A British man has received nearly three years in prison for pirating a copy of Fast and Furious 6. 25-year-old Philip Danks was the first person in the world to seed the file on BitTorrent networks after recording the film from the back of the theater with a hand-held camera. Danks pleaded guilty to three charges of distributing pirate copies of films (he also sold DVD copies of the film), and was sentenced to 33 months in prison. Investigators didn't have to work hard to identify Danks; he'd posted "Seven billion people and I was the first. F*** you Universal Pictures" on his Facebook page.
TiVO this week expanded their device portfolio with a $50 unit that the company hopes appeals to cord cutters. The new TiVO Roamio OTA DVR features four tuners, a 500 GB hard drive and the ability to record and manage over the air broadcasts. TiVO's obviously not the first to this idea; a company by the name of Simple.TV has been offering a similar product for years, though their current device comes in at nearly $200. "TiVo is devoted to making the best possible cable TV user experience available through our operator partners and in retail, but we recognize some viewers opt not to receive the benefits a subscription with a cable provider offers," states the company.
The writing has pretty clearly been on the wall as Comcast slowly but surely has expanded their usage-cap trials throughout less competitive Southern markets. In Comcast trial markets, users pay the same price users in unlimited markets pay, except they get a 300 GB cap, and have to pay $10 for every 50 GB beyond that they travel.
The FCC this week announced that Time Warner Cable has paid $1.1 million to settle an FCC investigation into Time Warner Cable's network outage reporting practices. According to the FCC statement, Time Warner Cable "failed to file a substantial number of reports with respect to a series of reportable wireline and Voice over Internet Protocol network outages." FCC rules require ISPs file reports on major outages within thirty minutes of the outages, and provide a follow up report dissecting the outage causes. "TWC admits that its failure to timely file the required network outage reports violated the Commission's rules," the FCC said.
Recently the U.S. House Judiciary's Subcommittee on Intellectual Property and the Internet held a hearing on the issue of "digital resales," or the ability for consumers to resell copies of films, games, music or other content they've already purchased.
While the company lead the speed race a few years ago, a certain complacency has fallen over Cablevision in recent years. The company has stopped competing as fiercely on price against Verizon FiOS (which has stopped competing on price in turn), with executives recently stating they weren't going to get caught up in "speed contests."
Last month Verizon made all FiOS tiers symmetrical at no additional cost to users, taking serious aim at its cable competitors whose upstream speeds have started to look more than a little dated. The company is slowly deploying the upgrade to all users over the next few months, and in the interim have started a new advertising campaign for the speed boost. According to Verizon's new commercials, they're calling the upgrades "SpeedMatch" and declaring that "cable can't touch" upgrades of this type.
The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article exploring complaints on how Google Fiber (and responding, highly-selective deployments by CenturyLink, AT&T, and others) may fuel a digital divide by only upgrading select residents in certain cities. That said, the article claims that Google Fiber's ability to deploy fiber to just select locations helped save them 20% over traditional builds like Verizon's FiOS. "If Verizon resumes expansion, the company would consider Google's build-to-demand model because it has the potential to be more profitable," Verizon executive Chris Levendos tells the paper.
The New York Post claims that AT&T has struck a deal with the Department of Justice that would allow AT&T's $48.5 billion plan to acquire DirecTV to move forward. The report fails to specify what precise conditions the DOJ will place on the deal, though it does suggest that regulators are leaning toward approval with DOJ approval coming as soon as October.
Back in 2012 Verizon unveiled their "Home Fusion" fixed LTE service, which involved installing a "cantenna" on the side of the house, then offering users the choice of 10, 20 and 30 GB monthly allotments for $60, $90 or $120 respectively, per month. User Pittpharm writes in to note that Verizon for some reason has ditched the Home Fusion brand entirely, and is now calling this service "LTE Internet (Installed)." The somewhat less creative name doesn't appear to be hand in hand with any other changes, and the pricing appears to have remained the same. Verizon aims the product at rural customers usually stuck on satellite, and it will also fill in the gaps where Verizon backs away from offering DSL services.
AT&T has been very interested in overseas expansion, investigating possible acquisitions of Vodafone (at least the wireless assets), European carrier EE, as well as part of Spain's Telefonica SA. Unfortunately for AT&T, it's believed that their coziness with the NSA ruffled political feathers during election season, forcing AT&T to step back earlier this year and wait. With those worries settled down, rumors have again emerged of an AT&T Vodafone bid, though the report notes AT&T's ambitions could be challenged by a counter offer from China Mobile.
California this week became the first state in the country to pass a law requiring that cell phones include so-called "kill switch" functionality to deter theft, enabled by default (the full law is here, pdf). Minnesota passed a similar law earlier this year, but in that version of the law, the functionality is turned off by default.
