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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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Top Rated Channels

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.

07 Aug

Comcast® Launches New Parental Control Features For Xfinity® xFi™ System

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Xfinity® XFi™ System

Comcast® recently announced that it has launched a set of new parental control features for its Xfinity® xFi™ system. The launch of this latest parental control features would allow parents to allocate various restrictions related to internet usage in homes. Moreover, this will enable them to monitor the activities of their children on the internet as well as prevent them from accessing any inappropriate sites.

Parental control is a must needed feature in all residences having access to an internet connection. The newly added parental control features include Timed Pause, Safer Search, and Notification Center.

The Timed Pause feature enables the parents to pause the internet connectivity in their homes for a certain duration such as an hour or more. The temporary halting of the internet and WiFi network in the home can act as a method of persuading the children in limiting the internet usage and spending more time on other activities such as playing, reading, etc.

The Safer Search feature includes several protective settings for use in popular search engines such as Google, Bing, and YouTube. The Safer Search feature offers numerous restrictions to certain content that are deemed inappropriate for users under the age of 18. The inclusion of this new feature by Comcast® into its Xfinity® xFi™ system is a great alternative for the users than relying on third party applications, as such apps are ineffective in properly filtering the content and needs extra subscription fees.

The real time Notifications Center is another major feature in the newly launched parental controls by Comcast®. This feature issues notifications related to all kinds of activity on the WiFi network deployed in homes. Moreover, this is a helpful feature as it can provide alerts related to any breaches in the security of the network such as alternations in the network name or password.

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Safer Search Feature

It is to be noted that the Telco included some basic parental control options during the launch of the Xfinity® xFi™ system. This includes web monitoring and device schedules that can monitor and terminate the internet connection at a certain time. Comcast’s addition of these new features alongside its numerous best internet packages has further advanced the Xfinity® xFi™ system.

Currently, the new updates in parental controls are still in the process of being deployed across the entire network footprint of Comcast®. The system updates to the xFi™ are done via the cloud and are soon expected to be rolled out for the entire customer base.

04 Aug

What Subscribers Should Know About FCC And ISP Broadband Speeds

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ISP Broadband Speeds

To find the best internet provider in the US, subscribers could do some preliminary research before signing an agreement with the first provider they come across. When it is about choosing a cheap internet service provider, the speed aspect should be considered well, since speed and affordability would give subscribers a worthy bundle. After finding out the fastest internet provider and their best package, the next step in attaining subscription is gauging whether the said ISP offers that service in your area.

The FCC recommended download speeds would help you decide on the minimum download speed in any region. Federal Communication Commission stipulates 500 Kbps speed for emailing, 1.5 Mbps for streaming movies on content driven platforms, and 4 Mbps each for online gaming and tele-learning. Do remember that the FCC stipulated download speeds apply to individual users only and that if your family consists of two, then you would want double the internet speed to access more data.

The 80/80 speed of broadband was one of the major findings in the Measuring Broadband America report of FCC last year. This measures the Internet Service Providers’ performance consistency over peak periods of internet usage, i.e. from 07:00 pm to 11:00 pm. Telco giants such as Charter Communications®, Time Warner Cable®, and Verizon® performed well with values soaring above 90 percent of the FCC stipulated speeds in 2016. However, the ratio for AT&T® DSL, Frontier®, and Viasat® broadband was 50%.

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The Measuring Broadband America Report

Regardless, these are some of the fastest internet providers in the US as prime time alone cannot be used as a metric to know who downloads videos on the internet or who is watching a Game of Thrones episode on a Sunday night.

As per FCC, 25 Mbps download speed would qualify an ISP as the fastest internet provider in 2017. This was a sudden jump from 4 Mbps before it, and the ISPs have shown protests regarding the stipulation in the Senate of late. Further, a mere mention of best internet and high-speed internet doesn’t necessarily guarantee that ISPs follows FCC stipulations, but these terms are used interchangeably with broadband in general.

Suffice to say it, only the best Internet Service Providers follow the FCC stipulations in the US, even as the veto power remains with subscribers.

01 Aug

Charter Communication Not Interested In Sprint Merger

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Charter®-Sprint® Merger

Cable operator Charter Communications® said that they are not interested in acquiring the US wireless provider, Sprint® Corp. Now the majority owner of Sprint® Corp, SoftBank® Group Corp, will have to find other ways to negotiate a merger.

A merger between Sprint® and Charter® would have lead to the formation of the fastest internet provider that will be capable of offering a one-stop solution for all users who are searching for mobile and internet services. In addition, the combined will have a stronger footing to make infrastructure that is necessary for the 5G wireless technology.

Chief Executive Officer of SoftBank®, Masayoshi Son made an acquisition offer for Charter®; however, Charter® declined the offer. “We understand why a deal is attractive for SoftBank®, but Charter® has no interest in acquiring Sprint,” a Charter® representative said.

The potential bid of SoftBank® for Charter® will follow the conclusion of the 2 months negotiations with Comcast® and Charter® over Sprint® serving as their mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), which allows them to use its network infrastructure to provide wireless based internet services.

