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12 Jul

AT&T® Supports Open Internet Policy And Joins Internet Action Day

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Open Internet Policy

AT&T® recently said that they are looking to join Title II fans’ Internet Day of Action. AT&T® is calling for the Congress to step in to preserve the open internet. Many of the internet service providers have argued that the fans of Title II do not have monopoly on protecting net neutrality.

“This may seem like an anomaly to many people who might question why AT&T® is joining with those who have differing viewpoints on how to ensure an open and free internet,” AT&T® senior executive VP Bob Quinn wrote in a blog post. “But that’s exactly the point – we all agree that an open internet is critical for ensuring freedom of expression and a free flow of ideas and commerce in the United States and around the world.”

“On the eve of this ‘Day of Action,’ AT&T® reaffirms our support for an open internet based on protections that are fair and equal for everyone. We hope Congress can reach agreement on these principles and make those protections permanent,” he added.

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Internet Action Day

The participation of AT&T® in the Internet Action Day includes running print and television ads showing that they also support the open internet policy, though not based on the Title II, and saying that none of the companies should discriminately throttle or block data. AT&T® shared their agreement to the view that the internet need to be a free flow of commerce and ideas and that none of the internet providers should impede that. This has made them to join the move to support the right to access data, and applications.

The words of AT&T® covers about two of the three Title II based rules, against throttling and blocking. The third rule is against paid prioritization, is a grayer area for the internet service providers, and is not mentioned in the ads by AT&T®.

The ad also says that censorship should be avoided and that there should be good transparency. Internet service providers have been pushing the Congress to clarify that the Federal Communications Commission has the power to prevent anticompetitive throttling or blocking without the need to reclassify the ISPs under the Title II registrations.

However, that is not the type of action, which the Internet Action Day organizers are planning to have. They claim that Title II is the one and only way to offer protection to the internet against potential anti-competitive conduct.

11 Jul

CenturyLink® Abandons DSL Usage Caps By Ending One-Year Usage Metering Trials

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No Usage Caps

CenturyLink® Inc. is on course of becoming the fastest internet provider in the country, and in view of that, the Telco has terminated their one-year trial in Washington by getting rid of the usage caps for low-speed DSL users. The provider has stated that the trials of the usage based metering in Washington do not comply with its intention of providing valuable offers, plans, and pricing to its DSL services.

CenturyLink® declared this new move saying, “Because this approach no longer aligns with our goal to simplify offers and pricing for our customers, we have decided to end this program, effective May 3, 2017.”

CenturyLink’s new declaration concerning the data caps and metering will provide bill credits to the customers based in Yakima, Washington who were charged with excessive fees during the trial periods. The company has stated that, “If you incurred overage charges related to this program, those charges will be credited and appear on your June or July monthly billing statement. No action is required on your part, and there are no impacts to your existing CenturyLink® service.”

Reports say that CenturyLink® has commenced the launch of its metered billing in the previous year that focused on select DSL customers based in Yakima, Washington.

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CenturyLink® Internet

As a part of the trials, the company imposed a 300 gigabyte-per-month cap along with overage fees of $10 for every additional 50 GB of usage. In addition, there were numerous other usage caps put forward by CenturyLink® such as 150 GB to 250 GB according to the speed of the customer’s line. However, there were no additional charges imposed by the company for the user penalties such as exceeding the monthly usage allowance.

With 6 million subscribers, CenturyLink® arguably offers the best internet service in various parts of the country. The rolling back of its usage metering is a sign that the company is not intending to impose the overage fees into other locations under its service footprint. However, customers must still abide strictly with CenturyLink’s “Excessive Use Policy”, which puts up limitations of 150 GB or 250 GB per month to the customers.

The policy also states that it “reserves the right to disconnect your service after the third month of excessive usage in a rolling 12-month period.” CenturyLink® has also announced that automatic disconnection of customers who exceed the limits will not occur again. The provider is taking measures to encourage customers in minimizing their data usage and for upgrading to higher speed data plans.

