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11 Jan

Digital Divide and the Initiatives to Tackle it

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Digital Communication Facts

The term ‘digital divide’ refers to the connectivity gap, meaning the gap between regions and demographics that have access to today’s communications and information technology, and those that have limited access or no access at all. This technology can comprise telephone, TV, personal computers, as well as the internet.

Before the twentieth century, the term referred mainly to the division between people or regions with telephone access and those without it. After the late 1990’s though, its use primarily started to describe the divide between those with and without access to the internet, especially broadband.

This divide usually exists between people in cities and rural areas, between educated and uneducated sections of society, socioeconomic groups, and the more as well as less industrially developed countries. Even among a population with some access to today’s technology, the divide can be apparent in the form of slower personal computers, lower-speed Wi-Fi connections, and restricted subscription-based content access.

In this day and age, the digital divide is a reality even in developed nations. For instance, not all areas in the United States of America have access to the broadband internet. Even as technology keeps becoming more and more affordable and internet access keeps expanding across the country, studies have revealed that millions of Americans still lack a cheap and reliable internet broadband connection. Many of them who lack the access to it reside in rural areas.

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The digital divide affects peoples’ lives in many different ways. Since they are deprived of access to the internet, some of them have to rely on public internet access spots. However, this divide deprives them of job or education opportunities.

While adoption of smartphone technology is growing even among low-income and minority groups, data plans’ rising costs and the complexity of doing tasks as well as transactions on phones can hinder the closing of the connectivity gap in some ways. Still, the US takes steps to tackle the digital divide. The best internet service providers have a commitment to reach out to underserved or unserved areas in the country to the Federal Communications Commission. They also offer low-cost or best internet service that unserved or underserved subscribers can afford.

Besides, major internet providers take initiatives to improve the digital literacy of rural or low-income people. Some of them even provide free laptops or computers to those who do not have the same, to access the web.

07 Jan

3 Surefire Ways to Cut the Cord and Their Benefits

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Top Rated Shows

Are you tired of very high prices, hidden fees, as well as the customer service that several satellite and cable cum internet providers offer? What about programming packages with channels you do not really need? Then, it may be high time for you to cut the cord.

For years, big broadcasting companies and cable TV providers have had the exclusive rights to carry a number of premium channels on their TV platforms. As a result, they were the means for audiences to access their desired programs, but that is no longer the case.

Nowadays, you do not necessarily require a cable service or subscription to receive these TV channels. In case you need content for free, one of the best ways for that is to go the free streaming route. In case you need regular TV programs for a relatively cheaper price, then you could subscribe to one or more streaming services.

As you can see, there are a few cord cutting options for you. Let us take a closer look at what each of them comprises.

Option One: Antenna

In the era of cord cutting, television antennas are back in style! An antenna lets you get TV shows from over-the-air (OTA) channels. You simply have to connect either an indoor antenna or outdoor antenna to your TV set to get programs from any network-affiliate or local channels.

In case you need to get free programs from your preferred networks, then this is the ideal way to do it. It is also one of the simplest methods to cut the cord. However, it is important to note that a customer having an analog TV set might have to use a “converter box” for digital.

Option Two: Streaming

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Streaming TV Services

Streaming basically means you can access TV shows and movies over the web. With this method, you do not need to have satellite or cable services, or a TV antenna. However, you do require a speedy internet connection that is suited for your data usage.

Most internet providers give information about speed tier plans and what they are suited for, on their websites, so customers can easily choose plans as per their data consumption patterns or requirements.

Option Three: Antenna Plus Streaming

This is the priciest option for cord cutters. Still, it allows you to access free local channels over the air, while still letting you get more content over the web. This is also an ideal option as it brings a lot of content that you get to watch on-demand.

