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18 Oct

Charter® and Viacom® Finally Sign a New Agreement

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Charter®-Viacom® Agreement

In a recent announcement, the officials from Charter Communications® and Viacom Inc® confirmed that they have finally reached “an agreement in principle”. The new deal between both the parties will ensure that the cable networks of Viacom® will continue to air on the cable service of Charter Spectrum®.

The authorities from Viacom Inc® had earlier warned Charter® subscribers that they would lose access to Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV, and other networks, if Charter® failed to sign a new deal. Fortunately, Charter® has managed to pull off a new deal before these popular networks were removed from their channel lineup.

In a joint statement, the officials from both the companies stated, “Viacom® and Charter® have reached an agreement in principle. Spectrum® subscribers will continue to have access to Viacom’s networks, without disruption, while we finalize terms.”

Reports from several reliable sources claim that the previous contract between Viacom Inc® and Charter® expired on last Sunday but both the companies refused to share any insight on the expiry date of the previous contract. However, it is true that both of them has agreed to a short-term extension of the contract, which means that customers will not have to worry about losing access to these channels.

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Short-Term Contract Extension

Viacom® had earlier stated that they were not asking the telecom company to pay greater fees for their individual channels instead they only wanted Charter® to carry all their 23 TV channels as a part of their new Spectrum® TV service. The telecom giant has shown their reluctance to carry all the channels of Viacom® and we still don’t know how many Viacom® channels have Charter® agreed to carry in the recently signed agreement.

Some of the channels of Viacom® are not as popular as they once were and it has put them on a tough spot. However, Viacom® network shows such as “The Comedy Get Down”, “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah”, “South Park”, “Paw Patrol”, and “SpongeBob SquarePants”, continue to draw a large number of audiences even now. Consequently, audiences were frustrated when they heard that Viacom® would be pulling their channels from the TV service of Charter®.

One of the TV subscribers of Charter®, Mark Hull, posted a comment on the official Facebook page of Charter Spectrum®, in which he wrote “Negotiate for the channels, because if not, I’ll be putting your equipment in a trash bag on my front porch, and you can come get it before it rains next.”

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.”

12 Oct

AT&T® and FirstNet Launch Developer Program to Ensure Public Safety

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FirstNet Developer Program

AT&T®, one of the best internet service provider of the country, has joined hands with FirstNet to launch the first-ever developer program that is aimed at the first responders of the country. The program is to encourage and improve innovations that are aimed at public safety to equip first responders with the latest communication tools. The program also makes public safety responders closer to having their app store where they will be able to find solutions that are built to cater to their needs.

“This program will tap into the expertise and creativity of the developer community to drive innovation for public safety,” said CEO of FirstNet, Mike Poth. “It will also connect first responders with developers to create apps that will help them stay safe and save lives.”

The developer program is devised to offer apps to the FirstNet app store, offering public safety with a one-stop shop that provides secure and reliable solutions that are optimized for the FirstNet network. Based on the open and common standards, the developer ecosystem will act as an engine to have innovative, cost effective, and interoperable solutions for public safety.

“The FirstNet app ecosystem is an important building block as we work to modernize public safety’s communications tools and capabilities,” said Chris Sambar, senior vice president at AT&T®. “The FirstNet network will bring public safety the connectivity they need to communicate and collaborate. But it’s really what we’re able to build on top of that connectivity that will make the biggest difference in these brave men and women’s day-to-day operations.”

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Public Safety Communications Tools

Through the developer program of FirstNet, developers can make public safety apps and customize them for the first responders. The developers will have access to specialized portal that house resources, which can help them crate, test, deploy, and maintain various applications for public safety. In addition to the programming tools like software development kits and application programming interfaces, the portal also offers guidelines to be followed while developing apps for public safety.

Some key focus areas for the potential developers are in-building mapping, situational awareness, telemetry solutions, and wearable devices, records management and field reporting, and forensic intelligence. The developer program will also provide collaboration between the developers and the first responders to offer mission critical apps aimed at public safety and tools to provide access to timely data. Both AT&T® and FirstNet will conduct challenges and events to support the collaboration.

“The developer program establishes a clear line of sight between public safety and app developers,” Sambar added. “It will help ensure the apps developed truly meet first responders’ field needs. It’s a really important thing that was missing from the market. Until now.”

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.

