is unrelated to the prospective competition.
You can help avoid contributing to the Comcast executive retirement fund by buying a compatible modem of your own. Still, it's worth noting that Comcast has a nasty habit of accidentally charging people who own their own modems rental fees anyway.

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by Karl Bode 05:23PM Tuesday Sep 23 2014
A lot of the 1 Gbps deployments from cable operators like Cox and Suddenlink are going to depend on the faster speeds provided by the as-yet-undeployed DOCSIS 3.1 standard, which should support 10 Gbps downstream and 1 Gbps upstream (albeit shared). To that end, CableLabs this week stated that deployment of the standard is slightly ahead of schedule.
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by Karl Bode 09:09AM Wednesday Sep 24 2014
In April of last year when Google announced they'd be bringing Google Fiber to Austin, the company stated they expected Austin users to start being hooked up around the middle of 2014. The halfway of the year point has rolled on past, without any new hard deadline for a launch or even the "fiberhood" system they use to determine deployment neighborhoods.
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by Karl Bode 08:30AM Friday Sep 26 2014
It has been interested to see lately how Apple and Google have effectively started competing on privacy -- both companies announcing recently that new encryption standards used on their latest OS's and devices mean they'll no longer unlock devices at the behest of law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Not too surprisingly this shift has annoyed the FBI; the agency's James Comey not so subtly insisting that both Google and Apple are putting people's lives at risks with the shift:
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"What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to hold themselves beyond the law," Comey said. At another point, he said he feared a moment when “when people with tears in their eyes look at me and say, ‘What do you mean you can’t?"' Comey said he was gathering more information about the issue and would have more to say about it later.
Granted the FBI might not have found itself in this position if its collection of consumer data had been a little more reasonable in the first place, and the agency hadn't spent a good chunk of the last decade over-reaching and finding creative ways to dodge the law.

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by Karl Bode 03:28PM Wednesday Sep 24 2014
Dish announced in May of last year that the company would be offering fixed LTE services in a new partnership with nTelos. At the time, the companies stated they'd be ultimately offering the service in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky -- though hard details on the plan were hard to come by.
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by Karl Bode 08:43AM Friday Sep 26 2014
New analysis from the Diffusion Group (spotted via GigaOM) indicates that Netflix users now watch, on average, 90 minutes of programming via the over the top streaming company every day. This usage equates to around 45 GB per month in data consumption, or about a third of what's a fairly standard 150 GB usage cap on a lot of DSL users. As Netflix expands its selection of 4K content -- which the company states can consume up to 7 GB per hour -- you can expect those numbers to scale upward quickly. Will usage caps keep pace?

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by Karl Bode 04:27PM Wednesday Sep 24 2014
In the midst of bendgate comes the news that Apple's latest iOS 8 patch came with numerous bugs, including one that caused problems with the iPhone's fingerprint sensor, and another that disrupted cellular functionality. After Apple's forums filled with complaints and users struggled to roll back the update, Apple wound up pulling the patch entirely. "We have received reports of an issue with the iOS 8.0.1 update," Apple said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal. "We are actively investigating these reports and will provide information as quickly as we can. In the meantime we have pulled back the iOS 8.0.1 update.”

