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16 Jan

Streaming Enthusiasts to Get a New Option in 2020

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NBCUniversal, owned by the cheapest cable packages’ provider Comcast®, has announced that it will be rolling out a streaming service in early 2020 and that it is shuffling some of its main executives’ responsibilities. The service will be led by NBCUniversal’s Bonnie Hammer, who has been promoted to its Chairman of Direct to Consumer and Digital Enterprises. Mark Lazarus has been named the Chairman of NBCUniversal Broadcast, Sports, Cable, and News, while Jeff Shell has been named the Chairman of NBCUniversal Film and NBCUniversal Entertainment, adding the latter to his purview.

NBCUniversal said that the forthcoming streaming service of the company would draw on its content library as well as technology from Comcast® and Sky plc. Note that last year, the cheapest cable TV plans’ provider acquired the broadcaster named Sky plc. The advertisement-supported streaming service will be available to pay-TV customers of NBCU in the US and main international markets at no cost.

Comcast Cable® and Sky plc will offer the streaming service for free to their fifty-two million customers. An advertisement-free version of it will be available to customers for a fee. Non-pay TV customers will be able to purchase the service too.

NBCUniversal also said that it would carry on licensing content to other platforms and studios, while keeping rights to certain titles for the upcoming service. The company is getting into the content streaming industry at a time when conventional cable TV providers are losing customers. It will face competition from the likes of Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, and new services planned by WarnerMedia of AT&T® and the Walt Disney Company.

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“NBCUniversal has some of the world’s most valuable intellectual property and top talent, both in front of and behind the camera. Many of the most-watched shows on today’s popular streaming platforms come from NBCUniversal,” Steve Burke, the CEO of NBCUniversal, said. “Our new service will be different than those presently in the market and it will be built on the company’s strengths, with NBCUniversal’s great content and the technology expertise, broad scale and the wide distribution of Comcast Cable® and Sky.”

Burke added, “People are watching premium content more than ever, but they want more flexibility and value. NBCUniversal is perfectly positioned to offer a variety of choices, due to our deep relationships with advertisers and distribution partners, as well as our data-targeting capabilities. Advertising continues to be a major part of the entertainment ecosystem and we believe that a streaming service, with limited and personalized ads, will provide a great consumer experience.”

25 Jun

AT&T® Promises Tailored Programming and Fewer Ads after Merging with Time Warner®

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Tailored Programming Contents

The US telecom giant AT&T® recently merged with entertainment giant Time Warner® at $85 billion. After this happened, AT&T® is promising fewer ads, personalized programming, and smaller channel bundles. After overcoming the objection by the US Justice Department, AT&T® has stated that it will be using its technology for reinventing how the customers receive entertainment.

AT&T’s main aim now is to reduce the number of ads that consumers are used to ad-free services like Netflix, said the Chief Executive of AT&T® WarnerMedia, John Stankey. He told in an interview, “One of the big benefits we can bring to the market is lighter ad loads.”

AT&T® plans for using video data and mobile phone, supplied by consumers who have already given permission for selling targeted advertisements. The main thought behind this idea is that the brands may pay more, provided they come to know that their messages are reaching some people who are likely interested in them. Stankey said as an example, “If I’m a beer drinker, I’m more interested in seeing things about beer than soft drinks.”

Some of the Turner networks of Time Warner® have already reduced the number of ads. Comedy network TruTV has cut its number of ads to 50%. Stankey stated that AT&T® would be able to reduce ad inventory in Turner networks. He also said that AT&T® will now start to sell targeted ads in Tuner networks like CNN and TNT “in short order.”

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The US Justice Department earlier argued that the merger would harm the customers by limiting the competition and hike the prices. However, the deal was fixed after a US District Court Judge disagreed with the argument. Now, AT&T® owns popular properties like “Game of Thrones”, “Harry Potter”, and “Wonder Woman” franchises. Reports say that in addition to fewer ads, AT&T® is also planning for tailored programming according to consumers’ interest, like sending news clips of CNN to the mobile phone users who are interested in it or alerts about the programs they may like.

