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17 Oct

Spectrum® Cable Customers May Lose Major Channels Over Contract Dispute with Viacom

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Contract Dispute With Viacom

Viacom Inc.® has stated that cable customers of Spectrum® will lose access to about 23 television channels because of an ongoing contract dispute. According to Viacom®, the dispute arose because it has refuted some of the unreasonable demands set by Spectrum’s parent company, Charter Communications®. Several of the major channels such as MTV, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central will not be accessible to the customers until the two carriers reach an agreement.

According to a Viacom® statement, “Viacom® is committed to developing strong, mutually beneficial relationships with our distribution partners. While we’re making every effort to reach a new deal, Charter’s actions may force a disruption in Spectrum® subscribers’ service. 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.”

The current agreement between Charter® and Viacom® is reportedly set to expire this October 15. Due to that, it can result in a major blackout that can affect about 16.5 million subscribers. Charter® actually moved many of the channels owned by Viacom® such as MTV, VH1, Spike, Comedy Central, BET from its basic package and placed them on a high priced tier.

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Disruption In Service

Viacom® CEO Bob Bakish said about Charter’s move in August, “They don’t have the contractual right to tier our services the way they have. Still, 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.” Spectrum® officials have however abstained from many any comments regarding the dispute.

Charter® acquired Time Warner Cable® in 2016 that made them the second largest cable operator and fastest internet provider in the country. Previously, Charter® has engaged and settled a dispute with Fox News regarding the payments made to the channel. This has led to a scenario where Fox Networks group threatened to pull FX Network, Fox Sports, and National Geographic from Spectrum®.

Viacom® officials added that, “Viacom has 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.”

11 Oct

Audience Network Renews “Mr. Mercedes” For Another Season

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Mr. Mercedes Season 2 Renewed

It seems that Hollywood movies and TV shows will stick with the trend of adapting the famous works of Stephen King, as the Audience Network of AT&T® recently announced that they would be airing the second season of the critically acclaimed TV show, “Mr. Mercedes” by the end of 2018.

Reports from reliable sources indicate that the director Jack Bender, writer David E Kelley, and the lead actor Brendan Gleeson, will all be returning for the second season of the TV show. Sonar Entertainment is producing the TV series and the production for the second season will most likely begin by the start of 2018.

The second season, which will be roughly based on the Bill Hodges Trilogy of Stephen King, will have a total of 10 episodes. The Bill Hodges Trilogy includes some of the best and most popular works of King such as “End of Watch,” “Finders Keepers,” and “Mr. Mercedes.” The SVP of Audience Network, Christopher Long clarified that the huge success of the first season of the TV show is one of the major reasons why it was renewed for another season.

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In a recent statement, Christopher Long said, “We’re thrilled that the first installment of Mr. Mercedes resonated with such a wide audience. David E. Kelley, Jack Bender, Dennis Lehane, and Sonar did a masterful job crafting a series that honored the original work by Stephen King. We’re excited to have the opportunity to create a second season with this incredible team.”

The director of “Mr. Mercedes”, Jack Bender said, “Mr. Mercedes is Stephen King writing about the monsters inside his characters rather than outside. We were extremely fortunate to attract an amazing cast, led by Brendan Gleeson and Harry Treadaway, to bring these flawed, complex colorful characters to life. With Sonar and AT&T®, along with great scripts and our talented team in Charleston, I am thrilled to keep telling this story.”

The first season of “Mr. Mercedes” was highly greeted by both critics and viewers and the TV show currently holds an approval of 85 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. One of the highlighting factors that made “Mr. Mercedes” a critically acclaimed show is the stellar cast behind it. In addition to Brendan Gleeson, the other cast members of the show are Harry Treadaway, Mary-Louise Parker, Holland Taylor, and Scott Lawrence.

10 Oct

Comcast® Rolls Out Senior Citizens Internet Essentials Program in Atlanta

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Internet Essentials Program

Comcast® has rolled out a new pilot program that offers high-speed internet connectivity to low-income senior citizens in Atlanta. The Telco giant, which is one of the best internet service providers in the US, clearly intends to bridge the digital divide prevailing in the nation by making available internet connectivity to all the sections of the society.

