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23 Feb

Charter Offers Mobile Plans As They End TWC Video Discounts

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Wi-Fi Services

Charter Communications is the second largest cheapest cable provider in the United States, but now they are starting to sound more like a wireless provider. The comments of CEO Tom Rutledge to analysts on the conference call to discuss fourth quarter earnings show that they are now concentrating on wireless communication.

Much of the conference involved the plan of Charter Communications to introduce a new mobile service in the year 2018. As per the reports, the new mobile service will integrate the Wi-Fi services of Charter with the mobile network of Verizon.

“Our goal is to include wireless services in our packages and drive more customer relationship growth,” Rutledge said. Charter is also planning filed trials to find how they can mix their wired networks with the best internet services and speedy 5G wireless connections. “Over the long term, our goals with wireless and mobility and our wireless business plan will broaden,” the CEO added.

Rutledge also noted that most of the twenty-two million broadband users of Charter already use Wi-Fi routers and that they serve 200 million plus routers. “Many of those are phones and have a contract with a traditional mobile cellular provider,” he said. “But, 75% of the bits on those devices are coming through the Wi-Fi platform. So we’re a wireless provider of data services today.”

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Charter Mobile Network

These numbers could increase even more, as more people are turning to virtual and augmented reality offerings that make use of goggles and smartphones. “They’re less about mobility than about capacity and low latency, and our networks set up well from a capital cost perspective,” Rutledge said, adding that he sees opportunities for Charter to use 5G or Wi-Fi to serve to the needs of mobile users in specific areas like malls.

For the traditional cable services, Charter said that their subscriber numbers has declined 1.3% to reach 16.8 million in the fourth quarter. Much of this decline in subscribers came after Charter ended the discount plans that were offered by Time Warner Cable.

“There were 96,000 different promotional offers out there,” Rutledge says. “The sheer logistics of managing that has been a challenge….In the fall of 2015 those offers were significant and they obviously went through close [of the deals] — even a little bit afterward.”

20 Feb

CenturyLink Expects To Virtualize All Their POPs By 2019

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CenturyLink Internet

It seems that CenturyLink is striving hard to become the fastest internet provider in the United States. According to recent reports, CenturyLink is making progress with the virtualization of their network and they have incorporated SDN and NFV technologies to sixty percent of their important Points of Presence (POPs) by the end of the year 2016. Besides that, they also recently set a high bar for the virtualization of all their points of presence.

Chairman and CEO of CenturyLink, Glen Post said to investors in the fourth quarter earnings call that they are planning to double the amounts of POPs they have virtualized in the coming two years. “We plan to have 100% of those [POPs] virtualized by the end of 2019,” Post said. “We also have almost 50% of our network capabilities currently controlled through our SDN network.” He also said that CenturyLink has “virtualized WAN service availability, virtualized interconnect between VPN customers, just a number of virtualization steps we’ve taken.”

By virtualizing more of their POPs, CenturyLink said that they would be able to get capex savings while improving and enhancing the experience of the customers. “Once we complete those, we expect to save over $200 million a year in capex,” Post said. “By about 2019, we expect those to complete, and we expect significant savings there. We expect major opex cost savings as a result of this virtualization of the SDN, NFV network builds.”

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However, reducing the capex and opex are just two benefits that CenturyLink will get from the virtualization of their networks. Implementation of NFV and SDN will help them to have new revenue opportunities, as with the implementation, they will be able to offer new capabilities like the ability to reach broad array business users and network on demand services. The array of business customers also include those customers that are not in the serving area of CenturyLink.

“The customers can control their own destiny to a certain degree in how they distribute their bandwidth, for instance,” Post added. “It enables us to cover a lot more businesses. When you virtualize, you can go outside your current territories to many more businesses than you otherwise could reach.”

Post further stated that “a large amount of those were business we could not previously sell to.” It is reported that by having virtualization across sixty percent of their POPs, CenturyLink will be able to reach 4.8 million businesses and will become one of the best internet providers in the US.

