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04 Jul

Charter® Expands Spectrum® Gigabit Internet Service to More Markets

Best Internet

Best Internet Offers

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.

Cable Providers

High Speed Internet

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.

01 Feb

AT&T Confident To Close Time Warner Deal This Year

DirecTV Family Package

AT&T Time Warner Merger

AT&T is confident that their proposed 85 million dollar acquisition of Time Warner Inc. will be completed by the end of 2017. CFO John Stephens said to analysts on their earnings call that the deal will be closed by the end of the year, even though the new US President Donald Trump has voiced opposition to this deal.

“We remain confident that the deal will be approved later this year,” Stephens said. However, it is to be noted that the deal is not yet approved by the Department of Justice and President Trump had previously said that he does not agree with the AT&T Time Warner merger plan.

Before the elections, Trump said at a campaign rally that the proposed merger was “a deal we will not approve in my administration because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.”

On Jan 12, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson met with the then President-elect at the Trump Tower, but reports say that the Time Warner deal was not discussed in the meeting. Stephenson said that Trump “had a very specific agenda” that he needed to cover in the meeting: corporate tax reform and regulatory reform.

“I was impressed,” Stephenson said. “I was meeting with a CEO – it was obvious.” He said he left the Trump confab with a “degree of optimism” that tax reform could actually be pulled off this year. “If we want to get off this 1% to 2% growth plane… we have to have tax reform,” AT&T’s CEO said.

Cable Providers

$85 Million Deal

When asked about Trump’s appointment of the Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who is a vocal critic of net neutrality regulations, Stephenson said that he believed that the new Chairman would rationalize the current regulations. Pai is not a fan of the Title II regulations on ISPs under the Open Internet Order of FCC, and Stephenson says that Open Internet Order is a rule that is “suppressive to investment” by telecom providers.

The AT&T CEO said that with the new FCC leadership, the Telco would not change their strategy on the zero-rated services that exclude some content like DirecTV Now from the wireless data caps. “We were quite confident that zero-rating was fine under a Pai chairmanship” or any other FCC regime, he said. The zero-rated data offers are “something our customers are loving. That’s a big deal. It’s proving to be very advantageous in the marketplace for our customers.”

18 Jan

AT&T Will No Longer Work On 2G Phones


AT&T Phone Support

AT&T has cut down their legacy GSM network at the start of 2017. We may not use our old Blackberry Pearl or old iPhone on AT&T network just for the sake of nostalgia today, but AT&T is keeping their old promises for sure.

In 2012, AT&T announced that they would shut down the 2G service by Jan 1, 2017. So, if you are still using a mobile phone that makes only GSM calls and make use of EDGE for data needs, then you are stuck.

It is reported that this move of AT&T will not hurt many users as even the basic mobile phones these days make use of 3G and LTE. However, it is hard not to talk about a technology that has been around for so many years.

Users of AT&T would not mind much, as AT&T offers much more than 2G. It is reported that AT&T will repurpose the newly freed spectrum for LTE and that this move will lead to more space for 5G wireless. Just like the end of analog mobile services, this small sacrifice will pay bigger dividends in the future.

“To help support the massive growth of mobile internet usage and free up spectrum for newer technologies, we discontinued service on our 2G wireless networks January 1, 2017,” AT&T Chief Strategy Officer, John Donovan said. “The retirement of our 2G network … is part of our 5G Evolution, which includes continued deployment of our 4G LTE and other technologies in the years to come.”

Cable Providers

EDGE Services

He further added that, “Newer, faster technologies will improve the wireless experience. IoT customers will be able to better serve their customers with improved applications and solutions because of the higher speeds of the upgraded network. Mobility customers will enjoy faster speeds to share photos and watch video.”

The shutdown of the 2G service is also a reminder on how far the mobile data has come since the launch of 2G services. In the United States, the 2G service was introduced at the turn of the millennium. EDGE was a technology that was considered fine at the time when the mobile data services were considered novel.

At the time of introduction of EDGE, most of the users made use of the technology to check email messages, surf the internet, etc. Yet things have changed quite a lot now. These days, a modestly sized image or an app download can crush the 2G services. The modern mobile internet is very much dependent on speeds and the speeds are increasing day by day.

12 Jan

FCC Concludes That Free Data For DirecTV Now Violates Net Neutrality

DirecTV Select Package

DirecTV Now

The open internet rule of 2015 (commonly called as Net Neutrality) was much controversial and is probably going to be rolled back or ignored under the administration of Donald Trump. With just few days left for the existing FCC leadership, they have decided to conclude that the decision of AT&T not to charge their wireless users for accessing DirecTV Now streaming is probably against regulations and may harm consumers and competition.

