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A report over at DeepDotWeb
claims that Comcast has contacted some users telling them that they risk disconnection if they continue using the privacy-minded Tor browser. Tor (as our recent report explores
) is an entirely legal browser used by 1.2 million people, only some of whom use the browser to buy narcotics and other black market goods.
According to the report, Comcast support employees informed a number of unidentified users that Tor "wasn't legal," and even demanded to know what sites users were accessing with the browser. The report fails to prove that this is a widespread Comcast behavior as opposed to a few, marginally incompetent first-level support reps. The site goes on to quote a Comcast support representative named "Kelly" who allegedly called a user and stated:
Users who try to use anonymity, or cover themselves up on the internet, are usually doing things that aren’t so-to-speak legal. We have the right to terminate, fine, or suspend your account at anytime due to you violating the rules. Do you have any other questions? Thank you for contacting Comcast, have a great day.
As the report goes on to note it's likely not Tor specifically Comcast is targeting, but the fact that users were running relay or exit nodes, therefore technically violating Comcast's no server restriction in their residential acceptable use policies
(something most ISPs have, including the well-loved Google Fiber
). Not that this is all that much better, but it is an important distinction from believing Comcast is threatening users simply based on their software preferences.
On the heels of T-Mobile's announcement last week
that they've started a heavy push toward Wi-Fi calling, AT&T says they'll also be offering Wi-Fi calling starting in 2015. AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega stated last week the company will be offering it next year, but hasn't been in a rush because, they claim, their network coverage is good enough (unlike T-Mobile's, the CEO implied).
Residents of North Kansas City are unable to get Google Fiber, but they will soon have the option of getting 1 Gbps connections for free from another company -- after an initial $300 installation fee. Earlier this month the City Council of North Kansas City voted to approve a 10-year agreement with DataShack for the operation of the city's liNKCity fiber optic network. While the taxpayer-funded network will still collect revenue from business, it will soon offer 1 Gbps connections for free to residential customers after a $300 installation fee
(users also have the option of paying $100 for 100 Mbps or $50 for 50 Mbps), after which they won't pay another dime for a decade. "For the longest time, our taxpayers have been paying in to fund liNKCity," states liNKCity's Mellissa Hopkins. "We decided it was the right time to give something back to our residents."
Tom Wheeler spoke to Multichannel News
in an interview that touches on a number of subjects, covering everything from net neutrality and the reclassification of ISPs under Title II, to the possible renaming of the Washington Redskins. Wheeler doesn't show his hand on most of the subjects related to neutrality and Title II, given the agency is still fielding comments (and about to have a series of roundtable discussions on the matter
over the next two months.
While Netflix launched in France this week, it isn't yet available in Australia, either because the market isn't large enough to take priority in Netflix's international expansion efforts, or because the company can't secure licensing agreements with Australian broadcasters. Consumers aren't waiting; a growing number of Australians are using VPNs to dodge region restrictions so they can pay Netflix for content while living Down Under, a trend that in recent months has been making broadcasters and Australian Netflix competitors uncomfortable
The slow and small but steady phenomenon known as cord cutting isn't going away. A new survey of 2,400 TV subscribers aged 24-34 indicates that around 5% of them plan to cut the cord sometime in the near future. story continues..
Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam says the CEO won't rule out further expansion of the company's FiOS services, but eager customers probably shouldn't hold their breath. FiOS just passed its ten year anniversary
, though with the exception of the finishing up of promised deployments in major cities, the expansion of FiOS has been frozen for several years now. Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference last week, McAdam stated that he's not ruling out the possibility, but it would need to be a unique opportunity
"Expansion into other areas I wouldn't rule out, but it would have a very high bar," McAdam said. "If you look at some of the things that Google is doing around fiber, I think that's opened up a new model for us."
That's code for the fact that Google Fiber has made cherry picking deployment neighborhoods acceptable. Verizon might jump in and offer new FiOS deployments to upscale developments, universities, and MDUs -- but the not-small number of east coast cities waiting for serious investment (Alexandria, Baltimore, Buffalo, Boston) will likely still be waiting a very, very long time.
Google Fiber has launched us into an era where everyone has become obsessed with the 1 Gbps watermark, even if the actual number of people who can get these speeds remains relatively small
, and the need for that type of speed remains dubious. Incumbent ISPs have indeed been quick to piggyback on the idea that nobody needs 1 Gbps
, but they're largely just hoping to shift the conversation away from their aggressively uncompetitive high prices.
Cisco, Intel, IBM and more than a dozen other ISP industry hardware vendors have sent a letter
(pdf) to the FCC and Department of Commerce urging them to avoid reclassifying ISPs under Title II, insisting that doing so would stifle innovation and investment in the broadband sector.
Title II classification -- with forbearance applied to keep the FCC in check -- is something consumer advocates argue is the only sensible way forward
if consumers are to be protected, particularly on the net neutrality front.