21 Sep

CenturyLink® Rolls Out New Business Wi-Fi For Small And Medium Businesses

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Cisco® Meraki Wireless Technology

CenturyLink® has introduced its new Wi-Fi offering for businesses known as Business Wi-Fi. This is a bundled offering provided by CenturyLink® allowing businesses with about 250 employees to make use of advanced network features including the Cisco® Meraki wireless technology. These new technologies will immensely benefit businesses in providing an enhanced customer experience as well in developing their businesses. The CenturyLink® Business Wi-Fi has numerous features such as the inclusion of real-time monitoring and analytics.

This will provide the businesses with a more secure, manageable Wi-Fi solution that also gives improved connectivity to the customers. As per Vernon Irvin, who is the senior vice president at CenturyLink®, “This solution provides an economical option for businesses with limited IT resources to harness the power of their Wi-Fi networks to more effectively engage with their customers and employees. We remain committed to empowering small and medium-size businesses by helping them securely connect to the power of the digital world.”

CenturyLink® Business Wi-Fi offers enterprise-grade Wi-Fi that is quick to deploy alongside easy management features. Besides, the network visibility is far enhanced allowing network users to access them using single internet providers. Cisco® Meraki access points and software licenses, 24/7 operational support, as well as access to Cisco’s cloud dashboard are some of the other notable features provided by CenturyLink®.

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Real-Time Monitoring And Analytics

The dashboard allows customers in viewing their designated networks, setting up SSID authentication, prioritizing selected applications, making changes to the password, and demarcating guest traffic from secure traffic. It will also allow them to monitor wireless health and connectivity features, utilize location-based analytics, etc. By using this analytics, businesses are provided with numerous insights into their services that can be used to maximizing the value delivered to the customers.

Todd Nightingale, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco® Meraki said, “At Cisco® Meraki, our mission is to deliver technology that is easy to deploy and manage. And nowhere is IT simplicity more important than with smaller businesses. By teaming with CenturyLink®, we’re removing complexity for small businesses and allowing them to focus on running their business.”

This new service is also available to the Alliance® program partners. CenturyLink’s new service reflects its dedication in providing services for small and mid-sized businesses. Previously, CenturyLink® introduced its Business VoIP feature for small business customers that offer premium home phone services for a monthly rate. It has also collaborated with Cisco® Meraki in providing a managed enterprise solution for single and multi-site customers.

19 Sep

Charter® And Samsung Team Up In Carrying Out 5G And 4G LTE Trials

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5G And 4G LTE Trials

Charter Communications® has collaborated with Samsung for carrying out 5G and 4G LTE lab and field trials across the United States. The trials will involve evaluating the usage of the 28 GHz millimeter wave spectrum. Besides that, the two companies are also conducting trials in 4G at the 3.5 GHz spectrum using the small cell technology developed by Samsung in outdoor environments.

According to a statement released by the company, “These tests will provide critical information as Charter® prepares to launch a mobile wireless service next year and bring new competition to that marketplace.” Reports say that Charter® will also stress on an ‘inside-out’ strategy, initially centering on wireless solutions inside the home and office, and then finally expand to outdoors.

Previously, Charter® entered into a MVNO agreement with other internet providers such as Verizon Communications®. Later, the Telco announced some details regarding its plans to test and implement 5G network across various regions of the country. The Telco has also applied for the required licenses to undertake trials using 5G in the previous year.

Craig Cowden, SVP of wireless technology at Charter®, said in a statement, “We are pleased to collaborate with Samsung on these trials, which provide Charter® better insight into how our advanced, powered, high-speed network—which currently passes 49 million homes and businesses—can be used to enable 5G services. In addition, as we move closer to the launch of a Spectrum® wireless service in 2018, our work with Samsung on trials of 4G small cell technology will support our overall wireless strategy.”

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28 Ghz Millimeter Wave Spectrum

Charter® intends to provide extensive connectivity across the country by using 4G and 5G networks along with Wi-Fi. The Telco is expecting to release its cellular service by 2018 for providing wireless access to the customers. Charter® is also considering leveraging the new spectrum such as the 3.5 GHz and millimeter wave to obtain the best speeds, capacity, and quality in the networks. Both Charter® and Samsung announced this new cooperation in conducting trials during the Mobile World Congress Americas held recently.

