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20 Feb

Broadband Adoption Trial Program for Seniors Launches in Washington DC

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Internet Essentials Senior Program

Comcast®, one of the cheapest cable cum internet providers, has launched “Internet Essentials Senior” program on a trial basis in Washington DC. It is a broadband internet adoption program where eligible seniors can get the broadband service at an affordable cost. In addition, they have the option of buying a PC for a low cost.

The new broadband program is presently offered to those are aged 62 years or older. Comcast’s Community Impact Director, Jessica Gappa, said, “It’s meant to help us cross the digital divide.” She said that the program, launched in 2011, started out as one focused upon students in order to “help families be connected.” There were still other populations to tap into.

“After having conversations, after getting that base of folks connected we started to see other areas and demographics that could benefit from being connected to the internet,” Gappa said. “From the D.C. area we heard feedback from local partners and officials that the senior population could use some benefits and attention.”

She also said to the extent that it is pivotal to have ears upon the ground to address the community needs, emphasizing that, “When looking at where a pilot program could be successful, you’re relying on your local partners, and there’s a really incredible senior servicing community.” The company, which offers cheapest cable packages, is equipped to also deal with the challenge of reaching out to those who may not have access to digital service.

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“One of the things we did was provide a flier to senior centers across the District and to get collateral into the hands of low income senior citizens,” Gappa added. “We really do still believe in that human element. And if people want to give us a call they can do that and talk through the program.”

A 2018 survey by Pew Research Center found that eleven percent of American adults did not use the internet. Out of those, thirty-four percent of people who did not use it were aged over 65 years or more. Admittedly, this figure was 86 percent back in 2000, as per the study. Another thirteen percent of people aged 50 to 64 years did not have the internet in 2018. Income level appeared to be dividing line and around nineteen percent of non-internet people made less than 30,000 dollars a year.

The study by Pew Research Center pointed out that the number of Americans without internet has dropped significantly since it began the survey. The number of people without it was 48 percent in 2000. The cheap internet program also comes with digital literacy training for free, wherein literature can be accessed in person, in print, or online.

13 Oct

Magic Leap Campus to Get 5G Network Access by Early 2019

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5G Mobile Network

The telecommunications company AT&T®, which provides cheap internet and DIRECTV NOW®, will launch a 5G trial zone next year at the Magic Leap campus in Plantation, Florida. As per an AT&T® news release, having the 5G connectivity at the campus of Magic Leap in Plantation city “will give developers and creators the ability to test devices and applications where the work is being done.”

AT&T® Communications’ Chief Executive Officer, John Donovan, said, “New and immersive experiences from Magic Leap’s developers eventually riding on the AT&T® mobile 5G network will redefine entertainment and productivity.”

The best internet provider AT&T® announced the news during the first Magic Leap conference held in LA recently. It is the exclusive wireless distributor of Magic Leap One to subscribers in the US. Magic Leap One is a “mixed reality headset”, a product designed for content creators like artists and developers.

The L.E.A.P. Conference featured many speakers, comprising the CEO of Magic Leap, Rony Abovitz, and science fiction author cum the company’s Chief Futurist, Neal Stephenson. Abovitz said that the company selected LA as the location of its conference for accesses to West Coast developers, and commented that, “Holding our first conference on the West Coast helps us to start new conversations and relationships.”

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Magic Leap is now one of the most-watched tech companies in South Florida, having attracted big investments from other businesses comprising Alibaba, Google, and Saudi Arabia’s investment arm named Public Investment Fund.

The Telco giant also made another important announcement during the conference. In addition to the 5G mobile pilot network, it will launch the DIRECTV NOW® application’s beta version to the mixed reality headset Magic Leap One next year. AT&T® says that the beta app “will give you a new level of control in how and where you watch.” With the app, users of Magic leap One will be able to place a maximum of four live streams simultaneously, and they will be a cooking show, a previous film, news and the game of football.

The cheap internet provider plans to offer the content of WarnerMedia, through demonstrations in select shops, comprising scenes or characters from Warner Bros. movies reimagined for the mixed reality headset. Alongside Magic Leap, AT&T® will also host in San Francisco a Spatial Computing Hackathon from November 09 to 11, 2018.