On the heels of a nationwide Charter DNS outage over the weekend, Time Warner Cable is the latest ISP to suffer a nationwide outage. According to user comments in our forums, the ISP early this morning suffered a routing problem, knocking all of the company's customers offline. "At 430am ET this morning during our routine network maintenance, an issue with our Internet backbone created disruption with our Internet and On Demand services," Time Warner Cable said in a statement. "As of 6am ET services were largely restored as updates continue to bring all customers back online."
Reports indicate that DirecTV and the NFL are very close to renewing their controversial NFL Sunday Ticket deal, which gives DirecTV exclusive rights to broadcast out-of-market NFL games (and in turn blocks all manner of potentially more interesting streaming NFL services from ever being born). According to said reports, the annual cost of the deal for DirecTV should be somewhere between $1.3 billion and $1.4 billion. As we've noted previously, AT&T had the right to walk away from their acquisition of DirecTV if DirecTV wasn't able to renew this deal.
T-Mobile continues to tinker with data allotments and pricing in the face of a freshly ambitious Sprint, quadrupling the data allotment on the company's "Simple Starter" plan. According to a T-Mobile announcement, the company's Simple Starter plan will now provide unlimited talk and text and cost $45 ($5 more) but will deliver 2 GB of data as opposed to the previous 500 MB. On Simple Starter, once you've reached the 2 GB your service is suspended and you'll need to buy a one day, 500 MB day pass for $5, or a 7-day, 1 GB pass for $10. This new higher-allotment version of the plan will be available September 3.
AT&T and DirecTV have told the FCC that Public Knowledge and the Community Broadband Networks Initiative should not be given extra time to file comments and petitions on the proposed merger because the FCC has an obligation to review the deal "as expeditiously as possible." AT&T and DirecTV claim that these groups would offer no "meaningful input" to justify a 30-day extension and therefore would result in a "significant and unjustified" delay.
In reality, AT&T and DirecTV simply don’t want to deal with anymore criticism of the merger and want to get it pushed through as fast as possible.
This weekend, the UK's largest broadband provider and former incumbent, BT, is expected to raise prices for millions of households. A hike at BT usually immediately precedes price rises at the other big providers but if that happens this time it'll mean a double whammy for internet and calls customers: the other members of the UK's big four – Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media – have all increased prices or announced upcoming increases for at least some customers over the past few weeks.
After several years of delays, Verizon says they're going to be launching higher-audio-quality voice over LTE service (VoLTE) in the "coming weeks." While Verizon's behind other carriers with their launch, company executives state they wanted to wait and launch the service as nationally as possible for a more unified experience. The upgrade will come to an unspecified number of handsets, with users able to turn VoLTE on and off in their phone's settings and utilize only CDMA 1X voice service if LTE coverage is shaky. If your phone supports Verizon LTE, the report claims you'll need to also turn on the feature via your online account.
Stop the Cap amusingly notes that some 52 Mayors have breathlessly thrown their support behind the Comcast merger, despite the fact that a long list of these cities have long suffered from horrible customer service, build issues, high prices and other problems with Comcast. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown's city is held hostage by Verizon's refusal to upgrade the city with FiOS, and Comcast and Time Warner Cable's resulting market dominance, resulting in high prices.
On the heels of yesterday's tweaks to the company's Simple Starter plans, T-Mobile has made a few more changes, including expanding the company's Simple Choice family plan to 10 lines, as well as doubling your allotment of data if you add a tablet. T-Mobile previously capped their Simple Starter plans at 5 lines per account, charging $10 a month for each additional line.
Insiders tell Fierce Wireless that a major carrier is considering buying Sprint MVNO FreedomPop. While the major carrier has not been named, the report states that talks are in the "formal" stage and may or may not result in an actual buy. "There is some inbound inquiries there," FreedomPop CEO Stephen Stokols tells the website. "We are actually taking it seriously and looking at it." The "freemium" carrier was one of several to launch a few years ago with a focus on offering a base level of free services and highly-customizable service plans (see one of our recent user reviews).
Add Canadian cable operators Rogers and Shaw to the latest in a long list of incumbent ISPs who believe they can offer a Netflix killer that will keep cord cutters in house. According to the companies' announcement, the service will be dubbed "shomi" and will emerge as a beta exclusively for Rogers and Shaw customers in November.
Netflix became the latest company to formally object to Comcast's $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable. In their hand delivered filing with the FCC yesterday (pdf), Netflix argues that a larger Comcast would result in the company turning the "consumer’s Internet experience into something that more closely resembles cable television." Netflix proceeds to argue that "through access fees charged at the interconnection points and by other means" Comcast and Time Warner Cable have incentive and capability "to harm Internet companies, such as online video distributors (“OVDs”), which Applicants view as competitors."