Mark Louison, SVP and General Manager for Networks, Samsung Electronics America said, “As a pioneer in small cell networks technologies, Samsung is excited to partner with Charter® as they evaluate their next-generation 5G and 4G wireless network technologies. These projects, with communications leaders such as Charter®, will continue to lay the foundation for future business models and customer applications that tap the full potential of both 4G LTE and 5G.”

09 Sep

Cheyenne County Is Closing In On Getting A Broadband Internet Provider

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Broadband For Business Development

The businesses in Colorado’s Cheyenne County will soon get the broadband service, as the county council is closing in on a deal. Mayor Marian Orr has been on ‘a drive’ to bring broadband for “business development” in Cheyenne since last May.

The Cheyenne Mayor recently said that her drive “to reduce fees providers pay to install the cables high-speed internet connections rely on has interested at least one company, Sheridan-based Advanced Communications Technology®.”

In fact, the company would have to pay the “rights-of-way fees” to relay fiber network underneath the public property in downtown Cheyenne. Even the city council is trying to reduce “rights-of-way fees” to bring broadband in the area. Reliable sources suggest that generally, internet providers pay “$2.40 per foot of cable” per year in downtown Cheyenne as the rights-of-way fees. The Mayor is hoping to reduce that to around $1 per foot of cable, as $2.4 per foot of cable will cost $12,672 per mile to make telecom companies reluctant to accept a deal.

Cheyenne’s broadband internet providers have been Charter Communications® and CenturyLink® thus far. The Mayor is hoping an increase in competition would bring down the cost of gigabit broadband, a service that businesses demand in Cheyenne.

“At this point, it’s about increasing our competition,” Orr said. “Advanced Communications Technology® is able to offer fees and rates at a much lower price than Charter Communications® and CenturyLink®.”

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High-Speed Internet Connections

Officials of neither Charter Communications® and nor CenturyLink® have commented on the developments in Cheyenne. However, Aaron Sopko GM at Advanced Communications Technology® said the company has offered “gigabit internet service” for $500 per month in the Sheridan and Buffalo areas.

Commenting on the developments in Cheyenne County, the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce CEO and President, Dale Steenbergen said, “We can do ($500 per month for gigabit internet) now in most places. We support free enterprise, and competition is always a good thing, but I do think that Charter Communications® and CenturyLink® both have been good partners.”

It must be noted the deal between the city council and Advanced Communications Technology® is yet to complete. Once the deal close, County Mayor hopes that Advanced Communications Technology® would offer an alternative broadband service to businesses in Colorado’s Cheyenne County.

08 Sep

AT&T® Gets Ready To Combat Hurricane Irma

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Prepare For Hurricane Irma

One of the leading internet providers in the country, AT&T® has already taken necessary precautionary steps with response equipment and personnel on standby to get ready for Hurricane Irma. The telecom giant has also started their storm preparedness process as the hurricane is estimated to be spread to different parts of the country within a few days.

Reports from several reliable sources claim that the storm will most likely affect Florida and surrounding areas in the next few days. Preventive measures taken against the storm include topping off the fuel generators, protecting the physical facilities, and examining high-capacity back-up batteries at the cell sites.

In addition to that, AT&T® has also put in extra efforts to stage emergency response equipment in the strategic locations and their national reliability center will be monitoring the outages for quick action. The officials from the telecom company have also stated that they have boosted the network redundancy in storm-prone regions. Moreover, the technicians from AT&T® have also been installing more generators at switching facilities and critical cell towers as soon as they heard about the hurricane.

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Stage Emergency Response Equipment

AT&T® Florida president, Joe York said, “Customers rely on us, especially during major storms. That’s why we practice readiness drills and simulations throughout the year. We do all we can to have our networks prepared when severe weather strikes. We’ve worked for the past few days to position equipment and crews to respond to the storm. We’re closely linked with Florida public officials in their storm response efforts. With a storm of this size, we may have some outages. But if service goes down, we’ll do all we can to get it back up as fast as possible.”

The AT&T® National Disaster Recovery (NDR) program is undoubtedly one of the most advanced and largest disaster programs in the country. This innovative program from the telecom company has more than hundred technology recovery and support trailers, which can be instantly deployed to respond to disasters.

The NDR team operates with local response centers, regional emergency operations centers, and AT&T® network personnel in order to keep the service intact until they have made the requires repairs. The officials from the telecom company, AT&T® has also urged customers to get prepared for the hurricane by taking the necessary precautionary steps.

