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15 Dec

AT&T® Expands Their High Speed Internet to More Underserved and Rural Communities

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AT&T® has now expanded the reach of their Fixed Wireless Internet to many small businesses and homes in some of the underserved and rural locations across seventeen new counties in the country. Business and residential users in areas of Charleston, Chesterfield, Anderson, Cherokee, Greenville, Darlington, Laurens, Dillon, Kershaw, Marlboro, Union, Marion, Pickens, Newberry, Orangeburg, Saluda, and York counties can sign up for the services from AT&T®.

The Telco had previously announced the availability of their best internet services in areas of Barnwell, Oconee, Richland, and Dorchester counties. “AT&T® is a fantastic corporate partner to South Carolina, and its commitment to providing equal access to high-speed internet for people in every part of the state will continue to benefit South Carolinians,” said Governor Henry McMaster. “Investment in rural areas is especially important to making sure every person in the state is given the opportunity to benefit from the economic development success we will continue to see for generations to come.”

This move from AT&T® follows the launch of their Fixed Wireless service in areas of South Carolina as part of their FCC Connect America Fund program. AT&T® is planning to offer access to more than 1.1 million areas by the end of 2020. In the area of South Carolina itself, they have committed to offer access to 30,000 locations by the year 2020 and they are planning to reach more than forty percent of that goal by the end of the year.

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Connect America Fund Program

“Access to fast and reliable internet is a life-changer in today’s interconnected world,” said Pamela Lackey, who is the president of AT&T® South Carolina. “We are excited about the opportunities this innovative service will bring for customers in many parts of the state as we continue working to close the connectivity divide in South Carolina.”

Between the years 2014 and 2016, AT&T® made investments of more than eight hundred million in their wireless and wired networks in South Carolina. Fixed Wireless internet service from AT&T® offers internet connection with a minimum download speed of 10 Mbps and upload speeds of at least 1 Mbps. With the internet connection, users can download, and stream their favorite TV shows and movies. The Fixed Wireless connection comes from a wireless tower to an antenna that is fixed at the home or business of the customer.

The service is also available to businesses and residents in areas of Arkansas, Florida, Alabama, California, Georgia, Kansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Texas.

13 Dec

Comcast® Launches a New Voice Remote

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Video On Demand Program

Comcast® is undoubtedly one of the best internet providers in the country and they have now move ahead of their competitors with the commercial launch of their newly designed voice remote that is to be used with their X1 platform. The latest model of voice remote, called as the XR15 is the follow on model to their XR11 remote that was introduced by Comcast® in 2015. As per the records, Comcast® has already deployed eighteen million voice remotes with users delivering about half a million voice commands in the month of November alone, as per a recent announcement from Jonathan Palmatier, who is the Vice President of consumers devices and products at the Comcast Corporation®.

The look and feel of the old remote is altered in the new voice remote, and the position of the blue microphone button is also changed. It is through this microphone that the voice commands are delivered to the X1 platform. “After researching how customers hold and use the remote, our design team placed the round blue button directly where the thumb naturally rests,” Palmatier explained. “That button is also in the center of the remote, larger than every other button and made from a distinct material so it can be identified by touch alone.”

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Legacy X1 Voice Remote

The XR15 remote from Comcast® is already recognized together with two other products from Comcast® for X1, which are a 4K capable video device and a wireless set top box. All these three Comcast® products came away with the Red Dot design awards. Apart from the new device, Comcast® is also introducing a bunch of latest voice remote features that work across the legacy X1 voice remote and the new XR15 models. Users will now be able to go forward or backward in a DVR recorded or Video On Demand program just by saying time increments like “Go forward fifteen minutes” or “Go back ten seconds.”

The voice capability of the remote also allows users to ask the details of a song playing in a movie, commercial, or TV show, and the system will pull up the artist and title of the particular music track. Palmatier said that these are some of the new features, which will be unveiled soon. There will also be a new set of commands used to control the connected home and together with some Spanish language options.

08 Dec

AT&T® Debuts Fixed Wireless Internet in Mendota

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Fixed Wireless Internet

One of the best internet providers in the US, AT&T® launched Fixed Wireless Internet earlier this year to underserved homes and businesses as part of their FCC Connect America Fund Commitment. AT&T® has been in the process of rolling out the Fixed Wireless Internet across the country to fill the connectivity gap and upgrade their network to meet the commitment made to FCC. The low-cost internet service from the ISP comes from a cellular tower to fixed antennae placed on the subscribers’ homes or business premises.