Stankey also said that HBO’s online service customers should not expect a sudden change in the company’s password sharing stance. Though HBO has a limit in the number of concurrent streams it accepted that password sharing may occur. “If somebody becomes really passionate about doing something through password sharing, and at some point, they get hooked on it, they move into being a paying subscriber,” Stankey said

07 May

Survey on Wireless Carriers Reveal Findings Favorable to Xfinity Mobile®

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As per the findings of a recent survey by Market Strategies International, Xfinity Mobile® has helped Comcast® become a key player in what they term as “quad play” market. This finding comes following the launch of the cable operator’s wireless service, which was almost a year ago.

The industry-wide term “quadruple play” refers to the marketing of bundled broadband internet, cable TV, and wired phone with wireless services. In other words, if a cable provider or other players in the industry use “quad play” in marketing communications, it refers to cheap cable and internet packages with telephone plans bundled.

As part of the survey in March, the research and consulting firm has interviewed 1044 online customers from the US who are aged between 18 and 64. The analysts of Market Strategies International used the survey findings to match it with the market share of wireless carriers, and it showed that the price structure of Xfinity Mobile® has lured subscribers from all main carriers.

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Comcast® offered cheap cable and internet packages previously, and its Xfinity Mobile® line launched in 2017 has helped to keep the cable subscribers from cord cutting. It refers to choosing pay-TV alternatives for streaming programming over the web, through services that provide the same. Since Comcast’s wireless service was launched in the era of streaming, it was able to retain customers.

As per reports, Comcast® has signed up 577,000 wireless customers in the first quarter of this year. The customer base of Xfinity Mobile® is set to increase, as the survey suggests that plenty of customers who previously subscribed to other wireless carriers have switched to the wireless service because Comcast® offers a much affordable deal in comparison. The respondents of the survey, which makes up 60 percent of the sample, now use Xfinity Mobile® as their main wireless service since it’s affordable.

Other than the price structure of Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile®, some survey respondents also switched to that because they were dissatisfied by their previous wireless service. “Consumers that sign up for multiple services are more valuable for the company,” said Jeffrey Johnson, the Director of Research and Consulting at Market Strategies International. “Our research shows that Comcast® is now firmly rooted in quad play — a space that only AT&T® and Verizon® have successfully dominated in the past.”

07 Apr

Spectrum® Upgrades Cable Systems from Coaxial Cable to Digital-Only

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Upgrades Cable Systems

One of the best cable TV providers in the US, Charter Spectrum®, recently made an upgrade in their service for customers, having switched many of their coaxial cable systems to digital cable converter boxes. This has lead to service requests from existing customers, with some subscribers visiting Spectrum® outlets to get the new equipment for the cable service. Charter Spectrum® is transitioning coaxial cable to fully-digital systems, which means that existing subscribers even in Laurinburg will need to get the equipment.

The cable provider has finished the all-digital upgrade in the area as of April 3 said Scott Pryzwansky, the Regional Communications Director of Charter Communications®, which owns the Spectrum® brand. The digital cable converter box will give existing customers the best in class voice and TV programming, freeing up the network capacity. Charter® customers can access broadband internet at faster speeds going forward, which will enable them to stream more HD content and access several other features.

“We know the vast majority of Spectrum® customers have adopted digital equipment for at least one TV in their home,” said Pryzwansky. “However, many of those customers may have additional TVs that are using analog signals. Those customers will need additional Spectrum® receivers for those TVs if they want to continue to watch programming in those rooms.”

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Most of the subscribers will be eligible to get a digital receiver for free from Charter®, for a specific duration, which will be as per their present cable package. After the limited period for which the cable operator will offer the digital receiver for customers, they will have to bear the applicable monthly rental cost of the equipment. As per reports, it differs slightly for legacy TWC® customers compared to Spectrum®.

The move to digital signals means that Spectrum® subscribers cannot plug coaxial cable lines into their televisions for programming but need to use the converter boxes for that. The price of digital receiver boxes range from $6.99 to $11 per month, which depends on DVR compatibility.

According to Scott Pryzwansky, Charter Spectrum® subscribers can order that upgraded equipment through their official website or by dialing 1-844-278-3408 to request a self-installation kit. Other than that, existing subscribers can receive the equipment from a Spectrum® outlet in their area. Since the cable provider notified about the digital-only upgrade to existing customers through invoices and emails, more and more customers shall make the upgrade.

