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Verizon Wireless has started taking heat from privacy advocates for altering their customers' traffic and inserting unique identifiers that users have no control over. We've already explored how over the last two years Verizon has been ramping up data collection on its wireless customers via programs like Verizon Selects
and their Relevant Mobile Ad
department, which track your personal information and web habits for more tailored advertisements (that data's also sold to third parties).
Curiously, while Verizon has been tracking users' online activity for two years, it was only last week that people started noticing that Verizon was using a controversial sort of "super cookie" that modifies user traffic to uniquely identify users. This Unique Identifier Header, or UIDH, broadcasts your identity across the web -- and remains -- and can be abused -- even if you opt-out of Verizon's programs.
That's a huge problem, notes Stanford lawyer and computer scientist Jonathan Mayer, who writes
that broadcasting that unique identifier is rather ham fisted:
Whatever the merits of Verizon’s new business model, the technical design has two substantial shortcomings. First, the X-UIDH header functions as a temporary supercookie. Any website can easily track a user, regardless of cookie blocking and other privacy protections. No relationship with Verizon is required.
While Netflix and Verizon have sparred over poor (but now improved
) streaming performance to the point of threatening lawsuits
, that disagreement only appears to go so far. In a research note BTIG Research
(registration required) indicates that Verizon is now offering new FiOS customers a $150 VISA prepaid gift card and a free year of Netflix service if they sign up for the FiOS triple play. It's an interesting move given the animosity many larger cable operators have had toward something they see as a competitor (while Netflix insists they're just a supplement to traditional cable and a competitor to services like HBO).
: Verizon reached out to me to note that this is a trial offer currently only being made available in the New York City market, and is only running from 10/22-11/1.
The FTC today announced they've filed a complaint against AT&T for the company's longstanding practice of promising "unlimited" data, only to significantly throttle back customer connections. According to the FTC press announcement
, an FTC inquiry found that while AT&T advertised unlimited data, the company in 2011 began throttling data speeds for its unlimited data plan customers after they used as little as 2 gigabytes of data in a billing period.
For years there has been a concerted push by the broadband industry to try and insist that the United States broadband market is secretly flawless, awesome and highly competitive, despite the fact that absolutely every independent source of broadband data (from Akamai
and the FCC
to the OECD
and OOkla's Net Index
) suggests we're absolutely and utterly mediocre at every metric that counts. That's not to say we're not improving in some very select regions
(thanks to things like Google Fiber, Verizon FiOS and DOCSIS 3.0), but overall we're quite indisputably, utterly average when it comes to broadband worldwide -- especially on price.
Broadcaster lawsuits have once again forced the FCC to delay their planned 600 MHz incentive auctions, this time until sometime in early 2016. According to an incentive auction progress report
posted by the FCC, the agency states that "the court challenges to the auction rules by some broadcasters have introduced uncertainty" that requires the schedule shift.
An American Airlines flight from Los Angeles International Airport to London was delayed over the weekend -- because one of the plane's passenger's freaked out over another user's Wi-Fi SSID. According to Los Angeles ABC affiliate ABC7
, a passenger on the flight became alarmed after seeing another traveler's hotspot named "Al-Quida Free Terror Network." A flight attendant was alerted, and the plane was diverted and held three hours under "security threat" and ultimately delayed until the next day. "After further investigation, it was determined that no crime was committed and no further action will be taken," the airport said in a statement.
FCC boss Tom Wheeler has been talking a lot lately
about raising the standard definition of broadband to at least 10 Mbps (for government-subsidized rural options) and 25 Mbps for everybody else. He's also been talking about how when you look at speeds of 25 Mbps higher there's little to no competition -- as most DSL providers struggle to offer that speed in any volume.
Amazon's earnings last week confirmed what most analysts have been guessing for several months: Amazon's smartphone is a dud. A combination of uninteresting gimmicks and AT&T exclusivity hindered the phone out of the gate
, and while Amazon isn't sharing the number of units sold, the company did say they took a $170 million charge on inventory commitments last quarter because of the device and is sitting on another $83 million in unsold phones.
At the beginning of the month story continues..
the FCC announced that they were considering allowing over the top (OTT) video providers FCC-enforced access to vertically integrated programming. That sounds dull but it's a landmark shift that could potentially give Internet video companies the same rights as traditional cable operators.