16 Mar

Not All Internet Providers Give the Same Internet Service

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Fiber-To-The-Home Service

A lot of people these days believe that Google Fiber and local providers are the only ones that don’t charge excessively for their internet services. While there is some truth to this – the internet system in the country is not perfect – you will find that the scene is not fully taken up by giant providers that sell expensive mediocre plans.

Fierce Telecom recently came out with a list of providers in the cable internet, wireless, and wireline categories, and a comparison based on speed, usage caps, technology, and overage fees. It is a given that you will not get every provider’s service in every region, which makes comparisons a bit hard. However, this does provide a riveting look at some of the best cheap internet providers this year.

If you are getting FTTH or Fiber-To-The-Home service, then you have the best news of all. Only AT&T® among the providers places a cap on usage, and even that is only for users on their 300 Mbps plan. The gigabit-speed plan has no metering on it. DSL users and Telco customers still have to deal with a cap, but the cookie is that these services are soon to be replaced.

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You find the most caps implemented among the cable internet providers, who make use of the coaxial cable lines first set up for cable TV. Altice® and Charter® don’t set usage caps on their plans, but it needs to be mentioned that Charter® is bound to refrain as a condition in its TWC® takeover.

When you check out plans from the rest – Comcast®, Mediacom®, Cox®, and Cable One®, you will see that usage caps are part and parcel. Cox® and Comcast® have a reasonable 1 TB data cap setting across the board, but it is $50 extra per month for a fully unlimited plan. For Mediacom®, the caps start at 150 GB a month when you get the slowest plan. This goes up to 6 TB if you opt for the gigabit-speed plan.

If you want uniformity in plans, this can be seen in the wireless arena. Here, you get similar plan from all four big networks. You also have “unlimited” plans without a hard data cap, but with a de-prioritization threshold instead. After you reach the latter, your data gets de-prioritized, if there is local tower congestion. This is meant to make your data slow down in congested places after you hit the threshold, although it is an improvement over having to pay overusage fees.

13 Mar

FCC Rejects a Petition Made Against Comcast® by Wave Broadband

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Top Rated Shows

Federal Communications Commission has recently rejected a petition filed by Wave Broadband®, who alleged that Comcast® used unfair business practices that prevented them from airing TV programming to the customers. The Media Bureau of FCC termed the petition as a ‘program access complaint’, and stated that there are deadlines to file complaints of such nature.

“[W]e dismiss the Petition because Wave® did not file within the time limit that our program access rule requires,” said the Commission in a ruling favorable to Comcast®. FCC accepted the argument of the Telco giant that the petition against them from their rival was filed “in the final month of the contract terms, long after the [FCC’s one-year statute of] limitations periods expired.”

Wave Broadband® has over 400,000 subscribers in California, Oregon, Washington, whereas Comcast® has over 22 million TV subscribers nationwide and owns several TV networks. Cable providers pay Comcast® for accesses to TV programming channels. The petition from Wave Broadband® against regional sports networks owned by Comcast® stated that the company’s practices “had the effect of withholding must-have regional sports programming from the largest cable competitor to Comcast Cable® on the West Coast unless Wave® agreed to pay a punitive ransom totaling nearly $3.5 million.”

Both Wave Broadband® and Comcast® signed a contract back in October 2014, that required Wave® to deliver the Comcast-owned sports networks to a particular portion of the overall customers. “Ultimately, Wave® was not able to maintain the contracts’ agreed-upon subscriber penetration percentage terms—a result that Wave® attributes to Comcast’s decision to offer its regional sports networks through different distribution methods—and Wave® agreed in July 2017 to cure the breach of contract with a payment of damages to Comcast®,” noted Federal Communications Commission on the dispute.

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The ‘different distribution methods’, refers to the video services that carry online content from Comcast’s sports networks. Many of the customers, who subscribe to TV service, said that Wave® adds an online video service. That is what contributed to Wave’s failure to keep deliver Comcast-owned content to the subscriber percentage as mentioned in the contract.

Wave Broadband® argued that Comcast® made a threat to drop sports networks from the TV service if Wave® did not pay more, which they agreed to in turn seeking refunds. However, Comcast® disputed that Wave® made voluntary commitments in multiple contracts starting in 2005. “Yet Wave® now asks the Commission to declare that the parties’ arrangements under the expired agreements are ‘unlawful’, to absolve Wave’s acknowledged breach of the contracts,” Comcast® told FCC.

