Any time there's a significant fiber optic expansion it's only normal for there to be some eggs broken as the omelet gets made, as early FiOS customers can attest
. As Google starts deploying Google Fiber in Austin, Kansas City and Provo, they're certainly no exception. Kansas City locals are a little annoyed with the placement of one Google Fiber telecom cabinet: directly in the middle of a sidewalk.
This appeared to be the worst thing that happened that day in Kansas City, given local Fox affiliate WDAF-TV led their Tuesday broadcast with this story about Google's errant cabinet placement
Within the past two months, Google installed a new fiber box at the intersection of 39th and Roanoke — right in the middle of the sidewalk. Sheila Styron works with an advocacy group called The Whole Person, which supports independent living by the disabled. "I was shocked and appalled,” Stryon said. “Google should really know better."
A local Google Fiber spokesperson blamed the errant cabinet placement on a local contractor by the name of Ervin Cable Construction. The aesthetically unpleasant nature of such cabinets has long been a sticking point for communities, with AT&T forced to pony up several thousand for landscaping
around their even-larger U-Verse VRAD boxes in several communities.
Comcast has slowly but surely
been expanding their usage cap trials, predominately in less competitive Southern markets. Portions of Maine and Augusta, Georgia appear to be the latest market to face caps and overages.
As many of you know, many pay TV TV DVRs and other set top boxes are far behind in terms of technology and recording capabilities. In addition to the reduced feature set, there is a cost of anywhere between $10-$20 a month in rental costs just to bring the TV signal to your television. story continues..
"As I understand it, Google Fiber is basically a science experiment," cable overbuilder RCN tells Ars Technica
in a piece on why most carriers aren't matching Google Fiber's 1 Gbps speeds (spoiler: limited competition). "I have no doubt that there will come a day that gigabit speeds are necessary in our daily lives, but I'm not sure that day is here yet," insists RCN. "When it's here, RCN will be offering it." As I've noted a few times
, carriers would prefer the national conversation be focused on why you don't need 1 Gbps
, instead of why their services are slow and very expensive (spoiler: limited competition).
Verizon appears to be the latest to join the rate-hike season festivities, with a notice being sent out to some FiOS subscribers
that the company will be bumping FiOS rates over the next few billing cycles (I've dropped a line to see how broad these hikes will be).
According to a message being sent to some subscribers, Verizon's increasing the cost of TV programming and bundles around $8 a month. The company also says they're increasing the regional sports fee tacked on to bundles with sports programming from $2.42 a month to $3.48 a month.
Verizon started charging the regional sports fee back at the beginning of the year
, around the same time they started offering new channel bundles (like FiOS Select HD
) that pull sports programming out of the lineup entirely.
Frontier Communications executive Dana Waldo stormed out of a public meeting at the West Virginia Capitol on Wednesday, after he was asked if Frontier's broadband technology would provide households with basic DSL speeds in Tyler County, West Virginia. Waldo got angry while Council members were reviewing grant applications from a Frontier competitor that plans to bring broadband service to Tyler County. story continues..
DSLReports reader SuperNet9
directs our attention to the fact that AT&T will be launching new "Mobile Share Value Plans" on December 8 that may provide a discount depending on your particular needs. According to the AT&T news release
, the new no contract plans can potentially offer a $15 monthly discount to shared data customers if they get a smartphone with no down payment via the "AT&T Next" early upgrade program, bring a separate off-contract device, purchase a smartphone at full retail price, or switch to a new plan after a phone is no longer under contract.
For many years CableCARD technology has struggled to see adoption for a number of reasons. Incompetent regulators and cable operators deserve an even share of the blame. story continues..
Nearly two months after announcing that they'd be offering 1 Gbps service to a select few development residents in Las Vegas
, CenturyLink has announced that they've started lighting up their first ultra-high-speed customers. The company's announcement
goes out of its way to avoid specifics of any kind, only stating that 1 Gbps connections are being offered to "select northwest Las Vegas communities" in the Northwest area of the city.