07 Jul

Charter® Testing Its New Skinny Streaming Bundle

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Skinny Streaming Bundle

Charter Communications®, one of the fastest internet provider and cable company in the country, has commenced the testing of a sports-less streaming service that could offer around 25 channels. The service will be made available for the customers for a price of $20 per month and is offered on Android, iOS, Amazon, Xbox One, Samsung Smart TVs, and Roku devices. The major programming packages offered in this new service includes 25 of the common cable channels such as AMC, Fox, CBS, PBS, TNT, FX, and Food Network.

Justin Venech, spokesperson of Charter Communications® stated, “We are testing Spectrum Stream, an IP delivered in-home cable TV product with traditional TV everywhere out-of-home streaming, to a group of prequalified and current Spectrum® internet customers to see if this smaller package resonates with a certain segment of non-video customers. It includes local broadcast channels, 25 popular cable networks and access to thousands of on-demand choices—along with options for additional news, sports and premium channels—delivered to connected and mobile devices, without requiring a set-top box.”

Moreover, the service also provides access to premium channels HBO and Showtime for an extra fee of $7.50 per month. Popular sports programming network such as ESPN is not available in the base package of the service and is only accessible by adding an extra package for $12 per month. Charter® has christened the new service as Spectrum® Stream and is currently undergoing trials for releasing in its network.

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Sports-Less Streaming

Unlike other services by various cable providers, Spectrum® Stream is an IP-based live streaming service that is delivered via a managed network for the subscribers. It is a streaming only service with no DVR and set-top box features, which subscribers can access using their smartphones or any other streaming devices. Moreover, the subscribers are also provided with a tiered access to Charter’s huge on demand services depending on their type of subscription.

By releasing the Spectrum® Stream service, Charter® intends to expand its streaming offerings along with its best internet service. By releasing this new streaming platform, the provider will step up the competition with other major MVPDs operating in the market. Several other providers are also considering the use of such skinny bundled services such as Sling TV® with its competitive pricing. Charter’s new streaming service will provide the customers with their demanded content packages for the best prices available.

27 Jun

Senators Claim AT&T-Time Warner Merger Will Result In High Price And Low Selection

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AT&T-Time Warner Merger

Recently, a few Senators sent a letter to the Attorney General Jeff Sessions that highlighted their objection to the proposed acquisition of Time Warner® by AT&T®. The group of Senators urged the Attorney General to reject the merger if it harms the users. In the letter, 10 Democrats and an independent Senator asked the Department of Justice to closely look at the ways by which the $108.7 billion deal would increase charges for the customers and lower their access to entertainment, news content, and best internet services.

“We have strong concerns that the combined company’s unmatched control of popular content and the distribution of that content will lead to higher prices, fewer choices, and poorer quality services for Americans — substantial harms that cannot be remedied with unreliable, unenforceable, and time-limited behavioral conditions,” they wrote.

Senators Al Franken (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) signed the letter.

AT&T® announced their plans to buy Time Warner® in October last year. If approved, the deal between AT&T® and Time Warner® would connect one of the top entertainment providers with the largest pay TV and fastest internet provider of the country. Time Warner® owns many entertainment brands like Warner Bros®, HBO®, TNT®, TBS® and CNN®.

The merger is pending regulatory approval and the Justice Department has the power to block the deal, approve it, or approve with conditions. AT&T® came forward with the deal so they do not have to get the broadcast licenses and will not be subject to the FCC review. However, it is not clear when the DOJ will provide their review. CEO of AT&T®, Randall Stephenson had said in April that the deal would go through by the end of the year.

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High Price And Low Selection

During the election campaign of President Donald Trump, he assured to block the deal and described it as “an example of the power structure I’m fighting.” However, since he took the Oval Office, the President was able to see only merger-friendly advisers. The President’s nominee for Assistant Attorney General for antitrust in the Justice Department is Makan Delrahim and he seems to favor the hand off regulatory.

The Senators said in the letter that AT&T® has not said how the merger would be beneficial for the subscribers. Instead, they said that their merger would limit competition and offer them reasons to limit content access or offer priority to their content over that of the others.

Stephenson had called the deal “pro-competitive and pro-consumer” at a Senate hearing in December. He added that AT&T® would “not withhold content to disadvantage someone else.”

