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17 Oct

Spectrum® Cable Customers May Lose Major Channels Over Contract Dispute with Viacom

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Contract Dispute With Viacom

Viacom Inc.® has stated that cable customers of Spectrum® will lose access to about 23 television channels because of an ongoing contract dispute. According to Viacom®, the dispute arose because it has refuted some of the unreasonable demands set by Spectrum’s parent company, Charter Communications®. Several of the major channels such as MTV, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central will not be accessible to the customers until the two carriers reach an agreement.

According to a Viacom® statement, “Viacom® is committed to developing strong, mutually beneficial relationships with our distribution partners. While we’re making every effort to reach a new deal, Charter’s actions may force a disruption in Spectrum® subscribers’ service. Despite our efforts, Charter® continues to insist on unreasonable and extreme terms that are totally inconsistent with the market. While we’re making every effort to reach a new deal, Charter’s actions may force a disruption in their service.”

The current agreement between Charter® and Viacom® is reportedly set to expire this October 15. Due to that, it can result in a major blackout that can affect about 16.5 million subscribers. Charter® actually moved many of the channels owned by Viacom® such as MTV, VH1, Spike, Comedy Central, BET from its basic package and placed them on a high priced tier.

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Viacom® CEO Bob Bakish said about Charter’s move in August, “They don’t have the contractual right to tier our services the way they have. Still, I don’t fundamentally believe suing big customers is the way to solve problems. The better way to solve them is through engagement and exploring ways we can create value together.” Spectrum® officials have however abstained from many any comments regarding the dispute.

Charter® acquired Time Warner Cable® in 2016 that made them the second largest cable operator and fastest internet provider in the country. Previously, Charter® has engaged and settled a dispute with Fox News regarding the payments made to the channel. This has led to a scenario where Fox Networks group threatened to pull FX Network, Fox Sports, and National Geographic from Spectrum®.

Viacom® officials added that, “Viacom has made a series of very attractive offers to Charter® that are consistent with terms we’ve recently reached with other large cable operators. Importantly, these offers would enable Charter® to lower Spectrum subscribers’ bills, while also giving them more access to shows across Nickelodeon, BET, MTV, Comedy Central, and other Viacom® networks.”

12 Oct

AT&T® and FirstNet Launch Developer Program to Ensure Public Safety

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FirstNet Developer Program

AT&T®, one of the best internet service provider of the country, has joined hands with FirstNet to launch the first-ever developer program that is aimed at the first responders of the country. The program is to encourage and improve innovations that are aimed at public safety to equip first responders with the latest communication tools. The program also makes public safety responders closer to having their app store where they will be able to find solutions that are built to cater to their needs.

“This program will tap into the expertise and creativity of the developer community to drive innovation for public safety,” said CEO of FirstNet, Mike Poth. “It will also connect first responders with developers to create apps that will help them stay safe and save lives.”

The developer program is devised to offer apps to the FirstNet app store, offering public safety with a one-stop shop that provides secure and reliable solutions that are optimized for the FirstNet network. Based on the open and common standards, the developer ecosystem will act as an engine to have innovative, cost effective, and interoperable solutions for public safety.

“The FirstNet app ecosystem is an important building block as we work to modernize public safety’s communications tools and capabilities,” said Chris Sambar, senior vice president at AT&T®. “The FirstNet network will bring public safety the connectivity they need to communicate and collaborate. But it’s really what we’re able to build on top of that connectivity that will make the biggest difference in these brave men and women’s day-to-day operations.”

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Public Safety Communications Tools

Through the developer program of FirstNet, developers can make public safety apps and customize them for the first responders. The developers will have access to specialized portal that house resources, which can help them crate, test, deploy, and maintain various applications for public safety. In addition to the programming tools like software development kits and application programming interfaces, the portal also offers guidelines to be followed while developing apps for public safety.

Some key focus areas for the potential developers are in-building mapping, situational awareness, telemetry solutions, and wearable devices, records management and field reporting, and forensic intelligence. The developer program will also provide collaboration between the developers and the first responders to offer mission critical apps aimed at public safety and tools to provide access to timely data. Both AT&T® and FirstNet will conduct challenges and events to support the collaboration.

“The developer program establishes a clear line of sight between public safety and app developers,” Sambar added. “It will help ensure the apps developed truly meet first responders’ field needs. It’s a really important thing that was missing from the market. Until now.”