As we've often noted
, more than a few cities are annoyed that Verizon ignored them when they deployed FiOS, including Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Alexandria and Albany. Those cities frequently complain they weren't told why they were left out of the upgrade loop, or when (if ever) Verizon will get around to upgrading them. Albany, New York is the latest to complain, State Senators speaking at a rally last week accusing Verizon of "redlining"; something Verizon didn't appreciate
"Albany cannot be redlined," Breslin said. "I urge them to reconsider and come to Albany and other upstate cities." Verizon is adamant that its decision not to build a fiber-optic infrastructure in the city of Albany at this time is not motivated by any concern about the financial viability of some parts of the city. "Frankly, someone suggesting that is an insult to us and how we do business," said spokesman for Verizon John Bonomo.
Verizon continues to state they're busy expanding FiOS only in regions they've struck existing franchise agreements, but refuses to state if there will ever be a serious new FiOS expansion effort beyond that.
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An anon user submits this story by local Raleigh outlet WRAL
claiming that interference between Time Warner Cable and Verizon LTE services is causing video issues for many Time Warner Cable customers. The culprit, according to the report, is Time Warner Cable's channel placement, unclicensed use of the spectrum, and unshielded hardware, which are now colliding with Verizon's new use of 700 MHz in the triangle area. "We apologize for the inconvenience and are working on a solution that will resolve this problem definitively in the coming weeks," Time Warner said in a statement, though the company stated it would take time to migrate the channels off of 700 MHz to eliminate the interference.
As recently noted
, Verizon has started using the AWS spectrum won at auction years ago to bolster their existing LTE network, the results on an unloaded network showing 80 Mbps down and 15 Mbps up, improving both overall capacity and per user speed. On the third anniversary of their LTE launch, Kevin Fitchard at GigaOM
notes that Verizon has very quietly launched the upgrades in "dozens" of major cities, with 5,000 AWS sites online by year's end:
These new network upgrades should solve any capacity problems for the next few years. At the very least, they will restore Verizon’s LTE service to its former glory, but most likely customers in bigger cities with AWS-compatible phones will see dramatic speed increases in the near-term. Palmer said Verizon has already completed the upgrade on thousands of cell sites, and by year end it will have 5,000 AWS sites online with an additional 5,000 sites in various stages of completion.
While Verizon's LTE network consistently ranks highly in terms of reliability, the company had been losing ground in terms of speedtest results when running up against both AT&T and T-Mobile's less loaded LTE networks.
After 6 years of haggling between Verizon, the New York State Public Service Commission and the City Counsel of Glen Cove, New York, citizens of Glen Cove are one step closer to having FiOS TV service available to them. With 85% of the city already wired for FiOS, all that is needed to start the service is a franchise agreement between the parties. story continues..
Chinese networking manufacturer Huawei says the company is ending its plans to expand in the United States market. "If Huawei gets in the middle of U.S-China relations" and causes problems, "it's not worth it," Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei stated in an an interview late last month
(via Stop the Cap
) indicates that incoming Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus could net a $50 million windfall in the event the company is subsequently sold. According to Marcus's contract, the payout comes in the event "an applicable merger, acquisition, sale or other agreement." Including stock options, Marcus could technically see a $56.5 million payout for just one day of work if a sale happens immediately upon his appointment. Leaks had previously suggested that Marcus would be far more amicable toward a sale than outgoing CEO Glenn Britt.
The cable industry has historically found itself at the very bottom of customer satisfaction rankings across nearly all industries
, in large part because of the constant rate hikes
, but also because quality customer support never scaled with their merger and acquisition ambitions. Comcast is no exception, and has spent most of the last decade trying to, as they put it, "combat consumer perceptions" that they're not very good at actually making their customers happy.
CenturyLink has sent out a notice to customers informing them that the company is hiking the price of "dry loop" (aka DSL without a voice line) by $2. According to mailed notices being sent to users
, the price hike should appear on customers' December bills.
Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai tells the Wall Street Journal
that the Obama administration would be unlikely to approve a Comcast takeover of Time Warner Cable. Pai appears to largely be speculating, suggesting that because the Obama administration blocked the clearly troublesome AT&T T-Mobile merger, they'd block any Comcast acquisition as well.
House Republicans Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.) say they're going to start pushing hard to "reform" the Communications Act over the next two years. Said reform will begin with a series of hearings throughout 2014
, with the changes themselves not arriving until 2015.