14 Sep

Tips to Increase the Speed of Internet Connection

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Internet Speed Tips

Many things affect internet speed, including peak usage or network traffic. If you are experiencing slowness in your internet connection, try these things to improve speed. While it is a good thing to have high-speed tiers in your best internet service, what you do with it is equally important. While it is not possible to boost the speed of your internet connection beyond the speed for which you are paying your internet service provider, you still have to make sure a few things to get the maximum possible speed.

Note that these are general pointers, which most carriers recommend to improve speed. Also, check out other suggestions for that from your internet service provider. For instance, if your best internet service provider has announced a latest and upgraded speed tier plan, then it will tell you to reset your router or modem to get it.

Test the Speed First

Testing your actual downstream and upstream speeds will give you an idea of how close they are in relation to the advertised speeds. Many internet providers advertise download speeds of up to a certain a megabits or gigabits per second. If you are getting close to what is advertised in your best internet service, then be sure your carrier is only adopting industry-wide standards. If, however, the speed tests reveal a noticeable disparity, then get in touch with your carrier. It is likely it will suggest some changes to improve speed.

Reduce the Distance between your System and Router

If you are further away from your wireless router, you will notice speed drops. Thus, stay as proximate as possible to it. Also, ensure your computer and router have sufficient space all the way around in order to avoid overheating. If you have more room to cover at home, then consider adding wireless range extenders to maximize signal strength. You can buy it from your best internet service provider at an affordable cost than a new router.

Limit Access to your Network

If they are configured for it, some devices connect to a network as and when they come within range. If there is a setting in your smart device that receives the signal and then gets connected that way, then it is best to turn it off. Also, ensure only the devices you know have access to the network. If someone else is accessing it without your permission, perhaps it is time to change the Wi-Fi password.

Keep Line of Sight Obstacles Out of the Way

If the signal of your router has to pass through even an appliance, it will not be strong as you expected it to be. As a rule of thumb, keep your router in plain sight from where you are using your system or smartphone. Obviously, if it is on a distinct level than your device, then you will face signal problems.

Use Ethernet Connection in Place of Wireless

Plug in an Ethernet cable at the back of your computer to work around the delay taken by your system to receive a wireless signal. With the right Ethernet cable, you can get steady and fast speeds than perhaps what your wireless connection offers.

Other Ways to Improve Internet Speed

Restart your Internet Devices

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Restart your computer, and turn off and turn on your modem or router. These can resolve most connection issues as well.

Update the Firmware of your Router

If your router’s firmware is outdated, then it can prevent the equipment from maintaining a stable connection. This is important if you have been using it for over a year or two. If a replacement is due, then consider buying a new router to improve its signal reception.

Clear the Temporary Internet Files

Most internet providers recommend customers to clear caches and/or cookies to have an impact on page load speed. Although cached data allows a website to load quickly after accessing it once, it will lead to connection issues or errors in case the cache of a site does not match the records of your web browser.

Update your Browser and Operating System

An outdated browser can lead to slow page load times, choppy streaming of videos over the web, and many other things. Keeping your browser up to date makes it stable. The operating system update can also help in this respect.

Get Rid of System Malware

Viruses or malicious files slow down a computer, not to mention installed programs in it. Run a system scan and quarantine malware and get rid of potentially unwanted programs if required. This can improve the performance of your computer performance too. Therefore, it is worth running a system scan from time to time.

However, try not to activate the default update feature of your antivirus program as that could consume the remaining data in your internet plan and thereby affect speed.

07 Sep

3 Ways to Get the Most Value Out of an Internet Service

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Whether you already have subscribed to one of the top internet providers or are looking forward to doing so, you should note these things to get the most of your internet service. You need to single out an ISP who offers the best speed, bandwidth and other options. Still, make the most of your data plan with these pointers.

Improved Speeds

Even when you are getting good downstream and upstream speeds, you still have to ensure certain things to get the best internet in this respect. If you keep an eye on the following things, you can improve speeds.