The Net Neutrality rule does not take a fixed position in the case of “zero rated” or sponsored programs in which someone other than the end user pay for some of the data that is consumed by the user every month. FCC has acknowledged that there can be pro-consumer benefits for some of the programs and so they have decided to have a case-by-case approach in finding out if a specific zero rated offering comply with the neutrality regulations.

Previously, the head of Wireless Bureau of FCC sent letters to Verizon and AT&T to express his concerns on Verizon’s FreeBee Data 360 sponsored data program and DirecTV Now services. The FreeBee Data 360 program from Verizon allows content businesses to pay for some of the wireless that is consumed by the users on the Verizon network.

As per the recent reports from FCC, AT&T offered no new information to support their claims that they offer zero-rated data to third parties at the same rate that they charge DirecTV. In December, FCC had pointed out that there is a difference between money paid by the third party providers and the money that is just transferred from one asset of AT&T to another, even though the amounts are same.

Cable Providers

Open Internet Rule

“Unaffiliated mobile video service providers must pay a significant, clearly identifiable amount of money for the sponsored data needed to offer streaming video programming to AT&T Mobility’s subscribers on a zero-rated basis,” reads the report.

“By comparison to AT&T, which need not incur a comparable out-of-pocket expenditure to offer DIRECTV Now on a zero-rated basis. Rather, any imputed ‘charges’ that DIRECTV ‘pays’ AT&T Mobility for sponsored data, even if formally recorded on the corporate books as internal transfer payments, would result in no net expenditure at the holding company level,” FCC added.

The wireless bureau concludes from the information that they got from AT&T that, “Such arrangements likely obstruct competition for video programming services delivered over mobile Internet platforms and harm consumers by inhibiting unaffiliated edge providers’ ability to provide such service to AT&T’s wireless subscribers.”

11 Jan

Dish To Serve Multi-Room Audio Powered By DTS Play-Fi

Cable Providers

Multi-Room Audio

In this technological era, there are many ways by which we can wirelessly stream music from one room to the other. One of the ways is the DTS Play-Fi, which stands out from the other methods, as it allow users to make use of a variety of products from different manufacturers. DTS has now announced a new list of partners who will be joining soon.

The company has now decided to add many products to the DTS Play-Fi family. DTS Play-Fi makes use of the existing Wi-Fi set up of your home to stream music from tablets, smartphones, desktops, and laptops to different devices in the house. The best part is that you can make the whole house system with any device in the DTS Play-Fi ecosystem. This means that you can have the Definitive Technology Wireless Music System in a room and the Integra DLB-5 in some other room in your house, and have both of the devices on the same wireless network for music.

The current DTS Play-Fi lineup include more than thirty speakers that are interoperable, soundbars, as well as receivers from firms like Anthem, Aerix, Autonomic, Arcam, Definitive Technology, Klipsch, Fusion Research, MartinLogan, Integra, McIntosh, Paradigm, Onkyo, Pioneer, Phorus, Polk Audio, Wren Sound Systems, and Sonus faber.

Dish Network Packages

DTS Play-Fi Family

The company is planning to add many more products to the list, including the Dish Hopper 3 and Joey. It is reported that both Hopper 3 and Joey set top boxes will get a new software update soon, which will allow users to stream synchronized music throughout the house to the wireless connected speakers. Onkyo, Pioneer, and Integra will also release similar updates soon.

Multiroom audio is becoming a major feature in many of the audio products now. Dish Network has officially announced that they will add DTS Play-Fi to some of their devices. “The Hopper is capable of serving as a household’s comprehensive entertainment hub,” Niraj Desai, Dish vice president of product management, said in a statement. “Incorporating DTS Play-Fi technology into our offerings provides DISH customers with a premium whole-home music streaming option, in addition to the television experience they already love, at no additional cost.”

At the heart of this functionality from Dish Network is the Dish Music app. The app not only offer control over the Dish hardware, but also add compatible DTS Play-Fi speakers to the audio setup.

09 Jan

T-Mobile CEO Predicts About Dish Network In CES Media Event


T-Mobile CEO

T-Mobile CEO John Legere predicted at the CES event that Dish Network would not be Dish anymore by the end of 2017. He shared his opinion with the crowd gathered at the press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

“Rumors for years that (Dish is) getting into wireless, it’s a declining TV business and it has a big pile of spectrum. This is going to run its course in 2017,” Legere said to the audience. “By the end of 2017, Dish will not be a standalone entity. So dealer, next hand of cards. Charlie, thanks for playing.”

Interestingly, neither Dish Network CEO Charlie Ergen nor Dish representatives commented on this opinion. Legere also shared that T-Mobile has added 8.2 million new users in 2016, and said that this is the third time that T-Mobile has hit the 8 million-plus mark.