The service is the first of its kind introduced in Mendota and the citizens living in serviceable areas can get cheap internet connectivity. The city thrives on agriculture and farming predominantly and has many low-income families and businesses who all can take advantage of the cheap internet service from the Telco. Information about the launch of AT&T® Fixed Wireless Internet has been conveyed to many of the residents via email.

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Low-Cost Internet Service

The access to the internet without satellite has reached Mendota city recently where the citizens were used to slow-speed internet access thus far but not anymore. AT&T® rolled out the broadband service to all the citizens living in the California area courtesy the initiative from Federal Communications Commission. Adding more insights to the affordable broadband from AT&T®, Julie Tone, the Director of External Affairs for the State said, “Fixed wireless technology is a connection between an AT&T® tower and an outdoor fixed piece of equipment at the customers home or a business and it provides a connection into the home to a WiFi router.”

AT&T® Fixed Wireless Internet would provide a chance to the citizens to access broadband at 10 Mbps minimum at a cost which would be affordable to most in Mendota. “This is great news, that we were picked as one of the selected areas and it is something that we have been waiting for a while,” said Robert Silva, the Mayor of Mendota. “It is great for the businesses, community, great for the Ag folks, so they can get involved.”

Commenting on the imitative, Ismael Herrera, the Associate Director of Office of Community & Economic Development, Fresno State said, “There are communities up and down the San Joaquin Valley, who do not have a connection to the internet at any speeds and there are many more who have connections, but the speeds are not adequate.”

04 Dec

Net Neutrality Commitment of Comcast® Has Changed

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Online Streaming Services

Comcast® has recently changed their net neutrality policy and the change is raising eyebrows. The Federal Communications Commission is preparing to vote to dismantle the net neutrality rules, which governs how the different internet providers of the country can distribute data, music, and movies online.

Comcast® had deleted a reference that they would not “create paid fast lanes,” which is the part of the net neutrality rules passed in the year 2015. As per the open internet or net neutrality rules, internet providers should not favor a type of data over the other, meaning that businesses like Comcast® cannot let their movies and videos stream faster than that of Netflix or any other streaming service providers.

The change of policy by Comcast® came after the announcement of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to roll back the net neutrality rules that existed before so “the federal government will stop micromanaging the Internet,” he said in a recent statement. FCC will vote on Dec 14 to dismantle the regulations.

Sena Fitzmaurice, who is the spokeswoman of Comcast® said that they do not plan to introduce paid prioritization, blocking, or throttling any data. She quoted a paragraph in the FCC filing of Comcast in July 2017, which says, “We do not and will not … discriminate against lawful content.” In the filing, Comcast® also asked FCC to consider a “flexible approach to prioritization,” where the paid prioritization plans could be compelling for autonomous vehicles or telemedicine applications, which will require instant transmission of data.

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Net Neutrality Commitment

“Is the language exactly the same in 2017 as 2010? No,” Fitzmaurice said. “Part of the filings we did this year about paid prioritization is that there have been some things in the marketplace that have come out and been pro consumer. Some people call it ‘Zero ratings.’ Some people call it paid prioritization, like T-Mobile’s BingeOn plan. A lot were up in arms about it but a lot of consumers seemed to like it.”

BingeOn feature of T-Mobile® allows users to watch video from Sling®, Netflix, and other streaming services without affecting the data use, but at a lower resolution. Opponents said that this could be violating the net neutrality rules due to the throttled speeds. T-Mobile® said that it is up to the user to turn on or off the feature and that, the service is open to all the streaming TV providers, hence it does not violate the open internet policies.

Fitzmaurice reiterated the stance of Comcast® and said, “No matter what the skeptics say, you can’t accurately convert an unequivocal statement that Comcast has no plans to enter into any paid prioritization arrangement into plans for paid prioritization. As we’ve made clear consistently, regardless of how the FCC rules turn out, we will not block, throttle, or discriminate against lawful content.”

09 Nov

Hughes Network® Enters into Contract with OneWeb for Developing Ground Network System

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Ground Network System

Hughes Network Systems® has declared that it entered into a contract worth $190 million with OneWeb for the development of a ground network system. The contract also covers the sustaining of the Low Earth Orbit satellites owned by OneWeb and strives to offer affordable broadband internet service to numerous schools, households, and other users. Hughes Network Systems®, as the leading provider of satellite broadband and other cheap internet services, will achieve a wider network reach across the country and the rest of the world by entering into this contract with OneWeb.

