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18 Mar

Smart TV Basics That you Need to Remember

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Smart TVs are gaining popularity by the day, as there are newer features being introduced with each product, which make life easier overall for the user. Many of today’s Smart TVs are compatible with a number of other devices you typically find inside a modern home, and help you to control these from a single source. These features have definitely had a hand in transforming a lot of people’s lifestyles. Below are a few basic things about the average Smart TV that should help you understand it better than you do already.

Connecting Your Smart TV To The Internet

Smart TVs use the internet connection in your home in order to bring you quality photos, audio, movies, and TV shows. They use either Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet to stay connected. There are several things that you need to take care of after setting up a Smart TV. One of the main ones is ensuring that Wi-Fi coverage from a fastest internet provider is available in the immediate vicinity of your Smart TV. If you have a router on a different floor, for instance, you may not be able to enjoy uninterrupted streaming.

Keeping the Connection Strong

If your smart TV is facing issues while operating, there are a few simple things you can do to ensure its connection to the internet stays strong. Ensure that your internet router is not more than three years old, so that you have a reasonable chance of getting better than good performance out of it. Also, the use of Wi-Fi range extenders and routers with mesh network are great options in cases where nearby placement is hard to achieve.

Setup, Apps, and Streaming

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There are no standard operating systems in place for Smart TVs. Each TV maker uses different firmware as well as graphical presentation methods. Interfaces and operating systems used are different for different companies.

Your experience watching videos from streaming services would almost always benefit from having the speeds guaranteed by any of the best internet providers out there. Meanwhile, you also get to use a number of popular apps which come included with most smart TVs these days. While lower-priced models promote only the most popular applications, the higher-end TVs provide more comprehensive sets of options in that area.

Does a Smart TV Crash?

Smart TVs also employ computer chips for upscaling, video processing, multiple screen display, and internet connection. That means they need memory to buffer streaming music and video, aside from additional processing power needed to make proper adjustments to rendered graphics. Sometimes this can cause a TV to crash, or exhibit glitches. That issue is mostly being eliminated with the use of quad-core processors, which bring more computing power to the table.

28 Feb

US Justice Department Not About To Appeal the AT&T-Time Warner Merger

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AT&T emerged victorious despite the drawn out attempts of the Trump administration to block its 85.4 billion dollars purchase of Time Warner, as the US Justice department said that they will not fight an appeal court ruling that approves the deal. The acquisition of Time Warner by AT&T has been watched very closely after it came under fire from president Donald Trump. Trump opposed the merger as he saw it helping the CNN unit of Time Warner, which was accused by the president of broadcasting fake news.

There was a three judge panel on the US Court of Appeals for the Columbia district and they unanimously ruled in favor of the deal. They said that the case of the government that the merger will lead to increase in consumer prices was very “unpersuasive.” The decision of the panel ended a long fifteen-month effort by the Justice Department to block the merger.

This is the second major court victory for AT&T in this regard, and has set the stage for the second best wireless carrier in the country to integrate their WarnerMedia business with their new Xandr advertising unit. “We are grateful that the Court of Appeals considered our objections to the District Court opinion. The department has no plans to seek further review,” said Jeremy Edwards, who is the spokesman for the Justice Department.

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Makan Delrahim, who heads the antitrust division of the US Justice Department phoned Paul Cappuccio, Time Warner’s former General Counsel, and David McAtee, AT&T current General Counsel, to congratulate them on the victory. McAtee said the merger “has already yielded significant consumer benefits and will continue to do so for years to come.” This deal is being seen as a very important turning point in the media industry, which has been upended by businesses like Google and Netflix that offer content online without any need for cable subscriptions.

The merger was announced in October 2016 and was closed on June 14 2018 after the U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruling that the merger was legal under the US antitrust law. AT&T agreed to manage the Turner network till 28th of February, or until the conclusion of any appeal made by the US Justice Department. It was also agreed that AT&T will have no role in setting the prices of Turner to the distributors.

