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29 May

U-verse® Earns Top Spot in American Customer Satisfaction Index

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AT&T’s U-verse® was ranked 1st as per American Customer Satisfaction Index’s rankings of pay-TV services with a score of 70. U-verse® retained the same score as in 2017, but since Verizon’s Fios® slipped 3 points from last year, it was ranked 1st in the measure of customer satisfaction levels. Besides, Dish Network® held on to its year-over-year score and was ranked 3rd in the index.

Although the satisfaction among customers for several pay-TV providers’ has slipped, AT&T’s IPTV service maintained its score and scaled to the top position. American Customer Satisfaction Index has commented that, “many aspects of the customer experience have deteriorated” for subscription-TV providers.

“Customer service representatives are perceived as less helpful and courteous (77), but the speed of transactions at service centers is unchanged (76),” ACSI report said. “Viewers say that TV signals are slightly less reliable (74) and service disruptions are more frequent (72). As the battle for content continues, viewers are increasingly disappointed with the range of channels and premium channels available (both 73). Call centers remain a low point for the industry and continue to decline (down 3% to 63).”

AT&T® offers U-verse® with options to bundle cheapest cable TV packages with internet and telephone plans. The subscribers of the IPTV service offers a lineup of bundled packages to choose from, with options to record multiple shows and access on-demand content. The Telco giant delivers the cable TV alternative to customers using a combination of fiber optic infrastructure and existing cable lines in the subscribers’ place.

Apart from that, American Customer Satisfaction Index also ranked cheapest cable TV alternatives or streaming services that provide over-the-top content to customers. Among video streaming services, Netflix, Sony’s PlayStation™ Vue, and Amazon® Twitch shared the top position with a score of 78 each.

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This was the first time the nationwide subscriber satisfaction measure added the rankings for streaming services. “Video streaming services are doing well by avoiding some of the most hated aspects of other telecom experiences,” noted ACSI in its report. “For most of the top-rated providers, there are no hidden fees and canceling is easy and painless.”

For instance, certain streaming services offer a free subscription for a particular period, and days prior to the completion of the trial offer, they notify the subscribers so that they can continue or cancel the subscription as per their requirement.

21 Apr

What Does Extending Content Partnership Means for Comcast® and Netflix

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Extending Content Partnership

As avenues to watch TV continues to grow, cable operators are doing everything they can to retain subscribers who give up a pay-TV subscription for an alternative internet-based service. Such kinds of customers are called cord cutters. In order to retain them, one of the best internet providers has been giving customers accesses to Netflix on Xfinity® X1 platform since 2016.

Now, Comcast® has extended content partnership with the streaming service. In addition to that, the cable giant has announced that starting this month, it would bundle Netflix into some of their bundled TV packages given to both existing and potential customers. Comcast® is yet to reveal which TV package would have the streaming service subscription, but has said that accessibility to Netflix would differ as per the market.

If you subscribe to Comcast Xfinity® TV bundle and have a Netflix subscription, the monthly payment for the streaming service would show up on the cable invoice. So, going forward, you would only have to keep track of one invoice less each month.

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For Comcast®, to add Netflix to their TV bundles means to retain nationwide subscribers within the realm of the pay-TV subscription universe by keeping them from cord cutting. The cable provider has said that it has ended last year with 21.3m residential “video” customers, which was declined by 186,000 customers from 2016.

Netflix reported recently that it has around 55m customers in the US, but slow customer growth has oftentimes raised concerns regarding expansions of the streaming service’s customer base. “This is a big win for Netflix, which could use the Comcast® platform to boost its subscriber growth in the US market,” said the Senior Analyst at Investing.com, Haris Anwar. “This is an especially timely move as domestic subscriptions have shown some signs of peaking, making some investors nervous.”

In fact, even if some customers look for cable TV alternatives to stream their favorite shows, it is an irrefutable fact that millions of Netflix customers also have a Comcast® subscription. So, giving cord cutters enough reasons to stay on a mutual subscriber might do wonders to the customer growth of cable TV business of Comcast®. This is why most of the trade analysts and experts say that the prospect of the cable cum internet provider including Netflix in their TV bundles is actually twofold.