22 Jun

AT&T® And GE Aviation Join Hands To Improve Aircraft Health Monitoring

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Improved Aircraft Health Monitoring

AT&T® Internet of Things (IoT) and GE Aviation recently announced that they have joined hands to together connect the off board and onboard parts of Aircraft Health and Trend Monitoring System (AHTMS) – powered PlaneConnect HTM systems that are used on the Gulfstream G500, G650, G600, and G650 ER jets. The companies made the announcement in the recently conducted Paris Air Show.

Experts say that the AHTMS collects the performance data of the aircraft to help find the issues before they occur. The system also helps in troubleshooting difficult to find issues with the aircraft. When an aircraft connected with the system lands, the AT&T® Global SIM and the AT&T® Control Center connects to AHTMS. If the user is okay, Gulfstream Technical Operations will be able to have access to the data to improve their Product Support. If the users choose to go with the improved support, the system will be able to:

  • Activate fleet wide comparison and issues as they arise;
  • Help and support the specialists by allowing data queries;
  • Send time stamped data to a web portal of MyGulfstream that is dedicated to the particular aircraft;
  • Provide transient issue visibility offering resolutions to the most difficult of the issues to solve; and
  • Offer data to each of the operator in an organized and prioritized way. The data offered include aircraft usage data, pressure readings, fuel consumption, and operations details.
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AT&T® Control Center

“Our focus is to help our customers and the overall industry to be more efficient,” said Darin DiTommaso, who is the VP for Digital Services and Solutions at GE Aviation. “This system improves an already great track record at Gulfstream. The beautiful part about the system is that it will continue to grow and respond as the needs of each fleet change throughout their lifecycle.”

GE Aviation makes use of AT&T® Control Center to ensure coverage across the globe of these mobile assets. They make use of secure connection and custom MPLS/VPN of the fastest internet provider to offer a very high degree of control and secure connection to the network. Experts said that the data that is transferred from the aircraft to Gulfstream Operators and Gulfstream Technical Operations would be highly secure and encrypted.

“IoT solutions have the potential to significantly transform the operational efficiency of nearly any industry,” said Chris Penrose, President of IoT Solutions at AT&T®. “It’s exciting to see that our solution with GE Aviation is giving them actionable insights into the performance and health of their planes.”

19 Jun

Word Network Files Complaint Against Comcast®

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Complaint Against Comcast®

The ongoing spat between Comcast® Corp. and Word Network has gained the attention of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently. In a complaint that was written to FCC by the Word Network, they said that Comcast Corporation® has hurt the African American ministry channel, as they dropped the channel from about seven million households in the United States. In addition, the complaint also says that Comcast® has tried to get the digital rights of Word Network in negotiations that took place in 2016.

The complaint claims that the action of Comcast® against the Word Network has clearly violated the agreement which was signed by Comcast® with FCC in 2011, as per which, they acquired the NBCUniversal entertainment. The complaint’s legal base is that Comcast® has discriminated the Word Network by treating them less favorably than the NBCUniversal channels that are owned by Comcast Corporation®. Word Network is considered as an independent programmer and Comcast® does not own it.

In the month of January, Comcast® had cut the distribution of Word Network channels to just five million US homes from twelve million. One of the cities that lost access to the Word Network was Philadelphia and Comcast® replaced the Word Network with another black ministry channel, the Impact Network.

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Digital Rights Of Word Network

Comcast® rejected all the discrimination claims of Word Network and denied that they have sought the digital rights of the network improperly. “The claims by the Word Network are baseless, and we hope the FCC will agree,” Comcast® spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice said in a statement. “Comcast is broadly distributing Impact, an independent, African American-owned service, in which Comcast® has no ownership. Comcast still carries the Word Network, which is not African American-owned, to millions of our customers. The distribution decisions for these two networks are based on our reasonable business judgment.”

Many protestors traveled from Michigan by bus over the winter to picket the headquarters of Comcast Corporation® that is located in Philadelphia for their decision on the Word Network that is located in Southfield, Michigan. Some reports say that many of these picketers were paid by churches to take part in the protest.