22 Jan

Charter Communications® Upgrades NYC Network and Plans for More in Future

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Spectrum Internet Service

Charter Communications® has unveiled that the company has expanded their network in NYC recently to around five hundred underserved and unserved areas in Rome, Kirkland, and Utica. The expansion has been continuing since FCC and New York Public Service Commission granted the Time Warner Cable® and Charter Communications® merger last year. Charter® offers to customers in Central New York region internet, cable TV, and voice services.

The recent build out from the Telco will serve select locations of Oneida County in NYC, but some residents still need accesses to best internet service from an ISP. Reports indicate that a Deerfield resident named Graham Espe attempted to contact Charter Spectrum® to get internet for his home. Charter Communications® told Graham Espe regarding a grant program, which the Telco told him they would not partake in, and that it will be his choice to file for. The resident living in Roberts Road understands that the grant program is not open to all people.

“The way it was explained to me when I emailed the New York State Broadband Program Office back in early 2017 was that providing service to rural areas of Oneida County was a specific requirement to allow the merger of Time Warner®/Charter®/Spectrum® via the grant program,” said Graham Espe. “My take on it is that they lobbied to have the wording such that it seemed like a requirement to the public to get around anti-monopoly laws to get the merger approved, but in reality it was still a choice whether they opted to take advantage of the grants. So there was never any legal obligation on Spectrum’s part to actually follow through with providing new service to underserved areas.”

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Charter® has informed New York Public Service Commission that the network in over 42000 unserved areas has upgraded following last year’s merger with Time Warner Cable®. The expansion met the interim target of the Commission from the Telco, which was to expand the network in over 36000 underserved areas of NYC by December 2017. By May 2020, Charter Communications® will have to build out the network in up to 145000 locations in the state.

“We are on track to extend our advanced broadband network to 145,000 unserved and underserved homes and businesses across New York, including to additional locations in Oneida County by May 2020,” said Andrew Russell, the director of communications at Charter Communications® for the Northeast area.

15 Dec

Comcast® Begins Rollout of xFi Pods in Boston and Chicago

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Whole-Home Wifi Offering

As a measure of improving its whole-home WiFi offering, Comcast® has started to offer xFi Pod devices in Boston and Chicago. This hexagonal-shaped device can be plugged directly into a power outlet for offering wireless coverage throughout the home. The xFi Pod is designed to work along with the primary gateways of MSO that includes a new gigabit gateway that utilizes DOCSIS 3.1 and 802.11ac version 2. Comcast® has developed this hexagonal shaped xFi Pods in collaboration with Plume. The xFi Pod can create an in-home mesh network that can cover all across the home.

Eric Schaefer, SVP, and GM of communications, data and mobility services at Comcast® said, “xFi Pods are easy to install and they work seamlessly with our xFi Gateways to create a whole-home, mesh WiFi network. The small, hexagon-shaped devices plug into indoor electrical outlets just like an air freshener and are easily activated using the xFi mobile app for iOS or Android. Our xFi Gateways deliver reliably fast speeds and the best Wi-Fi coverage to the vast majority of households.”

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Wifi Management Platform

It is also compatible to work alongside the xFi branded WiFi management platform introduced by Comcast® lately. Comcast®, which is one of the best internet providers in Chicago and Boston, has already started to deploy these xFi Pods. The Telco is offering these devices to the customers in the form of mesh networking kits that consists of three hexagon shaped xFi Pods. Moreover, Comcast® is also planning to further deploy these xFi pods across all the states in the country in next year.

Comcast® is selling the xFi Pods as a three Pod pack for homes having only three or four bedrooms. It is also offering six pod packs for homes that contain five or more bedrooms, L-shaped additions, and multiple stories. According to Schaefer, the xFi Pods are perfect for extending the wireless connectivity in homes that contains many WiFi challenges depending on its size, shape and construction materials. Comcast® has stated that the three-xFi Pods pack is available for $119 and the six pod pack for $199.

