The weekend has mercifully arrived, so spin us a good yarn in the comment section below.
Comcast today announced that the cable giant will be expanding its two gigabit fiber to the home service to another three million potential homes by the end of July. According to the Comcast announcement
, Comcast plans to offer "Gigabit Pro" service to three million California customers in June.
Staff attorneys at the Justice Department’s antitrust division are nearing a recommendation to block Comcast's $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable, "people familiar with the matter" claim to Bloomberg News
. The lawyers could submit their findings to the DOJ as early as next week, with DOJ officials announcing the blocked deal sometime this month.
A coalition of 37 groups and companies is urging the FCC to block the Comcast acquisition of Time Warner Cable, arguing that no number of conditions, no manner how well designed, will prevent the potential problems a larger, stronger Comcast would create. The coalition of deal opponents, which include Consumers Union (authors of Consumer Reports), Dish Network, Cogent, Free Press and Common Cause, argues that even conditions forcing Comcast to agree to the agency's new net neutrality rules (whether lawsuits succeed or not) won't be enough to seriously protect consumers.
'Your steadfast commitment to competition would risk being eviscerated if Comcast were allowed to control over 50% of high-speed residential broadband connections nationwide," argues the group in its letter.
"No condition, including but not limited to a “net neutrality” provision modeled on the Open Internet order, can address the myriad ways a combined Comcast/Time Warner Cable would be able to thwart competition and convert its massive network into a closed system of preferential treatment for its own content or the content of a select few."
The coalition's latest missive comes as Comcast in recent weeks has ramped up their sales efforts for the deal, a long series of blog posts
continuing to argue that the deal will accomplish everything from helping African Americans
to "creating expanded support for the creative community
." Comcast also continues to claim that all deal criticism (not just some of it) is without merit, and that nobody "knowledgeable or rational
" could possibly oppose the deal.
Earlier this week Verizon Wireless proclaimed that customers really don't want unlimited data plans
, arguing that adoration of unlimited data was just a "gut feeling" that results in broken networks and dashed dreams. Rather unsurprisingly, Verizon found itself pretty soundly mocked by the Internet at large, consumers annoyed by Verizon telling them what they want, instead of simply giving it to them.
Verizon has announced they're shaking up their FiOS TV channel options by offering a "skinny bundle" of TV channels, onto which customers can add a variety of channel packs. The idea is not entirely unlike what SlingTV has started offering
, or what Canadian regulators are forcing Canadian TV operators to offer next year
As we've noted a few times
, Google Fiber isn't just about Google putting pressure on ISPs, it's about teaching towns and cities how to apply this pressure themselves. The company has circulated a checklist
to help municipalities get out of their own way, but the lure of better, faster service has more towns and cities than ever before considering building their own networks.
by Revcb 06:21AM Friday Apr 17 2015
Centurylink today announced the company has expanded its modest deployment of fiber to the home gigabit service to parts of La Crosse, Wisconsin. According to the CenturyLink announcement
, pricing for the service starts at a one-year promotional rate of $80 when bundled with CenturyLink phone and Prism TV services. CenturyLink's aiming the service primarily at a select number of high-end development communities scattered throughout the company's footprint, and has yet to give specific numbers in regards to homes currently served, or potentially passed.
While Facebook and Google are still often referred to as "net neutrality supporters" here in the States, they were largely quiet during the latest round in the ongoing fight. That's in part because Google helped AT&T co-write the 2010 rules
and was quite pleased that they contained ample loopholes, and given they didn't cover wireless, wouldn't impact Google's Android ambitions.
Speaking at the NAB Conference this week in Las Vegas, FCC boss Tom Wheeler jumped to the defense of the agency's new net neutrality rules, arguing that they'll actually benefit broadcasters in the long run. Wheeler needs all the help he can get after the broadband industry filed five separate lawsuits against the rules
this week. All of them (from the CTIA, ATA, USTelecom, NCTA and AT&T) claiming the FCC's new rules are "arbitrary and capricious" and violate federal law.
"The Open Internet order safeguards an increasingly important distribution channel for your most important product — local news and information," Wheeler said Wednesday in Las Vegas
. "It assures that your use of the Internet will be free from the risk of discrimination or hold-up by a gatekeeper."
Wheeler avoided going into too much detail about the flurry of broadband industry lawsuits, only addressing them as "the elephant in the room," while expressing hope the suits will be discarded soon "so we can move forward."
Last fall Windstream Communications announced it was launching a new TV service it's calling "Kinetic." The company stated at the time they'd be launching the service first in 50,000 homes in Lincoln, Nebraska
sometime in the first half of 2015, with plans to deploy the service to "select additional Windstream communities in the latter part of 2015 and beyond."
This week the company formally announced
that the service is live in Lincoln, offering the usual assortment of perks including HD content (with no extra fee), a whole-home DVR, and a wireless set-top box (powered by Ericsson, I believe).