16 Apr

Comcast® Technology Solutions Introduces New Service Offerings

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IP-Based Content Delivery Systems

Comcast® Technology Solutions currently enjoys a strong presence in domestic market, and reports say that they are planning to reach out to business customers around the world soon. The Vice President and General Manager of Video Platform at Comcast® Technology Solutions, Bart Spriester, said that that is one of their main goals in 2018.

“We have a good brand domestically,” Spriester said on behalf of the division of Comcast Cable® during the 2018 NAB Show held in Las Vegas. The industry veteran also emphasized that the opportunity is aplenty to help worldwide content community distribute and monetize content through over-the-top and other IP-based content delivery systems.

Comcast Cable® launched Comcast® Technology Solutions in 2016 as its division that combines Comcast® Wholesale platform and the cable provider’s other two companies, namely This Technology and thePlatform. Another priority for the Comcast® division is to distribute live services, comprising webcasts, along with advanced ad stitching capabilities. Spriester said that it would invest more to leverage those plans throughout 2018.

Comcast® Technology Solutions will invest in automation of certain workflows that ingest and prepare web content, make it into a readable format, and deliver to several screen types. This would require the division of Comcast® to implement machine learning and AI to such workflows by making significant investments in both components of a content delivery network. Comcast® Technology Solutions also owns a video-optimized content delivery network.

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During the NAB Show, the cable provider’s division also introduced an array of new services and products that add to their portfolio. Their new offerings include Live-to-IP, which is capable of delivering live events with turnkey systems that ingest web content through fiber network, satellite network, or over the web, monitor & safeguard such content, and deliver it to the devices of end users.

In addition to Live-to-IP, Comcast® Technology Solutions also introduced an HTML 5-based video player, named PDK 6. Spriester said that that video player for the web was developed to distribute quicker start times alongside improved capability of client-side and server-side dynamic ad intersection.

Another Comcast® Technology Solutions offering that got introduced during the event is AdStor, which is an advertising platform that works over the cloud. In fact, the Comcast® division targets AdStor to content providers, advertisers, and programmers, and claims that it can reduce workflows to minutes as opposed to the required time to deliver ads with manual systems.

05 Apr

CenturyLink® Puts Focus on Cyber Security after a Big Acquisition

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Denial Of Service Attacks

CenturyLink® recently said that the company now has an accountability to make sure it can prevent cyber attacks, toward their customer base, that comes from the public internet. Following the acquisition of Level 3 Communications® last year, CenturyLink® has improved the visibility into traffic throughout their large network.

“We do a lot of work to keep the internet running and protect the internet not as a service, but we have to act as good stewards of the internet because we control and see so much of it,” said CenturyLink’s Vice President of Global Security Services, Chris Richter. “We believe that all network service providers should do what they can within the realms of economic feasibility to protect the internet. For that reason, when we know there’s bad actors on our backbone using our infrastructure, we want to keep it as clean as we possibly can, which is what compels us to take down the 35 bot net organizations every month we do.”

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Command-And-Control Networks

The acquisition of Level 3 Communications® has improved the cyber security capabilities of CenturyLink®, which the company achieved by offering their business subscribers upgraded visibility into cyber attacks. The acquisition has enabled the fastest internet provider to monitor more than 114bn NetFlow sessions as well as 1.3bn security events and respond to and mitigate around 120 Distributed Denial of Service attacks each day, and remove roughly 35 command-and-control networks on a monthly basis.

CenturyLink® has enhanced NetFlow infrastructure in order to facilitate collecting data concerning the company’s network traffic into threat analysis engines. Note that Level 3 Communications® has done that in their network prior to being acquired by CenturyLink®. Henceforth, enhancing NetFlow infrastructure proved to be a smooth one for CenturyLink®. “It was fairly straightforward to do,” Richter said. “All we had to do was make the additional investment in the new collectors and direct that NetFlow information to our Threat Intelligence Labs where the collectors are and adjust for a lot more information.”