“You know why we were fourth? Because there’s only four (mobile services),” Legere added. He prefaced his 2017 predictions saying that some of them are serious and some are not so serious. He also predicted that T-Mobile would be the first service provider to offer 1Gbps LTE wireless service. Legere also got cautious laughs from the audience when he made the prediction of a possible union between Verizon and Comcast into “Comizon” or “Vericast.”

Cable Providers

T-Mobile Predictions

The predictions were made after T-Mobile’s latest “Uncarrier” updates. These updates have revolutionized the way people pay for getting mobile services. From Jan 22, T-Mobile will offer only one plan for its subscribers, which is the T-MobileOne. The monthly charges for the plan is 70 dollars for the first line. Users can add a second line for 50 dollars, and the third and fourth lines can be added for 20 dollars each. This means that a family of four can have the plan for 40 dollars a month when using all the four lines.

The 40 dollars price includes fees, taxes, and other charges, as long as the user is on an auto-pay plan. In addition to that, T-Mobile will refund 10 dollars a month for each of the line that has not used at least 2 Gigabytes of internet.

Dish Network has struggled much and has lost many satellite TV customers last year. However, it has to be noted that Sling TV service from Dish has grown to one million plus users. T-Mobile also offers an online video streaming package known as Binge On, which provides unlimited content without eating into the data plans of the user.

30 Dec

AT&T To End The Promo Deal For DirecTV Now

DirecTV Packages

DirecTV Now Deals

In the month of October, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson announced an extremely aggressive price point for their latest streaming service product, DirecTV Now. He announced that for just thirty-five dollars a month, a user could get a DirecTV Now package that includes more than a hundred channels.

Analysts said that the pricing would mean DirecTV Now would have to drive revenue from other areas of the business,  targeted advertising campaigns and driving more and more users to wireless services being a few options. However, at the release event of DirecTV Now, the introductory offer of thirty-five dollars for hundred channels made waves. Yet that was a promo deal.

Recently, AT&T confirmed an expiry date for the introductory offer. Reports say that the introductory price will change on January 9, 2017. However, any user who buys the package before the expiry date will be included in the introductory price deal.

Cable Providers

Latest Streaming Service

“Any current DirecTV Now customer, and those who sign up before the promotion ends, will stay at the special price of $35 for Go Big package. That’s a monthly savings of $25,” an AT&T spokesman said. “Customers who sign up for this offer, will continue to enjoy this special price for as long as they keep the package, subject only to future reasonable programming price increases applicable to all packages.”

From the statement, it is clear that the price for “Go Big” package will increase to the regular price of sixty dollars per month from Jan. 9, 2017. Other price points for the DirecTV Now service includes thirty-five dollars for 60+ channels, fifty dollars for 80+ channels, and seventy dollars for 120+ channels. Users can also have Cinemax and HBO as add-on package for five dollars per month for each.

DirecTV Now service is the much-awaited result of months of work by AT&T. They were preparing a streaming TV product for consumer use, which includes the process of securing carriage deals that is much important to get channels on the service. Carriage negotiations are a difficult process these days and it has been a key point in the regulatory defense of AT&T’s deal to buy Time Warner Inc.

27 Dec

Dish Network Not Planning To Make Any Announcements In Annual CES Presentation

Dish Network Channel Guide

Dish Network Presentation

It seems as if Dish Network has made CES Las Vegas, a place, where they make their biggest announcements. However, one of the representatives from Dish Network recently told the media that they would not be conducting their annual press conference at CES 2017. When asked about the event being shelved this year, the representative said, “In recent years, CES has been great for us but our timing is on a bit of a different cycle. Hope to see you there!”

In recent years, the presentation of Dish Network has been one of the highlights of the mega show. Dish has used CES to make some of their biggest announcements. For instance, in 2012, Dish introduced the Hopper DVR, signaling the features of the last generation of advanced DVR set top boxes. In 2015, Dish network debuted the Sling TV service, which proved to be the major virtual TV service and the forerunner of all internet based streaming services.

With Sling TV increasing its user base and the satellite-based service of Dish network in full retreat, the decision of Dish Network to shelve presentation for this year might prove costly to the provider. The tech world might be waiting for new and splashy announcements from Dish Network, and millions of promoters would be disappointed with no Dish announcement at the event.

Sling TV service from Dish has been active on announcement front. They are trying to stay relevant, as their competitor AT&T has launched DirecTV Now internet based video service. Earlier this month, Sling TV had announced that they are testing a cloud DVR for selected users who make use of Roku boxes to get the service. Experts say that this significant news could have been held back for CES press release.

