For years we've noted how broadband ISPs have tried to pass off the idea of usage caps as one of "fairness," with it "only being right" that heavier users should pay more money. While logical on its surface, the problem with that rhetoric of course is that when you actually look at the "creative" pricing that gets introduced again and again (especially usage caps), it ends with everybody
paying more, regardless of usage. It's not about fairness as it is usually about justifying high prices in less competitive markets.
Speaking this week about the company's victory over the FCC's net neutrality rules (which killed the rules but did leave the FCC with some authority to regulate broadband ISPs), Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam stated that any concern that they'd behave badly is "histrionics," and that the most important thing you need to understand when thinking about net neutrality is that it's mostly about you needing to pay Verizon more money
McAdam dismissed concerns that his company would selectively block or slow some Web content. "We make our money by carrying traffic," he said. "That's how we make dollars. So to view that we're going to be advantaging one over the other really is a lot of histrionics, I think, at this point."
But McAdam suggested that broadband power users should pay extra. "It's only natural that the heavy users help contribute to the investment to keep the Web healthy," he said. "That is the most important concept of net neutrality."
While Verizon's FiOS doesn't have the kind of lower usage caps seen with other ISPs (well, outside of the 10 terabyte variety
that only impacts extreme users), they've traditionally always left the door open to such a possibility when asked. Should they arrive and you suddenly find yourself one day paying even more money for already-expensive FiOS, just be happy knowing that this is just how the neutral, healthy Internet works
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.
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.
Responding to Google Fiber's offer of symmetrical 1 Gbps lines for $70, add Verizon to the list of companies who don't think you need that speed (or, more importantly, that price) right now. Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam didn't mention FiOS's frozen expansion, but he did suggest that the 300 and 500 Mbps currently offered by the telco was enough until something comes along that can really demand that kind of connectivity. 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.
AT&T today announced that their first "IP transition" trials as the company eyes shutting down its copper networks will occur in West Delray Beach, Florida (Kings Point) and Carbon Hill, Alabama. According to an AT&T announcement
, these locations will be the sites of multi-year trials with FCC oversight aimed at studying the impact of migrating away from copper networks and the PSTN.
NBC insists that the network worked with Olympics officials to thwart some 45,000 pirated streams
of the recent Sochi winter games. Though they didn't show their math to support their claims, the network also insists it stopped 5,000 illegal streams of live Olympics events.
Snarky CEO Tweets and ad campaigns for disruptive pricing don't come cheap, you know. T-Mobile today unveiled the company's fourth quarter earnings report
, which indicates that the company posted a $20 million loss on the quarter, up from the $8 million loss posted one year earlier.
If there's one thing I've probably griped about more than any other in the now thirteen-plus years I've written here, it's probably buried below the line fees. For years ISPs have buried the ordinary cost of doing business below the line in itemized fees. story continues..
Cox Communications this week sent an e-mail to the company's workers, obtained by DSLReports, suggesting layoffs loom as the company looks to consolidate support operations. According to the e-mail, during the second quarter of this year Cox plans to migrate existing "residential care, sales, retention and collections call center operations into best-in-class, national Centers of Excellence (COEs)." In English, that means a lot of smaller call centers will be closing, and a number of Cox employees will either be transferred or will need to seek employment elsewhere. story continues..
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.
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Never one to miss an opportunity to push for a merger with DirecTV, Dish CEO Charlie Ergen states that if regulators allow Comcast to merge with Time Warner Cable, they should also allow DirecTV to merge with Dish (even though Dish and DirecTV actually compete). "This puts pressure on everybody that in a way is a bit unprecedented," Ergen recently complained
Nothing I can see is positive about this. If you are a pay TV provider and your name is not Comcast or Time Warner Cable, I don’t see anything positive." DirecTV and Dish attempted to merge back in 2002, but had their ambitions blocked by regulators who argued it reduced competition in the pay TV sector.
Back in 2008 Verizon negotiated a closed-door agreement with then NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg, one Verizon strongly suggested would result in Verizon offering FiOS to 100% of the city by 2014
-- sort of. Fine print in the deal allowed Verizon to back away from that promise if they pay a few small fines and/or aren't seeing the kind of TV subscriber uptake they'd like.
Snowden leaks had already indicated that the NSA had been busy hacking into Yahoo servers
(and Google, Microsoft), obtaining data via the back door in addition to PRISM data they were collecting up front. Now another Guardian release of Snowden documents
indicates that UK intelligence agency GCHQ, with help from the NSA, intercepted and stored webcam content from millions of Yahoo users, regardless of whether or not they had been suspected of any wrong doing:
GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 explicitly state that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not. In one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency collected webcam imagery – including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications – from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally.
Yahoo, one of the few companies to try and stand up to PRISM data collection in court, unsurprisingly wasn't pleased with the revelations, calling project optic nerve "a whole new level of violation of our users' privacy."