The Windstream announcement notes that double play options start at $60 a month, and triple play options start at $65 a month.
Netflix has released the company's latest earnings report
, indicating that the streaming operator has just passed the 60 million subscriber mark worldwide. Speaking on the company's earnings call, Netflix touched on a number of recent issues including criticism of the company's decision to strike cap-exempt deals with Australian ISPs ahead of its launch down under.
A number of smaller pay TV operators have contemplated getting out of the pay TV business entirely
and just selling broadband, saying they lack the scale to keep pace with the absurdly-skyrocketing rates of television content. The American Cable Association last week wrote to the FCC
, asking the agency to use its authority under the Communications Act "to combat surging programming costs." More specifically, the ACA wants the FCC to reform retransmission consent rules (preventing blackouts during negotiations), and consider numerous other protections.
As we recently explored in detail
ultra HD and 4K is very far from mainstream adoption thanks not only to shifting device standards (from HDR to HDCP 2.2) but because there's really just not that much content available. While Netflix and Amazon are offering some original content in UHD, and a few cable companies like Comcast offer a selection of VOD content in UHD, there's just not enough content to justify the cost of a new set (and the HDCP 2.2 compliant receiver or soundbar you'll need to pass that signal through).
Last month the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) sent a cease and desist letter
to Credo Mobile over the wireless company's claims that ALEC opposes municipal broadband. If you're new to ALEC, corporations basically pay them to help craft "draft legislation" that often runs in very stark contrast to consumer welfare.
Sandvine offers up an interesting analysis
of HBO's online streaming performance for last weekends debut of "Game of Thrones." Despite all the hype, Sandvine's snapshot shows that HBO Go saw just a 3.4% share of Sunday night Internet video traffic, compared to 33.5% for Netflix and 15.7% for YouTube.
HBO's HBO Now service (which doesn't require a traditional cable subscription) saw just a 0.7% share, though if you consider the service is only available on iOS devices and browsers -- and only launched a few weeks ago, that's still relatively impressive.
For some additional context though, it's worth noting that the show's live viewership broke records with nearly 8 million live viewers
, illustrating traditional TV's continued power.
Clearly the leak of the first four episodes of the new "Game of Thrones" season
didn't hurt the company's overall viewing numbers. It should be interesting to see how these numbers change as HBO Now takes off, Apple's three-month device exclusive ends, and the service starts appearing on everything from Rokus to game consoles.
In addition to lawsuits filed by USTelcom, the NCTA, the ACA and the CTIA, AT&T has also filed suit against the FCC over the decision to reclassify ISPs as common carriers. The filing comes as a surprise, given most thought that the phone and cable giants would be letting the trade associations do all the heavy lifting this time around (unlike the 2010 rules, which most of the industry liked and Verizon single-handedly sued over anyway). story continues..
A group of Republican lawmakers are pushing a Resolution of Disapproval
as part of an unlikely gambit to crush the FCC's new net neutrality rules. A resolution of disapproval allows Congress to review and potentially overturn new federal regulations from government agencies using an expedited legislative process.
Nokia has announced that the company intends to acquire Alcatel Lucent in a deal estimated to be worth around $16.6 billion. According to the Nokia announcement
, Alcatel-Lucent shareholders will get 0.55 shares of Nokia for each Alcatel-Lucent share they own, and the deal will create "an innovation leader in next generation technology and services for an IP connected world." Nokia says the company is also considering a sale of the company's Here mapping unit, remaining after the company sold its mobile phone unit to Microsoft for $7.2 billion last year.
by Revcb 06:33AM Wednesday Apr 15 2015
Earlier this year rumors began to emerge that Google was planning a push into the wireless space, offering a Wi-Fi-centric calling service that floats between the T-Mobile and Sprint networks
for cellular backup. Like Google Fiber, this appears to be more of an effort to shove the telecom industry forward as opposed to a massive, nationwide market entry, as such the launch will likely be notably smaller
than many reports are anticipating.
While Time Warner and HBO have clearly convinced Dish Network
and Cablevision that the company's new HBO Now streaming video service isn't a threat to traditional cable, they likely have their work cut out for them when it comes to getting more traditional-minded companies like AT&T and Comcast on board. According to the Wall Street Journal
, Time Warner and HBO execs have been engaged in a "charm offensive" with incumbent ISPs and cable companies, trying to argue HBO Now is a complement -- not a threat -- to traditional video service.
On the heels of lawsuits from industry trade groups the ACA, the CTIA
, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association has also filed its own lawsuit against the FCC's new net neutrality rules. According to the NCTA, the FCC's shift toward Title II "contravenes critical principles of administrative law and fundamentally misapplied statutes passed by Congress," and is an "arbitrary and capricious" implementation of "outdated utility style regulations."
