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14 Sep

Comcast® Launches YouTube App To Xfinity® Broadband

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YouTube App In X1 platform

Comcast Corporation® recently launched Google’s YouTube app on their Xfinity® platform. The launch has met with much anticipation from cable subscribers in the US. In fact, this news applies to US subscribers who are users of Stream TV of Comcast® Cable and Xfinity® broadband.

The Telco will gradually release on-demand movies, news, and other YouTube videos via Xfinity® to Stream TV’s “On Demand Menu” sections. The videos in the music section of Stream TV, for instance, will let subscribers to stream music videos that feature in the integrated YouTube app. The pact between Comcast® and Google will also enable US subscribers to stream YouTube videos via the X1 voice remote.

“Giving our customers seamless access to live, on demand and internet content in one place continues to be a key part of our strategy and we are excited to now add YouTube to the X1 experience,” said Matt Strauss, who is the Executive VP of Xfinity® Services.

Subscribers can now voice search “YouTube” on their X1 remotes and the app will instantly launch on Stream TV. Additionally, voice searching “show me clips from a news channel on YouTube” will allow Xfinity® subscribers stream channel-specific videos within the YouTube app. The same feature can be used to stream other on-demand YouTube videos under the “On Demand Menu” section of Stream TV as well.

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On Demand Menu Sections

Many US subscribers use platforms such as YouTube and Netflix as an alternative way to stream popular shows through the internet. The addition of YouTube in its offerings is surely a move from Comcast Corporation® to become the best internet provider through their Xfinity® broadband service.

“By adding billions of YouTube videos to our video platform, we are taking our role as the aggregator of aggregators to a new level and reaffirming that X1 is the best place to easily discover and access all types of entertainment with the sound of your voice,” Matt Strauss said.

The pact between Google, YouTube’s parent company, and Comcast Corporation® has been launched a year on since the launch of Netflix to Xfinity® X1. However, note that just like streaming Netflix videos on Stream TV, streaming YouTube videos through the X1 platform will also affect the data caps set by the best internet provider.

05 Sep

AT&T® Expanding Its 5G Fixed Wireless Trials To Three New Cities

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5G Fixed Wireless Trials

AT&T® has announced that it is expanding the fixed wireless 5G trials into three new cities in the U.S. This extension of trials will complete by the end of the year that enables the Telco to roll out its next generation cellular network in the country. As the best internet provider in the nation, AT&T’s new set of trials will help it to develop 5G networking technologies quickly than its competing firms.

The 5G trials will involve the carrying out of numerous testing of a high-speed broadband service. This will utilize radio signals to home or businesses such as the millimeter wave, which are high-band wireless airwaves. The trials will also enable numerous participants to take part in testing the network. This will allow them to directly stream the DirecTV Now® service offered by AT&T® through a 5G network. Moreover, this will also allow them to experience minimal lag periods in heavy applications such as video conferring and virtual reality gaming.

AT&T® is currently carrying out its trials in Austin, which will further expand to include Texas, Waco, Michigan, Indiana, South Bend, and Kalamazoo by this year’s end. The Telco also intends to enhance the number of participants designated for the network trials and this includes many of the small businesses, universities, restaurants, and churches in the areas. One of the primary goals of the trials is in determining whether the millimeter wave spectrum can propagate through the buildings and foliage.

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High-Band Wireless Airwaves

Moreover, the trials will also include conducting various studies to determine the effect of weather on the network. AT&T® intends to roll out the 5G service in selected cities by the year 2018. The trials also feature the participation of other major telecommunication firms from around the world such as Ericsson, Nokia, Intel, and Samsung Electronics.

Marachel Knight, AT&T’s Senior Vice President for Wireless Network Architecture and Design said, “Taking our fixed wireless 5G trials out of the lab and into the real world helps us learn important factors about mm-wave and 5G. And in doing so, we’re learning how to better design our network for the future.”

Besides AT&T®, Verizon® is also conducting 5G fixed trials across eleven cities in the nation and is hoping to roll out the service by 2018. It is to be noted that both the Telco giants have bought the millimeter wave spectrum for beginning the 5G trials in select regions in the country.