“This was something that the legacy CenturyLink® customer base had been asking for,” he said referring to business customers of the Telco giant. “When they heard about what the legacy Level 3 portfolio offered, they wanted that level of visibility and granularity on the CenturyLink® side.”

09 Mar

Charter Spectrum® Switches to All-Digital Signal in Pittsfield

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All-Digital Signal

Charter Spectrum® recently switched the cable television signal of Pittsfield to 100% digital signals. In order to operate digital channels, customers will now have to rent a digital cable box. This digital cable initiative was previously established in South County and Northern Berkshire.

The main community access channels in Pittsfield community television are public, government, and education. Once the cable television changed to all-digital, these channels that were previously streaming on channels 16-18, 19-1, and 19-3, would be moved to channels 1301, 1302, and 1303.

In fact, reports say that Charter Spectrum® is digitalizing their cable signal all over the country in order to encrypt the signals. However, this means that Spectrum® customers will not be able to watch programs if they do not have a digital cable box for every television. If they try to watch a program on TV by just connecting it to the cable like before, they will receive just a black screen.

Regarding the encryption, the Executive Director of PCTV, Shawn Serre, said, “What that means is that they are preventing digital signals through their cable system being picked up in the open, so they can only be coded with their boxes. If you were to connect a cable directly to your TV, there were still a bunch of channels that you could pick up, but by putting all of them on a digital signal, they can only be received by a box.”

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On-Demand programming

With this recent upgrade, all the analog signals are removed and the capacity of the cable network is increased. This will allow the users to watch high definition channels, have access to better internet speeds, and enjoy seamless On-Demand programming.

A spokesperson for Charter Communications®, Heidi Vandenbrouck, said that this all-digital upgrade would lead to many future innovations. “The encryption is literally the last step in the process and is about to make sure customers are receiving the programming they subscribe to,” he said.

However, the requirement of additional digital boxes did not go well in the other municipalities of Berkshire. In December, the communities in Berkshire asked the State Attorney General to interfere in their cable box controversy with Charter Spectrum®. However, it is to be noted that most customers of Spectrum® will be eligible for one free digital cable box, at least for a limited period. After that, the monthly charge for Spectrum® cable TV box will be $6.99, and for the customers who have legacy Time Warner Cable® packages, the monthly rental will be $11.75.

26 Dec

FCC Auction Might Support the Rural Broadband Efforts of Frontier and CenturyLink®

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Rural Broadband Efforts

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently identified locations of about a million small businesses and homes in forty-eight states that are eligible to get as much as two billion dollars in support for the deployment of broadband in the coming years. The Connect America Fund (CAF) of FCC is planning to distribute about two billion dollars in support to businesses that compete in a CAF II auction aimed at deploying broadband at cheap costs in the underserved rural areas of the nation.

In 2015, the FCC authorized ten telecom carriers, which include Frontier Communications, CenturyLink®, and FairPoint to get about nine billion dollars in CAF II funding over a period of six years. Combined together with the own investments of the carrier, the FCC funding was planned to expand broadband to about 7.3 million rural users in forty five states and a US territory. Frontier recently said that they are continuing their broadband surge into the rural areas, exceeding the 2017 CAP milestone requirements in about eight states.

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The CAF rule needs businesses that have accepted the funds for broadband deployment to about forty percent of all the eligible locations by the end of the year 2017. The company also said that the newly announced states now join Connecticut, Montana, Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, Washington, and North Carolina as having touched the milestone of forty percent.

“Closing the digital divide is my No. 1 priority, and through this innovative Connect America Fund auction, we are poised to take the next big step in reaching that goal,” said FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai. “In rural America, broadband opens the doors of opportunity by connecting remote communities to global markets, jobs, education, health care and information.”

It is reported that the service seeks to expand the broadband service to census blocks that are un-served by broadband service providers delivering speeds of 10 Mbps downloads and 1 Mbps uploads. The CAF auction is set to launch in the year 2018. Since the year 2011, the FCC has targeted more than nine billion dollars via the Connect America Fund in support of the broadband expansion to more than four million small businesses and homes in rural areas.

