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09 Feb

AT&T Extends NetBond Service To Offer Secure IoT Connections

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AT&T NetBond Service

The surge in internet usage is the thing that made IoT happen, offering a common protocol to take place of the separate and specialized networks. However, the public internet may not always be the best path between the cloud and a connected device. Businesses can now connect their mobile IoT devices to the back end systems, making use of the NetBond, which is a private network service that is offered by AT&T, instead of the internet.

NetBond sets up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) from a remote device to the cloud. The service is capable of connecting to sixteen different public clouds, which includes Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, or any other hybrid cloud. AT&T announced NetBond for IoT in an event that was meant to showcase the benefits of the software defined network of AT&T. About one-third of the infrastructure of AT&T is virtualized now and more than half will be virtualized by the end of the year, says AT&T.

AT&T has combined NetBond with their Control Center IoT services platform, which is an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform that helps to manage connected devices. Control Center is based on the IoT provisioning and management technology that is offered by Jasper technologies, which was acquired by Cisco last year. AT&T said that about six hundred customers of AT&T are currently using Control Center.

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IoT Connections

NetBond service from AT&T shields IoT traffic from the common internet threats like the DDoS attacks and offers a portal to control things like latency and bandwidth on links that are made between the remote device and the cloud. NetBond is designed to make IoT connections meet the requirements of different applications in areas like healthcare, manufacturing and city infrastructure.

GlobalData analyst Peter Jarich says that the NetBond offering plays into the various concerns that many businesses have about the IoT. Surveys conducted by GlobalData proves that many of the enterprises hold back from using IoT due to the worries about security and some get even more concerned after using it. NetBond for IoT works well with devices that are on the AT&T network in the US and their partner carrier systems in countries other than US, as NetBond is available across the globe.

06 Feb

AT&T Plans To Deliver DirecTV Now Via 5G

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DirecTV Now Via 5G

In a recent announcement, AT&T revealed their plans to conduct a trial to deliver their latest streaming service, DirecTV Now, in the Austin region via 5G wireless broadband. Reports indicate that the trial will most likely happen in the first half of this year.

The telecom giant also added that they are planning to test “additional next-generation entertainment services of fixed 5G connections.” The officials from AT&T stated that the trial will be held at multiple locations and they will use a number of devices for the assessment. They also added that the trial would focus on how fixed wireless millimeter wave technology can handle the heavy video traffic.

The telecom company has already laid out their 5G strategy for 2017 a few weeks ago. AT&T officials added that they were able to achieve an incredible speed of 14 Gbps in less than 3 milliseconds of latency. They stated that the constant 4G LTE development was an integral part to “laying the foundation” for 5G.

“We’re currently deploying three-way carrier aggregation in select areas, and plan to introduce four-way carrier aggregation as well as LTE-License Assisted Access this year,” the company said on its 5G progress website. Furthermore, the officials from AT&T said that, “These trials are significant because they will be our first trials to use what we expect to be based upon the 5G New Radio specification being developed by the industry technology standards group 3GPP.”

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“Industry standards are important to enabling wide-scale 5G commercialization. The trials will test both mobile and fixed wireless solutions operating in mmWave spectrum accelerating commercial deployments in the 28 Ghz and 39 Ghz bands. They will showcase new 5G radio mmWave technologies for increasing network capacity while achieving multi-gigabit data rates,” they added.

AT&T had earlier announced a “multi-dwelling unit fixed wireless point-to-point mmWave trial in Minneapolis.” The focus of this trial was to reach subscribers who are living outside of their 21-state wireline area. The company has also planned on exploring additional markets for trial locations.

A recent report claimed that AT&T delivers 100 percent fiber-carried 1 Gbps to “nearly 4 million locations across 46 metros nationwide” and they are planning to have “at least 12.5 million locations across 67 metro areas with our 100 percent fiber network.”

30 Jan

DirecTV Cinema Offering New Releases

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The Magnificent Seven

The Video on Demand service, DirecTV Cinema, is now offering new releases to subscribers. These films are some of the best released ones in the previous year and were extremely popular among the audiences worldwide. DirecTV Cinema’s offering is a great opportunity to revisit these well-made movies. Listed below are the newly released movies that are streaming now on DirecTV Cinema.