31 Aug

AT&T® Accused Of Ignoring Low-Income Communities

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Fiber-To-The-Node VDSL Infrastructure

The residents of Cleveland, Ohio recently claimed that the telecom giant, AT&T® has failed to deliver high-speed broadband access to the low-income African-American communities in the region. They also claimed that AT&T®, who is one of the leading internet providers in the country, has been delivering a higher speed broadband internet service to the wealthier and suburban neighborhoods.

Three self-described low-income African-America residents, Rachelle Lee, Hattie Lanfair, and Joanne Elkins, filed a complaint against the Telco a few days ago. They alleged that the telecom company is in clear violation of the Communications Act’s bar against unreasonable and unjust discrimination. These residents also requested for monetary damages and injunctions that will prohibit the telecom company from discriminatory practices.

In addition to that, they also requested the FCC to force AT&T® to offer broadband internet service to the low-income minority communities in the region. They cited a recent study of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance and Connect Your Community and pointed out that the failure to offer high-speed internet service to low-income communities is actually a part of a pattern by the telecom giant.

Slower Internet Access Speeds

The study also revealed that AT&T® has withheld their fiber-to-the-node (FTTN) VDSL infrastructure from several major high poverty census blocks in the country that had individual poverty rates of more than 35 percent. The complaints stated, “Such low-income neighborhoods have been relegated to an older, slower transmission technology called ADSL2, resulting in significantly slower internet access speeds than what AT&T provides to middle-income city neighborhoods as well as most suburbs. As a result, their residents are left with severely limited and uneven internet access; no access to AT&T’s competitive fiber-enabled video service.”

Reports from several sources indicate that the lawyers who represented Elkins, Lanfair, and Lee tried to solve the issue before filing the complaint. They even held settlement discussion talks with the telecom giant, but both parties failed to reach a settle on the issue. Consequently, the lawyers were forced to file a complaint against AT&T® to bring justice to the low-income minority communities in the area.

AT&T’s EVP of regulatory and state external affairs, Joan Marsh, responded to the issue and said, “We do not redline. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is unparalleled. Our investment decisions are based on the cost of deployment and demand for our services and are of course fully compliant with the requirements of the Communications Act. We will vigorously defend the complaint filed.”

25 Aug

Comcast® Introduces New Sports Guide In Its X1 Platform

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New Sports Guide

Comcast® has made a completely new set of improvements to its Xfinity® X1 platform with several improvements to its sports guide. This latest upgrades in the platform come ahead of the NFL regular season games that will start soon.

The new sports guide will offer a renewed experience to the X1 set top boxes and the Xfinity® Stream app focused on mobile devices as well as web browsers. Along with its best internet packages, the introduction of these new upgrades will provide Comcast® subscribers the ability to view content based on the game, sports league, and score.

The newly presented sports guide has several improvements to its design such the introduction of landing pages focused on every prominent sport and leagues that include the NFL, baseball, soccer, tennis, cricket, etc. Comcast® has also brought a new voice feature that allows the users to access the guide by speaking specific commands into the X1 remote. Moreover, the inclusion of real-time score cards on the landing page of each sport will be much useful for sports enthusiasts to stay updated on their favorite game.

Comcast® has further announced numerous future improvements into the XI platform. The Telco has already started working on these new proposed upgrades that will offer the customers the ability to customize the type of sports, teams, and athletes, that are displayed on their guide menu. These increased customizations will further advance the X1 platforms to enable it to cater to the true demands of the users and in offering them personalized content.

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Xfinity® Stream App

Besides the X1 set-top boxes, Comcast® has also extended the new upgrades to its Xfinity® Stream app. The updated features in this app are sorted based on the league and the currently playing games. Moreover, it will also enable the users to get useful updates about all the upcoming game schedules and events much easier. The Stream app has also included a new outlook much similar to the renewed sports guide presented on the X1 set top boxes.

X1 is one of the most successful TV streaming services offered by Comcast® and has seen about 55 percent surge in the subscriber base in recent times. It is to be noted that Comcast® has also made several other additions to its services such as the introduction YouTube® app on the X1 platform and parental controls into its XFi system. All these services are bound to make Comcast® the best internet provider in the US.

