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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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Virtualize POPs

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.

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.

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

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

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Dish Network Channel Guide

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.”

09 Feb

Is T-Mobile Buying Dish Network

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Dish Network Channel Guide

T-Mobile Dish Network Merger

Before a few weeks, CEO of T-Mobile, John Legere offered predictions about the Dish Network and their services. “I predict 2017 will mark the end of Dish as we know it,” he wrote in a post. “This time next year, they’ll no longer be a standalone entity.” Experts now think that it might be Legere himself, who is going to snap up the Dish Network.

Dish Network owns unused wireless airwave licenses that are worth billions of dollars. Shares of Dish Network also gained four percent, among the speculations that the Telco might be acquired soon, and the rumored buyer is T-Mobile.

Since the election of Donald Trump as the US President, the telecom sector started expecting many changes with anticipation on what new mergers the regulators of the new President will allow. However, there have been many speculations on which companies will be allowed to merge.

Verizon has been seen as the most likely buyer of the Dish Network, as they experiencing little spectrum crunch and Dish has large batch of airwave licenses that they are not using currently. However, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam recently signaled that he is interested in acquiring the cable TV operator Charter Communications instead, and not Dish Network.

Acquiring Dish Network would cost more than forty million dollars, owing to its debt load and the need to pay a premium to the shareholders. T-Mobile, majority of which is owned by Deutsche Telekom of Germany, has an enterprise value of almost seventy five billion dollars. However, it is reported that nothing much would happen until the end of the ongoing federal spectrum auction.

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T-Mobile Plans

Under the FCC rules for broadcast incentive auction that started on May 31, the competing bidders are not allowed to talk to each other to prevent collision. It is expected that the auction will wrap up any day as it is in the fourth and final stage.

The discussions between Dish Network and T-Mobile have also heated up much but there is no information on a deal being made. The companies cannot be talking formally, as the FCC auction is going one, but analysts like JP Morgan, Citigroup, and Goldman Sachs shared about deal possibilities and Wall Street Journal has offered their own analysis.

The swap of assets between EchoStar and Dish Network that was announced recently also fueled talks that Dish Network is cleaning up for the megamerger.

03 Feb

Taylor Swift Partners With AT&T To Host A Pre-Super Bowl Event

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Pre-Super Bowl Event

Lady Gaga has already started preparing for the Super Bowl 51 halftime show, which will be held on February 5, 2017 during the opening match of the Super Bowl. However, another popular name in the music industry, Taylor Swift recently revealed her plans to headline a show on her own.

The telecom giant AT&T has already guaranteed that they will support Taylor Swift for this initiative. Reports indicate that over 100 million viewers will tune in to their television to watch the opening game between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons. Taylor Swift and her sponsor, DirecTV, are all set to attract music lovers by hosting a new pre-Super Bowl event just a day before the Super Bowl. The event will be hosted on the same city.

The Editor-in-Chief of the Hollywood Life, Bonnie Fuller told FOX Business that she doesn’t feel the Swift’s event “as a play to steal Lady Gaga’s thunder.” However, she added that this is a good marketing strategy from AT&T and Taylor Swift.

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AT&T Plans

“I think she, AT&T and DirecTV are smart to capitalize on the massive interest in the Super Bowl to film a concert, and celebrities like John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, Aaron Rodgers, Lea Michele and Peyton Manning, will be in their seats cheering for Gaga as well as Taylor,” Fuller said. “Taylor Swift will absolutely give a blowout performance at her Taylor Swift Now concert, but she won’t have the benefit of being seen live in front of over 100 million viewers, like Lady Gaga.”

Reports also indicate that the tickets for the event hosted by Taylor Swift are free and they were distributed through different AT&T campaigns and promotions. Taylor Swift recently tweeted on her official Twitter account saying, “This is gonna be fun,” and also posited a picture of a football jersey with her lucky number 13.

An AT&T representative said, “We have a long history–this is the 12th annual event DirecTV has hosted during the Big Game weekend. Unlike other events this weekend, there is no streaming or live broadcast of this special, its invitation only.” The officials from AT&T added that the clips of this event will be made available to viewers on Taylor Swift’s new channel right after the show. AT&T launched the channel just a few weeks ago.

31 Jan

AT&T Aims To Ease The Roaming Burdens

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International Day Pass

Recent insiders reports say that AT&T is all set to ease the roaming burdens for some of their customers. The service provider recently announced an International Day Pass, which is actually a per-day subscription to significantly reduce the cost of overseas calls, texts, and data for AT&T customers.

This latest initiative from the telecom provider will work just like an extension of AT&T customer’s domestic plan. AT&T customers will be able to get 24-hour access to all the AT&T’s affiliate networks across the world for just $10 per day and this includes unlimited calls, data, and texts.

AT&T is planning to offer these benefits to some of their customers when they travel in over hundred countries including Central and South America, the Bahamas, Jamaica, India, China, Italy, France, and the U.K.

David Christoper, AT&T Entertainment Group’s chief marketing officer recently said, “Traveling has its own challenges. It’s great being able to use the domestic plan you’re familiar with while abroad. AT&T International Day Pass simplifies travelers’ lives so they can enjoy more of their favorite mobile apps when on the go overseas. This helps with booking lodging, catching a ride, translating, navigating, video calling, using social media and more.”