"In the nearly 18 years since the last update of the Communications Act, the world has been revolutionized by broadband and new digital technologies," Comcast said in a statement applauding the announcement. "The silos of current regulation may not always fit technological realities. We applaud chairmen Upton and Walden for beginning the conversation on changing the Communications Act for the 21st Century, and look forward to working with them and other Members of the committee.”
A new survey by YouGov has found that Time Warner Cable has the poorest consumer brand perception among the largest cable operators. YouGov rankes companies on a scale from -100 to 100, with Time Warner Cable scoring a -10
. While Time Warner Cable's reputation is getting worse (-10 down from -7), companies like Comcast (1), Cablevision (9), Cox (12) and DirecTV (22) all saw improvements in their rankings in recent months. YouGov noted over the summer
that Time Warner Cable's feud with CBS played a large role in their sinking satisfaction ratings.
As I noted yesterday, new FCC boss Tom Wheeler has been saying all the right things as people attempt to get a bead on just what kind of an FCC leader he'll be. Wheeler, a former cable and wireless industry lobbyist, has spent his first few weeks in office absolutely gushing about just how dedicated he plans to be in regards to boosting industry competition
Cox has launched a fiber to the home trial in Orange County, California
, joining a growing number of companies that are offering fiber to the home service -- albeit only in select higher-end developments where the cost of deployment is minimal. Cox's first fiber to the home trial is estimated to cover just 1,000 homes at the moment, though that total will reach 14,000 as Cox runs fiber to the entire development over the next year or two. Even though there's fiber, Cox says the services and data speeds being offered "are similar to what Cox offers over traditional HFC." AT&T has done something similar with their FTTH U-Verse deployments, capping them at the same speed
as their copper-based offerings to deliver a "consistent experience."
Add Cox Communications to a long list of ISPs
whose usage meters don't appear to be entirely accurate. For much of the last few years our readers have been complaining in our forums
that the company's online usage meter falsely reports usage (both over and under estimates).
Last week we noted that Comcast is only the latest pay TV provider to pass on broadcast industry retransmission fee hikes in new below the line fees
, even though they're also passing on those costs via standard rate hikes. Users in our Wide Open West forum
(WOW) note that WOW is also making heavy use of the fee, a notice being sent to consumers informing users they'll not only see hikes, the "Broadcast TV Surcharge" will be increased to $4 per month for many.
The company's website gives this explanation for the fee:
WOW! will impose a Broadcast TV Surcharge on those customers who subscribe (whether alone or as part of a bundle of services) to any WOW! cable television service (except limited basic). This surcharge is not a government mandated tax or fee and is subject to change. The surcharge is in addition to other charges associated with the WOW! cable television services.
As noted previously, even though retrans hikes are technically just the cost of doing business, burying them below the line allows companies to artificially keep their advertised rates the same.
Just when you thought that Comcast had found all streams of revenue from advertisement dollars, they have found a new way to raise their profits: Change the Nielson ratings to make Comcast look better. As the New York Post
Comcast, the nation’s biggest cable provider, wants to count viewers who devour multiple episodes of shows, while giving the most current episode a ratings lift.
The latest Snowden document dump indicates that the NSA has for several years been gobbling up vast amounts of cell location data. Like other NSA collection efforts it's the massive scope of the collection that raises eyebrows, the Washington Post
noting that the agency is collecting cell location data on roughly five billion cell accounts worldwide every single day.
Charter chairman John Malone has been throwing chum in the shark-filled investment waters the last few months, leading to a frenzy of gossip over cable industry consolidation that has been very profitable for investors. But for his part, Charter CEO Tom Rutledge this week stated
that while all the rumors make for a "rather frothy experience," Charter "doesn't need to do any acquisitions to be a successful company." "Time Warner [Cable] is relatively unique because it's not controlled by a family; and it's large; and they have a management transition going on," Liberty CEO Greg Maffei also stated, adding that "those factors have led to speculation about transactions."
Netflix has released a new trailer
for their series "House of Cards," which indicates the next season of the company's Emmy-winning drama will arrive on February 14, 2014. While some critics have argued that releasing an entire season of episodes all at once for binge viewing dulls the marketing potential of weekly watercooler talk
, Netflix says that the second season of the show will once again be released all at once. Companies like Amazon have taken a different approach with their original series, releasing a few episodes at a time
. All Internet video companies have turned to original content to help mitigate the soaring cost of licensing fees charged by broadcasters eager to prevent upsetting the traditional TV apple cart.