01 Sep

AT&T® Unveils Fixed Wireless Internet In DeSoto County

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Fixed Wireless Internet

AT&T® offers the best internet service in many parts of America, and Mississippi is the latest region they are trying to address by offering best internet of up to 10 Mbps speed. AT&T® Mississippi President, Mayo Flint, and Roger Wicker, who leads the Senate subcommittee on matters Communications, Technology, and Internet, jointly unveiled the AT&T® Fixed Wireless Internet in parts of DeSoto County.

The AT&T® Fixed Wireless Internet rollout was kicked off recently in Marion County, and this time around, both Flint and Wicker were accompanied by Mississippi Public Service Commissioner, Brandon Presley, District 4 Supervisor, Lee Caldwell, and other officials, who all gathered at the Telco giant’s service tower nearby Mississippi Highway 304 in Eudora.

Reports say that AT&T® Fixed Wireless Internet will deliver the best internet at broadband download speeds of no less than 10 Mbps. The fixed wireless connection stems from a wireless tower to a fixed antenna on the subscribers’ homes or the businesses in rural parts of Mississippi.

“This is an efficient way to deliver high-quality internet to customers in rural and underserved areas,” Flint said, while reinstating that, “This will be capable of delivering a fixed wireless signal at a speed of 10 megabits per second, more than enough to do web browsing with plenty of speed and to stream your favorite movie or TV show.”

The Telco giant’s Fixed Wireless Internet rollout in DeSoto County was successful thanks to the commitment they had with FCC Connect America Fund. AT&T® is planning to “reach nearly 133,000 locations with this technology across Mississippi by 2020,” Flint said in an earlier statement.

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Better Cell Phone Service

“”Broadband is the electricity of the 21st century,” said Brandon Presley who last thrived to “Zap the Gap” in rural Mississippi “to bring better cell phone service to rural areas where wireless coverage was spotty or even non-existent.”

For his part, Roger Wicker has also expressed his impartial views on the AT&T® Fixed Wireless Internet. “The future growth of Mississippi’s economy relies on innovation and investment like we are seeing announced today with AT&T’s Fixed Wireless Internet Technology.”

“High-speed internet service from AT&T® in this part of DeSoto County and other designated areas across Mississippi provides a great example of the innovative thinking necessary to help close the remaining connectivity gap in rural areas across the state,” Wicker added.

23 Aug

AT&T® Might Sell Their Home Security Business

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AT&T® Digital Life

AT&T®, one of the best internet service providers of the country, has started to explore options for their Digital Life home security business, including selling the business, as they are seeking to pay down the debt following their planned 85.4 billion acquisition of the Time Warner Inc. This process of selling the subsidiary business will mark a reversal for AT&T® that entered the home security market in the US in 2013, with the introduction of Digital Life.

Digital Life from AT&T® offers users cameras and sensors that will allow them to monitor their homes on their smartphones. Digital Life only accounted for a small portion of the 163.8 billion dollars revenue of AT&T® in 2016. The business is estimated to have about 400,000 and 500,000 users and might fetch about a billion dollars when sold. However, this will not do much to decrease the debt of AT&T® that totals to 143.7 billion dollars.

Sources say that the sale of Digital Life could be a prelude to more sales of AT&T® subsidiaries. “AT&T will carry an incredible debt load (after the Time Warner deal closes), which is a risky proposition for a company with declining revenues,” MoffettNathanson research analyst Craig Moffett said. “They will almost certainly have to find assets to sell to appease the bond rating agencies.”

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Time Warner Acquisition

AT&T® said that they are expecting the Time Warner acquisition, which is currently under the review to go through by the end of 2017. Digital Life from AT&T® reaches eighty markets in the United States, which include large cities like New York and Chicago. However, it is not a match to the scale of the rival service from the US cable company Comcast Corporation®.

Comcast® had introduced their Xfinity® Home service in 2012 and they are approaching one million users this year. Before a few years, cable operators turned to home security services to open a new revenue stream. It is reported that the home security companies and buyout firms might show interest in the Digital Life unit of AT&T®. For instance, the private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC bought the home security business ADT Corp for $7 billion in 2016.

It is to be noted that AT&T® has also sold the home security unit of DirecTV®, LifeShield to a private equity firm named Hawk Capital Partners last month, but the details of the sale are not yet disclosed.

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