Eric Shaefer added, “xFi Pods won’t be necessary for everyone. Before ordering the Pods, we recommend customers try to resolve their WiFi connectivity issues by making sure their xFi Gateway is located in a central area of their home – a few feet off the floor, in an upright position, and in an open space, which is free of obstructions.”

04 Dec

AT&T® and Amazon Web Services Develops LTE-M Button for its IoT Platform

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Internet Of Things Platform

AT&T® and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have made several new improvements to the internet of things platform such as the LTE-M based button. With this button, users are offered the option to submit service requests or place supplies for office supplies using a single click. This new button will be included in the IoT network launched by AT&T® this year. The launch of the button is to take place in the first quarter of next year. It is available to the customers for a promotional price of $30 for each LTE button in the first 5000 sold.

According to Mike Troiano, vice president of Internet of Things solutions for AT&T®, the price for the LTE-M button will settle between $30 after the end of the promotional period. The main target of this LTE-M button is in the enterprise market and will have a life expectancy of three years. Included along with this price is the data usage through the product lifespan. AT&T®, one of the best internet services in the country has been a long time collaborator with Amazon Web Services.

As a part of the collaboration, the new LTE-M button will also bore the services of AWS such as its 1-click service. This new initiative put forward by AWS aids customers having a minimal configuration to use their services. The price tag of AT&T’s button is a bit high when compared to Amazon’s Dish, which is consumer-targeted gadget priced for $20. However, this increase in the price is supplanted with ease of cellular connectivity provided to the business customers of AT&T®.

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This will help them reduce the costs involved in hiring IT repairpersons for resolving problems with the connectivity. Using cellular connections allows in establishing coverage across remoter areas such as agricultural or oil fields where there is the unavailability of any Wi-Fi networks.

This enables the customers to utilize the LTE-M button straight out of the box without having the need to carry out any kind of provisioning. AT&T® has made a clear position to its newly introduced LTE-M button as a much simpler and reliable alternative over Wi-Fi connected devices.

The Telco has also stated that there will be a decline in the prices of the devices from the expected growth and evolution of the LPWA technologies. In addition, AT&T® has made several plans for extending its cellular business into the Wi-Fi dominated segments and devices.

24 Nov

Federal Communication Commission Proposes a Repeal of Net Neutrality

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Repeal Of Net Neutrality

Federal Communications Commission recently put forward a new proposal to repeal the net neutrality ruling given under the Obama Administration in 2015. As per the Commission’s proposed deregulations, the main internet providers would be able to decide which websites as well as web services the customers can access going forward. In the contrary, the 2015 ruling states ISPs shall give access to web content and web-related applications irrespective of the host and without slowing down or blocking certain websites on preference basis.

“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the Internet,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. The proposal needs approval from the Republican-led Federal Communications Commission, which may happen in the meeting slated to take place by mid-December. The internet service providers remain skeptic to net neutrality as the ruling makes it tough for them to monitor web traffic, whereas the websites fear that the repeal will lead to a decline in user traffic.

“Our approach will be not zero regulation, but light-touch regulation — rules backed by long-standing principles of competition law,” the FCC Chairman added. In fact, Pai’s statements were wowed by cable TV providers, conservatives, and internet providers in the US. However, the ex-Chairman of FCC cum Democratic Party Member, Tom Wheeler said that the repeal is “tragic” for the consumers.

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“If you like your cable company, you’ll love what this does for the Internet,” said Wheeler, who brought the net neutrality ruling in 2015. He further added that Pai’s proposal would need ISPs to stay transparent in order for the repeals to work as planned going forward. For instance, if an ISP opts to block or slow down or give advantageous treatment to a website, the ISP should inform the consumers of their policy on a website that is accessible.

If any violation of the transparency with respect to the new net neutrality policy happens, the Commission would penalize the ISP. Moreover, FCC’s repeal plans of net neutrality would also transfer the responsibility of legal enforcement back to Federal Trade Commission, which can sue violations if any.

“The FTC stands ready to protect broadband subscribers from anticompetitive, unfair, or deceptive acts and practices just as we protect consumers in the rest of the Internet ecosystem,” said acting FTC Chairman, Maureen K. Ohlhausen.