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by Karl Bode 09:07AM Monday Sep 22 2014
Torrent Freak has an interesting piece on the 21 "raid proof" virtual machines (VMs) currently running The Pirate Bay website. Two years ago the website switched all operations to the cloud, scattering their operations across a number of cloud storage providers located all around the world.
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by Karl Bode 09:13AM Friday Sep 26 2014
At a speech (pdf) given this week at net neutrality forum in Sacramento both Democratic Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel unsurprisingly made it clear that they support the prevention of so-called Internet "fast lanes," and that they'd like to see network neutrality rules applied to wireless networks. The original rules, co-written by AT&T, Verizon and Google quite by design omitted rules to wireless, and in recent months FCC boss Tom Wheeler has hinted that could soon change.
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by Karl Bode 09:43AM Monday Sep 22 2014
DSLReports regular Darknessfall See Profile directs our attention to the fact that AT&T is running a new promotion for U-Verse customers that offers users broadband, HBO, and a year of Amazon Prime for $40 per month. Like Comcast, Verizon and others, AT&T has been offering a $40 broadband, HBO and limited TV bundle the hopes of appealing to (almost) cord cutters.
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by Karl Bode 12:36PM Thursday Sep 25 2014
Back in 2012 Cablevision employees in Brooklyn voted to unionize for the first time in the company's history, a significant move given the fact that just 2-4% of cable technicians are unionized. The move resulted in a contentious fight between union employees and Cablevision executives that has raged ever since, with strikes, lawsuits over union claims about sub-par Cablevision service, battles over Sandy refund robocalls and the firing of union organizers.

This week Cablevision sued the Communications Workers of America (CWA) for defamation, stating the CWA claimed Cablevision fired a union employee over race and for "talking about slavery." Not so, says the suit, which claims the employee simply had a history of bad behavior:
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According to the most recent suit, Cablevision claimed Thomson violated company policies in a number of instances, including showing up for work improperly dressed, refusing to accept a new company headset and throwing it on a desk in an aggressive manner, hitting a Cablevision building with a company vehicle and denting its garage doors with his ladder, sideswiping another Company vehicle in an avoidable accident.

After being issued a final warning in March, Thompson continued to violate policy, Cablevision claimed, including using a company phone for personal use – he allegedly racked up charges 25 times more than the average worker and used 4,303 minutes of talk time in April 2014, compared to the average worker’s 184 minutes of usage.
In a statement, the CWA called the Cablevision suit "frivolous" and claimed that Cablevision owner James Dolan was simply trying to "intimidate workers and their allies."

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by Karl Bode 08:26AM Monday Sep 22 2014
Back in May Verizon Unveiled their new "XLTE" branded speed upgrades, powered by the 1700/2100 MHz AWS spectrum Verizon acquired that spectrum from the cable industry back in 2011. Since last year Verizon has been using this spectrum to bolster their existing LTE network, bringing speed and capacity improvements to existing LTE markets. Verizon has announced that they've extended these XLTE upgrades into an additional 22 markets, and now offers the upgrades in 400 of the company's roughly 500 LTE markets.

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by Karl Bode 06:23PM Wednesday Sep 24 2014
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.
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by Karl Bode 05:48PM Thursday Sep 25 2014
Last fall the FAA lifted restrictions on in-flight electronics use during take offs and landing, and last January the FCC began rulemaking to lift the restrictions on in-flight phone calls. Wheeler and the FCC took a lot of heat for that move (and is still fielding mostly negative comments on the idea).
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by Karl Bode 10:20AM Thursday Sep 25 2014
AT&T executives must be loving Comcast right now, as the scrutiny of Comcast's $45 billion attempt to acquire Time Warner Cable has obscured AT&T's own attempt $48.5 billion effort to acquire DirecTV. In many ways one could argue the AT&T deal is worse in that it eliminates a company that has been a rather disruptive competitor in the pay TV market, and replaces it with a company that has a legacy of avoiding real competition by any means necessary.
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by Karl Bode 03:08PM Thursday Sep 25 2014
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.
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by Karl Bode 12:17PM Friday Sep 26 2014
Historically one of the biggest problems with Internet filters is over-reach; once the door is opening to censoring specific corners of the web, some individuals can't seem to help themselves when it comes to pushing the censorship envelope. This certainly seems to be true for the Internet filters GoGo is applying to their in-flight broadband connections, now available on the majority of airlines.
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by Karl Bode 10:25AM Tuesday Sep 23 2014
Back when the FCC's neutrality rules were crafted in 2010, Google, AT&T and Verizon worked in unison to make sure they didn't cover wireless networks, something the FCC hints may change this time around. Meredith Atwell Baker, formerly an FCC Commisioner turned Comcast lobbyist turned wireless industry lobbyist, has been making the rounds the last two weeks trying to argue that the FCC was correct the first time around.
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by Karl Bode 10:40AM Friday Sep 26 2014
In June of last year Google unveiled Google Loon, the latest in a long line of similar projects that will use hot air balloons to deliver broadband and wireless services to under-served or emergency prone areas. Project Loon will use hot air balloons 49 feet wide stationed 12 miles above the planet, well above the range of commercial aircraft.
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by Karl Bode 12:18PM Wednesday Sep 24 2014
Back in July Verizon announced that the company would be making all of their FiOS tiers symmetrical, a move that was specifically aimed at cable operators struggling to keep upstream speeds on par with fiber offerings. Verizon this week took this same fight to cable operators on the small business side, announcing that they're now bumping the upstream speeds for business customers as well. According to the company announcement, the upgrades should happen automatically for "nearly all" of the company's FiOS business customers.