18 Dec

AT&T® Chooses Georgia for Trialing Their Project Airgig

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Project Airgig Trials

AT&T® has chosen Georgia for the second trial of their international ‘Project AirGig’ that would help deploy 1 gigabit per second internet via mmWave signals guided by overhead utility poles. The first trial of the technological project began earlier this year with an undisclosed electricity provider outside the United States. The latest technology from the Telco would deliver best internet service in rural areas and urban locations in the future. AT&T® is trialing ‘Project AirGig’ alongside Georgia Power in a rural location in the state as of now.

This would avoid building internet infrastructure for internet like new towers or burying optical fiber cable near overhead power lines. Instead, the electricity technicians can implement the patented technology of AT&T® onto utility poles easily for providing broadband signals. The technology also signals to a future wherein internet would come with ultra speeds anywhere in the world.

“Project AirGig is part of our ongoing effort to accelerate internet connections to a gig or more through both wired and wireless solutions,” said Andre Fuetsch, the President of AT&T® Labs cum Chief Technology Officer. “But it also stands alone as a radically innovative solution to bridge the global digital divide.”

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‘Project AirGig’ is headed by AT&T® Labs and has the backing of a decade-long research from their part. The news comes at a time when state legislators are grappling with how to provide enhanced internet in rural locations of Georgia. In fact, the concept of redirecting internet over utility poles is not new, but the Telco has assured their technology would overcome the past technical hurdles.

“Georgia Power continuously utilizes technology research and collaborates with companies like AT&T® in order to introduce new products and services that help meet the changing needs of our customers,” said Paul Bowers Chairman, who is the President cum Chief Executive Officer of Georgia Power. “Expanding access to high speed internet is an important initiative that provides value for our all of our customers and helps us remain a competitive state in which to do business.”

If the trial turns successful in the state, the technology would help in expanding broadband access to underserved areas and would enhance internet speeds. AT&T® however said that they are yet to decide on when to deploy the technology commercially.

10 Nov

AT&T® Developing Edge Computing Test Zone in Palo Alto

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Edge Computing Test Zone

AT&T® is currently in the process of developing an edge computing test zone in Palo Alto, California. This will provide an excellent platform for developers and tech companies to undertake the testing of newer technologies like augmented reality, self-driving cars, drones, and virtual reality. This testing platform is expected to become functional in early 2018 and will initially utilize a 4G LTE connection. AT&T® expects to upgrade it to the more advanced 5G networks after all the final standards and equipment is set.

Melissa Arnoldi, the President of AT&T® Technology and Operations said, “Edge computing is the next step in the evolution of the network. As connectivity becomes ubiquitous and fast, it also needs to become smart. Edge computing puts a supercomputer in your pocket, on your wrist, in your car, and right in front of your eyes.”

Edge computing also known as multi-access edge computing (MEC) has attained a renewed importance. It has been proven as an effective way to minimize the distance of travel for data processing that will minimize latency and thus enhance the performance of the network. Most of the networks operating today suffer from high latency due to the increased physical distance between the user and the data center. With edge computing, the data processing is moved much closer to the user.

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Multi-Access Edge Computing

For this, AT&T® one of the best internet service will install numerous graphics processors and computers in the cellular towers, small cells, and other major components of the network. This will minimize latency largely and this feature is incorporated into the 5G network. With this, users can easily run high-end applications in the cloud without the presence of any lags.

AT&T® has proposed several projects using AR/VR, drones and autonomous cars developed in the edge computing test zone. The Telco has invited several developers and third parties to use their test zones for their individual projects. Moreover, AT&T® is also putting up a new offering that will aid in turning any of the concepts into prototypes.

Igal Elbaz, head of the AT&T® Foundry said, “Our goal in this experiment is to find the right architecture, the right services, and the right business value in this ecosystem. It’s all about moving quickly and collaborating closely with third-party innovators and developers.” Currently, the test area in Silicon Valley is spread across several miles and could extend in the coming years.