12 Jun

Senators Claim That AT&T® Used Forced Arbitration For Overcharging Subscribers

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Forced Arbitration Clauses

Reports from several reliable sources indicate that five Democratic US senators claimed that the usage of forced arbitration clauses by the telecom company, AT&T® has allowed them to charge higher prices than the ones they normally advertise to their subscribers. The US senators highlighted a CBS News investigation, which described that “more than 4,000 complaints against AT&T® and [subsidiary] DirecTV® related to deals, promotions and overcharging in the past two years.”

According to Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), most of the AT&T® subscribers have shown little remorse, as they are currently being forced to settle disputes with the telecom giant. The senators wrote a letter to the CEO of AT&T®, Randall Stephenson, in which they said, “Forced arbitration provisions in telecommunications contracts erode Americans’ right for seeking justice in the federal courts by urging the individuals into a privatized system, which is inherently biased in the favor of internet providers like AT&T®.” They also added that the privatized system provides virtually no way for challenging a biased outcome.

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Leading Telecom Company

“Forced arbitration requires consumers to sign away their constitutional right to hold providers accountable in court just to access modern-day essentials like mobile phone, Internet, and pay-TV services,” the letter added. The senators also stated that the forced arbitration provisions of the telecom company also “includes a class action waiver; language which strips consumers of the right to band together with other consumers to challenge a provider’s widespread wrongdoing.”

The senators further said that they are “particularly concerned about AT&T’s treatment of customer complaints alleging that the company charged a higher rate for services than initially offered in a deal or promotion.” On the other hand, the officials from AT&T® reacted to the issue by arguing that the arbitration is actually a lot more better for their customers when compared to courts of law.

In reply to that, the senators said, “Only 18 out of AT&T’s nearly 150 million subscribers sought accountability for these or other issues through individual, forced arbitration proceedings.” The senators also asked for information on how many complaints the telecom company has received on breaches of promotions, deals, and offers, in the last two years. However, we still have to wait for AT&T’s detailed take on the issue.

06 Jun

Is There A Difference Between AT&T® And Cox® Broadband?

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Fiber Cable Networks

AT&T® offers broadband internet to thousands of households and individual consumers in the United States. The telecom conglomerate offers the triple play plans, which bundle home phone with internet and satellite TV. The broadband is transmitted via relayed fiber cable networks. The networks stretch the AT&T® broadband to households via telephone, Ethernet, or coaxial cable.

In fact, AT&T® also gives the Fiber-To-The-Home internet in select American states. It can be said that AT&T® is the fastest internet provider in the US, as they offer the best internet connection to most parts of the country. Come to think of it, Cox Communications® is another which delivers broadband via hybrid fiber coaxial network.

Coaxial Cable Transmits Cox® Broadband

Cox® internet transmits data through gen-next fiber optic cables. The coaxial cable diverts a particular fiber cable network in a neighborhood to the households nearby. In fact, a Cox® network may serve more than 2000 households in a region. The coaxial cable transmits the broadband data too at high speeds.

Choosing Between Household Needs

The broadband subscribers have plenty to consider when choosing between the two fastest internet providers in the US. Both the AT&T® DSL network and Cox® coaxial network offers similar speed and rates. The choice of selecting between the two is left to the broadband needs of a household and their data usage.

Features Of AT&T® Broadband Plans:

  • $40 to $80 a month
  • 18 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps (download)
  • 5 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps (upload)

Features Of Cox® Broadband Internet:

  • Best Internet

    Gen-Next Fiber Optic Cables

    $39.99 to $84.99 a month

  • 10 Mbps to 300 Mbps (download)
  • 0 Mbps to 30 Mbps (upload)

*The data sheet is as on February 2017.

The internet plans by the telecom giants are priced differently, and where the maximum broadband speed by AT&T® is 1000 Mbps, Cox® provides 300 Mbps only. There are separate data caps as well for the both, which can be verified at the time of broadband set up. Further, the subscribers get to choose wireless, satellite TV, and home phone internet as a triple play bundle in AT&T®.