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by Karl Bode 02:14PM Monday Sep 22 2014
Paul Bunyan Communications in Minnesota is the latest ISP to jump into the 1 Gbps public relations race. According to the company's announcement, their "GigaZone" initiative will be one of the largest gigabit networks in the country, promising to offer gigabit services over the ISP's 5,000 square mile footprint over the next five years. Right now, it appears however that these new speeds are only available in just one location: Bemidji, Minnesota. The ISP is now offering users within range of the service the option of symmetrical 50 Mbps for $60 a month, symmetrical 500 Mbps for $80 a month or symmetrical 1 Gbps for $100 a month.

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by Karl Bode 08:33AM Thursday Sep 25 2014
A new study by the United Nations ranks the United States 19th in the world in terms of the percentage of country residents that are online, behind other OECD countries like Germany (20th) and Australia (21st), but behind the UK (12th), Japan (15th) and Canada (16th). The report also notes that the U.S. fell from 20th to 24th place for fixed broadband subscriptions per capita, just behind Japan but ahead of Macao (China) and Estonia. Geography obviously continues to play a role here, as Korea continues to see the world's highest household broadband penetration at over 98%. The report predicts that over 50% of the world's population will have access to broadband by 2017.

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by Karl Bode 06:31PM Monday Sep 22 2014
Back in August Suddenlink Communications joined the 1 Gbps fiber to the press release craze by proudly proclaiming they'd be bringing 1 Gbps service to 90% of the company's footprint by 2017. Like Cox, Suddenlink hopes to do this using the unfinished DOCSIS 3.1 standard, which isn't expected to be commercially available in volume until 2016.
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by Karl Bode 08:04AM Tuesday Sep 23 2014
User cosmokramer See Profile writes in to note that Great Works Internet (see our user reviews) has announced they'll be working to bring fiber-optic broadband services to businesses and residential customers in portions of South Portland. The Bangor Daily News notes that the company will pay about half of the $300,000 needed to connect municipal buildings, then offering 1 Gbps speeds for $70 to residences and $200 per month for business users. The company recently announced a similar public/private municipal partnership with Rockport, Maine.

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by Revcb 07:58AM Wednesday Sep 24 2014

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by Revcb 07:00AM Tuesday Sep 23 2014

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by Karl Bode 02:39PM Tuesday Sep 23 2014
Back in April AT&T announced that they'd formed a joint venture with the Chermin Group named Otter Media, the new outfit spending $500 million to "acquire, invest in and launch over-the-top (OTT) video services." The latest major acquisition was announced this week, with Otter Media buying a controlling stake in FullScreen, one of the largest YouTube networks. According to the AT&T announcement, FullScreen "works with more than 50,000 content creators who engage 450 million subscribers and generate 4 billion monthly views,' with the acquisition supporting AT&T's "focus on youth-based content."

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by Revcb 07:58AM Friday Sep 26 2014

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by Revcb 08:24AM Monday Sep 22 2014

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