31 Oct

Xfinity® Mobile from Comcast® Crosses the 250k Subscriber Mark

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Xfinity® Mobile Service

Xfinity® Mobile from Comcast® now has more than 250,000 subscribers. The service was launched before five months and Comcast® is hoping to use the upcoming release of iPhone X from Apple to attract more people to sign up for the service. Xfinity® Mobile has set a good example for the cable providers in the country. Comcast® launched the wireless service in May 2017 and offered unlimited data for forty-five dollars per month to all the users who subscribe to their most expensive TV and internet bundles.

Subscribers who do not have the high-end bundles will have to pay sixty-five dollars per month to have the unlimited data service of Xfinity® Mobile. Comcast® also offers a wireless data plan for twelve dollars per gigabyte of data. One important point is that the service is available only to the existing subscribers of Comcast®. A Comcast® executive said that their service now has more than a quarter of a million users.

“Our newest connectivity business, Xfinity® Mobile, really highlights the value of our broadband service by bundling access to the best high-speed internet data with a unique wireless offering,” Comcast® CEO Brian Roberts said in their quarterly earnings call. “We are pleased with the early results, surpassing 250,000 customer lines in a short period of time since our launch in May, and we are poised to scale the product from here.”

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In a massive wireless market, Xfinity® Mobile remains a small player. However, they plans to grow their wireless subscriber base and believes that this service offer them a chance to monetize users who already pays for their traditional offerings.

“Well, I like our wireless strategy a lot. Wireless revenue is going backwards for a couple of companies that reported, and cash flow is the same,” Roberts noted. “So that’s a business where we have 0% market share. And so as we begin, and 250,000 subs is a great achievement, but its 250,000 subs, so we’re very small. We’re using wireless to help our very valuable broadband business.”

The Comcast® CEO further added, “You can only get wireless if you take our broadband. And it’s an extension of our broadband to what I was just commenting on earlier. And yet we’ve been able to say when we hit a certain scale, hopefully, the next year or so, we will then be able to be in a position where every sub is profitable on its own merits, and that’s the nature of the wholesale relationships that we’ve made.”

04 Oct

Comcast® Will Unveil Xfinity® Instant TV Nationwide Soon

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Xfinity® Instant TV

Comcast® expects the beta trial in the Pay TV segment will lure the cord cutters and non-Xfinity® subscribers alike to Xfinity® Instant TV, their new addition. The new subscribers to the service will get Xfinity® Instant TV as a 30-day trial. Besides, reliable sources indicate that Comcast® offers the existing Xfinity® broadband subscribers the Xfinity® Instant TV service as of now. One of the highlights of Xfinity® Instant TV is that Comcast® subscribers can stream TV sans a set-top box, and can access, add or remove the bundle packages, or cancel the service anytime they want without having to incur cancellation charges or sans a contract.

The store location details and service areas of Xfinity® Instant TV will be revealed by the cable provider soon and has not been revealed as yet. The product can be availed on the web and via Xfinity® streaming apps for the Roku players as well as Android and iOS devices. Channels such as HBO can be streamed if the subscribers avail the channel for a $15 extra subscription fees. Comcast® adopts a tier-pricing system for the Xfinity® Instant TV package.

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Pay TV Segment

The cable provider has been trialing the product in some parts of Boston and Chicago for the last two years and in those trials, HBO was included for the starting package of $15 a month. However, the Xfinity® Instant TV package from Comcast® now starts at $18 per month. Subscribers can subscribe to major sports channels including ESPN for an addition price of $30 a month if they want to have add-on channels.

By default, the product will offer customers a set number of broadcast channels, public as well as government educational channels, and cable channels. Comcast® expects the product will prove to be one of the best cable TV alternatives in the Pay TV segment of the US market. In a nutshell, below explains the optional channels which can be available on Xfinity® Instant TV by the subscribers:

  • Sports and News at $30 a month, Entertainment Channels at $15 a month, Kids and Family-Friendly channels such as Cartoon Network and so on at $10 a month, Latino channels $5 a month, and Deportes channels at $7 a month.

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