06 Jun

AT&T® To Acquire Vyatta Operating System For Expanding Its Virtual Networks

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Vyatta Operating System

AT&T®, the fastest internet provider in the country, has declared that it will acquire the Vyatta network operating system and other products from Brocade. This is done on behalf of expanding its virtual networks and operations. Brocade had emerged as a major player in the area of network virtualization before Broadcom announced its plan for acquiring the company as a part of a multi-billion dollar deal.

AT&T® has made plans that it will finalize the deal for acquiring Brocade’s software-defined networking (SDN) products and research plans prior to Broadcom’s closing of the $9.5 billion acquirements of Brocade. Besides Verizon®, AT&T® is the other major carrier that has come up with several long-term projects intended for creating wider virtual network environments. Previously, the carrier has relied on specialized equipment provided by Telco giants.

However, they have abandoned the strategy and are now relying on software-based methods for managing the network. This will aid in increasing the flexibility, cutting down costs, and quicker provision of the best internet services to the customers. For this purpose, AT&T® has made extensive plans that include transforming about 55 percent of the network into software controlled by the end of this year. By 2020, the company expects to increase the software-based networking by about 75 percent.

AT&T® Labs President and CTO, Andre Fuetsch said, “Our network transformation effort lets us add new features quicker than ever before at a much lower cost. Being able to design and build the tools we need to enable that transformation is a win for us and for our customers.”

Network virtualization offers immense possibilities in building and managing networks in a more effective and affordable manner than the conventional methods. It includes SDN and Virtual-Network Functions (VNFs) that shifts the control and management of the various networking processes from the hardware to software.

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Multi-Billion Dollar Deal

SD-WAN (Software-Defined WAN) is quickly growing, which is particularly intended for educational institutions and remote wire-area networks. AT&T’s acquiring of the Vyatta OS from Brocade includes all of its Virtual-Network Functions (VNFs), vRouter products, and a distributed services platform. In addition, the will also purchase developing software, existing software licenses, patents, and applications.

With this acquiring, AT&T® will maintain many of the employees of Brocade in California and the UK. Previously, AT&T® has also entered into collaboration with VeloCloud, a major SD-WAN technology provider for building an SD-WAN center.

05 Jun

Comcast® Begins Gigabit Internet Service In Houston

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Gigabit Internet Service

Comcast Corporation®, the fastest internet provider in the US, has recently started offering ultra high-speed gigabit internet service in Houston area and other cities. The move comes amidst of the increasing competition among other major internet providers in offering high-speed internet connectivity to all the regions of the country.

The company is using its latest residential service that provides lightning fast service up to 1 gigabit per second speeds through the DOCSIS 3.1 technology. Moreover, this high-speed internet connectivity is also owed to the already existing networking infrastructure deployed by Comcast® across the whole of the country.

For accessing this service, the residents in Houston and other major cities require the use of the latest cable modem that comes with DOCSIS 3.1 compatibility. This will be levied a fee of $159.99 exclusive of the contract. In addition, Comcast® has proclaimed that the service is made available in other cities that include Portland, San Francisco Bay Area, Colorado, Portland, and Kansas City.

In the Houston region, the high-speed internet service is initially made available to the business customers. The company declared that is in the last phases of expanding the service to residential customers.

Comcast® is also testing a promotional pricing of $109.99 per month. For the existing Xfinity® customers, an additional $50 or $70 per month must be paid for adding the 1-gigabit service to their current subscription bundle. In a press release, Ralph Martinez, senior vice president of Comcast’s Houston region, said, “We realize technological innovations are occurring rapidly, and our customers need the speed to make the most of them.”

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Existing Networking Infrastructure

The new service utilizes the latest networking technologies unlike the previous internet offering by the company and is transmitted through cables. With this new service, Comcast® has entered into the highly competitive market of internet providers across the country. In 2015, Comcast® launched its fiber connections to residential customers in The Groves, a master-planned community in the area. The company also expects to expand this fiber service into another newly planned community, Balmoral by Land Tejas Cos.

Besides Comcast®, AT&T® is the other major internet provider that is engaged in strict competition for claiming the internet connectivity business in the Houston region. In 2015, AT&T® launched its 1 Gbps internet offering in the area, and gradually expanded the connectivity among major suburbs. With the latest offering by Comcast®, users get to choose who the fastest internet provider in Houston is.

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