The current contract is an upgrade to the original system development agreement that the two companies signed in the year 2015. This contract had an estimated total value of above $300 million for both the companies. This agreement covered many aspects such as the development of gateway sites that consists of multiple tracking satellite access points. This will maintain operations and the switching of high-speed user internet traffic amongst the satellites.

Greg Wyler, Founder and Executive Chairman of OneWeb said, “The start of production of the ground system is a major step towards fulfilling OneWeb’s goal of bridging the digital divide, leaving no one behind. Hughes has been an outstanding technology partner and we are excited to deploy this essential part of our network as we ramp up to launch the first of our fleet early next year and provide service to every rural home in Alaska starting in 2019.”

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John Corrigan, senior vice president of Engineering for Hughes® stated, “Designing a ground system capable of supporting hundreds of LEOs with seamless handoff of broadband traffic between satellites presented a significant challenge. But our team was up to the task, and we are proud to be partnering with OneWeb on realizing this revolutionary satellite communications system to close the global digital divide.”

OneWeb was set up with a goal to provide affordable internet access to everyone in the world. OneWeb is actually a constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites intended to extend the network connectivity to almost everyone in this world and thereby bridge the prevailing digital divide. Hughes Network® and OneWeb had begun the combined development of the ground network just about two years ago.

The current contract signed between the two companies has included many aspects. It mainly consists of the provision of necessary equipment that will offer support to the multiple satellite access points at gateway locations across the world. These access points will contain a custom switching complex, power amplifiers, and outdoor modems. The shipments are estimated to commence from mid-2018 onwards.

08 Nov

Comcast Business® Extends Ethernet Networks to 5 New Business Parks in San Jose

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Ethernet Networks Extended

Comcast Business®, a major subsidiary of Comcast Corporation®, has declared that they have made significant investments amounting to more than six million for developing its fiber networks to five new business parks in San Jose. The expansion of Ethernet from Comcast® will offer high-speed internet delivering a network capacity of 10 Gigabits-per-second to more than 1600 businesses based in San Jose. Moreover, its secure, reliable, and scalable features will greatly fit in with the networking requirements of the businesses.

Relying on this Ethernet, internet, Wi-Fi, TV, and voice solutions will immensely benefit the businesses and help them grow. Matthew Mahood, president and CEO of the Silicon Valley Organization said, “With a population surpassing 1 million, San Jose is the 10th largest city in the country, the 3rd largest in California, and the heart of Silicon Valley. It’s a thriving technology hub, home to tech giants such as Apple, eBay, Cisco and PayPal.”

He further added that, “Much like other large cities, San Jose is always looking for ways to attract new businesses while maintaining the best quality of life it can for all. Silicon Valley does business differently. In order to continue innovating, it must stay on the cutting-edge of technology to compete effectively within the region, and Comcast Business® helps position us as a leading high-tech city.”

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David Brown, vice president of Comcast Business® for California stated, “The availability and reach of our high-performance Ethernet network is a tremendous business advantage for San Jose organizations. Companies of all sizes can meet their capacity needs now and prepare for future requirements as well, all while benefiting from our advanced telecommunications services. Not only does this help organizations meet customer needs and drive growth, but it helps boost the local economy as well.”

The investments made by Comcast Business® to expand its Ethernet services will offer business access to an extensive portfolio of Gigabit Ethernet options. This will be of help to them in meeting their daily requirements, connecting various branches or sites, and linking their offices to third party data centers. The services offered by Comcast Business® are Ethernet Private Line, Ethernet Virtual Private Line, Ethernet Network Service, and Ethernet Dedicated Internet.

All these available Ethernet options are specifically tailored to meet the individual demands of each of the businesses. They provide high-speed internet connectivity along with the option to customize the connection for its bandwidth, cost, and performance alongside linking them between different organizations.

24 Oct

Charter® Develops its Wireless Plans and Proposes to Deploy LTE Small Cells

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Deploy LTE Small Cells

Charter® has set forth numerous prospects for the future, especially in its wireless sector. The inside-out strategy proposed by Charter® will begin in 2018 with the WiFi first MVNO through Verizon Communications®. The Telco, which is also one of the major internet providers in US, is also planning to extend and develop their services into a mobile core infrastructure through the deployment of licensed LTE small cells. By this, Charter® intends to further diversify and make its cheap internet and cellular networks more efficient.

Officials stated that, “Charter® is actively testing licensed small cell technologies which will put us on the path to providing next-generation super-fast, high capacity broadband to our customers. We will combine this 4G LTE and 5G technologies with our existing advanced high-speed network to profoundly enhance connectivity for millions of our subscribers.”