10 Oct

Comcast® Rolls Out Senior Citizens Internet Essentials Program in Atlanta

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Internet Essentials Program

Comcast® has rolled out a new pilot program that offers high-speed internet connectivity to low-income senior citizens in Atlanta. The Telco giant, which is one of the best internet service providers in the US, clearly intends to bridge the digital divide prevailing in the nation by making available internet connectivity to all the sections of the society.

Chief Diversity Officer David Cohen carried out the inauguration of Comcast’s Senior Citizens Internet Essentials program. According to Comcast®, the Senior Citizens Internet Essentials programs are by far the largest and all-inclusive scheme devised for the low-income sections of the country.

Comcast® has partnered with the organization OATS (Older Adult Technology Services) for offering digital literacy training that is specially designed to cater to the requirements of the seniors. Joining Cohen at the kickoff of the events were Olympic Gold Medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, elected officials, community leaders, and local seniors. Comcast® began the events with offering about fifty laptops to the residents of Cosby Spear and stated that they will deploy a new Wi-Fi hotspot in the area to provide internet access.

Cohen said, “We are thrilled to announce the launch of our Internet Essentials Senior Pilot program in Atlanta, and look forward to bringing digital literacy training to this rapidly growing audience. When we started this program in 2011, we never imagined four million low-income Americans would benefit from it. We also never would have reached this milestone without our many dedicated nonprofit partners, elected officials, educators, employees, libraries, and advocates who were all united by the belief that the Internet is essential, not only to compete in the 21st century economy, but also to be connected to loved ones and the world.”

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Older Adult Technology Services

Mark Campbell, Chief Information Officer at the Atlanta Housing Authority said, “Partnering with Comcast® to provide seniors with digital literacy is important to us at AHA. Our goal through this program is to provide low-cost internet access options and classroom experiences focusing on safely navigating the internet.” Comcast® intends to make several investments in the Atlanta region. Its collaboration with OATS is one among the four of its major investments targeted in Atlanta.

Comcast® has also invested in the Center for Pan Asian Community Services. This is an organization created with the mission of offering welfare for immigrants, refugees and the underprivileged as well as provides them with self-sufficiency, equity, healthcare, etc. It has previously collaborated with Comcast® to enroll four of the Digital Connectors classes aimed at offering training students with key computer skills.

In addition, Comcast® has made an investment in the Urban League of Greater Atlanta. This organization has been previously a part of the Internet Essentials program of Comcast®. Besides, the Telco also distributed about hundred laptops to the students of Morrow Middle School and Unidos Dual Language Charter School.

28 Sep

Cox Communications® Plans To Charge Heavy Internet Users

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Charge Heavy Internet Users

If you are an average internet user who uses the internet service at his/her home for accessing social media platforms and to browse the web, then you will not most probably exceed the monthly data allowance set by your internet provider. On the other hand, heavy internet users, including the ones who stream plenty of movies and HD video contents on daily basis, will certainly exceed their monthly cap.

Some of the internet providers in the country might be charging the internet users who exceed their monthly data allowance. Reports from several reliable sources indicate that Cox Communications® is also planning to notify their San Diego customers that they will implement an overage charge from the users who use more than one terabyte of data in a month.

Until a few years ago, Cox® and other internet providers in the country used to throttle internet speeds instead of overcharging the customers who exceeded their monthly data limits. A senior analyst, Ian Olgeirson said, “Operators have tried a lot of different ways of going about this, and in almost all cases, it has been sort of a light touch because they recognize this is an important area for them and they don’t really benefit from alienating higher-end customers.”

This new move from Cox Communications®, who is the largest and arguably the fastest internet provider in the San Diego County, has caused panic in the mind of their internet customers. It is reported that Cox® will be charging an extra amount of $10 from their customers for an additional data pack of 50 gigabytes.

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Exceeding Monthly Data Limit

However, Cox® is not the only internet provider who is planning to adopt this strategy. Comcast Corporation® and several other telecom companies have already started to charge their customers for exceeding the monthly data limit.

A spokeswoman from Cox Communications® stated that only 2 percent of their San Diego customers blow past their monthly data allowance each month. This means that the recent decision made by Cox® will not affect the majority of their internet customers in San Diego.

“Some people are just heavy users for whatever reason,” she said. “But there are some customers, we think, who have in-home Wi-Fi and maybe they have not secured it with a password. So it may be open and other people might be tapping into it.”

