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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

Fox Sports Will Start To Broadcast 4K Contents On DirecTV

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4K On DirecTV

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

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

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

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

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

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Fox Sports Content

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

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

15 Feb

Comcast To Offer Immersive Viewing Experience Of The Oscars

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Watching The Oscars

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

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

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

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

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Immersive Viewing Experience

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

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

The Streaming Services Arena As We Know Of Today

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The television business has seen many fascinating moves in the OTT video world in the recent weeks. The industry has seen the launch of AT&T’s DirecTV Now service, Netflix introducing the ability for members to download content for offline viewing, and CBS adding live NFL games to their All Access service. These moves together with many others started to unveil the key ingredients in the success recipe to take on the traditional multichannel television world.

OTT services, especially those services that provide access to “live” networks, do not offer the one-size-fits-all model of cable television. The various broadcast networks took much long before they enjoyed retransmission consent fees. From ESPN to USA or from A&E to Discovery, no matter what the programming genre is, the owner, the form of products, and business models were definite. However, it is not certain what will work for long in the OTT world and this uncertainty has led to many experimentations.

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OTT Skinny Bundles

There are many variations in the streaming service business model. Netflix follows an all sub fee approach; Hulu follows a mix of monthly subscriber fee together with a big load of advertisements (even though they offer a paid ad-free option); and then, there are hosts of digital native multichannel networks (MCNs) that go with advertising only. These experiments also extend to the OTT products also. The differences in deal making and complexity of existing programs has led to a varying mix of live and on demand programming, distribution platforms, and user interfaces.

It is not yet time to know how all these changes will affect the industry, as the services like DirecTV Now are not fully formed. Nevertheless, experts already see ingredients that can be the foundation for creative, technical, and business success.

Many of the experts were skeptical about the OTT skinny bundles that do not offer any live programming. Live sports like NFL games and Super Bowl gets much attention, but events like the Grammys, Oscars and even MTV’s Video Music Awards take the viewers out of the on demand mindset. Even though DirecTV Now included many stations of the major network owners to their service, they have acknowledged that there are still many spots to fill.

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A solid starter package, particularly if you’re not looking for a ton of movie or sports channels.

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