“We have a very good MVNO relationship with Verizon Communications® Inc and intend to launch wireless services to cable customers next year,” the Charter® spokesman added. The interest of SoftBank® in Charter Communications® also shows that they are in the search of alternatives to have a strong hand in the negotiations with T-Mobile®. “This could be a way to gain leverage in a T-Mobile deal,” Amy Yong, a Macquarie analyst said about the pursuit of Charter® by Son.

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Wireless Services For Cable Customers

The bid for Charter® by SoftBank®, with a market capitalization of 90.3 billion dollars (9.9 trillion yen) can be a stretch for their finances, say analysts. The market capitalization of Sprint® is just 32.8 billion dollars and has about same amount in debt.

The bid for Charter® made by SoftBank® Group offering them majority control on the deal will need raising many billions of dollars in new debt and may push them to leverage their assets like 43% stake in the Yahoo® Japan Corp and 29.5% share in the Chinese business Alibaba® Group Holding Ltd. The price expectations of the largest shareholder of Charter®, Liberty Broadband Corp. of Jomnh Malone will also be a big hurdle for SoftBank®. However, these might not be needed now as Charter® has declined the deal from SoftBank®.

25 Jul

AT&T® Launches Fixed Wireless Internet Service In Rural Cleveland County

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Fixed Wireless Internet Service

AT&T® has launched its Fixed Wireless Internet in many of the rural and underserved locations in Cleveland County. The fastest internet provider has declared that they extended the Fixed Wireless Internet initially to both rural and underserved locations in North Carolina ell. As a part of the FCC Connect America Fund, AT&T® has undertaken this provision of enabling internet connectivity to the regions. Moreover, AT&T® also intends to extend its best internet service to more than 400,000 locations by the end of 2017 and to about 1.1 million locations by the year 2020.

AT&T® jointly announced its Fixed Wireless Internet plan with the state and local leaders of Cleveland County. House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said, “More and more, whether you are in urban or rural areas, high-speed connectivity is vital. I am excited to see this newly available service bringing needed connectivity to our rural communities in Cleveland County and across the state. Announcements like this underline the importance of policies which encourage ongoing private investment in the networks which deliver advanced technologies to North Carolinians.”

The telecom provider has set high expectations regarding its internet expansion in North Carolina with plans that aim to cover over 13,000 locations by 2020. This initial offering from AT&T® will provide the residents and business owners located in the rural communities across the state in accessing the Fixed Wireless Internet. AT&T®, by expanding its best internet connectivity program to the rural and underserved locations, aims to bridge the digital divide that is largely prevailing in the country.

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Closing The Connectivity Gap

Carlos E. Sanchez, state director of external affairs for AT&T® North Carolina stated, “The nearly 6,500 men and women who work for AT&T® and call North Carolina home, are proud to work with our local, state and federal leadership to provide the connectivity that North Carolina’s residents and businesses demand. Through this innovative service, we are working to close the connectivity gap in North Carolina.”

Fixed Wireless Internet is a service offered by AT&T® that gives home internet connectivity with download speeds of about 10 Mbps. The internet connections are delivered through wireless towers distributed across the regions into the fixed antenna positioned on homes and businesses. In addition, AT&T® has also launched its Fixed Wireless Internet Service in various states such as Florida, Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana, Alabama, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

19 Jul

AT&T® Commences Its 5G Evolution Network At Indianapolis

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5G Evolution Network

AT&T® has declared that it has launched its ultra-fast 5G Evolution network in parts of Indianapolis. In view of this, the telecom provider has completed the upgrades for the 5G network in the region that includes centralized-RAN, 256 QAM, 4X4 MIMO, and three-way carrier aggregation.

AT&T® is certainly the fastest internet provider in many regions of the US, and implementing a full-scale development of its network and infrastructure in the city of Indianapolis will make them even more superior. Besides, this will also aid in assisting with many of the futuristic developments planned for the city such as self-driving cars.

AT&T® has made a considerable investment of more than $350 million in the last three years for developing both the wired and wireless networks in Indianapolis. Marachel Knight, senior vice president of Wireless Network Architecture and Design at AT&T® said, “We’re excited to launch these new, faster, wireless technologies in Indianapolis as we march towards standards-based mobile 5G. The upgrades in Indianapolis are crucial to the future of next generation connectivity in this city.”

Previously, AT&T’s announcement of deploying 5G Evolution network in about 20 metros by the year-end has met with criticism from other providers. AT&T® has stated that it is in the process of finalizing the standards of 5G networking technology and justified its usage of the 5G Evolution brand. Moreover, the company has made significant contributions to the development of 3GPP wireless standards process and is collaborating with numerous technology companies for deploying 5G networks across the regions.

According to AT&T® officials, the 5G Evolution network will offer twice the speeds than the standard 4G LTE network. This will allow the customers to experience a faster internet connectivity experience and download speeds than was previously possible.

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3GPP Wireless Standards Process

Customers having the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ phones can access this best internet service and technology upgrades from AT&T®. The company also revealed that the service would be increasingly accessible as numerous 5G Evolution capable devices are expected to be released in the coming months.