22 Aug

City Council And Residents Are Pushing For Broadband Internet Provider In Grantville

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Broadband Internet Provider

James Phillips, a Grantville resident, lives off from Lowry Road in Meadowbrook and he says that fast broadband internet has been scarce in and around his neighborhood of late. It is said that residents in the Grantville area have only a few options for broadband and cheap internet, and hence the city council is looking to redress the scarcity of broadband in the region.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), broadband internet should allow subscribers and general users with accesses to the internet and related services at higher speeds than dial-up internet. Yet depending on the technology with which the best internet provider relays broadband network, the internet speed may vary.

Broadband internet is offered to residents and public through different platforms. FCC simply distinguishes broadband platforms as Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), Cable Modem (Copper or Fiber cable), Wireless internet, and Satellite internet. Phillips says that he has been in contacts with Grantville leaders, including the Councilman of GA Willie Kee, to get the best internet provider of broadband in his neighborhood.

“Everyone in my area uses their phone as a hotspot, but that doesn’t work as good after the data cap has been met. All Coweta County students are assigned Chromebooks, but can’t use them at home reliably,” Phillips said in an interview. On the other hand, City Manager of GA Al Grieshaber said that, “Internet access in Grantville is the same as other areas of Coweta County and is available (cable or satellite), but not at the highest speed.”

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DSL Broadband Service

“We have continually asked internet service providers to update and upgrade their systems, but they are reluctant to commit hard dollars to infrastructure when new technologies (Wi-Fi) are on the forefront,” Grieshaber added. “It is a question of return on investment.” William Kee agreed with Grieshaber while reinstating that to find the best internet provider with upgraded service in Grantville is the issue that needs to be redressed sooner rather than later.

It shall be noted that the main wired best internet provider is AT&T® – the Telco giant offers DSL broadband in Grantville, whereas Charter Spectrum® covers remote neighborhoods of Grantville with cable internet. Phillips believes that if more internet providers looked into the matter to bring broadband to Grantville, it would be a matter of months to deliver cheap internet in the area.

17 Aug

AT&T® Launches Fixed Wireless Internet In Areas Of The Rural Triangle

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Connectivity Via Outdoor Antennas

AT&T® is now expanding their wireless broadband services across the Triangle to target the rural and the “underserved” areas. The Fixed Wireless Internet service from AT&T® is now offered in areas of western Wake County and eastern Chatham County, AT&T® announced on Monday. The Fixed Wireless Internet standalone will be offered for a charge of sixty dollars per month with one-year contract.

AT&T® started to roll out the service in June and the service was introduced in areas of Georgia first, spreading to the other states gradually. This new service from AT&T® is built around connectivity offered via outdoor antennas and indoor Wi-Fi gateways. The Fixed Wireless Internet service from AT&T® includes:

  • High-speed internet service that offers download speeds of minimum 10 Mbps
  • 160 GB of internet data per month – if the limit of internet data is exceeded, AT&T® will offer additional data in increments of 50 GB for ten dollars. They will offer up to a maximum of twenty such increments costing 200 dollars.
  • Wi-Fi connection for more than one device like tablets, laptops, gaming consoles, etc.
  • Wired Ethernet connection for up to four devices

Installation Of The Service

AT&T® says that getting their Fixed Wireless service is very easy and includes three steps – Survey, Installation, and Connection.

Survey – In this step, AT&T® technicians will find the best place to install the equipment for the Fixed Wireless Internet service.

Install – The installation of the service is real quick and easy. An AT&T® technician will install an antenna that can communicate with the nearest tower to get the most reliable and strongest wireless signal.

Connect – The technician will then help you connect your devices to the Fixed Wireless Internet service.

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Reliable And Stronger Wireless Signal

AT&T® said that they would continue to expand the Fixed Wireless cheap internet service to offer it to about 13,000 locations by the end of 2020. “The nearly 6,500 men and women who work for AT&T® and call North Carolina home, are proud to work with our local, state and federal leadership to provide the connectivity that North Carolina’s residents and businesses demand,” said Robert Doreauk, regional director of external affairs for AT&T® North Carolina. “Through this innovative service, we are working to close the connectivity gap in North Carolina.”

The funding for the Fixed Wireless Internet service is offered via the FCC Connect America Fund. Apart from AT&T®, CenturyLink®, Frontier Communications®, and many others are also receiving FCC funds to expand high-speed internet connectivity.

