DSL Reports dot com
From: DSLreports - front page
The largest broadband users community on the web
AT&T has been chosen to power the in-car LTE service now being integrated by Audi, and the privilege of the data integration won't be cheap. According to an Audi announcement (via The Verge), the plans will be "competitively priced" at $100 for six months of LTE connectivity or a data cap of 5 GB, or $500 for 30 months of connectivity or a data cap of 30 GB. Need more data, and you pay another $100 or $500.
All Audi A3 sedans equipped with the new "Audi connect" LTE-based system will receive a free six-month LTE trial period to see if it's worth it.
The company states that starting this summer, you'll be able to add your car to your existing shared data plan (though the logistics of the clashing price points isn't explained).
"Having the choice of two data plans gives the consumer the opportunity to choose a contract that works best for their lifestyle and allows them to maintain connectivity in the vehicle for an extended period of time," Audi states in the announcement.
That "best value" plan at $500 works out to close to $17 per gigabyte. Anybody rushing to sign up? Remind me: why can't we just tether our existing data plan and smartphone to our cars again?
Google today announced that they're expanding sign ups for Google Fiber in the Kansas City area. According to the company, residents in south Kansas City, Kansas City north, Grandview, Raytown and Gladstone can now sign up for the 1 Gbps service. "We plan to start hooking up homes in these fiberhoods a few weeks after their deadlines, and expect to have all qualified fiberhoods connected by the end of this year," stated Google. "We are also extending this opportunity to the 21 fiberhoods in central KCMO and KCK that didn t qualify for Google Fiber in 2012; these fiberhoods will have until June 19 to tell us they want Fiber."
Earlier this year we noted that Comcast was toying with the idea of getting into the electricity business in their home state of Pennsylvania. That effort has now gone live, with Comcast teaming up with a unit of NRG Energy to effectively bundle electricity with Comcast's suite of phone, cable, broadband, and home security services.
The program, dubbed Energy Rewards, offers users who sign up for Comcast's new energy services prepaid Visa cards and three free months of HBO, Showtime or Starz.
You can check out the Comcast energy plans here. There's two options: a six-month, "Guaranteed Savings" plan that provides a 10% discount from the utility's variable price, or a fixed plan that locks in a price for power for the next 12-month period.
It's obviously too early to tell if this promotional effort will see expansion into additional states. Comcast is already the nation's largest cable TV provider, largest broadband provider, and third-largest phone company. Perhaps getting into dental hygiene is next?
A new report by the General Accounting Office (pdf) (GAO) found that in areas where the government invested stimulus dollars to shore up middle and last mile infrastructure, businesses were unsurprisingly able to receive faster and less expensive broadband than elsewhere.
The funds, which have been delivered via the FCC, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Rural Utilities Service, often shore up infrastructure in places where private investment has stalled, either due to a lack of competition or rural deployment challenges.
"GAO examined broadband services for 14 federally funded and municipal networks and found they tended to have higher speeds than other networks," notes the report. "For example, in 9 of the 14 communities where GAO collected information on broadband speeds and prices, federally funded or municipal networks offered higher top speeds than other networks in the same community and networks in nearby communities."
Prices similarly saw a slight decline in those same markets. The result, insists the GAO, is more efficient regional small business operations. The lion's share of the funding came courtesy of the $787 billion economic stimulus package passed by Congress in 2009.
"According to small businesses GAO met with, the speed and reliability of their broadband service improved after they began using federally funded or municipal networks," says the report. "Furthermore, according to small business owners, the improvements to broadband service have helped the businesses improve efficiency and streamline operations."
Sprint Chairman and SoftBank boss Masayoshi Son doesn't seem prepared to take no for an answer. The Japanese cellular titan insists he'd still like to see Sprint buy T-Mobile, even if every indication coming from regulators so far suggests that a deal wouldn't be approved. In an interview with Charlie Rose, Son confirms that details of a deal still haven't been hashed out, but reports had previously suggested that Sprint has already hashed out financing details.