The Magnificent Seven

Based on a screenplay contribution by the legendary Akira Kurosawa himself, The Magnificent Seven is a tale of the old west. The renewed interest in the western genre has made it a critical and commercial success worldwide. The story set in the old west tells the tale of seven outlaws hired to protect a village from savage thieves.

Apart from the resurrection of classic western culture, this movie is also reportedly filmed on 35mm film rather than digital media, in order to reconstruct the genre’s iconic look.

The Girl On The Train

This psychological thriller became an immense success critically while also scoring modestly at the box office. Based on a novel of the same name by author Paula Hawkins, the movie features an outstanding performance from Emily Blunt as a divorcee becoming involved in a man missing investigation. It is a well-made film with exceptional performances from the other cast as well.

Sully

Based on the real story of American pilot Chesley Sullenberger, Sully captivated the hearts of audiences all around the world. Veteran Clint Eastwood brings a stark depiction of terror inside the crashing plane along with an outstanding performance from Tom Hanks. It was surely one of the best movies released in 2016 and earned a reputable critical and box office success.

Suicide Squad

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Suicide Squad

One of the most popular movies of the year, Suicide Squad released to an immense box office success. It was yet another brilliant package by DC Comics with an array of popular Hollywood actors in its cast lineup. The plot follows prime time super villains being recruited by the government to accomplish the task of destroying a supernatural entity.

With an impressive dazzle of visual effects and compelling performances, Suicide Squad was a true entertainment package, and it paved way for many more DC Comics movies to hit the big screen.

Finding Dory

Released as a sequel to the celebrated movie Finding Nemo, this 3D animated movie was a huge success both critically and commercially. Finding Dory is the story of the blue tang fish searching for her lost parents and the adventures encountered along the way.

20 Jan

Nielsen Makes Deal To Tap Set Top Box Data From DirecTV

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Nielsen’s national and local TV ratings will start to include the set top box data from one of the best TV distributors of America, AT&T. This is made possible as the result of a multiyear agreement that both the companies made recently. The companies said that the information will be “anonymized.” This means that the information will be used to identify the characteristics of the subscribers, but not their identities and other details.

Nielsen will be able to offer “enriched, electronic measurement in all 210 local TV markets,” after adding data about DirecTV and U-Verse viewers. It will be “incorporated with data from other data providers to complement Nielsen’s national and local suite of products, such as Nielsen Scarborough, NLTV and Nielsen N-Score.”

Set top box data are very much helpful in the small markets, as the sample sizes for the Nielsen’s surveys in the small markets are too small, and it will not offer the advertisers a clear idea of the popular niches that the viewers usually watch. The integration of the set top box data with the information on viewing from the surveys “is at the center of our TV measurement strategy to enhance how TV viewing is measured,” said Megan Clarken, who is the Nielsen Product Leadership President.

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Set Top Box Data

The viewer data will help Nielsen to offer their clients “comprehensive, reliable and in-depth measurement of how people consume content in today’s changing media landscape.” The announcement comes as Nielsen is planning to roll out their Total Audience Ratings, which will include digital and out of home viewing details together with the traditional in home viewer details.

In the month of April, Nielsen made a similar deal with Dish Network to use their set top box data and we all know that Dish Network is the closest competitor of DirecTV. Even though Nielsen has a good grip on the national television business, ComScore, who has bought Rentrak previous year, has said that their access to the set top box data offer a competitive advantage for the advertisers and broadcasters who are trying to increase their local sales.

12 Jan

FCC Concludes That Free Data For DirecTV Now Violates Net Neutrality

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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.

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“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.”

03 Jan

DirecTV Customers Lose Access To 33 Hearst Television Stations

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DirecTV Customers

Recently, some DirecTV customers complained that they were not able access 33 Hearst Television stations on their DirecTV packages, as the channels went dark at midnight on January 1, 2017. Reports indicate that the blacking out of these channels is because the retransmission consent negotiations between both the parties broke down. However, the blackout of all these stations doesn’t come as a surprise to DirecTV customers because Hearst had already warned the viewers that there is a possibility for the blackout.