05 Feb

What you Need to Know about Internet Agreements and Related Costs

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The advertised price is seldom the same as what you actually pay. It is true of most services, including cable and internet. The costs outlined here are not the only ones that you might see on your invoice. They are the most common expenses, which the average consumer has to understand before signing up.

Contract versus No-Contract Internet

When you subscribe to an internet service, several companies will offer a cheaper price to you if you put pen to paper. Usually, the service contract period is up to two years. If you live in the US, your service provider might not give the best internet option to you sans a contract.

In the long run, contract service can at times be a relatively better deal. This is especially true for bundle subscribers, as the best pricing typically comes with an agreement. If you intend to live at your present address for a couple of years at the least, contracts with that duration are worth considering. Oftentimes, the pricing is significantly lower, and there are service providers who “lock in” the price, so that you do not have to bother about it rising unexpectedly, as it does at times with “month-to-month” service.

Nonetheless, you have to understand that breaking an agreement can result in early termination fees. Most service providers allow you to cancel at no cost in the initial fifteen days or so, though afterward, you need to pay to move, even when you are switching since it fails to deliver the promised speeds.

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A month-to-month plan is better for short-term residents and renters and usually more flexible on the whole. If you feel you might have to switch before your agreement is over, then consider a no-contract service. There are service providers who offer internet-only packages without a contract; some providers have this policy. Keep in mind that such internet plans often cost extra 10 dollars or so a month for the flexibility. If you intend to stay with the exact best internet service for multiple years, then this cost can add up quickly.

Most internet users usually rent a router and/or modem as part of service. TV subscribers also lease set-top boxes, DVRs, and other equipment from their cheap cable operator. Each of them comes with a leasing fee (typically about 5 to 15 dollars a month). They can show up on your cable bill as “modem fees”, “equipment fees”, “technology fees”, and the like.

07 Sep

3 Ways to Get the Most Value Out of an Internet Service

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Whether you already have subscribed to one of the top internet providers or are looking forward to doing so, you should note these things to get the most of your internet service. You need to single out an ISP who offers the best speed, bandwidth and other options. Still, make the most of your data plan with these pointers.

Improved Speeds

Even when you are getting good downstream and upstream speeds, you still have to ensure certain things to get the best internet in this respect. If you keep an eye on the following things, you can improve speeds.

  • Make sure there are no services uploading, downloading and/or backing up cellular data to a cloud service in the background.
  • Make sure no device is connected to and is consuming data. If you have data caps, this will affect further data you could use or speeds if the limit exceeds.
  • Reset your equipment, comprising the router.
  • Test speeds with one connected device at a time in order to find out which device is using most data.
  • Replace old software and hardware and upgrade the firmware of your router.
  • Use your devices closer to your router and make sure a line of sight communication is there or no blockage exists between both.
  • Get rid of unwanted malware and virus on your device with antivirus software. Also, ensure its auto-update feature is turned off.
  • Use an updated web browser. Also, clear its cached files from time to time.

Consider your Data Requirement

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Make sure your internet package is one that is tailored to your data requirement. Usually, with an unlimited plan, you can download plenty of content or binge-watch TV shows online prior to your data caps start limiting speeds. In any event, you certainly need an unlimited plan for large data per month. On the other hand, if you use less data, a pay by the gigabyte internet plan will perhaps suit you. In other words, a pay by the gig plan means you will be charged for the data you consume in a billing cycle. There will be a specific monthly charge for up to one gigabyte.

Add-On Services

There are best internet service providers offering bundled packages to customers. You could bundle voice, data, and cable TV in a triple play package. If you only require less number of channels, it is best to go for a “skinny bundle”.

There could be other options to limit data usage such as parental controls or content filtering if your ISP provides the same. It will help you keep a tab on what your kids watch or stream, thereby impacting data.

03 Aug

Comcast Business® Wins the 2018 Best Practices Award

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Comcast Business® recently announced that they have won the Frost & Sullivan 2018 Best Practices Award for Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership in the North American Server Message Block VoIP services category. The judges of Frost & Sullivan gave Comcast® a 10/10 score for both the evaluation factors, as well as for customer impact. In addition, they appreciated the company’s spotlight on the SMB market, continual solution enhancements, and the resulting growth rates.