Son continues to argue a combined T-Mobile and Sprint would make a stronger competitor for AT&T and Verizon, insisting to Charlie Rose that the combined company could launch a "massive price war" against the two larger carriers.
Historically consolidation doesn't always work that way. Eliminate a competitor and you've simply got less competition. With less competition, it's very likely a combined T-Mobile and Sprint would start acting more like AT&T and Verizon, not less. Sprint already had a tendency to follow AT&T and Verizon's lead on pricing and consumer friendly (or unfriendly) policies in recent years.
Regardless, most T-Mobile users -- justly eyeing Sprint's recent habit of under-performing on price, network performance and consumer policies -- currently seem anything but ok with the idea of T-Mobile being acquired by Sprint.
There's really no doubt that Comcast has its tendrils in deep when it comes to lobbying for approval of their $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable. The revolving door helps; former FCC boss Michael Powell now heads the NCTA, the cable industry's largest lobbying group. Former FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker, who voted for Comcast's acquisition of NBC while at the FCC, now lobbies the FCC for Comcast. FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen formerly provided legal counsel for Comcast.
But the company is also throwing money hand over fist at both parties in the hopes that they can quite simply buy merger approval. Comcast PACs have given money to all but three members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and nearly all of the folks who'll be responsible with reviewing their merger application.
They've also donated to 32 of the 39 members of the House Judiciary Committee, who'll be holding an upcoming merger hearing.
None of this is particularly surprising, given that this is how a broken democracy works. What is surprising is that in defending the practice, Comcast attempts to tell Politico in a roundabout way that they're doing this all for employees (who'll likely see layoffs from duplicate positions) and customers (who are more than certain to see rate hikes either way):
quote:That's a Comcast representative trying to claim that because lawmakers technically represent you, throwing money at them to support a merger that likely won't help you in the slightest is perfectly ok.
Comcast NBCUniversal operates in 39 states and has 130,000 employees across the country, said spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice. It is important for our customers, our employees and our shareholders that we participate in the political process. The majority of our PAC contributions are to the senators and members who represent our employees and customers."
RCN has announced that the company is significantly boosting upstream broadband speeds for most of the company's users. According to a company announcement, the upgrades should already be live for most users -- though you may need to reboot your modem to see them. The latest bump:
•25Mbps Customers from 2Mbps to 4Mbps upload
•50Mbps Customers from 5Mbps to 10Mbps upload
•75Mbps Customers from 10Mbps to 15Mbps upload
Back in December we noted that a software bug in the Xbox One game console prevented Comcast users from using the console's Wi-Fi connection -- if they were connected via IPv6. According to a Comcast blog entry (via Multichannel News), the companies have squashed the bug. The software glitch only impacted Arris-made XB2 (TG852/TG862) integrated wireless DOCSIS 3.0 gateways that were operating in Comcast areas where IPv6 had been enabled. "Comcast and Microsoft have collaborated closely since this issue was discovered and are happy to report that this issue has been resolved," Comcast states.
Softbank's Pitch to Regulators Paints False Picture of U.S. Wireless huffingtonpost.com
GAO: Government-funded broadband means better service, lower prices pcworld.com
Audi's in-vehicle 4G LTE from AT&T will cost $99 for 5GB/6-month or $499 for 30GB/30-month theverge.com
Cybercrime-As-A-Service Led To Credit Card Breach, While Mobile Malware Zoo Grew 197% In Q4 techcrunch.com
Surprise! Comcast's PAC donated to campaigns of most Congress members regulating Time Warner Cable merger politico.com
Iowa governor defends administration s internet expansion plans after several industry insiders said the incentives would not make much of a difference desmoinesregister.com
The Internet Will Be Everywhere In 2025, For Better Or Worse npr.org
Lawmakers to Examine Ways to Collect Internet Sales Taxes (Again) wsj.com
How 25 years of internet changed daily lives worldwide express.co.uk
Snowden: NSA 'Set Fire To Future Of Internet' sky.com
Back in the middle of February US District Judge Dale Kimball of Utah issued an injunction forcing live TV streaming operator Aereo to not only shut down existing operations in Denver and Salt Lake City, but blocking the company from expanding anywhere in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. While Aereo managed to get a 14 day stay on the injunction that time is now up, and the service went dark in Salt Lake City and Denver last Saturday morning.