17 Feb

The New Unlimited Plan From AT&T Eliminates TV Requirement

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AT&T Unlimited Plan

One of the major drawbacks of AT&T’s former unlimited plan was that customers were forced to subscribe to a TV subscription and this drew off many customers from choosing the unlimited offering from AT&T. However, in a recent announcement, AT&T confirmed that they are planning to re-offer their unlimited data plan to their subscribers without requiring them to have a U-Verse or DirecTV packages.

Reports from several reliable sources indicate that the new offering from AT&T will be available to their customers in a few days. AT&T is one of the leading telephone and internet providers in the country, and it seems that they are planning to match their unlimited plan to that of Verizon, which offers four lines to their customers for just $180 without the need to subscribe to a television service.

Nevertheless, a single line offering of AT&T is a bit more expensive when compared to that of Verizon and it is available to the subscribers for $100. AT&T is charging $40 each for the second and third line. This means that the telecom giant is not charging the customers for the fourth line.

Just like Verizon, AT&T will also be slowing down customers when they are in “congested” or busy regions, if the customers have already crossed the 22 GB mark in a month. Reports indicate that customers who do not exceed 22 GB in a month will not be have to worry about AT&T’s this policy.

The new unlimited offer provided by AT&T will also include HD video. However, AT&T has confirmed that they will not allow their customers to use their smartphone as a mobile hot spot. The unlimited plan offered by some of the internet providers such as Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon does offer 10 GB of mobile hot spot data.

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AT&T Internet Plans

In addition to that, AT&T customers who travel to Mexico and Canada will be able to add a “Roam North America” feature, which enables them to use their unlimited plan in both of the countries at zero additional charges. This means that AT&T customers will be able to enjoy unlimited calling, texting, and internet services while they are in these countries.

AT&T also added that their non-TV customers who stick with the oldest unlimited data offering would not be affected by this latest announcement. Reports indicate that this latest offering from AT&T is the best internet service, and will attract more customers to their offerings.

16 Feb

DirecTV Now Users Can Now Access Starz Programming

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Starz On DirecTV Now

There is good news for subscribers of AT&T’s new streaming service, DirecTV Now, which was launched to attract cord cutters and people looking for cheap cable services. AT&T has added Starz services to the DirecTV Now channel list and it is available for an additional charge of 8 dollars per month.

This is a higher price than that of HBO though. The forty dollars per month DirecTV Now online streaming service of AT&T was launched in December 2016, with HBO as an add-on channel for 5 dollars a month. The five-dollar pricing for the channel is much less than the fifteen dollars a month that the traditional pay TV users pay for the channel.

It is reported that the new eight-dollar Starz service on DirecTV Now includes Starz Encore SVOD content, Starz SOD content, and linear streams of Starz Kids & Family, Starz Encore, and Starz channels. Note that Starz Encore is already available on the 70 dollars per month package of DirecTV Now.

“With today’s launch on DirecTV Now, Starz is continuing to extend the reach of its flagship Starz products in the marketplace. The DirecTV Now offering is a terrific service for our collection of Starz Originals and quality feature film programming, which has proven to be very successful for the unmatched quality at an affordable price point,” said Jeffrey Hirsch, COO at Starz.

“With DirecTV Now, AT&T is opening up barriers to entry that prevented a wide swath of audience from accessing our groundbreaking slate of originals and we are thrilled to work with them,” he added.

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Starz Programming

Starz services on DirecTV Now will feature more than 2,500 TV episodes and movies, which includes the original series Power and Outlander. “With the addition of Starz, we’re continuing to broaden the appeal of DirecTV Now, creating an unmatched entertainment experience,” said Dan York, who is the chief content officer for AT&T.

Starz is the second most widely subscribed flagship premium pay TV network in the US. Starz originals to look out for in 2017 include Power, Outlander, American Gods, together with seasons of The Missing, Survivor’s Remorse, Black Sails, The White Princess, and Ash vs Evil Dead.

DirecTV Now offers their customers access to hundred plus channels including live sports, premium channels, on demand content, popular shows, and movies. With DirecTV Now, you can stream content on a variety of supported devices, without the need to have any set top boxes, annual contracts, cheap cable connections, satellite dishes, or credit checks.