Chief Diversity Officer David Cohen carried out the inauguration of Comcast’s Senior Citizens Internet Essentials program. According to Comcast®, the Senior Citizens Internet Essentials programs are by far the largest and all-inclusive scheme devised for the low-income sections of the country.

Comcast® has partnered with the organization OATS (Older Adult Technology Services) for offering digital literacy training that is specially designed to cater to the requirements of the seniors. Joining Cohen at the kickoff of the events were Olympic Gold Medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, elected officials, community leaders, and local seniors. Comcast® began the events with offering about fifty laptops to the residents of Cosby Spear and stated that they will deploy a new Wi-Fi hotspot in the area to provide internet access.

Cohen said, “We are thrilled to announce the launch of our Internet Essentials Senior Pilot program in Atlanta, and look forward to bringing digital literacy training to this rapidly growing audience. When we started this program in 2011, we never imagined four million low-income Americans would benefit from it. We also never would have reached this milestone without our many dedicated nonprofit partners, elected officials, educators, employees, libraries, and advocates who were all united by the belief that the Internet is essential, not only to compete in the 21st century economy, but also to be connected to loved ones and the world.”

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Older Adult Technology Services

Mark Campbell, Chief Information Officer at the Atlanta Housing Authority said, “Partnering with Comcast® to provide seniors with digital literacy is important to us at AHA. Our goal through this program is to provide low-cost internet access options and classroom experiences focusing on safely navigating the internet.” Comcast® intends to make several investments in the Atlanta region. Its collaboration with OATS is one among the four of its major investments targeted in Atlanta.

Comcast® has also invested in the Center for Pan Asian Community Services. This is an organization created with the mission of offering welfare for immigrants, refugees and the underprivileged as well as provides them with self-sufficiency, equity, healthcare, etc. It has previously collaborated with Comcast® to enroll four of the Digital Connectors classes aimed at offering training students with key computer skills.

In addition, Comcast® has made an investment in the Urban League of Greater Atlanta. This organization has been previously a part of the Internet Essentials program of Comcast®. Besides, the Telco also distributed about hundred laptops to the students of Morrow Middle School and Unidos Dual Language Charter School.

09 Oct

Cox® Subscribers Will Be Able To Access AT&T® Sportsnet

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AT&T® Sportsnet Access

The residents of Las Vegas who have subscribed to the TV service of Cox Communications® will be able to watch all the matches of their home team shortly. In a recent announcement, the officials from one of the best internet providers in the country, Cox® announced that they have finally signed a deal to carry AT&T® SportsNet Rocky Mountain on their cable network in the Las Vegas market.

Reports from several reliable sources indicate that the new deal between the parties will take effect immediately. This means that Cox® cable subscribers in Las Vegas area will be able to watch the inaugural season NHL hockey game of Vegas Golden Knights. In the highly anticipated hockey game, Vegas Golden Knights will face the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas on the coming Friday.

The Chairman and CEO of Vegas Golden Knights, Bill Foley said, “We would like to thank both AT&T® SportsNet and Cox® for their commitment and dedication to reaching an agreement. There was a significant amount of work put in from both sides and we are appreciative of these efforts. Cox® subscribers will now be able to enjoy the excitement of Golden Knights hockey on AT&T® SportsNet beginning tonight for our historic, inaugural game against the Dallas Stars.”

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Golden Knights Hockey Championship

It is reported that all of the Cox® cable TV subscribers in Southern Nevada will be able to watch and enjoy the live broadcast of the game on channel 1096 and channel 96 in high definition. From October 7, the permanent home for the newly added AT&T® SportsNet Rocky Mountain will be channel 1313 and 313. It is crucial to note that these channels are available to customers who are currently under the TV Essential cable package of Cox®.

The VP of Affiliate Relations for AT&T® SportsNet, Nina Kinch said, “We are excited to be able to announce this deal with Cox® and bring the Vegas Golden Knights games to their customers in Las Vegas and surrounding areas. We are anxious to see the team perform and looking forward to viewers having access to our Network and Emmy Award winning productions.”