Frost & Sullivan analyzed factors such as superior leadership, customer service, strategic product development, and technological innovation. The business firm’s main goal is in driving positive industry change by recognizing companies, individuals, and products that fulfill the criteria.

The six VoIP services of Comcast Business® are Business VoiceEdge, Business VoiceEdge (PRI), Business Voice Mobility, Business Voice, Business VoiceEdge SIP, and Business VoiceEdge Select. The offerings of Business VoiceEdge are IP telephony offerings. It is designed for supporting SMBs need but is scalable to enterprises. Business VoiceEdge offers advanced calling systems like simultaneous rings, automated attendant, readable voicemail, and additionally, a mobile app for giving businesses top-end voice capabilities.

Frost & Sullivan mainly recognized the best internet provider Comcast® VoIP services for its rich and cost-effective web service, the breadth of the solutions portfolio, and the enhancements of advanced features in voice solutions. The comprehensive portfolio of data, voice, and value-added service by Comcast Business® can bundle connectivity services with unified communication solutions for simplifying their technology experience thereby providing one-stop shopping for SMBs.

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Elka Popova, the Vice President of Frost & Sullivan, said, “Comcast Business® stands out among its competitors. It has excelled over the years in terms of VoIP services user and revenue growth rates, and continues to pursue growth opportunities through ongoing solution enhancements, new service offerings, and unwavering commitment to serving the needs of SMB customers.”

John Guillaume, the Vice President of Product Management, UX and SaaS, Comcast Business®, said, “Receiving an award like this from such a respected analyst house is always a great honor. Add to that the fact that the two primary evaluation metrics are innovation and customer impact – two of the most important factors for any business – and that we received a perfect score in each of them, it just brings this award to a whole new level. As always, we plan to continue to improve and keep this momentum going forward with our VoIP offerings.”

04 Jul

Charter® Expands Spectrum® Gigabit Internet Service to More Markets

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Charter® has expanded their Spectrum® Internet Gig plan to millions of residential customers, making the best internet offering available to over 27 million residences. The telecommunications company is also aiming to expand the internet service with up to 940 megabits per second speed to almost all homes in their nationwide footprint by the end of the year.

The launch of Spectrum® Internet Gig to 27 million homes makes up “more than halfway to our goal of making gigabit connections available to virtually our entire 41-state footprint,” Charter® said in an announcement. “By Labor Day, we’ll be rolling out to even more cities to get closer to that year-end goal.”

The cable network of Charter® reaches out to around 50 million business and homes across the country. The prices of the gigabit internet service from the cable giant reportedly range from $105 to $125 per month, which is a variance that depends on local competition.

On the other hand, small and medium scale businesses can now subscribe to Spectrum® Business Internet Gig in markets where the best internet speed tier is available to residential customers. Charter® already offers the gigabit speeds to large-scale businesses. The starter download speeds of the cable operator are 100 or 200 megabits per second in select markets.

While the advertised speed by Charter® indicates that it is a gigabit internet service, the actual maximum speeds are 940 Mbps downstream and 35 Mbps upstream. This variance in speed is common in the telecommunications industry, and is caused due to network constraints that necessitate cable providers to limit the speed to support Ethernet overhead.

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The high-speed connections are possible thanks to DOCSIS 3.1, which is an industry standard used in telecommunications networks. Further, Charter’s cable internet service has no data cap. That is because the cable giant cannot sell internet plans to subscribers with data limits and overage fees until 2023, as FCC and US Justice Department stipulated that in their merger conditions. Charter® acquired Time Warner Cable® in 2016. Nevertheless, the regulators approved that based on that and several other conditions, including expansion of the network to underserved locations.

As of now, the gigabit internet does not support symmetrical downstream and upstream speeds, though updates to DOCSIS standard could change that in future. In fact, Charter Communications® has announced that it would eventually rollout symmetrical gigabit speeds over their existing network, which mainly relies on coaxial cable lines to reach out to each residence.