27 Sep

AT&T® U-Verse Or DirecTV® Customers To Miss Browns-Bengals Match

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Browns-Bengals Match Unavailable

Diehard fans of Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns who are currently subscribed to AT&T® U-Verse® or DirecTV® might miss the highly anticipated match between the two teams coming Sunday. This is due to the blackout of WBNS-TV (Channel 10) on these two TV services.

WBNS-TV and their sister station WTHR-TV went dark on these two TV services on Sept. 6 (both are currently owned by AT&T®, who is the fastest internet provider in several parts of the country). The blackout of these channels happened due to a dispute over retransmission licensing fees. As per law, satellite, and cable TV providers must negotiate with the local TV stations in order to broadcast their contents.

Reports from several reliable sources indicate that both the parties had held several meetings to resolve the issue. Yet, they were unable to end the dispute. However, DirecTV® and AT&T® U-Verse® customers are still hopeful that the blackout will end before the match begins.

In a recent email, an AT&T® spokeswoman Holly Hollingsworth stated that there has not yet been a progress in the issue since both the local stations “pulled their permission for DirecTV® and U-Verse® to carry WBNS earlier this month, and that remains the situation today.”

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On the other hand, the owner of the two local stations, Dispatch Broadcast Group, informed viewers that they are still trying to resolve the issue. The president and general manager of WBNS, John Cardenas said, “It appears AT&T®/DirecTV® doesn’t have the urgency to restore CBS/10TV.”

He added, “We have done big deals with other (pay-TV) providers recently, and so we know what the market is on retransmission consent deals. We gear our negotiations toward that. As a two-station company, we are not setting the market for retransmission consent fees. We do not understand why we have been able to get deals done with other larger operators, but we cannot get this deal with ATT-DTV done.”

It seems that the subscribers of AT&T® U-Verse® and DirecTV® are having a tough time these days, as WBNS is not the only channel, who is having carriage disputes with AT&T®. The telecom company was recently involved in carriage disputes with 17 stations of Meredith Broadcasting, 3 stations of Capitol Broadcasting, 7 stations of American Spirit Media, and over 40 stations of Raycom. However, most of these disputes have been already resolved.

31 Aug

Comcast® Offers Hundred Laptops To Seniors And Youth

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Low-Cost High-Speed Internet

Grace Shannon, a senior in Detroit was surprised when she received an unexpected gift from her cable company. Six-time Olympic medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee handed her the gift, which was a brand new laptop. “Ew, wow!” the 67-year-old senior shouted when she received the new 14-inch Dell laptop.

The gift was offered in an Oprah-style surprise at the conclusion of Comcast’s announcement in which the Telco stated that they have expanded their program to provide low-cost and high-speed internet to the residents of the city who are at least sixty-two. The executives of the Philadelphia based cable internet provider said that they are planning to invest thousands of dollars to upgrade the digital infrastructure of the Joseph Walker-Williams Community Center, so that the seniors of the city will be able to use internet there too.

In their efforts to close the gap between people with internet access and those without access, Comcast® said that they would be providing eligible customers with high-speed internet service, together with training and support, for just $9.95 a month.

“It is fabulous that we will be able to get on the Internet and do things to help our grandchildren,” Shannon said. “But, not only that, we will be able to find things out about housing, taxes — and lots of other things we are missing out on.”

More and more seniors in the country are now digitally connected and about two-thirds make use of the internet. However, about half of the seniors nationally do not have access to a home broadband service, as per the results of the surveys from a Washington D.C. agency named Pew Research Center. Comcast Corporation® is also sponsoring the setup of a computer lab at the Boll Family YMCA in Detroit. They offered more computers equipped with virus protection, software, and a DVD payer and these computers are mainly intended for use by the youth.

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Comcast® Offers Free Laptops

Joyner-Kersee, who was elected as the national spokeswoman for the program, encouraged the audience and asked them not to be intimidated by the latest technology. “We’re not too old to challenge ourselves,” she said. “Each and every one of us deserves the best quality of life. Having that quality of life, that digital divide should not — will not — divide us.”

Comcast Senior Vice President, David Cohen announced the surprise gifts at the end of the program and the room erupted in applause. “I had half-a-dozen seniors saying afterward, ‘Now I have to learn how to use it’. That’s exactly what the purpose is. That’s what this program is all about. We will connect.”