28 Jul

Republicans Ask Google®, Facebook®, and AT&T® To Testify At Net Neutrality Hearing

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Debate Over Net Neutrality

The chairman of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee recently asked the chief executives of a few telecom and tech companies such as AT&T®, Comcast Corporation®, Google®, and Facebook® to testify before the U.S. Congress in September to settle the heated debate over net neutrality.

It seems that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is planning to toss out the net neutrality rules established by the Obama Administration, which reclassified internet service as a public utility. The existing net neutrality rules prevent internet providers from slowing or blocking websites. In addition to that, internet service providers are also not able to allow websites to pay for “fast lanes” over other competitors. As a result, some of the major tech companies and leading internet providers in the country were divided over the net neutrality rules.

Internet providers wanted the Congress to step in to solve the issue and write permanent net neutrality laws. On the other hands, websites claimed that that the Obama era net neutrality laws are critical for preserving the open internet.

It is evident that the outcome of this debate will have a huge impact on the potential profits of the involved companies and even on the future of the internet economy. The heads of Charter Communications® and Netflix® are also asked to testify along with other members.

Several companies stated that they are currently reviewing the letter but they refused to share whether they will be testifying or not. The officials from Comcast Corporation® stated that they are welcoming the hearing and “believe the best way to stop the regulatory ping-pong on this important issue is for Congress to enact bipartisan legislation.”

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Net Neutrality Ground Rules

One of the Republican representatives and committee chairperson, Greg Walden said, “A strong consensus is forming across party lines and across industries that it’s time for Congress to call a halt on the back-and-forth and set clear net neutrality ground rules for the internet. The time has come to get everyone to the table and get this figured out.”

However, Democrats want Republicans to invite consumers and small business to the hearing as well, and not just CEOs of the “largest corporations in the world with a combined market capitalization of nearly $2.5 trillion,” said Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking member Mike Doyle and Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking member Frank Pallone, Jr.

18 Jul

Cox® Expands Internet Usage Data Caps While CenturyLink® Dumps Data Caps

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Expands Internet Data Caps

There is both good and bad news for all the home internet users of the nation. Cox Communications®, one of the best internet providers of the country has now started to charge overage fee to their users in four more states. On the other hand, another cheap internet provider, CenturyLink® has decided to end the tests with data caps. They are now offering bill credits to all those customers in Washington who were charged with overage fees in their trials.

Cox Communications® operates in eighteen states and have about six million business and residential users. Recently, they introduced their overage fees to Louisiana, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Nevada. Interestingly, they were already enforcing the overage fee and data caps in Connecticut, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Iowa, Idaho, Nebraska, Kansas, and Ohio.

Apart from that, Virginia, Rhode Island, and California have the monthly data caps, but these states do not have enforcement on the overage fees, as per the list of data cap locations shared by Cox Communications®. It seems that the states of North Carolina and Massachusetts are exempted from the data caps, at least for now.

Just like Comcast®, Cox® allows the capped subscribers to use 1 TB of data per month and charges an overage fee of ten dollars for every additional block of 50 GB. As per the reports, Cox® is planning to introduce an “unlimited” internet plan later.

If Cox® unlimited internet matches with that of Comcast®, the unlimited internet from Cox® would be costing an extra fifty dollars per month above the normal charges. Paying the fees for the unlimited internet will allow Cox® users to return to the condition before the implementation of the overage charges. They can pay a flat rate to have internet access, regardless of the quantity of data that they use. All the Cox® users who subscribe to the Gigabit fiber internet service offered by the Telco can use two terabytes of data before being charged for overuse.

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Dumps Data Caps

Generally, the data caps have headed in the wrong direction for the US customers and they seldom have a choice due to the lack of competition. However, the good news is that CenturyLink® has now understood that the extra income that they make from the overage fees is not worth when compared to the rise in the number of irate users.

Before a year, CenturyLink® decided to run a data cap trial in Yakima, WA and as per the trial, a data cap of 300 GB was imposed for a month. When the users exceed the data allowance of 300 GB, they will need to pay an overage fee of ten dollar for every 50 GB data block. However, instead of expanding the data caps and overage fee to more states and cities, they decided to end the “usage-based billing program.”

“Because this approach no longer aligns with our goal to simplify offers and pricing for our customers, we have decided to end this program, effective May 3, 2017,” CenturyLink® said in an announcement.