In a statement sent to customers, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia stated the company was "disappointed" by the ruling, but that he believes the company will be victorious before the Supreme Court. Denver and Salt Lake City users are getting a refund for the last month of service:
quote:Aereo's case against broadcasters before the Supreme Court is scheduled for April 22.
Consumers have a fundamental right to watch over-the-air broadcast television via a modern antenna and to record copies for their personal use. The Copyright Act provides no justification to curtail that right simply because the consumer is using modern, remotely located equipment.
We are very sorry for the effect that this decision has on you and we look forward to presenting our case to the U.S. Supreme Court and ultimately restoring your ability to use Aereo. In the meantime, we are issuing a full refund for the current month to you, our customers in Salt Lake City and Denver.
Despite all the drama surrounding T-Mobile's price disruption, overall industry prices continue to rise, notes the Wall Street Journal. While T-Mobile's moves may have had some positive impact on policies like early termination fees and contracts, overall prices aren't trending downward, and companies (including T-Mobile) are being very careful to avoid a price war. While T-Mobile CEO John Legere loves to make noise about disruptive pricing on Twitter, the company's CFO is privately telling investors the very last thing they want is a price war:
quote:In case you missed it, that's T-Mobile's money man admitting that they're not being really as disruptive on price as their marketing suggests. Verizon, for what it's worth, agrees with T-Mobile, noting they don't really see what all the fuss is about:
T-Mobile raised the cost of its core unlimited data plan on Friday. The carrier says it has been competing more effectively by doing away with subscriber "pain points" like service contracts and international data fees. But its executives have also been signaling that they don't plan to start a price war. "When you really analyze a lot of the pricing moves that have been made, there has not been a significant repricing," Chief Financial Officer Braxton Carter said at a Morgan Stanley conference last week.
quote:Granted Verizon has the luxury of dominating 80% of the retail market and special access market with AT&T, while also holding the lion's share of spectrum. There's not significant price competition because in the eyes of AT&T and Verizon, T-Mobile barely registers at the moment. That could change, or it could become even less pronounced if T-Mobile is allowed to merge with Sprint.
"I think it is interesting given my years in the industry, how you hear things like price war and all that being kicked around in the media today and this is really nothing different than we have seen over the last couple of decades," Verizon Chief Executive Lowell McAdam said on a conference call last month.
Netflix has released the company's latest month rankings of ISP Netflix streaming performance. Not too surprisingly, the results show that Comcast Netflix streaming performance has improved two spots after Comcast and Netflix last month struck a new interconnection agreement that eliminated middlemen like Cogent Communications from their transit routes. As we noted at the time, it could take some time before the benefits of that deal impact all Comcast users, so I imagine you'll see Comcast slowly rise in these rankings further in coming months.
Elsewhere, the dismal performance from several notable major ISPs continues. AT&T's U-Verse actually dropped another two spots in the Netflix rankings, and Verizon FiOS and Frontier Communications also each dropped a spot.
Both AT&T and Verizon have hinted at the fact they're working on similar direct interconnection deals, but those deals are taking long as neither is currently trying to get a massive merger approved.
Interestingly, Netflix did something slightly different for this incarnation of the rankings, offering users an expanded list of ranked ISPs that shows where many smaller ISPs might appear.
"Since we started publishing the ISP Speed Index in December 2012 we have tracked the largest broadband providers in the US plus Google Fiber, the guiding North Star for broadband performance in the country," Netflix says in a blog post. "With the expansion, Google Fiber continues to be at the top of the expanded list of ISPs, but Cablevision Optimum leads the major ISPs."