AT&T® has also unveiled its new Distributed Antenna System (DAS) and expanded the network capacity to its nine existing systems in Indianapolis. This will provide maximum internet connectivity across larger venues such as airports, shopping malls, and stadiums. The carrier expects to install the LTE-LAA and 4-way carrier aggregation in numerous parts of 5G Evolution metro areas by the year-end.

The launch of 5G network in Indianapolis by AT&T® follows the successful deployment of this networking technology across Austin lately.

19 Jul

DirecTV Now® Users Experience Streaming Issues During The Season Premiere Of “Game Of Thrones”

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Live Streaming Issues

DirecTV Now®, the online streaming service from one of the best internet providers in the United States, AT&T®, has become immensely popular among customers in a short span of time. The exciting packages offered by DirecTV Now® have attracted several cord cutters to the service over the last few months. However, reports indicate that AT&T’s streaming service encountered a few streaming issues during the seventh season premiere of “Game of Thrones”.

Several DirecTV Now® users expressed their frustration through social media platforms, as they experienced a number of live streaming issues when they tried to watch the season premiere of the show. Fans have been waiting for almost a year for the latest episode of the fan favorite TV series, “Game of Thrones” and they wanted to watch the episode without any disruptions or delays. However, DirecTV Now® failed to stand up to the expectations.

Officials say that even the HBO.com website temporarily went down during the premiere of “Game of Thrones”, so some would argue that there is no point in blaming DirecTV Now® alone. Nonetheless, reports indicate that more than hundreds of DirecTV Now® users were not able to watch the episode due to continuous interruptions. Interestingly, a representative from the telecom giant, AT&T® stated that the streaming service did not encounter any technical issues during the season premiere of the TV show but he refused to share any details on what caused the trouble.

Despite the streaming issues during the season premiere, DirecTV Now® users are hopeful that AT&T® will fix the issues before the second episode of the show airs. The second episode from this season of “Game of Thrones” will air on Sunday, which means that AT&T® will have to fix the streaming issues within a week.

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Top Rated TV Series

The VP of marketing at database load balancing software vendor ScaleArc™, Michelle McLean said, “Scaling a database is hard, and not quick. This is complicated engineering, and it often has to get paired with adjustments to the application code hitting that database. These kinds of meltdowns are common during surge events like ESPN suffered with the launch of Fantasy Football or when Macy’s suffered last Black Friday.”

McLean added, “You can prep for those events, and you can be sure that HBO prepped. But sometimes, despite all the testing, traffic levels exceed your preparation. As previous website crashes have shown, the weak spot in the technology stack was likely the database. The physics around having an application talk to multiple instances of a database remains a challenge. HBO will likely be scrambling to build more elasticity into the data tier to avoid this kind of catastrophic outage in the future.”

14 Jul

Cox® To Renew Nationwide Deployment Of Gigabit Services By 2020

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Nationwide Deployment Of Gigabit Services

Cox Communications® has renewed its strategy of deploying gigabit services across the country by the year 2020. By implementing this nationwide strategy, Cox® intends to become the fastest internet provider offering gigabit internet services to the customers. Previously, the telecom provider has made several unsuccessful attempts in expanding its gigabit speed offering across the country.

Cox® has entered with its 1-gig services into parts of 13 states among its 18 state footprint. Their latest announcement of nationwide gigabit deployment will pave the way for improving the internet connectivity and speeds across most regions in the country.

Recently, Cox® declared that it intends to use a strategy that involves both fiber and DOCSIS 3.1 to achieve the rollout of its 1-gig services. The deployment of fiber between its network and DOCSIS 3.1 will further expand its gigabit services across more regions of the country. In view of this, the provider has made plans in carrying out several large-scale upgrades of its HFC plant to DOCSIS 3.1 by putting new Converged Cable Accessed Platform systems (CCAP). According to Cox®, about a third of the CCAP installation would be carried out by the end of the year.

Cox® Vice President, Philipp Nutsugah stated, “Cox®, at the end of the day, is a connectivity company. And so, take the city of San Diego for instance, not only have we built out… fiber to the home in the city of San Diego, we also have a significant deployment of business B2B fiber.”

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Converged Cable Accessed Platform Systems

This will facilitate the availability of the D3.1 service to the customers by the year-end. However, the DOCSIS 3.1 service will be only available to the customers by next year.

“We’ve got some real interesting partnerships on the Wi-Fi side of the house so in the gas-lamp district, as an example, we worked with the city of San Diego… for them to allow us to hang, unobtrusively, Wi-Fi access points on those historic streetlamps throughout that district,” Nutsugah further added. “We’ve partnered with them to have Cox® Wi-Fi all through Balboa Park. We got on the USS Midway. So we have worked very closely with the city of San Diego to have that connectivity available.”

By implementing a combination of fiber and node plus zero, Cox® will be able to offer much larger bandwidth and capacity for other features such as public Wi-Fi services. Moreover, Cox’s significant investments in broadband connectivity across the country will also make possible the development of smart cities in the near future.

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