You might recall that Voltage Pictures has been one of the bigger copyright trolls in the United States, sending out mass "settlement-o-matic" letters to people who download their films (including The Hurt Locker
and Dallas Buyers Club
) via BitTorrent, threatening them with legal action unless they settle up. Last in 2012 Voltage took their show on the road to Canada, taking aim at independent ISP TekSavvy
in the hopes of forcing the ISP to turn over the identities of 2,000 BitTorrent users.
Over the weekend Canadian Judge Kevin Aalto ruled that TekSavvy had to turn over those names, but Aalto added some caveats to his ruling that won't make things easy on the copyright troll
Aalto ordered that before Voltage can send a letter to the alleged downloaders, it must return to court to get the wording of its communications cleared by a case management judge..."Any correspondence sent by Voltage to any subscriber shall clearly state in bold type that no court has yet made a determination that such subscriber has infringed or is liable in any way for payment of damages."
Aalto also declared that Voltage has to pay TekSavvy's legal bills entirely before any data will change hands, and the data can only be used specifically for the letters. Meanwhile, Canadian law professor Michael Geist explains in a blog post
how pursuing their copyright troll ambitions in Canada may not be worth the cost of the effort for Voltage.
According to a new Consumer Reports study
, 71% of broadband customers would try to switch from an ISP that attempted to "block, slow down, or charge more for bandwith-heavy services." 70% of respondents said they'd complain to the ISP, 46% claim they'd complain to Congress or the FCC, 39% said they'd whine on Facebook or Twitter, 10% said they'd drop broadband service completely, and 7% claimed they'd do nothing.
Amusingly unmentioned by the Consumer Reports study is the fact that you can't switch to another carrier if you don't have one to switch to (or if your only other options also
tinker with services or impose unreasonable new tolls). That lack of competition is generally what lets ISPs get away with bad ideas and "creative" pricing practices in the first place.
In addition to Google Fiber, Google has been quietly spending a lot of time pushing Wi-Fi in a number of new locations around the country including San Franciso parks
. However, hometown locals have been complaining the company has been neglecting the health of the network that started it all: the Wi-Fi operation they launched near their Mountain View, California headquarters back in 2006.
Some time back C Spire wireless raised net neutrality eyebrows by requiring that some users pay an additional sum if they wanted to stream video on their wireless connections. The company's $80 per month for Unlimited Lite plan, for example, offers users unlimited voice, text and picture message, but restricts data usage by content type -- allowing you to browse the Internet and play online music, but not video. 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..
Surprising absolutely nobody, Dish should announce this week that the company is the big winner in the FCC's H Block auction, which officially closed today after meeting the $1.56 billion set reserve price exactly. The "win" wasn't hard; other potential suitors for the spectrum dropped out months ago
For a while there the United States consistently mediocre showing in the fixed-line broadband rankings (speed, price, penetration and usage caps) was seemingly excused because at least we were building the LTE networks of tomorrow
. Except as a study by Open Signal indicated last week
, the United States offers the second-slowest average LTE streams among they countries they track (and dropping).
A report in the Wall Street Journal
indicates that the Obama administration is contemplating several "new" options when it comes to storing bulk surveillance data. The options were presented to the White House as part of the government's somewhat-cosmetic reforms proposed back in January
Droid Life directs our attention to a new scam making the rounds
that attempts to nab personal login information from Verizon Wireless users. The scammers, hiding behind a spoofed number that appears to be coming from Verizon technical support ((800) 922-0204), call potential victims and promise them a $54 reward if they visit a fraudulent Verizon website. Google appears to have already flagged the phishing site and should give users a warning should they visit it, though that obviously won't stop many susceptible users. You can listen to a recording of the scam call here
, with the scammers proclaiming at the end of the call that "because at Verizon, we care about you."
Cablevision released the company's fourth quarter earnings
(pdf) today, which indicate the cable operator lost 18,000 video subscribers on the quarter, slightly less than the 29,000 or so most Wall Street analysts expected. On the plus side the company posted $46.5 million in income from continuing operations for the fourth quarter, up from a $73.9 million operating loss one year earlier.
Still, the company isn't seeing much growth; Internet phone additions were flat and the company added just 6,000 broadband subscribers on the quarter (though they lost 13,000 subscribers last quarter). That's in part due to the fact that the company is cutting back on promotions
, company CEO James Dolan stating last fall
he thought promotional discounts were a "dead end."
Cablevision now lays claim to 2.8 million video subscribers and 2.78 million broadband users.
Back in October T-Mobile unveiled the latest part of their "uncarrier" PR strategy: free international data
while traveling (it's EDGE speeds, but still welcome). As their latest attempt at countering T-Mobile's punches, AT&T today announced that they're adding free text messaging to 190 countries as part of their Mobile Share Value Plans. According to an AT&T announcement
that includes free picture and video messaging as well, though to a smaller total of 120 countries. A new AT&T World Connect Value option ($5 monthly) is also promising penny per minute calls to "over 35 countries" including Canada and Mexico.