Charter® also gave full details of its plans in a recently made filing with the FCC. The filing says, “The wireless component of Charter’s network is transitioning from a nomadic Wi-Fi network to one that supports full mobility by incorporating Wi-Fi with multiple 4G and 5G access technologies to deliver a seamless connectivity experience. In navigating this transition, Charter® is emphasizing an ‘Inside-Out’ strategy, focusing first on wireless solutions inside the home and office, and then eventually expanding outdoors.”

Executives at Charter® have appeal to the FCC to release the 3.5 GHz spectrum for licensed and unlicensed usage. The rules for the band will be discussed by the agency at the open meeting scheduled by the FCC. Charter® has put pressure on the agency to release the spectrum quickly and in implementing rules to limit licenses within a geographical area of a county.

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According to the filing, “Large license sizes would limit access of the band to the country’s largest wireless carriers and would likely result in deployment only to the most densely populated areas. Smaller license sizes will enable new entrants, like Charter®, to tailor their investment and deployment plans by leveraging existing infrastructure.”

It further states, “In particular, Charter’s existing hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) network provides the backhaul, power, and location to rapidly deploy small cells for the provision of wireless broadband service. By contrast, increasing the geographic licensing size of PALs to PEAs would preclude new entrants such as Charter® from investing in the 3.5 GHz Band due to their large geographic size.”

The efforts by Charter® in advancing its wireless networks will also extend into the core network arena. Charter® is planning to use the Evolved Packet Core of Verizon®, IMS infrastructure, SIM cards, and roaming. However, Charter® is currently assessing various EPC vendors and in the process of carrying out tests in its own virtual EPC to develop its core network.

23 Oct

AT&T® and Project Loon Partner in Puerto Rico

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Google Project Loon

The moonshot project from Google, named Project Loon, and AT&T® have joined hands to offer cell services to hurricane struck Puerto Rico. X, a former branch of Google, which is now a part of Alphabet Inc, developed the project Loon. Then idea is to broaden the coverage making use of balloons that act like mobile towers.

X was in need of a telecom partner to bring the services to Puerto Rico and that is where AT&T®, the best internet provider, came into the scene. The businesses said that they are “now supporting basic communication” for “some people with LTE enabled phones.” It is reported that people will be able to make use of the “limited” Loon service to send text and access the internet, even though the companies are not yet clear on the number of users who have gained access to the coverage offered.

The Federal Communications Commission has given permission to fly up to thirty balls. A spokesperson from X said that there are a handful of balloons in the area and that more balloons are on the way. Even after one month of the Hurricane Maria ripping through the island, more than sixty-eight percent of the cell sites of Puerto Rico are out of service as per the reports from FCC.

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Solar Powered Balloons

The fragile infrastructure of the island impedes companies like AT&T® from restoring the service to many regions of the island. This has made them turn to alternative technologies. They are making use of temporary satellite based cell sites in some of the areas and the main aim of Loon is to reach the areas that are hardest hit by the hurricane. An AT&T® spokesperson said that these balloons are solar powered and can use battery power when the sun is not available. However, there are limitations. The Loon coverage is much limited at nighttime.

Loon proved to be an effective idea for flooded area of Peru earlier. X said that the reason for Loon running quickly in Peru was that the group had been working with Telefónica. The systems were already integrated and tests conducted, months before Loon ramping up the internet coverage. However, in Puerto Rico X had to start from scratch. FCC issued an “experimental license” to X on Oct. 7, and at that time, they were not having a telecom partner for the project.

“We’ve never deployed Project Loon connectivity from scratch at such a rapid pace,” Loon project director Alastair Westgarth said. “Project Loon is still an experimental technology and we’re not quite sure how well it will work, but we hope it helps get people the information and communication they need to get through this unimaginably difficult time.”

16 Sep

WRAL-TV And WRAZ Go Dark On AT&T U-Verse®

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WRAL-TV And WRAZ Gone Dark

AT&T U-Verse® customers recently loss access to Fox affiliate WRAZ and Local NBC affiliate WRAL-TV. Reports from several reliable sources indicate that the blackout of these two popular channels is due to a dispute between the parent company of the stations, Capitol Broadcasting, and AT&T®. However, it seems that AT&T®, who is one of the best internet providers in the country, is currently trying to resolve the issues as soon as possible.

