HBO's hit fantasy series "Game of Thrones" has historically been one of the most pirated TV shows on the Internet
, thanks largely to HBO's stubborn refusal to offer streaming HBO content without subscribing to a traditional (and expensive) cable TV package. With the show's recent season four premiere, "Game of Thrones" is again lighting up BitTorrent distribution networks like a Christmas tree.
As such, Torrent Freak
took an interesting look at what it costs per episode to watch the show if you want to do so via the legitimate route. The results are better or worse, depending where you live. Australia, for example, isn't cheap if you go the traditional route:
In Australia, Game of Thrones fans need a Foxtel subscription. When we look at the packages offered on the website the cheapest option appears to be the movie and drama combo, which costs $74 AUD (~ 70 USD) per month. However, the minimum subscription term is six months, which with the added costs adds up to $520 AUD (~ 490 USD).
Assuming that someone’s only interested in watching Game of Thrones, an Australian fan will have to pay $52 AUD (~ 49 USD) per episode, which is rather expensive.
Granted even if you pay for traditional cable and choose HBO Go, there's no guarantee the service won't choke during your program
. HBO is, regardless of what copyright maximalists like to believe, driving users to piracy by forcing traditional cable on users, and there's simply no indication that's going to change anytime soon
: It looks like the show is once again setting records for BitTorrent swarm size
Recently the New York Times
ran a fairly standard article praising fiber to the home service, while lamenting the lack of overall fiber in the United States. Verizon Regulatory Affairs VP David Young has posted a rather odd blog response
, taking the opportunity to pretend that people are somehow stopping the company from deploying more FiOS (even though they've put the brakes on deployment themselves).
While Sprint's attempt at acquiring T-Mobile isn't looking likely, at least one analyst claims that if the companies don't merge -- one or both of them will fail. According to analysis from New Street Research
, the companies have to merge if they're ever going to effectively compete with AT&T and Verizon.
On the third day of T-Mobile's latest "uncarrier" marketing salvo, the company proudly proclaimed that it would be getting rid of "predatory" overage fees -- sort of. According to a T-Mobile press release
, the company announced they're "abolishing" overages, and is challenging other wireless carriers to follow suit -- in the form of a Change.org petition
A new report
by consumer advocacy outfit Free Press notes that Comcast raised rates for the company's basic cable package by 68% over the last four years. Comcast also raised the cost of their top-tier premium TV package some 21% as well.
While AT&T and Verizon dominate the industry and T-Mobile has been receiving consumer adoration for doing things a little bit differently, Sprint has been struggling to not only keep users, but build a decent network and brand identity. Most LTE tests place Sprint at the very bottom of the barrel in speed
, and the company always seems to be promising that a great network is just around the corner
Include Mediacom as yet another cable company pushing the barrier on faster downstream speeds. Responding to customer inquiries, the company recently told users of their official forums
that the company is testing a 305 Mbps down, 10 Mbps upstream tier in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa market that will run users $200 a month. According to the company representative, there's a four terabyte usage cap on the tier before you'll face overage fees (Mediacom has been very busy forcing users on to usage caps over the last few years
). The company has no specifics on when the tier will expand into additional markets.
Back in June of 2010
, you might recall that a security hole in AT&T's website allowed two individuals to gain access to the e-mail addresses of 114,000 owners of 3G Apple iPads, including "dozens of CEOs, military officials, and top politicians." A group calling itself Goatse Security at the time claimed responsibility for the "hack," which in addition to e-mail addresses resulted the group obtaining user ICC-IDs -- used to identify their specific iPad on the AT&T network.
One of those two individuals responsible for obtaining the data was Andrew Auernheimer (aka "Weev") an Internet-famous troll who was recently convicted of accessing a computer without authorization and identity fraud, and sentenced to serve 41 months in prison.
Last month we noted how some New Jersey residents have been complaining that Verizon never delivered the 45 Mbps to 100% of the population the company promised back in the 90's
. Verizon (then Bell Atlantic) was given billions in tax deductions in exchange for fixed-line broadband the company never delivered.