Reports indicate that International Data Pass is an effective replacement to long-in-the-tooth Passport service of AT&T. The latter plan offered just 200 MB of data to their customers for an amount of $40 per month. International Data Pass is a better deal to customers in all aspects.

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AT&T Roaming Offers

However, the telecom company recently stated that AT&T would revoke the day pass privileges of the customers, who surpass 50 percent of the plan for two consecutive months. AT&T also specified that the plans are actually sold by device. This means that customers, who are under the family plan, will have to buy separate passes and they will also have to keep an eye on collective data consumption.

This latest offering from AT&T will certainly pose a threat to the International offers from other providers such as Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Sprint offers a 100 MB of unrestricted texting, data and 20 cents per minute calling in countries, which are covered by the company’s Global Roaming agreement. On the other hand, T-Mobile offers an incredible high-speed data, unlimited calling, and texting to their customers in over 100 countries, whereas Verizon provides a $10 a day TravelPass, which includes data, text, and calling in over hundred countries.

31 Jan

AT&T Extending Services To Gatlinburg

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AT&T Internet Services

Gatlinburg’s deadly wildfires have left AT&T speeding up its plans in providing the residents with television, internet, and phone services. It is a move aimed at offering a much viable and better option than Charter for the residents, as there has been a surge of complaints in recent weeks from many customers against Charter’s services. The company is accused of not restoring the internet and TV services while also billing the customers for services never provided. There are also complaints regarding Charter’s demand for refund from the customers by sending them refund checks.

AT&T intends to provide new services to customers in the Chalet Village and Greystone Heights by the end of July. Spokeswoman Cathy Lewandowski said, “I think folks will be pretty excited to hear there’s another service option which includes AT&T. We have already received service orders from folks who are in that area that want AT&T. This is great news for us. We’re working to provide our customers with the latest and greatest technology, so that they can do their business and have their connectivity provided by AT&T.”

After a month of the fire, Charter has successfully restored its services for Gatlinburg customers to almost sixty percent. Charter spokesperson Patti Michel brought out a statement that declared, “Charter is committed to restoring service as quickly as possible and have deployed additional crews to accelerate reconstruction. As of Jan. 18, our crews have restored more than 55 miles of network infrastructure. The percentage of customers restored is growing continually as we rebuild our network where it was damaged by the fire.”

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AT&T Plans

AT&T’s decision to implement the new services in Chalet and Greystone heights was a relief to many customers. Kristi Buchholz, whose cabin was burned up in the fire, shared her excitement on AT&T’s offering, and said, “I would absolutely consider them first, and maybe that will help the residents in another way, by making the cost of it not as high if there’s a little competition in the area. I probably would go to them over Charter based on how (Charter) treated everybody up there. I think a lot of people would do that.”

The fire affected many local businesses and the slow restoration work has caused a negative impact in the services. Alecia Hasselbeck, whose rental business is severely affected by the outage, is optimistic about AT&T’s decision to provide services in Chalet region. Many customers in the area are also awaiting AT&T in providing much better services than Charter.

19 Jan

Dish Network Finalizes New Deal With WHSV

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Deal With WHSV

In recent reports, Dish Network has negotiated a landmark deal with WHSV’s parent company Gray Television. Insiders said that Robert J. Folliard, the current Vice President of Gray Television, finalized the deal a few minutes before the WHSV contract deadline.

This has been the result of an overwhelming response from viewers nationwide asking Dish not to drop broadcasting their local news and weather channels. Dish’s new agreement with the company is similar to the many long-term deals secured by Gray Television, which includes many of Dish’s competitors like Comcast and DirecTV.

Previously, there existed many uncertainties that worried the viewers and broadcasters alike. It even resulted in some of the favored channels among viewers to be taken off the Dish Network channel list. The many thorough negotiations never proved fruitful, as Dish has refused a fair deal with many broadcasters.

Despite the popularity of Gray Television in the WHSV area, Dish refused to enter negotiating terms that it did previously with other broadcasters and cable channels. Jay Webb, news director at the Harrisonburg based station said that, “DISH subscribers in the WHSV viewing area account for less than 13% of the way our viewers get our signal. In fact, many of our viewers get us free over the air with an antenna.”

It is also noted that Dish failed to reach an agreement with more than 250 local stations in the last two years. The reasons for the failure of such deals are due to many issues pertaining to both the parties.

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Webb further expressed his optimism in Dish negotiations by stating that, “It is our hope DISH will not leave their viewers of WHSV ABC, CBS ‘The V’ and The Valley’s Fox in the dark.” The new deal reached between Dish Network and WHSV is surely a relief for all the viewers in the region

The effective feedback provided by WHSV viewers about the consequences of the deal is remarkable. This has prompted a renegotiation effort on part of Dish that resulted in finalizing the deal and benefited all the viewers.

Retaining of the local news and weather channels is the most significant feature of this deal. It will make sure that viewers get access to all the channels and packages of their liking. Above all, the efforts of both the broadcasters are highly laudable in securing this deal without affecting the choices of the viewers.

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