In addition to Cox Communications®, CenturyLink®, U-Verse®, and DirecTV® also offer customers access to AT&T® SportsNet in Los Vegas area. Remember, your chances of acquiring a best internet and cable deal are higher if you went for bundling the packages.

05 Oct

Level 3 Communications® And CenturyLink® Deal Gets Approved By Department Of Justice

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Level 3 Communications® Deal

The much anticipated and discussed merger between Level 3 Communications® and CenturyLink® recently got the regulatory approval from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) under certain conditions that include court approval for some of the provisions.

The pending merger is still awaiting regulatory approval from the California Public Utilities Commission and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) together with many customary closing conditions. It is expected that the deal will be closed in the third quarter of 2017, if approved by regulatory agencies.

Conditions to Grant Approval

The combined entity formed after the merger plans to divest some dark fiber assets and metro network assets of Level 3 Communications®, as per the decisions. These divestitures will not be affecting the operating cash flow and pro forma revenue of the combined entity. Level 3 Communications® is one of the biggest internet providers in the world and leading fiber optic internet provider of the country.

As per the statute, the combined business will have to divest the metro network assets of Level 3 Communications® to three metro areas Tucson, AZ, Albuquerque, NM, and Boise, ID. The combined business will continue serving all the current customers of Level 3 Communications®, unless they opt to be served by the buyer of the assets.

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Growing Bandwidth Requirements

CenturyLink® will be retaining all their existing business operations and networks in the metro areas. They will continue offering a full suite of data and telecommunication services to business and residential users. As per the clause, the combines business will be divesting 24 strands of dark fiber and this will connect thirty specified pairs of city across the nation. These fibers are not being used for commercial purpose presently. Therefore, the divestiture will not affect any of the current services or customers.

The Deal

Twenty-four states and territories already approved the merger that was announced on November 2016. The combined business made after the merger will provide the users a more complementary range of solutions and services to offer the advanced technology to meet the growing bandwidth requirements of consumer, business, and government users.

Telecom experts say that the completion of the merger will increase the network of CenturyLink® by 200,000 route miles of fiber. This includes 64,000 route miles in the 350 metro areas of the country and 33,000 subsea route miles that connect multiple continents. The on-net buildings of CenturyLink® are expected to increase about 75% to reach 75,000, which include 10,000 buildings in Middle East, Europe, Africa, and Latin America.

04 Oct

AT&T® Unveils Fixed Wireless Internet In 9 New US States

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Fixed Wireless Internet

One of the best internet providers in America, AT&T® has recently unveiled their Fixed Wireless Internet service in 9 new states. Reports say that the best internet provider has now rolled out Fixed Wireless Internet in over 16000 un-served homes in the US.

If you look at the rollout state-wise, the Telco has unveiled the Fixed Wireless Internet service in 18 states. The states including Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Louisiana Mississippi, got the service earlier this year, whereas the recent ones to be added in the list include Arkansas, California, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Kansas, and Texas.

The AT&T® Fixed Wireless Internet service is also accessible to un-served small business as well in the said American states. “The new Fixed Wireless Service from AT&T® is an innovative initiative to reach and connect more businesses and individuals across local rural communities,” said James White the State Representative of Texas. “AT&T’s focus on serving underserved rural communities is great news for businesses, families, and individuals who rely on a strong connection at home, at work and at play.”

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Serving Underserved Rural Communities

“The more than 35000 men and women who work for AT&T® and call Texas home, are proud to work with our local, state and federal leadership to provide the connectivity that Texas’s residents and businesses demand,” said Dave Nichols, who handles “regulatory, legislative, governmental and external affairs activities in Texas” since 2010.

AT&T® has promised to roll out the Fixed Wireless Internet service in 400,000 locations by the year-end, and over 1.1 million locations by the year 2020. The rollout begun earlier this year as part of a commitment from AT&T® made to the FCC’s Connect America Fund. The Telco has promised to deliver the best internet service with download speeds of around 10 Mbps minimum and 1 Mbps upload speeds to un-served homes and business alike.

“Closing the connectivity gap is a top priority for us,” said VP Cheryl Choy wired voice and internet products at AT&T®. “Access to fast and reliable internet is a game changer in today’s world. This service will bring countless opportunities for more customers in underserved rural locations.”