06 Feb

The FCC Media Bureau Rules in Favor of DirecTV®

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On-Demand Programs

The FCC Media Bureau recently denied the retransmission good faith complaint filed by HITV against DirecTV®, which alleged that the TV service provider failed to negotiate retransmission consent in good faith for the carriage of the broadcast television station KFVE, Honolulu, Hawaii. It is crucial to note that customers who have subscribed to the TV service of DirecTV® are unable to access the Honolulu MyNetworkTV affiliated station since October 19, 2017.

The order issued by the FCC Media Bureau said, “Rather than provide a counter-offer to DirecTV’s initial proposal, HITV requested DirecTV® to provide another proposal that would be workable for HITV. We agree with DirecTV® that it is not obligated to negotiate against itself.”

The broadcast television station KFVE has been getting compensation from DirecTV® when Raycom Media negotiated on their behalf. However, the Congress recently proclaimed that such kind of joint negotiations are not allowed anymore. Still, HITV still wants compensation from the TV service provider, but DirecTV® is not willing to meet the needs of HITV, as they claim that the demand for the channel is too low. The FCC Media Bureau’s order regarding this issue asserted the fact that DirecTV® did not act in a bad faith.

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In addition to that, the FCC Media Bureau also rejected the claim made by HITV. They said, “Although it would have been more consistent with the spirit of the retransmission consent rules for DirecTV® initially to explain its decision not to provide any monetary compensation, even in the absence of a counter-offer from HITV, our rules require no such explanation, and ultimately DirecTV conveyed its reasoning to HITV.”

The officials from DirecTV® had managed to strike a deal with Rapid Broadcasting a few days ago. As a result, the NBC affiliate KNBN in Rapid City, SD had repapered on DirecTV® right before the Super Bowl kickoff. This means that the Hawaiian station is the only channel that is unavailable on the channel line-up of DirecTV® at present.

It is significant to note that one of the best internet providers in the country, Charter® had also lost a few stations over the last couple of weeks. Due to this, channels such as CNBC, NBC Sports Network, and USA went dark to Charter® TV subscribers. Some of these channels offer exclusive coverage and live updates from the Winter Olympics. Therefore, the loss of these channels will surely hurt customers who have subscribed to the TV service of Charter®.

02 Jan

Spectrum® Increases Internet Speeds in Dayton

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Many bigwigs in the communication field are increasing their internet speed. Spectrum® internet has increased their starting download speed by 66%, that is from 60 Mbps to 100 Mbps, in Dayton. Surprisingly, even though Spectrum® is boosting their internet speed, they are not changing the pricing of their services.

According to the news released, new Spectrum® Internet users can avail the fastest 100 Mbps speed. On top of that, the company has increased the speed automatically for the current Spectrum® customers including both residential and business clients. Mark Dunford, the regional vice president of operations at Spectrum® said that more than 99% of their customers already have access to the internet speed of 100 Mbps in the region.

He also added that they are providing more speed for surfing, streaming, and accessing social media for their customers without any additional charges in their Spectrum® package. Moreover, the ultra customers of the company can avail the internet upgrade, which will increase their starting speed from 100 Mbps to 300 Mbps without any additional charges as well. This will create a big stir amongst their rival internet service providers.

Charter Spectrum® officials declined to release their customer strength in the county due to reasons of competition with other internet service providers. However, the Telco claimed that they offer the fastest internet speed in the Dayton area without any modem fees, data caps, or contracts. Still, it is to be noted that a small percentage of Spectrum® customers will have to rely on a new modem to avail the faster speeds until they get their modems exchanged by the company.

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DOCSIS 3.1 Technology

Moreover, the company is also introducing its DOCSIS 3.1 technology this week. It comes with gigabits speed in Cincinnati, which will benefit some Spectrum® residential and business customers in that region. Besides that, they have not any timetable for the release of this super high-speed service in the southern part of Dayton region.

Charter Communications® wrapped up the acquisition of Time Warner Cable® in a deal worth $78 billion in May of 2016, which made them the second largest cable and internet service provider in the United States. Nonetheless, the Philadelphia-based Comcast Corporation® still holds the first position.

The customer service center of the Charter Communications® hired 50 customer service representatives in Kettering in January. On top of that, they hired 30 outside sales representatives and customer service representatives in May as well and created a series of hiring in the Dayton region. All the moves are great signs for those looking for the best internet options in the area.