In their website, WRAL wrote, “Our channels are currently not airing on AT&T U-Verse®. Capitol Broadcasting Company stations WRAL and FOX 50 are affected and we apologize for the inconvenience to you. While we work to get this resolved, it’s always helpful, for you, the customer, to call AT&T U-Verse® and tell them you expect to get the channels you’re paying them for. That number is 1-800-288-2020.”

The website further said that users could watch the channels anytime over-the-air for free. “You can always watch WRAL/NBC and FOX 50/Fox Network for free in crystal clear HD with an over-the-air antenna, available at local big box stores or get one here. Other ways to watch WRAL: All WRAL newscasts are available live right here on WRAL.com or you can download the free WRAL channel app and stream the newscasts live on Roku, AppleTV and Fire TV,” the web page states.

During the outage of these channels, the TV screens of customers who are currently under AT&T U-Verse® carried the following message:

“The owner of this channel has removed it from the U-Verse lineup despite our request to keep it available to you. Visit att.com/fightingforyou for more information on this station’s return.”

In addition to that, a spokesman from AT&T U-Verse®, Josh Gelinas, blamed the parent company of WRAL for the outage. He added, “Capitol is deliberately stopping WRAL and WRAZ from reaching their homes until Capitol receives a significant increase in fees.”

In their full statement, AT&T® wrote, “We want to get WRAL and WRAZ back into our Raleigh, Durham and Fayetteville customers’ lineups as soon as possible. Doing so requires permission from their owner, Capitol Broadcasting, since FCC rules grant WRAL and WRAZ exclusive control over whether those stations remain available on U-Verse®.”

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WRAL Channel App

“We share our customers’ frustration because Capitol is deliberately stopping WRAL and WRAZ from reaching their homes until Capitol receives a significant increase in fees even though the same people can still watch its shows for free over the air on channels 50 and 5 and, often, at nbc.com and fox.com or using the NBC and Fox Now apps,” the statement added.

Officials at AT&T® further said, “Capitol has blocked its stations from reaching our own and other providers’ customers before, while also threatening to disconnect others. All Capitol needs to do is grant its permission, and we can have WRAL and WRAZ back into our customers’ homes within moments. Our goal is to resolve this matter quickly and reasonably, and we appreciate our Raleigh, Durham and Fayetteville customers’ patience while we attempt just that.”

Customers who lost access to these couple of channels will miss a few important college football games that will air on Fox and WRAL on the weekend. In addition to that, the NFL football matches on the same channels on Sunday will also be unavailable to customers.

14 Sep

Cable And Internet Out In Florida. What Is Comcast® Telling About Service Restoration

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TV-Internet Services Down

When internet is down, commerce for many South Florida businesses and individuals, who depend on the internet to get things done, also goes down. As South Florida is recovering from the Hurricane Irma, television and internet providers are facing questions from customers on service restoration. Many users complained that they are not getting any clear answers and some were not able to get through.

A Comcast® customer named Rodriguez tweeted to @comcastcares and got a message that her service will be restored by Sept. 18 at 03:30 pm. Yet she said, “That seems unreasonable to me.”

Outages are widespread on internet, phone, and television services. Many of the outage could be linked to electric outages. The Twitter and Miami Herald feeds of AT&T® and Comcast® received many complaints from users with power but no TV or internet services.

Comcast® spokeswoman, Mindy Kramer said that the network that feeds and distributes their services in the Miami area include communications equipment that is dependent on commercial power, which is down due to the hurricane.

“As of Tuesday morning, we have been able to restore power to some but not all of the equipment that services customers in the Miami-metro area. We are working very closely with FPL so they can prioritize these critical facilities and restore commercial power service to them as quickly as possible,” Kramer said.

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Slow Restoration Of Services

“Our facilities in South Florida have been running on generators since the storm began and unfortunately everyone is need of the same fuel resources. We have been doing our best to refuel these generators so that our facilities are able to stay functioning without commercial power. We have teams deploying additional generators today in South Florida,” she added.

Kramer further said that Comcast® also suffered damages as lines were cut; in fact, the Telco suffered extensive destruction in Florida Keys. Kramer said that except for in the Keys, “We expect our plant to be restored quickly from what our assessments show so far.” She said that power is restored to one piece of critical equipment, “but we need them all to come back up.”

She added that as soon as commercial power supply is restored to the Miami Metro plant of Comcast®, the consumer services would resume. “The situation is very challenging and we know being without Xfinity® internet, TV or phone service is frustrating for our customers. We are doing everything possible to be able to restore services as quickly as we can.”

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