DSLReports reader briansgs2
directs our attention to the fact that Florida customers are annoyed that Bright House Communications has been cashing their checks for cable and broadband service -- over and over again
. Numerous Florida customers have complained about the problem, one user noting that a $175.03 check mailed to Bright House was somehow cashed four times. "Corrective actions are underway and duplicate payments will be reversed and funds will be replaced," the company said in a statement. Bright House appears to be implying that the blame lies with third party payment processing vendor Bill2Pay, with a "defective file" being sent out to user banks and credit unions.
Users in our Cablevision forum
indicate that they're being notified by Cablevision that their Optimum Online standalone broadband service will be seeing a rate hike. According to the notices, users currently paying $55 a month for 15 Mbps down, 5 Mbps up -- will now be asked to pay $60 a month for the same service. While there are some promotions run that could lower this rate (especially if you bundle), Cablevision recently stated they were backing away from promotions
, insisting that promotional price battles with Verizon FiOS have been a "dead end for us."
"Competition is our fundamental national economic policy," new FCC boss Tom Wheeler stated in a speech given yesterday
at Ohio State University. "I will not hesitate to invoke the full authority granted to us by Congress to protect competition, and I will not hesitate to use the full authority granted us by Congress where competition is not available to secure the public interest through the promotion of competitive markets," insisted Wheeler.
We've seen a marked decrease in the number of promotional offers being bandied about by Verizon and Cablevision as they do battle in the NYC metro area, and Cablevision executives have hinted we'll be seeing even fewer. "The customer that’s been bouncing from one company to another on promotional discounts has hit a dead-end with us," recently insisted Cablevision CEO James Dolan on the company's earnings call. Verizon doesn't appear to agree, the company this past weekend returning to a promotional offer that includes
the FiOS triple play -- plus a $300 VISA gift card -- for $80 a month for the first twelve months. Triple play offers when off promotion usually sit somwhere around the $115 to $120 a month mark for both ISPs.
Upstart live broadband TV provider Aereo is now in nine markets, though that's a far cry
from the 20 markets the company promised by the end of 2014. The Aereo website
continues to insist that eighteen different markets are "coming soon" (including Washington DC, Chicago, Minneapolis, Austin and Baltimore), though the company still isn't offering target dates for any of them. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
is reporting that Wisconsin and other surrounding Wisconsin communities are set to go live sometime in the first three months of 2014. Granted, fending off the entire broadcast industry with one hand while trying to launch your product with the other can't be easy.
Incoming 46-year-old Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus insists he's just the guy to manage a sale or merger involving Time Warner Cable. "I am the perfect guy to manage the M&A component out there," Bloomberg
quotes the COO-turned-CEO from his company's headquarters in New York. "As much as I’d like to be modest, I am kind of built to manage situations like this." Granted with the $56 million golden parachute built into his contract
, a sale is certainly in his best interest, whether he actually does anything or not. Bloomberg meanwhile quotes an anonymous insider who claims Time Warner Cable would sell for between $150 and $160 per share, putting their desired asking price at around $45 billion.
Several pre-registered users have written in to tell us they've received early access invites for an Aereo launch in Baltimore. Now Aereo has officially announced that their live broadband TV service will arrive in Baltimore on December 16. As with other markets the launch will be broad -- technically covering 11 different Maryland counties. Aereo is currently available in NYC, Boston, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Miami, Dallas, Houston, Detroit, and Denver. As noted yesterday, it's unlikely they're going to meet
their end of 2013 20 market launch goal, with most of their "coming soon" markets likely looking at an early 2014 launch.
Microsoft has belatedly joined Google and Yahoo in announcing they're significantly beefing up security and encryption efforts after recent revelations that the NSA had been stealing user data from their servers
. According to a Microsoft blog post
, Microsoft labels government wholesale data collection a " "advanced persistent threat," stating they've developed a broad plan that will involve improved encryption (server-to-server and customer encryption are to be in place by the end of next year), legal protections, and source code transparency.
by Revcb 09:39AM Monday Dec 02 2013
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by Revcb 07:03AM Tuesday Dec 03 2013