The other day we noted that the FCC was considering a policy that was certain to ruffle feathers at AT&T and Verizon: restricting a portion of next year's 600 MHz auction spectrum just for smaller competitors
, to ensure that AT&T and Verizon aren't using spectrum squatting to keep smaller companies out of the market. It's something the DOJ suggested the FCC consider one year earlier
; a policy that comes years after AT&T and Verizon were allowed to swallow up the majority of the nation's available spectrum.
The other day we noted how Verizon was using manufactured astroturf to help the company sneak out of a broadband obligation to wire the entire state of New Jersey with 45 Mbps broadband by 2010. That obligation came with the benefit of millions in tax cuts and other benefits, though it seems New Jersey is perfectly happy to let Verizon forget the promise entirely
In a move that's certain to ruffle the feathers of larger operators AT&T and Verizon, ReCode
suggests that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is circulating a proposal that would reserve two thirds of upcoming auction spectrum for smaller carriers. If the report is accurate, the agency is going to uncharacteristically do something that angers larger carriers for the sake of competition, heeding DOJ advice
given last year that allowing AT&T and Verizon to gobble up all the spectrum could be a death blow to real wireless competition.
Granted whether the FCC sticks to its guns after AT&T and Verizon lobbyists get done whining isn't certain:
Details of Wheeler’s plan began leaking out Friday evening after FCC staff and company lobbyists were briefed on some details. Wheeler aides began briefing some lawmakers and staff on Capitol Hill earlier this month. The FCC could vote on the plan and release details to the public as soon as mid-May, although some details may change in the coming weeks as industry lobbyists swarm the agency.
It would be an interesting policy move for an agency that traditional talks a lot about competition, but buckles whenever it's time to implement policy that upsets two of the biggest campaign contributors in the industry.
According to a blog post
by Verizon Wireless, the company is preparing another small tweak to its data pricing plans. Starting on Thursday, Verizon says that month-to month contract users, and users who bring their own phones to sign up for "More Everything" shared data plans, can save some money on the attachment fee Verizon charges per smartphone. Users that sign up for data buckets smaller than 8 GB can add a smartphone for $30 a month ($10 discount), while customers who sign up for plans with 10 GB or greater allotments save $15 per month (saving $25). If you're bringing your own phone it will of course need to be compatible with Verizon's network, which for many users isn't particularly likely.
Like AT&T did when they tried to acquire T-Mobile, Comcast is using the fairly standard lobbying trick of using third party groups to parrot merger support -- since it's hard to get someone to like what most agree will be an anti-consumer merger without paying them. That includes the use of everything from minority groups
to an ocean of niche associations, many of which are often willing to sell out their own constituents and support bad corporate policy just as long as money keeps flowing from Comcast.
While Google has gotten a lot of PR mileage out of the idea that Google Fiber helps local businesses where it's deployed, the company doesn't actually offer Google Fiber for businesses. That has resulted in a bit of confusion as people have tried to use Google Fiber connections to offer the kind of startup-friendly workspaces
the company has gotten a lot of press for in Kansas City.
Three individuals have been accused of milking $32 million from the Universal Service Fund to buy personal jets, luxury cars, and a 28-foot boat. According to the Tampa Bay Times
, Leonard Solt, 49, Thomas Biddix, and Kevin Brian Cox, intentionally overstated the number of poor households served under the fund in order to grab additional cash under a net of five linked phone companies: American Dial Tone, Bellerud Communications, BLC Management, LifeConnex Telecom and Triarch Marketing. The government has long been criticized (by the GAO and others
) for the USF being a poorly-tracked slush fund, though larger telcos (with significantly better lawyers and accountants) have historically been above reproach when it comes to accusations of fraud.
Back in February Google announced
they were working with thirty-four new cities in nine regions on making it easier for those locations to see Google Fiber deployed. While not all of those cities will receive Google Fiber, the company announced they'd be working with all of the cities to help expedite the arrival of faster broadband services -- whether it's courtesy of Google Fiber, somebody else, or the city itself.