With their surprise gift program for the seniors, Comcast® has once again proved that they are one of the best internet providers of the country. Those residents who wish to sign up for the program by the fastest internet provider of the city can submit the form online or download the application and submit it via mail together with the documentation.

29 Aug

Comcast® And Sunrun Inc® Enter Strategic Partnership To Promote Cleaner Environment

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Comcast® – Sunrun Inc® Strategic Partnership

Soon after families in Philadelphia signed up for Comcast Corporation’s low-cost, cheap internet program, other news has surfaced regarding the Telco giant in the US. Comcast® has recently announced a 40-month long agreement with Sunrun Inc®, a “provider of residential solar, storage and energy services.”

Jon Kaplowitz, Vice President of Business Development and Strategy at Comcast® said that the pact could help Comcast’s “customers take more control of the price they pay for energy, save them money, and help contribute to cleaner communities.”

Commenting on the news, Comcast® spokeswoman Jennifer Moyer said “Comcast® and Sunrun® tested a pilot program in 2015 and 2016 in Northern California and parts of the Northeastern United States — Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Maryland. Comcast surveyed participants in the test program and they were pleased with it, giving the company confidence about expanding it.”

Sunrun Inc® will become the sole solar energy provider for the Comcast’s cable service, and the latter will be a strategic partner of Sunrun Inc® via marketing campaigns in the select markets. With the agreement, the Telco giant, which has 29 million subscribers as of now, can attain a 5 percent equity stake if the pact generates 30,000 new subscribers for Sunrun Inc® or if Comcast Corporation® spends $10 million on marketing the program, as per the pact filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Comcast’s marketing for Sunrun — which will launch this year — will be through online banner ads, bill inserts, and direct mail to subscribers. Subscribers would have to contact Sunrun and would not be upsold on the phone for solar roofs when they call Comcast for repairs or questions about Xfinity cable or internet services,” Moyer added.

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Xfinity Cable Or Internet Services

Lynn Jurich, CEO of Sunrun Inc® said, “Our challenge is making homeowners aware that they can save money with solar today. We are excited to work with Comcast to help their customers go solar and save on their electric bills while reducing their dependence on fossil fuels.”

Sunrun Inc® is available in up to 22 states in the US, including Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey. The Telco giant provides phone service, cable service to residents and business in the US under the Xfinity® brand, and is also a fastest internet provider in several regions of the country. Yet neither Comcast® nor Sunrun® has revealed the markets to be included in the marketing campaign set for the fourth quarter.

10 Aug

Comcast® Testing New ‘Manage Channels’ Feature On Its X1 Platform

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New ‘Manage Channels’ Feature

Comcast® is carrying out numerous trials and testing on its Xfinity® X1 platform for enhancing the services. The latest testing carried on the X1 platform includes collecting, surfacing, and presenting every of the premium channels available along with the increasing mix of subscription VOD services to the regular pay TV package of the customer.

Comcast® has named this feature as ‘Manage Channels’ and is currently being tested with a limited set of subscribers of the X1 platform. Through this testing, the Telco, which is also one of the fastest internet providers in the US, intends to create more awareness among the subscribers related to these services.

The currently testing of the Manage Channels feature offers the customers with more control over the content offered to them by letting them access and manage it more effectively. The success of this new feature is imminent as about the X1 subscriber base amounts to about 55 percent of the total residential video customer base of Comcast®.

Comcast® has been making several rounds of upgrades into its X1 platform. These upgrades include several additions of new features into the existing system. The inclusion of that has considerably enhanced the services of the X1 platform and provided the customers with more facilities in the accessing and viewing of broadcasted content. The new Manage Channels option is accessible to the set of subscribers through the X1 Apps section.

This feature offers the subscribers with numerous choices such as Premium Channels, Subscription On Demand Channels, Sports Entertainment Packages and International Packages. The customers are also provided with the ability to include various services through the interface and verify the ones that they have already subscribed. The testing of the new Manage Channels feature by Comcast® is to firmly establish the SVOD services.

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Residential Video Customers

This will enable them to increase their revenues generated from the X1 platform and in setting up themselves as an aggregator for these services. Previously, Comcast® chairman and CEO, Brian Roberts stated that, “X1 has been a game changer for us…We’re an aggregator of aggregators.” The new aggregation also shows that the subscription VOD services are a growing mix and are available to the customers.