22 Dec

Comcast®, AT&T®, and Dish Network® to Increase Rates by January

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Increasing Rates For Services

Comcast® recently said their customers in the Houston area that they will be increasing rates for most of their cheap internet and cable TV products. The increased rates will be reflected in the January 2018 bill. Details of the increase in rates appeared in a notice that was provided with the last bill.

The monthly price increases by 4.50 dollars for the Digital Premier Service by Comcast®. The old price was 139.99 dollars and the new price will be 144.49 dollars. The price for two premium channels has increased by four dollars and has reached 24 dollars from 19.99 dollars. In addition, the rates of most standalone internet services have increased by two dollars.

It is also reported that the rate to rent cable modem is increasing from ten dollars to eleven dollars and the late fee will increase from 9.50 dollars to 10 dollars. Comcast® spokesperson Michael Bybee said that the increase in rates would not apply to users who have applied promotional rates or to those users who have negotiated the rates as per a contract. However, the rates will go up once the contract or promotional period expires.

On the notice provided with the December bills, Ralph Martinez, who is the Regional Senior Vice President of Comcast®, said that the prices are increasing as “the cost of doing business rises.”

“You may also be aware that we pay increasing programming fees to offer the best in entertainment, news and sports and they are among our largest costs,” the note says. Bybee also said that increase was originally planned for October 1, 2017. However, it was delayed due to the Hurricane Harvey.

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“We postponed the original timing of the price change so we could all focus on recovery efforts from the devastating effects this city endured from Hurricane Harvey,” he said.

It is not just Comcast® raising the cable rates. AT&T® is also increasing prices for their DirecTV® services in January and the announcement about the same was made recently. AT&T® has increased range from 20 cents per month for some of the regional sports channels to eight dollars per month for the Ultimate Premier package of DirecTV®. AT&T® has not yet announced any hike in their internet rates.

Dish Network® is also planning to increase rates for their television services. It is reported that most of their channel bundles will go up by 5 dollars a month and the rate of their complete America’s Everything package will increase by 15 dollars.

20 Dec

AT&T® Launches 5G Trial at the Silos with Magnolia

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5G Millimeter Wave System

One of the fastest internet providers in the United States, AT&T® recently shared a few details about their 5G trials. The officials from AT&T® confirmed that their largest 5G fixed wireless trial will be in Waco, Texas, at the Silos and it will involve Magnolia. In addition to that, they also added that the new 5G trial would be AT&T’s largest 5G fixed wireless trial with a home and lifestyle brand.

The Senior Vice President of Technology Planning and Engineering at AT&T®, Marachel Knight, said, “This is a meaningful and important step in bringing our 5G fixed wireless trials to Waco starting with the Silos. Taking our 5G tests out of the lab and into real, high-traffic environments like the Silos will bring a fantastic customer experience while helping us learn even more about building a 5G network of the future for both consumers and businesses.”

Reports from several reliable sources indicate that the 5G millimeter wave (mmWave) system will be deployed at the Magnolia Market and adjacent places at the Silos in Waco. This system will distribute connections throughout these locations and employees at Silos will be able to make use of this trial service by simply connecting the network through the Wi-Fi feature in their smartphones.

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Implementing Innovative Solutions

Approximately 5,000 people visit the Silos every day to shop at the Magnolia Seed and Supply, Magnolia Market, eat at the Silos Baking Co. or food truck park, spend time in the garden, and play games. David Washburn, who is the Information Technology Manager at Magnolia said, “At Magnolia, we’re always looking for opportunities to implement innovative solutions. We’re excited to see how this technology enhances efficiencies for vendor partners and employees alike.”

The Chief Marketing Officer of AT&T® Business, Mo Katibeh, said, “Connectivity is at the core of every company’s digital transformation. 5G will have a significant impact on how businesses work and how they engage with their customers. The trial with Magnolia helps drive a path for businesses of all sizes to have access to massive capacity via 5G to serve their employees and their customers in ways we couldn’t have even dreamed of just a few years ago.”

The telecom giant, AT&T® had announced in August that they are planning to expand their fixed wireless 5G trials to residential and business customers in Waco, South Bend, Indiana, and Kalamazoo, Michigan by the end of 2017. However, some AT&T® customers in Austin, Texas recently reported that they have been getting a maximum internet speed of 1 Gigabit per second. So, if the 5G trials in more areas of the country get successful, customers will be able to acquire a cheap internet deal.