28 Sep

Cox Communications® Plans To Charge Heavy Internet Users

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Charge Heavy Internet Users

If you are an average internet user who uses the internet service at his/her home for accessing social media platforms and to browse the web, then you will not most probably exceed the monthly data allowance set by your internet provider. On the other hand, heavy internet users, including the ones who stream plenty of movies and HD video contents on daily basis, will certainly exceed their monthly cap.

Some of the internet providers in the country might be charging the internet users who exceed their monthly data allowance. Reports from several reliable sources indicate that Cox Communications® is also planning to notify their San Diego customers that they will implement an overage charge from the users who use more than one terabyte of data in a month.

Until a few years ago, Cox® and other internet providers in the country used to throttle internet speeds instead of overcharging the customers who exceeded their monthly data limits. A senior analyst, Ian Olgeirson said, “Operators have tried a lot of different ways of going about this, and in almost all cases, it has been sort of a light touch because they recognize this is an important area for them and they don’t really benefit from alienating higher-end customers.”

This new move from Cox Communications®, who is the largest and arguably the fastest internet provider in the San Diego County, has caused panic in the mind of their internet customers. It is reported that Cox® will be charging an extra amount of $10 from their customers for an additional data pack of 50 gigabytes.

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Exceeding Monthly Data Limit

However, Cox® is not the only internet provider who is planning to adopt this strategy. Comcast Corporation® and several other telecom companies have already started to charge their customers for exceeding the monthly data limit.

A spokeswoman from Cox Communications® stated that only 2 percent of their San Diego customers blow past their monthly data allowance each month. This means that the recent decision made by Cox® will not affect the majority of their internet customers in San Diego.

“Some people are just heavy users for whatever reason,” she said. “But there are some customers, we think, who have in-home Wi-Fi and maybe they have not secured it with a password. So it may be open and other people might be tapping into it.”

27 Sep

AT&T® U-Verse Or DirecTV® Customers To Miss Browns-Bengals Match

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Browns-Bengals Match Unavailable

Diehard fans of Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns who are currently subscribed to AT&T® U-Verse® or DirecTV® might miss the highly anticipated match between the two teams coming Sunday. This is due to the blackout of WBNS-TV (Channel 10) on these two TV services.

WBNS-TV and their sister station WTHR-TV went dark on these two TV services on Sept. 6 (both are currently owned by AT&T®, who is the fastest internet provider in several parts of the country). The blackout of these channels happened due to a dispute over retransmission licensing fees. As per law, satellite, and cable TV providers must negotiate with the local TV stations in order to broadcast their contents.

Reports from several reliable sources indicate that both the parties had held several meetings to resolve the issue. Yet, they were unable to end the dispute. However, DirecTV® and AT&T® U-Verse® customers are still hopeful that the blackout will end before the match begins.

In a recent email, an AT&T® spokeswoman Holly Hollingsworth stated that there has not yet been a progress in the issue since both the local stations “pulled their permission for DirecTV® and U-Verse® to carry WBNS earlier this month, and that remains the situation today.”

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Leading Streaming Service

On the other hand, the owner of the two local stations, Dispatch Broadcast Group, informed viewers that they are still trying to resolve the issue. The president and general manager of WBNS, John Cardenas said, “It appears AT&T®/DirecTV® doesn’t have the urgency to restore CBS/10TV.”

He added, “We have done big deals with other (pay-TV) providers recently, and so we know what the market is on retransmission consent deals. We gear our negotiations toward that. As a two-station company, we are not setting the market for retransmission consent fees. We do not understand why we have been able to get deals done with other larger operators, but we cannot get this deal with ATT-DTV done.”

It seems that the subscribers of AT&T® U-Verse® and DirecTV® are having a tough time these days, as WBNS is not the only channel, who is having carriage disputes with AT&T®. The telecom company was recently involved in carriage disputes with 17 stations of Meredith Broadcasting, 3 stations of Capitol Broadcasting, 7 stations of American Spirit Media, and over 40 stations of Raycom. However, most of these disputes have been already resolved.