AT&T U-Verse and DirecTV customers in about 28 markets including Boston (ABC affiliate WCVB), Orlando, Fla. (NBC affiliate WESH), Louisville, Ky. (CBS affiliate WLKY), Baltimore (NBC affiliate WBAL), New Orleans (NBC affiliate WDSU), and Pittsburgh (ABC affiliate WTAE) are currently unable to access the Hearst Television stations. Hearst published a statement on their website claiming that they have a history of thriving re-trans negotiations with other providers and they delivered quality content to the viewers without any disruptions or blackout.

“Unfortunately, the DirecTV negotiating team is seeking the right to carry our stations at below market rates, which is neither fair nor reasonable given the significant investments we have made to deliver top tier programming to our viewers,” WLKY president and general manager, Glenn Haygood said. “We regret the inconvenience DirecTV’s demands have imposed on its subscribers, and we will keep you fully informed of developments.”

DirecTV viewers will have a hard time, as the provider has also lost access to 14 Cox Media properties in 10 of their popular markets such as Oklahoma, Seattle and Tulsa, N.C., Charlotte and Atlanta, on January 1. The loss of these properties is because the carriage deal between both the parties expired.

Cox Media EVP of Television Jane Williams, said, “Negotiations continue, and we expect this disruption to be brief considering that every other pay-TV provider has come to reasonable terms with CMG. We have made ourselves available twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week to get this deal done.”

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Hearst Television Stations

In a recent statement, AT&T said, “We want to get our customers’ usual local broadcast stations back into their lineups and share their frustration. Hearst Television is preventing its local signals from reaching DirecTV customers’ homes in 26 different cities unless Hearst receives a significant increase in fees just to allow those same families to watch shows available for free over-the-air and that the broadcast networks typically make available for free online and through new digital apps.”

“Hearst has suspended its stations briefly from other TV providers’ customers before, so we appreciate our DirecTV customers’ patience as we work to resolve this matter quickly and reasonably.”

20 Dec

AT&T Claims That Data Free Pricing For DirecTV Now Will Not Harm Competitors

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Data Free Pricing

In a recent announcement, T-Mobile confirmed that they are planning to offer the latest streaming service from AT&T, DirecTV Now, for free to the customers, who switch from the wireless service of Ma Bell. Reports indicate that T-Mobile might have a done an unintentional favor to AT&T through this offering. AT&T cited this as a proof that their latest venture helps in “competitive process at work, driving innovation, lowering prices, and increasing consumer value.”

It is to be noted that AT&T is allowing their wireless customers to access DirecTV Now without eating up their data limit. This offering from AT&T was severely criticized by many analysts, and the FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau had earlier asked the telecom provider for an information request. A letter was written by the telecom provider in order to defend their decision to waive DirecTV Now data fees.

The FCC reached a “preliminary conclusion,” on the issue and they recently stated that the zero rating plan from AT&T to favor their online streaming platform might “inhibit competition, harm consumers, and interfere with the ‘virtuous cycle’ needed to assure the continuing benefits of the Open Internet.”

The concern is that other streaming service providers such as Hulu, Sling TV, and Netflix, will find it difficult to compete with AT&T, as the provider is allowing their customers to stream and watch their contents without exhausting their data limit. This might violate the net neutrality rules set by the FCC.

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However, AT&T Federal Regulatory SVP, Joan Marsh, called the view of the FCC bureau as a radical departure from settled law with “no plausible basis” for their conclusion. AT&T officials further stated that neither DirecTV Now nor their wireless service “is or could conceivably become a monopolist in any relevant market.”

They also added that if they charge their wireless customers for accessing these services, then “consumers would be substantially worse off.” Marsh added that they “are more likely to perceive DirecTV Now as a cable substitute if, as with cable, they can consume as much of it as they like without worrying about overages.”

However, reports indicate that if the bureau decides to officially oppose the pricing of AT&T before January 20, then it “will very likely be reserved shortly thereafter.” T-Mobile CEO John Legere stated that both DirecTV apps and DirecTV Now would be freely streaming on T-Mobile with a much advanced network, which nearly covers every American citizen.