16 Feb

Fox Sports Will Start To Broadcast 4K Contents On DirecTV

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4K On DirecTV

Fox Sports failed to offer the broadcast of Super Bowl LI in 4K Ultra HD, even though they had recorded the match in 4K with over 2 million cameras. However, Fox Sports has now shifted their focus towards the implementation of 4K sportscasts and it will begin the broadcast from February 17, on DirecTV.

The officials from Fox Sports recently announced that the broadcast would begin with the California-Stanford basketball game. Reports indicate that the 4K game broadcast will be available to viewers on channel number 106 on DirecTV packages. Note that channel 106 is actually the dedicated 4K content channel of the cable service provider.

Both DirecTV and Fox had previously announced that they are planning to offer UHD sportscasts for a number of events such as the college basketball and football games, along with many other major sports events from FIFA, the NASCAR Rally, and Major League Baseball.

The next 4K broadcast of Fox and DirecTV after the California-Stanford game will be the basketball match between UCLA and University of Washington, which will be played on March 01, 2017. Reports from several reliable sources claim that this game will also be available to the viewers in HD resolution.

DirecTV has been trying hard to continue the expansion of live 4K content since the cable service provider launched three dedicated channels for this format. DirecTV launched a 4K network on their channel number 104, which was dedicated to “nature documentaries” and the original programming from Audience Network. In addition to that, the channel 105 features short-form documentaries and 4K pay-per-view movies while the channel 106 offers the broadcast of many live events in 4K.

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Fox Sports Content

The senior vice president of field and technical operations at Fox Sports, Michael Davies told that Fox is trying to introduce new technologies into their broadcast and the 4K broadcast is actually a part of this strategy. He also added that Fox offered a Wisconsin to offer a “different kind of VR experience” during the Big Ten Football Championship game between Wisconsin and Penn State.

“While live VR is important, you need to give the viewer something else to do,” Davies said. “We think that the audience will come for the live VR, but they will stay for some of the other things they can do with it.”  Reports indicate that the 4K broadcast on DirecTV will attract more customers towards it, and this would be one of the best cable deals, that a subscriber can enjoy with DirecTV packages.

15 Feb

Comcast To Offer Immersive Viewing Experience Of The Oscars

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Watching The Oscars

In a recent announcement, Comcast Corporation confirmed that they are collaborating with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and ABC Television to offer an “immersive” viewing experience of the Oscars telecast to their Xfinity X1 subscribers.

Comcast had earlier teamed up with both these parties last year in order to provide expanded coverage and content of The Academy Awards to their Xfinity X1 customers. Reports indicate that the Oscar ratings in Comcast households were approximately 39% higher when compared to non-Comcast homes during the broadcast of the event.

The 89th Oscars event will be held on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood and it will be aired live to the viewers at 07:00 p.m. ET on ABC. With that, Comcast Xfinity subscribers would have access to over 1,500 hours of content this year. Additionally, they will also be able to catch the live stream of red carpet and backstage activities of the Oscar event with enhanced extras and voice commands.

In a recent statement, Daniel Spinosa, Comcast Cable General Manager of Movies, Pay-Per-View, and Commerce said that, “This year’s The Oscars experience is another example of X1 enabling us to collaborate with content partners to build innovative and immersive viewing experiences around their programming. The Oscars is an iconic and beloved event watched by millions of Americans across the country and we’re excited to further expand our partnership with ABC and the Academy to enhance the experience for X1 customers.”

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Immersive Viewing Experience

Apart from the best cable deals, Comcast also delivers the best internet services to their Xfinity X1 customers and this is the reason why more subscribers are drawn towards Comcast’s offerings. The officials from Comcast have also stated that their Xfinity X1 customers will be able to enjoy plenty of features and some of them are as follows.