25 Sep

Comcast® Acquires IoT Tech Startup Stringify

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Comcast® Acquires Stringify

Comcast® recently announced that they have acquired the Internet of Things startup Stringify. The Telco intends to leverage the technology developed by this startup firm for using in its Xfinity Home® services and products as well as in its best internet packages. Previously, Stringify aided Comcast® in developing and setting up of its xFi cloud-based home Wi-Fi management platform, which was rolled out earlier this year.

Stringify announced the acquisition on its recent blog post., stating about carrying out numerous update in its service to make it ready for use by Comcast®. “Our team joins the fast-growing engineering group at Comcast® that develops the technologies behind Xfinity Home® and xFi, Comcast’s new and personalized Wi-Fi experience that provides customers unique control of their home networks,” the blog post reads.

Stringify was founded in 2014 and offered cloud-based automation service for the Internet of Things platform. Besides, it has also taken part in the development of apps for both Android and iOS platforms.

Stringify has collaborated with about 500 products and services notably Nest, Amazon Alexa, Netgear, etc. Stringify explained in their blog post that, “Comcast® is a perfect fit for Stringify. With xFi and Xfinity Home®, Comcast® is delivering elegant, powerful IoT and automation experiences to millions of customers. The Comcast® team shares our passion for using technology to solve real-world problems, and to connect the world in meaningful ways.”

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Home Wi-Fi Management Platform

Comcast® has not yet released the financial aspects relating to the purchase of Stringify. The Telco has remained secretive in many of its recent acquisitions particularly in the areas of home automation and security. They recently revealed that the five-year-old division now has a customer base of one million. Comcast® even made several investments in many of its major platforms, particularly xFi. It has made a significant investment in Plume recently, which amounts to about $37.5 million.

Plume is a startup assisting Comcast® in developing its xFi network. It has developed an array of Wi-Fi pods that functions together with broadband gateways in order to extend the wireless signal range inside residential spaces. Moreover, Comcast® has also recently acquired iControl Networks. This new deal has provided them the means to license its home automation systems to other internet providers in the country such as Cox Communications®, Rogers Communications, and numerous cable operators.

22 Sep

Internet Providers May Fall Under FTC Jurisdiction

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Ninth Circuit Court Of Appeals

Recently, the judges in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals questioned lawyers of AT&T® and Federal Trade Communications (FTC) regarding whether FTC has the right to prosecute the Telco for “allegedly throttling the subscribers with unlimited wireless data” without sending due notice. AT&T® told the judges the lawsuit is invalid and that FTC cannot enforce a fine since the Telco does not fall under the jurisdiction of FTC.

FTC has appealed a ruling in favor of AT&T® by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last year, and a year on, the lawsuits still remains wide open. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is yet to give a ruling on the present lawsuit as yet. Similar lawsuits have occurred before between AT&T® and FTC.

In 2014, for instance, FTC alleged the Telco had throttled download speed when the subscribers exceeded monthly data caps by 3 to 5 GB. AT&T® dismissed the lawsuit stating that FTC has no authority to prosecute “common carriers”. In fact, Federal Communications Commission’s Net Neutrality rules classify internet providers as “common carriers,” something which FTC failed to dismiss in 2014. As a lawsuit settlement, FTC refunded more than 2.7 million AT&T® subscribers in 2016.

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Net Neutrality Rule

Joel Marcus, Deputy General Counsel for Litigation, and acting lawyer of FTC has said that FTC’s interest in the lawsuit with AT&T® strictly applies to data security. “At this point, the FTC is the only game in town in data security,” Marcus said. “But even beyond that you have the problem of the common carrier who sells dietary supplements or used cars or any of the other things the FTC ordinarily gets involved in.”

Marcus also pointed out that it was not the case until earlier this year, when President Donald Trump overhauled the Net Neutrality rule, which FCC passed in 2015. The Net Neutrality rule was enforced under the Obama Administration to correct the loopholes in privacy and data security that existed due to FTC’s “common carrier” exemption.

However, the judges say that the Republican Senate is now working on reversing the 2015 Net Neutrality rules. The reversal may reclassify internet providers as “common carriers”, and if passed, the changes will put some of the best internet providers namely AT&T®, Verizon®, Comcast®, Charter Communications®, and Cox® under the jurisdiction of FTC.

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