In a statement posted the the NCTA website
, former FCC boss turned top cable lobbyist Michael Powell insists they're only suing because they want Congress to come in and pass real
net neutrality rules:
"This appeal is not about net neutrality but the FCC’s unnecessary action to apply outdated utility style regulation to the most innovative network in our history,” said Michael Powell, NCTA President & CEO.
As expected, the Cellular Telephone Industries Association (CTIA) today filed a lawsuit in the hopes of overturning the FCC's new net neutrality rules, and their reclassification of broadband ISPs as common carriers. The lawsuit joins another lawsuit filed this week by USTelecom, a group also predominately lead by AT&T and Verizon. story continues..
While the FCC's new net neutrality rules won't be official until June 12 (and that's assuming they survive ISP lawsuits), backbone operators are already contemplating filing the first interconnection related complaints. As you'll recall, last year Netflix and core operators like Level3 and Cogent accused incumbent ISPs Verizon, AT&T and Comcast
of refusing to upgrade interconnection points to intentionally cause a degradation of Netflix service, in turn forcing Netflix to pay for direct interconnection.
As we've long noted, you wouldn't need net neutrality rules if we saw greater broadband competition, as the former is just a symptom of the latter. And nobody knows more about the lack of competition than Google Fiber's Milo Medin, whose service has companies like AT&T and Time Warner Cable scurrying to compete
(or at least scurrying to give the impression they're competing
Sprint this week announced that the company is expanding availability of its Wi-Fi calling service to millions of its iPhone customers. According to a Sprint announcement
, an over the air update coming over the next week will enable Wi-Fi calling services for all Sprint iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s customers. Sprint formally launched the service back in February
, but initially only to owners of the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini and Mega. "Wi-Fi Calling is like a major expansion of our network, allowing Sprint customers to get coverage anywhere they have Wi-Fi connectivity," crows the company.
by Revcb 06:58AM Tuesday Apr 14 2015
AT&T's highly-selective deployment of faster "Gigapower" gigabit broadband service continues, with the company announcing this week they're launch the speedy option in parts of Atlanta and surrounding areas. According to the AT&T announcement
, the company today launched gigabit services in parts of Atlanta, Decatur, Newnan, Sandy Springs and surrounding communities located throughout the metro area.
California Public Utilities Commissioner Mike Florio is pushing for the commission to reject the Comcast Time Warner Cable merger
, claiming it fails to serve the public interest and no number of deal conditions can change this.
Florio's proposed decision
(pdf) argues that the deal poses the risk of "a potential lowering of quality of service and customer service standards to a lower common denominator, an increasing monoculture in the fixed broadband market in California, concerns about privacy, less competition in the special access market, and—most importantly—less competition in the broadband market, both the retail segment of that market and the segment that allows edge or content providers to reach retail subscribers."
The California PUC is planning a public hearing on the merger from 1 PM To 5 PM Tuesday at Junipero Serra State Office Building, 320 W. 4th St. in Los Angeles.
Recently losing its third-place carrier spot to T-Mobile and often coming in last place
in network speed and latency tests, Sprint and new owner SoftBank have been busy trying to rekindle the company's good fortunes. That has included recently striking a new retail deal with Radio Shack
, and now Sprint is considering a new wrinkle: home delivery and install services.
In what's a bit of a blow to the company's standalone streaming ambitions, the first four episodes of the new season of "Game of Thrones" have leaked to piracy networks. The leaks appear to have originated from review copies sent to the press
, and steal the thunder of HBO's attempt to reduce piracy by finally offering the most pirated show on television
via legitimate online channels. On the bright side, HBO Now and SlingTV appear to have handled the show's premiere last night well, though for some reason HBO Go -- which unlike the other to offerings requires a cable connection to subscribe to -- appears to have struggled a bit
After being approved 3-2 back in February
, the FCC's new net neutrality rules have been published in the Federal Register
. As per normal process the rules are now scheduled to formally go into effect sixty days after publication, or June 12 of this year. Of course as per that same process ISPs now have about thirty days to file their lawsuits trying to overturn the rules. As noted previously the top cable (NCTA) and wireless (CTIA) lobbying and policy organizations are expected to spearhead the lawsuits, instead of ISPs getting more directly involved in trying to destroy the new consumer protections.
While 4KTV is getting all the hype, Netflix earlier this year proclaimed that high dynamic range (HDR) might actually be more important
. As with photography, HDR effectively makes programming darks darker and your brights brighter, increasing the overall realism and texture of the displayed content. Not wanting Netflix to have all the fun, Amazon now says they'll be able to watch streaming HDR content
sometime later this year. The problem, as with 4K, HDR standards are in a bit of flux, with many 4KTV's technically not supporting it, and some potentially needing software updates in order to do so. Still, HDR has Hollywood notably more excited
than 4K alone.
by Revcb 06:32AM Monday Apr 13 2015