  • “The Oscars: All-Access” digital stream that includes footage from both backstage cameras and red carpet will be available to customers during the broadcast of the event.
  • New voice commands, which will help customers to easily find the Academy Award winning movies from previous years.
  • An abundant library of over 700 Oscar winning films will also be available to customers in the On Demand collection. In addition to that, Comcast X1 customers can also access the web clips and highlights related to the Oscar nominees of this year.
14 Feb

DirecTV Will Fight US Antitrust Suit Over The LA Dodgers Channel

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DirecTV executives recently said that they have refused to pay for the Time Warner Cable Inc’s Los Angeles Dodgers channel, as they have been “burned” before, overpaying to air Lakers games, and not because they are conspiring with others to get advantage on competitors.

That is the defense DirecTV, the biggest satellite TV provider of the Unites States, will use while asking a judge to throw away a Department of Justice lawsuit, which accuses DirecTV of joining hands with competitors in 2014 to get an edge over TWC in the licensing negotiations.

As per the government, DirecTV was the leader of a conspiracy among the distributors in Los Angeles area, which left almost 70% of the pay TV users in the second largest media market of the US without access to the Dodgers games in 2014. This happened two years before Charter Communications acquired Time Warner Cable. The deal made it the Los Angeles provider of Dodger games and as a result of the deal, thousands of fans of the games still do not have access to the live broadcast of the games, the Justice Department said.

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LA Dodgers Channel

Charter Communications said in a statement that they do not expect any other pay TV provider to offer SportsNet LA by opening day of baseball season. DirecTV provided a gentler explanation for why no LA pay TV distributor picked up the channel of the local Major League Baseball franchise. “TWC’s exorbitant prices and bargaining intransigence.” DirecTV had paid a premium to carry TWC’s Lakers channel only to see the NBA team’s ratings and performance tank and after that, they resolved not to commit the same mistake with the Dodgers channel.

The case is in Los Angeles federal court and it is playing out a delicate time for AT&T, as they are trying in Washington to acquire permissions to buy Time Warner. President Trump voiced opposition to the deal earlier during his campaign and after taking the President’s office, Trump is said to have told people privately that he still opposes the move.

The dueling narratives on the channel will be debated at hearing that is set for March 13, 2017. In the hearing, a judge will decide whether the lawsuit should be permitted to proceed.

14 Feb

Dish To Air BBC’s Planet Earth II In 4K Ultra HD

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Planet Earth II

Dish Network has announced the live broadcast of the acclaimed BBC Television series Planet Earth II in 4K Ultra High Definition. BBC America will premiere the show on February 18 and Dish Network customers can watch it in the vivid detail of 4K resolution at their homes.

Along with BBC America, other channels such as AMC and Sundance TV are also airing the show, but in a much lesser resolution. Customers can view the premiere of the show in 4K on DISH channel number 540 and in High Definition on BBCA channel number 135. The remaining episodes of the eleven part series along with the 2006 sequel will be aired on BBC America and Dish’s 4K channel on every Saturday night.

Planet Earth is a multinational nature documentary produced by BBC, and it is highly acclaimed with its breathtaking visuals and narration by naturalist Sir David Attenborough. BBC announced that it would be followed by a sequel, titled Planet Earth II. Viewing it in 4K resolution is definitely going to be a visual treat for the customers as the prequels have proven. The high resolution will enable the viewers to enjoy the vivid and crisp detailed images of the planets natural worlds and its inhabiting flora and fauna.

A free preview of BBC America is also offered by Dish starting from today onward and extending to 25 March. Viewing it in 4K, however, requires the customers to use the Hooper 3 DVR or 4K Joey hardware connected to a Hopper 3.

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Dish executive vice president and chief technology officer, Vivek Khemka said in a statement that, “It’s been more than 10 years since the world was first wowed by the original Planet Earth, and the second installment promises to deliver unmatched detail in crystal clear 4K resolution.”

The decision to provide the BBC show in 4K is also elaborated in his statement. “We’ve heard our customers ask for more 4K content, so we’re making every effort to deliver this programming to households as its availability grows,” he said.