The Georgia Governor's Office of Consumer Protection this week announced that they've struck a settlement with Windstream over accusations that the telco was failing to deliver advertised speeds to the company's DSL users. According to CBS 46 in Atlanta
, Windstream will pay $600,000 ($350,000 in civil penalties, administrative fees and expenses and $250,000 in restitution) for selling over-saturated DSL services incapable of providing promised speeds. "Be careful what you're saying, be sure what you're saying is accurate and that you can back it up," said administrator John Sours. "You need to be accountable for what you tell people you're going to do."
Wireless operators and vendors haven't really truly even defined fifth generation wireless networks (5G) yet, but that's certainly not going to prevent them from hyping their deployment of it
-- even if they're not really even sure what it is yet. South Korea is expected to take the lead in the technology (whatever it winds up being), the government there investing $1.5 billion in an attempt to have the ultra-fast networks deployed by 2020
Google appears to be working on a new application that will store all of your credentials for the company's Starbucks locations -- as well as potentially Boingo hotspots, notes Engadget
. The app woulud utilize a user's Google account installing a dedicated security certificate on their device to automatically authenticate devices when a connection is available (we're obviously talking about bypassing browser-based authentication requirements, here). The app comes as hardware vendors start more seriously testing Hotspot 2.0 and Next Generation Hotspots (NGH) that should also highly simplify the login process
, especially if you're offered free Wi-Fi through your cell carrier (like AT&T).
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..
Sprint has launched a new Wi-Fi calling and messaging service the company insists will particularly help users in iffy cellular coverage zones. According to a Sprint announcement
, "everything is seamless and happens in the background" for the new service, which went live last Friday. The service will arrive as an over the air update, which is first being delivered to owners of the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini and Mega. Sprint says they plan to expand the option to additional devices sometime this year, but is not offering additional specifics.
A company by the name of Comporium has beaten Time Warner Cable to the punch in their own backyard, offering some locals 1 Gbps connections for $99 a month. According to the company announcement
, the company is offering the service to downtown Rock Hill, South Carolina this summer, with expansion to new businesses and residents of the Bleachery area down the road. Time Warner Cable, meanwhile, has promised to deploy a top speed of 300 Mbps at an unspecified price
sometime before 2015, plans that could potentially be shifted around depending on their planned merger by Comcast.
Windstream has announced that the telco will be eliminating roughly 400 positions by March 3, with about 175 of that total being eliminated via a "voluntary separation initiative." According to a company announcement
, the reductions will provide an "annualized savings of approximately $20 million," though Windstream will take a $9-$10 million hit in the first quarter to pay for employee severance packages. "Changes that affect people are never easy, but they are necessary for Windstream to succeed in a highly competitive marketplace," insists CEO Jeff Gardner. "We continue to invest in our growth areas, primarily business services and consumer broadband, and at the same time we must maintain a disciplined approach to expense management."
by Revcb 07:33AM Friday Feb 28 2014
Last November the FCC released a new speed test for wireless
devices that is intended to provide the FCC with real-world data on network performance. Originally only available for Android
, the agency yesterday announced that they've now released the app for iOS as well
. "The data collected by the app is useful in informing users regarding their own performance and also supports the Commission’s open broadband data program, contributing to the information made freely available to the public on the nation’s mobile broadband performance in reports, maps, datasets and other forms," notes the agency.
One of the more notable benefits of faster LTE speeds was supposed to be the higher quality phone call audio made possible by VoLTE, though carrier interoperability and battery/performance problems appear to have hindered deployments on numerous fronts. AT&T, who originally stated they'd be launching the service in some capacity by late last year
, this week admitted that their deployment of VoLTE would be delayed
. AT&T's offering now timeline now for when the improved voice quality platform will reach consumers, though they claim the project is in "the final stages of optimization." Verizon has also seen several delays in implementation.
Aereo this morning announced that the company would be launching their live TV and Internet DVR service in Austin on April 3. Austin makes Aereo's fourth Texas market after launching in San Antonio last week and an Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston last year. The Austin launch announcement comes on the heels of a significant court loss for Aereo in Utah
, that has forced the company to shutter service in Salt Lake City and Denver, while preventing expansion into Wyoming, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Colorado. All of that may be moot however as the company is slated to head to the Supreme Court for a final battle with broadcasters on April 22.
As we recently noted
a Utah Judge granted an injunction that not only ordered Aereo to shut down in Denver and Salt Lake City, but prevented Aereo's expansion anywhere into the 10th Circuit, including Wyoming, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Colorado. A Judge has now granted Aereo a 14 day stay on the injunction
, allowing the live TV streaming operator time to seek an emergency appeal in the federal appeals court. Aereo is also biding their time on a larger front ahead of the company's ultimate showdown with broadcasters before the Supreme Court on April 22.
by Revcb 07:16AM Monday Feb 24 2014
by Revcb 07:58AM Wednesday Feb 26 2014
by Revcb 07:05AM Thursday Feb 27 2014
by Revcb 07:48AM Tuesday Feb 25 2014