The mix of subscriber VOD services is offered along with the premium services offered by Comcast® such as Showtime, HBO, and Starz. Comcast® has also made it clear that OTT video options will also be made available on the X1 platform soon. At present, the provider has included Netflix into its platform and plans to further integrate YouTube and Sling TV to Xfinity® X1.

10 Aug

AT&T® Is Not Planning To Quit On CNN

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Five Billion Acquisition Deal

AT&T® said that they are not looking to spin off the news channel CNN as part of their eight five billion acquisition deal of Time Warner®. This declaration from AT&T® has put to rest all the speculations about the fate of the news network as the deal is still under the review of the Justice Department.

John Stankey, who is the head of AT&T® Entertainment group, said that they see cable news as important as live sports. “It would be a strategically missed opportunity if we weren’t in that business,” Stankey said. He also added that CNN would continue to be editorially independent. This can be a likely nod to the criticisms of the news outlet by President Trump.

In his 2016 campaign, President Trump had promised to block the acquisition of Time Warner® by AT&T® over the concern that the resulting company would be much powerful in the media world. The President’s move was considered unusual, as professionals at the Federal Trade Commission, or the Justice Department, do most of the merger reviews, independent of the President’s office.

President Trump said during his election campaigns that he sees the merger “as an example of the power structure I’m fighting. AT&T® is buying Time Warner® and thus CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.”

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The specific mention of CNN by the President prompted some of the analysts to think if his opposition of the merger is due to his dissatisfaction with the coverage of the CNN network of him. This perception of the analysts was reinforced when the New York Times reported that the President’s office was considering using the deal as a leverage against the CNN network. However, with the guarantee of CNN’s independence from Stankey, who will be overseeing HBO, CNN, and other media properties of Time Warner® after the deal is completed successfully, it seems that AT&T® is trying to remove all doubts about the future of Cable News Network.

Both Time Warner® and AT&T® said that they are expecting the deal to close by the end of the year, however, AT&T® executives did not respond to request for comments. Experts in telecommunications industry believe that the merger may result in the formation of the fastest internet provider and cable company of the country, but we will have to wait for that.

08 Aug

AT&T® And Guntersville Legislators Announce Certified Fiber Cable Internet In Connors Island Business Park

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Certified Fiber Cable Internet

AT&T® and Guntersville legislators recently announced that Connors Island Business Park is now a certified fiber relayed broadband area, thanks to the Telco giant’s infrastructural contribution. The certification would mean that cheap internet of the highest speed is being made available to job seekers and headhunters in Marshall County.

“That means that if you want to build a company here the infrastructure for fiber is in place,” said the Guntersville Mayor, Leigh Dollar. He also added that the certification from AT&T® is a marketing tool for businesses. “This will definitely be an asset to the park. We work to market this park every day. So we think this will definitely be something worth marketing,” Dollar said.

“We’re ready for 21st century businesses. We’re ready for companies that require extensive broadband fiber,” commented Marshall County Economic Development Council president, Matt Arnold. “Fiber has become what power, water, and sewer were 15 years ago. Companies have to have them. If they don’t have it, they’re not going to locate there.”

Arnold has put the certification and the breakthrough infrastructural contribution in the Connors Island Business Park in clear words. The AT&T® fiber broadband in the Connors Island Business Park will help Guntersville compete with North Alabama cities. The Telco giant’s business fiber network in Alabama provides cheap internet and gives businesses accesses to cloud backup, and video streaming in up to 1 Gbps speed. Reports say that AT&T® has invested billions in wireless as well as wired networks in Alabama in the recent past.

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AT&T Fiber Ready Certification

“AT&T continues to deploy leading-edge technology,” said Dave Hargrove, director of external and legislative affairs of AT&T®. “Our goal for the AT&T Fiber Ready certification is to help clearly message that Alabama is connected as economic developers and community leaders work to bring new business to our state and drive growth for the ones that already call our communities home.”

Assistant VP of external and legislative affairs for AT&T® Alabama, Mickey Harbin said, “Each and every day, our more than 5,300 employees are turning AT&T’s billions of dollars in financial investment into high-speed internet for consumers and businesses across Alabama.”

The relayed fiber network of the Telco giant covers the 400-acre Connors Island Business Park in Guntersville, Marshall County, Alabama.

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