A few weeks ago we noted how Facebook was considering buying drone maker Titan Aerospace
, with a specific eye on using drones to deliver broadband in developing countries. Facebook won't be getting that chance, as the Wall Street Journal
reports that Google has snapped up the company instead. A purchase price wasn't disclosed, but Google did state that the drone company would work closely with those involved in Google's broadband-by-balloon "Loon" initiative.
In recent months, both AT&T
have started offering consumers a $40 to $50 bundle that includes 18-25 Mbps broadband, twenty or so basic cable channels and HBO. The catch? The introductory price balloons quickly after six months to a year, and doesn't include a myriad of fees (or the cost of HD content or DVR rental).
by Revcb 07:03AM Monday Apr 14 2014
• If Comcast gets TWC, three out of four Americans could get a broadband cap
• Qualcomm joins Mimosa, others in pushing FCC to open 10 GHz for mobile broadband
• Obama Lets N.S.A. Exploit Some Internet Flaws, Officials Say
• Keeping the Internet free - for now: The Commerce Department has second thoughts about surrendering America's online oversight
• Are Google and Facebook just pretending they want limits on NSA surveillance?
• Fire TV Sells Out Due To High Demand, Unit Sales Figures Not Disclosed
• Analysts: Sprint/T-Mobile must merge or one will fail
• COMPTEL, Level 3, tw telecom say FCC should not approve AT&T's IP experiments
• Big carriers remove Samsung’s ‘Download Booster’ from the Galaxy S5 - AT&T, Sprint, Verizon don't want you on their networks while you've got Wi-Fi
• “Brightest Flashlight” Android app disclosed location of 50 million people, but FTC imposes no fine
• At Feds’ request, GoGo in-flight Wi-Fi service added more spying capabilities
Some users in our Suddenlink forum
indicate that the cable operator will soon be offering a 300 Mbps tier to some users. According to a letter
sent to one user in Georgetown, Texas, the company states they'll soon be offering the 300 Mbps tier, but fails to get specific about price or upstream speed. The upgrades appear to be coming at the same time as the removal of analog channels. I've dropped a line to SuddenLink to get more specific details on which markets will be seeing the upgrade.
A company by the name of Quantenna Communications this week announced that they hope to offer a Wi-Fi chipset capable of offering 10 Gbps by 2015. According to the press release
, the hardware Quantenna is using relies on an evolution in multiple antenna design known as MU-MIMO technology (multi-user MIMO), as well as adaptive beamforming and channel monitoring and optimization. According to Quantenna, they chipsets will first start showing up in enterprise gear sometime around 2015, though they're clear to point out they've got existing hardware relationships with residential companies like AT&T and DirecTV.
The Boy Genius Report has grabbed an exclusive leaked set of photos
that claim to show what Amazon's upcoming entry into the smartphone market will look like. The device looks like countless other devices before it, though BGR claims Amazon "has spent years creating a unique and, at times, novel user experience." Amazon has not only been working on the phone, but they've also been testing their own wireless network
, using MSS spectrum (specifically the "Big LEO" band at 1610-1618.725 MHz on the uplink, and the Upper Big LEO band at 2483.5-2500 MHz for the downlink) owned by Globalstar.
by Revcb 07:11AM Thursday Apr 17 2014
Google executives and employees were a little annoyed
at recent revelations that the NSA was hacking into data centers to grab user data, in addition to being given user data directly by the company. As such they've made it a priority to encrypt as much of the traffic moving between data centers as possible. Now a report by the Wall Street Journal
suggests to speed up encryption adoption overall, the search giant is considering giving search result priority to websites that utilize encryption:
Google is considering giving a boost in its search-engine results to websites that use encryption, the engineer in charge of fighting spam in search results hinted at a recent conference...Cutts also has spoken in private conversations of Google’s interest in making the change, according to a person familiar with the matter. The person says Google’s internal discussions about encryption are still at an early stage and any change wouldn’t happen soon.
It seems fairly unlikely that this would ever come to fruition, given that while well-intentioned, it would compromise the purity of the results, something Google consistently professes to hold to a high standard.
by Revcb 07:57AM Tuesday Apr 15 2014
by Revcb 08:01AM Wednesday Apr 16 2014