13 Dec

Lawmakers Might Approve The AT&T And Time Warner Deal

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AT&T-TimeWarner Deal

One of the leading telecom industries in the country, AT&T had recently announced their plans to acquire Time Warner Inc. for an estimated $85.4 billion deal. This proposed merger was frostily greeted by the lawmakers, but reports indicate that they have changed their opinion on the merger.

A recent hearing held at the Capitol Hill discussed how mega mergers like this will be reviewed under the Trump Administration. The members of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, which oversees regulatory agencies that decide on mergers, stated that the deal between AT&T and Time Warner merited tough scrutiny. The chief executives of both Time Warner and AT&T were questioned about a number of issues related to this proposed merger.

The lawmakers also enquired that whether the traditional way of evaluating or analyzing the mergers has become outdated or not as major companies such as Google and Facebook have become huge media platforms, which threaten the television industry. Reports say that the tone of the lawmakers was a lot more cautions than the one they used after the announcement of this deal.

The head of the full judiciary committee, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, said, “We want to ensure that competition thrives in this critical market and we don’t stifle innovation or deter the emergence of cutting-edge technologies that customers demand.” He also added that the video landscape has been transformed by Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, and Google.

Senator David Perdue, Republican of Georgia stated that this proposed merger would combine companies, which do not participate against each other. He said, “The consumer is benefited from the aggregation. That is called capitalism.”

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A professor at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, Larry Downes, said that the senators were asking “hard questions.” However, he added, “they seem to be open-minded about the changing nature of competition in the information sector.”

AT&T and Time Warner had earlier stated that the telecom company would buy Time Warner in order to produce a mobile video powerhouse. At present, the mergers are not reviewed by the Members of Congress, but the hearings will provide guidance for the Federal Communications Commission and for the antitrust regulators at the Justice Department.

An analyst at Cowen and Company, Paul Gallant said, “The D.O.J. pays particularly close attention to Senate and House antitrust subcommittees because they oversee the D.O.J.” He also added that the committee’s commentary “bears watching for its potential effect on the D.O.J.”

09 Dec

The Streaming Services Arena As We Know Of Today

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Streaming Services Arena

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.

05 Dec

AT&T Launches DirecTV Now Without Adding Contents From CBS

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DirecTV Now Launch

AT&T, one of the leading telecom industries in the country, recently launched their online streaming service called DirecTV Now. This steaming platform is well equipped with an excellent channel lineup, which includes channels such as Fox, ABC, HBO, Scripps Networks, Discovery, NBCUniversal, and many more.

However, AT&T has failed to add one of the most popular networks, CBS, to their DirecTV Now offerings. The decision to let CBS down from the channel lineup has raised great concern among critics and viewers. This means that DirecTV Now subscribers will not be able to access the CBS Network. Many critics seriously doubt that the absence of this network might affect the success of the streaming service.

Reports from several sources indicate that AT&T is still trying to reach a settlement with CBS. However, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves has decided not to enter into any settlement with AT&T, unless the provider comes up with a much more competitive offer. Neil Macker, an analyst at Morningstar says that, “They (CBS) are flexing their muscles here. They may just be trying to step back and see how the service does before they jump in.”

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It is evident that DirecTV Now will have to face serious challenge from other steaming service providers such as Sony’s PlayStation Vue and Dish Network’s Sling TV. In addition to that, many other major companies are also planning to launch their own streaming service by the year 2017, which means that the market would grow even more tensed.

Currently, PlayStation Vue is the only streaming service that offers CBS content to their subscribers, although this service is available only in limited areas. CBS is the nation’s most watched network and it holds an approximate 1.46 million-viewer advantage over the second most watched network. The basic package offered by DirecTV Now includes all other major networks other than CBS, but the absence of this chancel can certainly affect the success of the streaming service.

“We find it slightly ironic that CBS is often touted by many as the must-have network for any successful MVPD but that it has been included in zero of three to date,” analysts from Pacific Crest noted. “Despite this anomaly, we generally agree that CBS is a key network for any service that hopes to achieve meaningful scale, and we expect that it will be added sooner rather than later.”

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