BBC America is also excited in Dish’s announcement to air the show in its native 4K Ultra HD resolution. Sarah Barnett, President BBC America said, “The breathtaking visuals in Planet Earth II are nothing short of astounding. We are delighted to partner with Dish in bringing audiences this groundbreaking series in 4K, allowing viewers to get even closer to some of earth’s most incredible creatures and gorgeous landscapes.”

13 Feb

Dish Network’s New Ad Campaign May Help Them To Win Back Customers

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One of the leading cable service providers, Dish Network suffered a huge subscriber loss over the last few months. Reports indicate that the cable provider is determined to prevent this alarming customer loss and the newly launched ad campaign might actually help them to do so.

The new ad campaign puts stress on the fact that the cable provider is always listening to their customers and their satisfaction is of prime importance to the telecom company. The new campaign, which is titled as “Tuned In To You” relies entirely on a “Spokeslistener.”

The officials from Dish Network noted that Spokelistener poses a serious challenge to the typical traditional spokesman who generally speak to customers rather than listening to them. Moreover, Spokeslistener effectively illustrates the common issues and frustrations experienced by the cable customers through a series of radio, digital, and TV ads. Spokelistener also illustrates the solutions that Dish Network can offer to solve these issues.

Dish Network president and chief operating officer, Erik Carlson recently said, “Customers just want to be heard in an industry that has forsaken its ability to listen. ‘Tuned In To You’ is more than a marketing slogan. It’s a company-wide rallying cry and a long-term business philosophy. DISH has a history of putting our customers first and taking bold steps to make TV better. We are at our best when we listen to and fight for what our customers want.”

However, Dish is not just running ad campaigns to win back their subscribers. The cable provider has also launched a new training program in their October dubbed Base Camp. Some of Dish Network’s frontline employees who work with their customers will be a part of this training program.

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Dish Network Customers

Carlson added, “The notion that management should roll back its sleeves and work with its customer base is almost unheard of in corporate America. But we can’t possibly fulfill on our ‘Tuned In To You’ promise without a working knowledge of our customers and the interactions they have with our brand.”

Reports from several reliable sources point out that Dish Network is trying to graduate 700 of their employees through the Base Camp by the end of the year 2017 and some of the trainees are senior leaders of the telecom company. Dish Network is hopeful that these new strategies will help them to win back customers.

13 Feb

Sling TV Offers Free Preview Alongside Extending Its Cloud DVR Trial

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Sling TV Service

Sling TV is providing a free preview of its service as well as expanding the availability of its cloud DVR trial. This announcement came on behalf of the second anniversary of Dish Network’s renowned MPVD platform.

The free preview is available for interested customers wishing to subscribe to the network. The free preview provides Sling Orange, a channel lineup owned by the service. In addition, selected content such as live NCAA College and NBA basketball games are also provided in the preview.

Reports say that a free preview of Sling TV’s premium offering like HBO and Starz programming is available for the existing customers. The free preview offers many advantages to the customers in the form of good content for a specific period. It will aid new subscribers in getting acquainted with the various services and benefits of using Sling TV. The free preview will further enable the viewers to watch the mid season premiere of the popular television series including The Walking Dead.

Sling TV has also made another major offering of extending its cloud DVR trial to the users of Amazon Fire TV and Android devices. The proposed DVR rollout is in beta testing with more additions to follow like Apple TV. In December, Sling TV has launched the beta version of its cloud DVR for Roku devices users. This service allows users to record about 100 hours of programming without obliging them to pay any additional charges.

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Cloud DVR Trial

Note that there is no option to select the quality of recording, whether it is in Standard or High Definition, although it provides a range of other playback functions like pausing, fast forwarding, and rewinding of the streamed content. However, Sling has only offered specific content to license in its cloud DVR program.

Dish Network rolled out Sling TV in February 2015 with an intention of providing quality live TV programming and content via the internet. They started out with just one service that included 3 extras and over 25 channels. The service has been an immense success with further expansion into 2 base servers, 7 extras, and 3 premium channels, and over 100 channels along with 30,000 Video on Demand content.

Experts say that this provision made by Sling TV on its second anniversary is an attempt to widen its subscriber base and compete with other leading streaming TV providers.

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