11 Dec

Special Committee Probe of CenturyLink® Finds No Customer Service Fraud Evidence

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Customer Service Fraud

CenturyLink® recently said that their special committee of independent board members concluded that there was no evidence to prove that the provider charged their users for services that the users did not order, as alleged by an old employee of CenturyLink®. This practice is known as cramming in the world of technology.

In the last six months, the special committee of CenturyLink® together with the independent counsel from O’Melveny & Myers LLP and forensic data analysts collected and analyzed more than 9.7 million documents together with 4.3 terabytes of billing data that consists of more than 32 billion billing records. The group also interviewed many current and former employees to know about the practices followed by CenturyLink® in sales and billing.

The committee found that management of CenturyLink® did not encourage cramming and the evidences did not prove that cramming was used. However, CenturyLink® admitted that their “investment in consumer sales monitoring was not sufficiently effective in proactively detecting and quantifying potential cramming.” The Telco maintains specific procedures and policies that are designed to prevent and prohibit cramming.

CenturyLink® executives said that one of the most important issues that might have led to the way users were handled could be the complex structure of their products, promotions, and pricing, which may have resulted in confusion. Due to this, bills may not meet the expectations of customers. They added that the limitations in their ordering and billing software made it made it hard to offer users with estimates of their bills and letters confirming services that offered details of all taxes, prorated charges, discounts, and fees.

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Price For Life Guarantee

Human errors resulted in some users not getting an offered point of sale discount. CenturyLink® did not address this in a timely manner. “The investigation confirmed my long-held belief that there was no fraud or wrongdoing at the Company and that cramming was neither widespread nor condoned,” said Glen Post, who is the CEO and chairman of CenturyLink®. “However, we know there have been times when we haven’t provided our customers the experience they deserve. We have identified a number of areas where we can improve the customer experience and have already made significant progress in addressing those areas.”

CenturyLink® started a “Price for Life” guarantee for users of three of their commonly offered best internet service speed tiers to rectify future issues. The “Price for Life” guarantee was initially introduced in Nevada, which was then expanded to their complete network footprint.

30 Nov

AT&T® Expands Fixed Wireless Internet Services in Parts of Georgia

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Fixed Wireless Internet

AT&T® launched the Fixed Wireless Internet in May this year being part of their FCC Connect America Fund commitment. AT&T® offers Fixed Wireless Internet to both residents and businesses residing in “rural and underserved” locations in the US. The cheap internet facility is now being expanded by AT&T® to rural as well as underserved areas in over 40 counties in the state of Georgia. In fact, the areas in Georgia, which can now access Fixed Wireless Internet from AT&T® includes Appling, Burke, Chattahoochee, Dodge, Evans, Jefferson, Lowndes, etc.

“In today’s economy, access to high-speed internet is an integral part of both our infrastructure foundation and our job growth,” said Nathan Deal, Governor of Georgia. “Ensuring our current and future workforce are equipped with the skills necessary to succeed has been a top priority of mine since taking office. To that end, I’ve invested more than $100 million towards ensuring students across the state have access to high speed internet.”

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Closing Connectivity Gap

“These efforts are further enhanced through strong private sector partnerships, and I’m grateful for this latest AT&T® initiative,” added the state Governor. “AT&T’s innovation and investment will help keep Georgia at the forefront of the technology sector, a critical component for us to continue to be the best state in the nation in which to do business.”

With the Fixed Wireless Internet connection, the subscribers of AT&T® can download and stream the videos, and browse the web in up to 10 Mbps speed. The internet connection without satellite is routed from a cellular tower to the antennae affixed to the subscribers’ homes or business premises. AT&T® also plans to expand Fixed Wireless Internet in more than 400,000 areas nationwide by the end of 2017, and more than 1.1 million areas by 2020. In Georgia alone, the Telco plans to cover more than 26,000 areas by year-end and more than 67,000 areas by 2020 across the state.

“The more than 19,000 men and women who work for AT&T® and call Georgia home, are proud to work with our local, state and federal leadership to provide the connectivity Georgia’s residents and businesses demand,” said Bill Leahy, AT&T® President of Georgia and Southeast Region. “Through this innovative service, we are helping close the connectivity gap in Georgia.”


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