According to the latest data from ComScore
, while traditional TV still rules the roost, Millenials are increasingly moving away from the classic definition of the boob tube. The survey of 1,159 TV watchers found that 24% of Millennials don't pay for traditional TV, and 46% time shift their content. 77% of younger folks are more likely than average to never have had traditional TV, and 67% are more likely than average to be a cord cutter. Unsurprisingly, older folk are more traditional. 84% of consumers between 35 and 54 spend the majority of their time watching traditional scripted shows on TV, a number that jumps to 90% among consumers who are 55 years or older.
The MPAA and the National Association of Theatre Owners have formally announced they're banning Google Glass and other wearable electronics from movie theaters, effective this week. In an updated policy statement
, the MPAA insists the organization has a "long history of welcoming technological advances," something not supported by history given Hollywood's continued assault on a long list of emerging and disruptive technologies including the VCR
-- which the MPAA in 1982 likened to the Boston strangler.
Looking to better understand the recent traffic slowdowns experienced during interconnection feuds, M-Lab has released a new study
(pdf) that analyzed transit and connection points between large last mile ISPs and transit operators such as Level3 and Cogent. While the report is clear not to affix specific blame for the sort of Netflix streaming issues seen by customers of Verizon and Comcast, they do clearly point out that the problems were the result of choices made by ISPs in their business relationships, and not congestion.
It's pretty clear at this point that while consumers complain a lot about high cable prices, it's really not driving consumers away from traditional cable on a grand scale. While this won't be the case long term, users appear to be willing to pay a lot of money and even tolerate bi-annual rate hikes -- if they're treated relatively well. story continues..
The Donahue Report
(via Multichannel News
) notes that Comcast filed the trademark for the term "True Gig" on October 20, suggesting that a 1 Gbps offering from the company is likely in the works. Earlier this year company stated they'd offer 1 Gbps and higher services "as soon as possible
" as the company looks to quickly deploy the DOCSIS 3.1 standard once it's complete. Comcast's current top offering is a 505 Mbps down, 100 Mbps up fiber/coaxial hybrid tier
that runs users around $300 a month, comes with a $1,000 ETF, a $250 activation fee, and
a $250 installation fee.
Last week saw Frontier's acquisition of AT&T's DSL and landline customers in Connecticut get final regulatory approval, but customers already are complaining about a sloppy handoff. According to the Middletown Press
, the midnight weekend transfer of ownership of hundreds of thousands of customers didn't go particularly well, with an undetermined but significant number of customers losing DSL and TV service well into Monday afternoon.
T-Mobile's latest earnings
again confirm that being the pesky kid on the block is working in terms of adding new subscribers. The company added 2.3 million customers total and 1.4 million new postpaid subscribers on the quarter, though the company's expansion of its LTE network continues to drag on earnings. T-Mobile expects to add around 4.3 million to 4.7 million new customers this year as users respond to the company's more customer-friendly approach to doing business. "Despite our competitors' best efforts, the Un-carrier revolution made huge advances in the third quarter with record net new customers," CEO John Legere said in a statement. "More proof of the resurgent strength of our brand and the massive momentum behind the Un-carrier consumer movement."
Sprint today announced that the company's faster Spark LTE upgrades have arrived in seventeen new markets. According to the company's announcement
, the seventeen markets include Denver, Seattle, Columbus, Sacramento, Cleveland, and Minneapolis. The company's Spark upgrades combine Sprint's 2.5 GHz, 1900 MHz and 800 MHz bands for improved regional capacity and speeds Sprint promises should top out around 60 Mbps. Sprint says the Spark upgrades are now available in 46 markets across the country, and should be available to 100 million potential customers by the end of the year.
Viacom has taken their retransmission fight with Suddenlink to a new, decidedly more mutated, level. According to the Charleston Gazette
, Viacom has taken to using actors dressed up as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to shame Suddenlink at public events after the two sides couldn't come to terms on retransmission fees.
For a moment there Apple's new AppleSIM -- which allows iPad users to easily compare plans and switch carriers without swapping out the SIM -- looked like it might be immensely disruptive
. It becomes less impressive once you notice that Verizon isn't supporting the technology at all and AT&T is preventing it from working as intended
Apparently it's "huge telecom companies get in trouble for misleading behavior" week. On the heels of AT&T being sued by the FTC
for misleading advertising and Comcast settling a class action for monopolistic over-billing
comes the news that Verizon will be paying out $64 million for over-billing customers.