04 May

AT&T® Outlines Commercial Fixed Wireless 5G Deployment Strategies

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As per the results of fixed 5G trials conducted in select cities, AT&T® anticipates 5G mobile services that operate on mmWave spectrum to have transmitters placed inside 150 to 250 meters from one site to the other. The current mobile broadband services of AT&T® are deployed through a network infrastructure, which operates on 700 megahertz to 2 gigahertz band. However, AT&T® plans to deploy 5G mobile services that rely on 39 GHz millimeter wave spectrum. This band not only offers higher speeds and lower latency rates of below 10 milliseconds, but also transmits signals almost as good as the airwaves of lower band.

The Chief Financial Officer of AT&T®, John Stephens, said that the officials of the best internet provider are persuaded by the outcomes of fixed 5G tests. “We’re seeing gigabit-plus speeds under line-of-sight conditions to distances up to 900 feet and with extremely low latency rates, some as low as 9 milliseconds,” he said during a quarterly earnings call of AT&T®. “These trials have shown that millimeter-wave [signals are] able to penetrate foliage, glass—and even walls—better than anticipated with no discernible signal performance impacts due to rain, snow or other weather issues.”

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The Assistant VP of Radio Technology and Strategy at AT&T® Labs, Dave Wolster, said that the engineers of the company are certain that fixed wireless connections that operate on mmWave spectrum will deliver desired signals, even at ranges above 300 meters and under conditions favorable to line of sight communication. “With fixed wireless at millimeter wave, we have a lot of antenna gain to work with,” Wolter said. “At the base station, we have an antenna array of maybe 64 elements that are beam-forming, so they concentrate the energy in the direction of interest toward your user. The user also has an antenna array with higher gain than what you would have in a mobile device, and it uses higher power than typical mobile devices are using.”

The best internet provider expects fixed antennas to be placed outside of a construction window using Low-E glass, unlike how they used it inside of such windows in fixed 5G tests. “With millimeter waves, you lose quite a bit of power just going through a window, so we’re having to deal with that, as well. If you can put [the antennas] outside, you’ll get substantially more range, just because you don’t have that loss through the window,” Wolter added.

27 Apr

Comcast® Shifts Focus to Internet Following Q1 Results on Cable Subs

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Comcast Cable® officials recently reported that they experienced a significant loss in the number of video subscribers as of this year’s first quarter. As per reports, this decline in Comcast® video subs is 96,000 as of Q1 of 2018. However, being one of the best internet providers in the US, Comcast® has also achieved more than 350,000 high-speed internet subscribers during the same period.

This only goes to indicate the Philadelphia-based Telco giant’s role in nationwide markets of being an internet service provider that bundles cable TV packages and best internet plans. Slowly but surely, Comcast® treats internet as the core competency of their overall service portfolio to stay competitive in a market that is shifting toward streaming services. In other words, more and more customers are choosing internet to stream online channels on Comcast Xfinity® TV. Besides, their home security and Xfinity Mobile® offerings also serve as adds to their product portfolio.

To retain customers and drive sales, Comcast® sales reps are now pitching broadband packages first, and then, the company’s other offerings such as cable TV. “Our focus is very much centered on broadband,” said Dave Watson, who is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Comcast Cable®.

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This focus of Comcast® on internet offerings may seem surprising even at a time when the company has made a billion dollar bid, which is $31bn as per reports, to acquire Pay-TV broadcaster Sky plc. Comcast Corporation®, the parent company of Comcast Cable®, is surely trying everything it can to improve byline profits through broadband offerings even as their actions may seem to the contrary.

Trade analysts say that selling broadband would seem much profitable to Comcast® than selling cable TV packages, for which profit margins are thinner in comparison owing to programming costs. No wonder Comcast® is looking to acquire what is often billed as the largest satellite broadcaster in the UK namely Sky plc. In fact, Comcast® is not alone in bidding for the broadcaster – even Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox Inc. join them in the bidding process. The board members of Sky plc welcomed the Comcast® bid and withdrew a suggestion that shareholders have accepted an earlier proposal from 21st Century Fox.