Cable Providers

Annual CES Meet

It is to be noted that Dish Network has reported a loss of 116,000 users in the third quarter of 2016. However, analysts speculated that the decline in traditional satellite service users of Dish Network increased much after the number of Sling TV users started to climb.

According to analyst Craig Moffett, “AT&T’s planned $35 DirecTV Now service appears poised to strike right at the heart of Sling TV, which has been the sole glimmer of growth in Dish’s core business. By our estimates, Dish lost 320K traditional satellite subscribers in Q3, and has lost 949K over the past year.

“Their legacy subscriber base has shrunk by 8.1 percent year over year! That decline has been at least partially offset by the growth of Sling TV, which has added an estimated 517K subscribers over the past four quarters, cutting Dish Network’s overall annual decline rate to 3.1%. In Q3, we estimate that they added another 204K,” Moffett added.

23 Dec

AirTV Player Set Top Box From Dish Will Combine Netflix, Sling TV, And OTA Live Channels

Dish Network Channels

Sling TV Users

Sling officials recently revealed a new set top box named the AirTV Player on their website. This set top box will allow Sling TV users stream live cable channels on their TV, just as users do with Roku, Apple TV, and other streaming devices.

The AirTV Player makes a difference though, as it also integrates live, over the air network programs into the interface, making use of an antenna that is sold separately. This means that the users will be able to watch CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox channels as long as the antenna can normally pull down the channels wherever the user lives.

In addition to that, AirTV Player also includes support for Netflix, but the user will need to subscribe it separately. All these sources are bundled together in the user interface and guide of Sling TV.

Sling TV also offers live programming from ABC (a $5 add-on to Sling TV Orange subscription) or Fox and NBC (both are available in select markets offered as part of the $25 per month Sling Blue subscription). Currently, Sling does not offer a way to get all these programming all together, and CBS is not offered by Sling TV.

Cable Providers

Dish And Sling

If users go for the Sling Orange package, they will not get the Disney-owned networks like ESPN, but will get channels like NFL and USA Network. With AirTV Player though, Dish and Sling are allowing users to select a package of cable channels that they want and are offering alternative way for the four big networks.

The FAQ page of Sling TV says that AirTV Player needs no monthly charge to use. A subscription for the Sling TV service is also not needed, but the user will not get warranty support for the set top box hardware until the user log-ins with a Sling TV account.

It is rumored that the set top box works on Android too, as there is a Google button provided on the remote controller near to Netflix. The set top box has seen some redesigns, with blue and white colors. It is believed that the AirTV Player will fill a niche for the customers who are not willing to drop the traditional cable networks for the new internet TV services and lose the big four networks.

19 Dec

AT&T To Raise U-Verse Prices In January

DirecTV Choice Package

U-Verse Price Hike

AT&T has recently announced an increase for many of their programming packages like U-Verse IPTV, Phone, and DirecTV from January 2017. It is reported that the higher programming costs has compelled AT&T to increase the charges. City officials and users will be notified about the raise in the boiling statements. The additional charge is levied to recover a portion of money that the local broadcasters charge AT&T Inc to carry their programming.

Comcast Corporation has also announced that they will increase monthly subscription charges of their video and internet services by an average of 3.8% across the nation soon. It is reported that the effective date of increase in subscription fees will differ from market to market though, yet the hike is expected to start by Jan 1, 2017.

Increased Pricing Schemes

It is reported that the users of U-Family and U-Family All In packages by AT&T will see an increase of two dollars per month in subscription charges, while U100 users will see an increase of three dollars per month. The U200, U200 All In, U200 Latino, U200 Latino All In, and U300, subscribers will see an increase of five dollars per month in service charges, whereas the charges for U400, U450, and U450 Latino All In packages will go up by eight dollars per month.


AT&T Cable Deals

The U-Verse broadcast TV surcharge will go up by one dollar per month in all AT&T markets excluding Montgomery. In some markets, including Biloxi, MS, Detroit, MI, and Wilmington, NC, the surcharge will increase by 1.15 dollars, whereas in markets like Raleigh-Durham, NC, Los Angeles, CA, and Jackson, MS, the charge will increase by 61 cents.

The Phone Unlimited plan of thirty-five dollars and Phone 200 plan of twenty-five dollars will go up by one dollar. Apart from that, AT&T also announced an increase in price for eight of their nine basic DirecTV packages from 2 dollars to 6 dollars per month.

The strategic collaborations and acquisitions by AT&T have offered much to the growth of the company. If the proposed acquisition of Time Warner Inc by AT&T goes through smoothly, the combined entity will have a major role on the telecom media space.

AT&T’s collaboration with Intel will also help them develop new software centric technologies. They are also aiming to expand their 4G LTE wireless networks, field testing the 5G technology, and increasing their footprint in Internet of Things (IOT) space.


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