As noted recently
, some politicians in Hungary thought it would be a good idea to not just tax the Internet -- but to tax the volume of traffic sent over the Internet specifically. According to the proposal, the upcoming proposal would set forth a tax of 150 forints (60 US cents) per gigabyte of data traffic, and while ISPs could get tax deductions to lessen the load, the obvious resulting price hikes would get passed on to the consumer. Said consumers took to protesting the proposal
over the weekend. "This would be a double tax on us, as I have already paid a sky-high VAT when I bought the gadgets, computer and router," notes one rally attendee.
Chatter in our Bright House Networks forum
indicates (and a press release
confirms) that the company is preparing to bump the speeds available to most of their subscribers for free. The company's 10 Mbps customers are being bumped to 15 Mbps; 30 Mbps customers are being bumped to 35 Mbps; 60 Mbps customers are being nudged to 75 Mbps; and 90 Mbps customers will be pushed to 150 Mbps. Upstream speeds are staying the same. A Bright House representative in our forums states
they should be completed by the end of December, and also confirms
that the company is also working on deploying a faster 300 Mbps tier, though so far they haven't specified how much you'll pay for the service.
Verizon is apparently getting into the news business, bankrolling a new technology news website called SugarString
, which proclaims to cover "what millennials really care about today." Verizon's apparently hoping to take aim at websites like Wired
and The Verge
, hiring editors and writers to stock the website with content. However, as The Daily Dot
points out, writers are being told they can't write about things like the NSA's domestic surveillance activities or net neutrality -- both things Verizon has more than a little role in:
News of Verizon’s publishing venture and its strict rules first came to light to multiple reporters through recruiting emails sent last week by author and reporter Cole Stryker, who is now the editor-in-chief of SugarString.
AT&T has been slowly expanding the partner list of companies involved in their "Sponsored Data" program, wherein partners' content won't count against a user's mobile usage cap. The program has been controversial among net neutrality advocates because the concept gives companies with money to burn a potential leg up against smaller competitors
Comcast today settled a decade-old lawsuit accusing the company of violating sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act by gobbling up competitors, then using the firm's market power to aggressively raise rates on users in Philadelphia, Chicago and Boston
. The preliminary settlement involves Comcast paying $16.67 million in cash
and another $33 million in service discounts to current and former subscribers in Philadelphia and four nearby counties.
The settlement comes as Comcast works to soothe regulator worries that the company's planned $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable will result in even more consolidated power.
Comcast Settlement 88281
After mocking other 1 Gbps deployments as "hype" that "confuses customers," Frontier Communications last week quietly started offering 1 Gbps service under the FiberHome brand to a few development communities in Durham
. According to Frontier, the 1 Gbps service will run users $220 a month.
Time Warner Cable's earnings
this morning indicate that the company lost 184,000 video subscribers on the quarter, more than most Wall Street analysts expected. The company did add 92,000 broadband and 14,000 voice subscribers on the quarter, but lost 24,000 triple play customers overall. Overall company revenue fell 6% as a result. While the company is offering its Maxx upgrades
to key locations, much of the company's footprint remains in a holding pattern as it awaits regulatory approval of their $45 billion sale to Comcast -- something company CEO Rob Marcus today admitted is taking longer than he anticipated.
Earlier this week we noted that AT&T's handoff of their DSL and landline users to Frontier in Connecticut hasn't been particularly smooth
, with a lot of customers complaining about prolonged DSL and TV outages. As the week has rolled on the outages seem to have resolved, but the company's Facebook page
is littered with apologies for a wide variety of continuing issues, from DVR and VOD problems, to heavy pixelation of TV signal.
"As an industry, we need a competitor - a serious competitor - to Netflix and Amazon," News Corporation Rupert Murdoch stated
at the Wall Street Journal’s WSJ.D conference in Laguna Beach, California. The problem? The company that drove MySpace into the ground has had problems competing with Netflix via services like Hulu, because to succeed they need to be disruptive -- and if they're truly disruptive they would ultimately cannibalize traditional TV viewers. As a result of this timidity, services like News Corp's Hulu wind up being little more than a glorified ads for traditional cable
, unwilling to take the extra step to truly step into the ring with the rising Internet video services.
For the last few weeks, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy has been sending letters
to the nation's largest telecom companies, urging them to commit to avoiding paid prioritization and "fast lanes" on the Internet. The government is using AT&T and Comcast merger approval as regulatory bait, but as usual on the net neutrality front the wild card appears to be Verizon.
by Revcb 07:26AM Tuesday Oct 28 2014
by Revcb 07:56AM Wednesday Oct 29 2014
by Revcb 07:50AM Thursday Oct 30 2014