Despite trying to cement their status of being one of the top internet providers, Comcast® also sees an opportunity in the form of wireless subscriber growth. It has added 196,000 subscriber lines to Xfinity Mobile® service in Q4, bringing its aggregate to 577,000 lines.

06 Mar

Comcast® Introduces New Push Notifications Feature for its Xfinity xFi™ Customers

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Comcast® has rolled out a new set of push notifications feature into its Xfinity® xFi™ system. This will enable its customers to obtain detailed information regarding their home network, which helps them to manage them more effectively. These push notifications will inform the user regarding any changes that happen in the home network and offers an improvement to the security of the system. The constant reminders sent out by the push notification feature will allow the customer to remain aware of all the recent changes made into the system and override the security of their home network.

The new push notifications feature introduced by Comcast® will provide their customer with real-time alerts through connected digital devices like a smartphone or TV. This will allow the customer to understand whether any changes have been made in the home network and take the necessary action. Since its launch last year, Comcast® has become one of the best internet providers in the country that offers a reliable home networking solution. The introduction of the xFi™ service allowed the customers with a solid platform to manage and customize their home networks via connected devices.

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Comcast’s newly introduced push notification feature will inform the user regarding several aspects. This includes alerts when a new device joins a home network that gives the customer more control over such as naming and assigning it to a particular person inside the home. It can also give valuable alerts about various security flaws in the home network such as when the network is switched to an open model by unauthorized access without consent of the customer.

Other network features like the status of the SSID or network name such as whether it is set to hidden or visible are also provided in the notifications. Other aspects such as a change in the IP address or the first time activation of Xfinity® Internet and the xFi™ gateway will also be included in the notifications. Comcast® is providing its customers with total control in customizing and managing their home network with this latest push notification feature.

The Telco has actually made these improvements to the xFi™ system solely for enhancing the security of the network. It was due to several security issues related to home networks that prompted Comcast® to come up with this improved push notification feature. It seems that with the introduction of this new feature, Comcast® is actually striding forward to make its xFi™ system a dependable platform and to step up the competition with other internet providers.

02 Mar

CenturyLink® To Extend Its SDN Services By Introducing E-LAN

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CenturyLink® has made several plans to extend and develop its SDN based architecture in the country for enhancing services, particularly in the cloud, for its business users. Several other remarkable developments carried out by the telco in its Ethernet services have made it the largest domestic Ethernet carrier in the country. As a part of these improvements, CenturyLink® also intends to debut an E-LAN service this year. These improvements will enable CenturyLink® to offer the best internet service in a fast and efficient manner for enterprise customers.

Chris McReynolds, Vice President of Core Product Management, CenturyLink®, said, “We’re upgrading our backbone in a bunch of key U.S. markets to 100G in 2018. We are taking products like our E-Access and E-Line and completed that Ethernet portfolio by investing in a new E-LAN capability that will be more SDN powered. We do have an E-LAN offer today, but now we’re making it part of a next-gen portfolio so to speak.”

CenturyLink® has become the largest provider of Ethernet services in the country after it has acquired Level 3 Communications. With this, the company actually surpassed AT&T® to become the largest domestic Ethernet provider in the country. It will actually be beneficial for CenturyLink® to serve a range of customers based both domestically and globally. It will also equip the telco to offer services to medium businesses and multinational companies based in different countries across the world.

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Regarding the new offering of E- LAN, CenturyLink® is planning to introduce it by the second half of this year. The E- LAN product will be adaptable for various kinds of use cases, and the telco is intending to release along its global footprint, such as in Latin America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific regions. The telco also expects that their E-LAN offering will be successful in metro cities, which will enable it to serve both the small and medium enterprise markets.

CenturyLink® has also partnered with various other cloud service providers such as Microsoft Azure and Oracle. McReynolds said, “We’ve continue to add cloud partners over the years such as Azure, Oracle and AWS. We do some connections to those cloud providers dynamically, but we’re going to double down on that investment so we can enable customers’ digital transformation as they move from their legacy data centers and move workloads into the cloud in a real-time fashion.”

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