T-Mobile has sued telecom carrier Huawei, claiming the Chinese gear manufacturer stole T-Mobile trade secrets. Specifically, T-Mobile is claiming
that Huawei has stolen software, specifications and other secrets for a cellphone-testing robot nicknamed "Tappy." In a lawsuit filed at the beginning of the month, T-Mobile alleges that Huawei employees "illicitly photographed the device," tried to smuggle components out of T-Mobile’s Bellevue, Washington lab, and when caught and subsequently banned from the facility -- tried to sneak back in. Huawei is "using T-Mobile’s stolen robot technology to test non-T-Mobile handsets and improve return rates for handsets developed and sold to other carriers," claims the lawsuit.
Representatives of state and local governments in Hartford, New Haven and Stamford have joined forces
to try and bring faster broadband networks to Connecticut. The collective group has issued an RFQ to promote the deployment of gigabit broadband networks and services in "targeted commercial corridors" and locations "with demonstrated demand." They've also put the call out to any additional under-served communities, who can add an addendum to the RFQ to get involved.
AT&T's attempted acquisition of DirecTV appears to getting lost in the furor over Comcast's acquisition of Time Warner Cable, something AT&T likely anticipated. Out of the gate AT&T was misleading about the benefits of the deal
, which, unlike the Comcast merger, will actually eliminate a pay TV competitor from the field.
Canada last week launched hearings on the possibility
of imposing new rules on the TV sector that could force TV operators to offer a la carte television options. While these rule-making efforts began as a way to do something about soaring TV rates and the lack of flexible purchase options for consumers, they've since morphed into an effort by incumbent Canadian cable operators to impose new regulations on to companies like Google and Netflix (something Canadian law Professor Michael Geist doesn't think will happen
While it's certainly still not guaranteed, Time Warner executives recently made their strongest statement yet that they'll offer a standalone streaming version of HBO that doesn't require you have a traditional cable subscription. Historically HBO and Time Warner have stated it doesn't make economic sense
to offer such a product, as it could damage their cozy, subsidized relationship with traditional cable operators.
Janko Roettgers over at GigaOM
scoops the news that Dish's long-in-gestation Internet TV effort is likely to use the "NuTV" brand name. The information came courtesy of a series of trademark filings
for the new brand, filed for by Dish back in February of this year. Dish boss Charlie Ergen recently stated that the company should launch the service before the end of the year
, though securing proper licensing has -- as always -- been a challenge. Rough estimates suggest the service should cost somewhere between $20 to $30
, with the company specifically targeting younger cord cutters with the effort.
Both AT&T and Verizon have been downplaying T-Mobile's recent embrace of Wi-Fi calling
, telling anybody in the press who'll listen that the carrier is only rushing toward Wi-Fi calling because it's traditional cellular network isn't up to snuff. Speaking at the recent Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said Verizon's in no rush to offer Wi-Fi calling, and like AT&T took not-so veiled shots at T-Mobile's network
(Shammo) said Verizon needs to do "some technological work in our network to make it available," and it should come around the middle of next year. However, he said Wi-Fi calling was "never a top priority" for Verizon. "We built our voice platform so extensively [that] there was never a need for us to tell our customers, 'Oh, our network is not good enough so you need to go on Wi-Fi to complete your call.'"
T-Mobile's CEO has denied the offer is about a lower-quality network, insisting that T-Mobile is offering the option just because it makes sense. It may prove useful to those rural or heavily-wooded-area users currently relying on separate femtocells because their cell signal is poor (something that's certainly not an exclusive issue for T-Mobile).
Google has replaced current Google Fiber boss Milo Medin with ex-Qualcomm executive Dennis Kish, notes the Wall Street Journal
. The report notes that Medin will remain a Google vice president for access services and adviser to the Google Fiber team, but will now focus on other initiatives within Google.
While Canada may be going full speed ahead
with a possible plan to finally force cable carriers there to offer a la carte TV packages (or even simply more flexible, cost conscious options), consumers here in the States shouldn't hold their breath for such a regulatory requirement anytime soon. A report in The Hill
notes that Senate Lawmakers backed away from provisions included in the Satellite Television Access and Viewer Rights Act that would have made a la carte TV a reality.
Back in May TDS Telecom (see our user reviews
) became the latest company to throw its hat into the 1 Gbps broadband ring, offering 1 Gbps speeds for $100 a month (if bundled) to residents of Hollis, New Hampshire and London, New Hampshire. Now the company states that Waterford, Wisconsin will be the latest town to get the 1 Gbps treatment, either later this year or in early 2015
. Like so many other ISPs, TDS is hoping to grab some of the press attention received by Google Fiber with very selective deployment of similar speeds (they've even mirrored Google's "Fiberhood" efforts with something they're calling "Fiberville
by Revcb 08:11AM Monday Sep 15 2014
by Revcb 07:46AM Wednesday Sep 17 2014