12 Jul

Cox® Plans To Introduce A New Unlimited Data Plan

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Unlimited Data Plan

One of the fastest internet providers in the United States, Cox Communications® recently unveiled their plans to provide a new unlimited data offering to their customers by the end of the year. The officials from the telecom company also added that they are trying to broaden the reach of their usage-based data policy. However, Cox® has not yet announced the pricing details of their upcoming unlimited plan.

The telecom giant currently offers an optional unlimited plan to their subscribers for an additional amount of $50 per month. Cox® officials said that they would soon begin to alert customers in Louisiana, Arizona, Las Vegas, Tulsa, and Oklahoma City that they are putting them on the data plan of the company. Reports from several reliable sources indicate that Cox® subscribers in New Orleans region have already been notified about this move.

Cox® subscribers who are added to this new data plan will have to pay just $10 for additional 50 Gigabytes of data after they exceed their monthly unlimited data. The monthly data ceiling is currently set at 1 TB by Cox® for most of their high-speed internet packages. However, the monthly data limit for subscribers who are Cox’s 1 Gig “Gigablast” tier is currently 2 TB.

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Cox® Internet

Cox Communications®, who is the best internet provider in several parts of the country, has already applied their data policy to the systems that are serving Georgia, Florida, Connecticut, Iowa, Omaha, and a few more markets. However, the officials from the telecom company refused to share any details on when will they apply the data policy to their remaining markets.

Cox® had recently stated that approximately 98 percent of their high-speed internet subscribers usually do not come close to exceeding their monthly internet data limits. Customers who exceed their monthly data limit are alerted by text messages, emails, and even through browsers. In addition to that, the telecom company also sends an automated outbound call to customers when they have used 85 percent and 100 percent of their monthly internet data plan.

Reports say that Cox® is also planning to offer a grace period of 2 consecutive bill cycles in Oklahoma, Las Vegas, Louisiana, and Arizona, before they start to charge customers for using additional blocks of internet data. This means that Cox® customers in other markets who exceed their monthly data limit should be a little bit concerned.

04 Jul

AT&T® Responds To Senators Allegations

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Forced Arbitration Clauses

One of the leading internet providers in the United States, AT&T® recently stated that their contracts do not include any “forced arbitration” clauses. However, reports indicate that customers of the telecom company will still have to agree to these clauses if they want to acquire a TV or internet service.

In a letter to the US senators, AT&T® Executive VP Tim McKone said, “At the outset, no AT&T® customer is ever ‘forced’ to agree to arbitration. Customers accept their contracts with AT&T® freely and voluntarily; no one ‘forces’ them to obtain AT&T® wireless service, DirecTV® programming, or other products and services.”

The telecom giant, AT&T® was actually responding to the concerns that were raised by a few senators a few days ago. The senators argued that the telecom company, AT&T® had used forced arbitration clauses to charge higher prices to their customers, which was a little bit greater than what they had originally advertised.

It is true that the telecom company, AT&T® is not forcing anyone to sign up to their service but in several parts of the country, AT&T® remains the single viable option of wired home internet service. Additionally, AT&T® is also the fastest and best internet provider in many areas of the United States. So, customers have no other option other than AT&T® and the ones who opt for the telecom company’s offerings are indirectly forced to sign the arbitration clauses.

The terms of service for DirecTV® and AT&T® internet require subscribers to “agree to arbitrate all disputes and claims” against the telecom company. This means that trials and class actions against the company will be prohibited but individual cases in small claims courts are usually allowed.

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Wired Home Internet Service

Reports indicate that AT&T® doesn’t provide any way to opt out of the small claims/arbitration provision, which means that the only option available to customers is to not buy any service from the telecom giant. On the other hand, some other popular TV and internet providers in the country like Comcast® do offer a way to their customers for opting out of the provision.

However, the senators are still not convinced with the response from AT&T®. In a recent statement, Sen. Al Franken went on to use the phrase “forced arbitration” for describing the customer contact clause of AT&T®. He added, “There’s nothing ‘friendly’ about AT&T’s take-it-or-leave-it contracts that eliminate consumer choice and take away Americans’ ability to resolve legal disputes with their telecom provider in a court of law. Further, forced arbitration agreements that prohibit customers from banding together as a class deter consumers from seeking justice and allow widespread wrongdoing by powerful corporations to go unchecked.”

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