17 Nov

CenturyLink® Deploys Advanced Network Connectivity at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit

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Advanced Network Connectivity

The Little Caesars Arena in Detroit will now be connected with the digital world, thanks to the advanced network services offered by CenturyLink®. This new connectivity experience provided by CenturyLink® will enable sports fans, concert audience, and others to remain connected in the arena. CenturyLink’s networking technology is being used to enhance the connectivity in and around the Little Caesars Arena. For this purpose, the Telco has developed and installed a converged LAN in the area for providing easy access to its best internet service.

“Building a world-class communications infrastructure was critical to the success of the arena, and CenturyLink® delivered,” said John King, Vice President for Information & Innovation at Olympia Entertainment Inc., the company that offers facility management services at the Little Caesars Arena.  “The arena’s advanced communications network helps us keep our guests connected in multiple ways as they’re enjoying our events while enabling the operations staff to keep everything running smoothly and at peak efficiency.”

Besides, this newly installed LAN will also provide connectivity across the entire district of Detroit. As a measure of increasing the connectivity in the arena, CenturyLink® services have linked several digital signage, internet-protocol television, Wi-Fi and mobile applications inside the arena complex. In addition, CenturyLink® will also offer terminals that offer telephony, parking, ticket, concession point-of-sale, and technical support.

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Little Caesars Arena has a large communications system that contains more than 12,000 active internet ports, about 200 virtual LANs (VLANs), and 45 intermediate distribution frames (IDFs). This helps in linking the communications cable between the major distribution frame and the devices of the users. The network can support about 40 gigabits of data and has a redundant 20-gigabit uplink into each of the IDF located in the arena.

The digital signage and IPTV platform is one of the most notable technologies deployed by CenturyLink® at the Little Caesars Arena. It has feeds that link to about 1700 video display screens across the arena including the larger ones located in the major areas. Moreover, CenturyLink® is also offering VoIP service about 700-wired phones based in and around the arena. This covers the operations offices and the call center of the arena.

Mahesh Dalvi, Vice President of Technology Architecture at CenturyLink® said, “Every communications platform, component or device within Little Caesars Arena is connected to our network. We’re excited to be providing advanced networking solutions for such a high-profile, high-tech arena.” CenturyLink® has also deployed such advanced networking technologies in several different public venues across the country.

12 Oct

Viacom Threatens to Pull Out Their Networks from Charter®

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Viacom® -Charter® Deal

Viacom Inc® owned cable networks might be pulled out from the channel lineup of one of the leading cable TV providers, Charter Communications® if both the parties fail to reach a new agreement by the end of the week. The officials from Viacom® recently announced that customers who have subscribed to the TV service of Charter® might lose access to Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, and MTV.

Viacom® also added that they have already made a series of offers to Charter Communications® to reach a settlement, but they were still not able to meet Charter’s conditions. The current deal between Viacom® and Charter® expires on October 15, 2017, and if this new dispute results in the blackout of channels, then it will affect approximately 16.5 million customers.

In a recent statement, officials from Viacom® said, “We have made a series of very attractive offers to Charter® that are consistent with terms we’ve recently reached with other large cable operators. Importantly, these offers would enable Charter® to lower Spectrum subscribers’ bills, while also giving them more access to shows across Nickelodeon, BET, MTV, Comedy Central and other Viacom® networks.”

The statement added, “Viacom® is committed to developing strong, mutually beneficial relationships with our distribution partners. Despite our efforts, Charter® continues to insist on unreasonable and extreme terms that are totally inconsistent with the market. While we’re making every effort to reach a new deal, Charter’s actions may force a disruption in their service.”

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On the other hand, a spokesperson from Charter Communications® stated that the telecom company has decided not to comment on this issue yet. However, reports from several sources indicate that Charter® will be making a statement in a few days to address the issue.

There has been a quarrel or dispute between both the companies for a very long time and it sparked when the officials from Charter® moved the flagship networks of Viacom® to their most expensive programming tier. Some of the networks that were moved by Charter® are Comedy Central, VH1, MTV, and Spike.

The CEO of Viacom® Bob Bakish had responded about this move during that time and said, “They don’t have the contractual right to tier our services the way they have. I don’t fundamentally believe suing big customers is the way to solve problems. The better way to solve them is through engagement and exploring ways we can create value together.”

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