  • Make sure there are no services uploading, downloading and/or backing up cellular data to a cloud service in the background.
  • Make sure no device is connected to and is consuming data. If you have data caps, this will affect further data you could use or speeds if the limit exceeds.
  • Reset your equipment, comprising the router.
  • Test speeds with one connected device at a time in order to find out which device is using most data.
  • Replace old software and hardware and upgrade the firmware of your router.
  • Use your devices closer to your router and make sure a line of sight communication is there or no blockage exists between both.
  • Get rid of unwanted malware and virus on your device with antivirus software. Also, ensure its auto-update feature is turned off.
  • Use an updated web browser. Also, clear its cached files from time to time.

Consider your Data Requirement

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Make sure your internet package is one that is tailored to your data requirement. Usually, with an unlimited plan, you can download plenty of content or binge-watch TV shows online prior to your data caps start limiting speeds. In any event, you certainly need an unlimited plan for large data per month. On the other hand, if you use less data, a pay by the gigabyte internet plan will perhaps suit you. In other words, a pay by the gig plan means you will be charged for the data you consume in a billing cycle. There will be a specific monthly charge for up to one gigabyte.

Add-On Services

There are best internet service providers offering bundled packages to customers. You could bundle voice, data, and cable TV in a triple play package. If you only require less number of channels, it is best to go for a “skinny bundle”.

There could be other options to limit data usage such as parental controls or content filtering if your ISP provides the same. It will help you keep a tab on what your kids watch or stream, thereby impacting data.

27 Apr

Comcast® Shifts Focus to Internet Following Q1 Results on Cable Subs

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Stream Online Channels

Comcast Cable® officials recently reported that they experienced a significant loss in the number of video subscribers as of this year’s first quarter. As per reports, this decline in Comcast® video subs is 96,000 as of Q1 of 2018. However, being one of the best internet providers in the US, Comcast® has also achieved more than 350,000 high-speed internet subscribers during the same period.

This only goes to indicate the Philadelphia-based Telco giant’s role in nationwide markets of being an internet service provider that bundles cable TV packages and best internet plans. Slowly but surely, Comcast® treats internet as the core competency of their overall service portfolio to stay competitive in a market that is shifting toward streaming services. In other words, more and more customers are choosing internet to stream online channels on Comcast Xfinity® TV. Besides, their home security and Xfinity Mobile® offerings also serve as adds to their product portfolio.

To retain customers and drive sales, Comcast® sales reps are now pitching broadband packages first, and then, the company’s other offerings such as cable TV. “Our focus is very much centered on broadband,” said Dave Watson, who is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Comcast Cable®.

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This focus of Comcast® on internet offerings may seem surprising even at a time when the company has made a billion dollar bid, which is $31bn as per reports, to acquire Pay-TV broadcaster Sky plc. Comcast Corporation®, the parent company of Comcast Cable®, is surely trying everything it can to improve byline profits through broadband offerings even as their actions may seem to the contrary.

Trade analysts say that selling broadband would seem much profitable to Comcast® than selling cable TV packages, for which profit margins are thinner in comparison owing to programming costs. No wonder Comcast® is looking to acquire what is often billed as the largest satellite broadcaster in the UK namely Sky plc. In fact, Comcast® is not alone in bidding for the broadcaster – even Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox Inc. join them in the bidding process. The board members of Sky plc welcomed the Comcast® bid and withdrew a suggestion that shareholders have accepted an earlier proposal from 21st Century Fox.

Despite trying to cement their status of being one of the top internet providers, Comcast® also sees an opportunity in the form of wireless subscriber growth. It has added 196,000 subscriber lines to Xfinity Mobile® service in Q4, bringing its aggregate to 577,000 lines.

16 Mar

Comcast Business® Introduces One Click Conferencing App to its VoiceEdge™ Service

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One Click Conferencing App

Comcast Business® has announced that it had added a new VoiceEdge™ Conferencing app to its cloud phone service. The addition of this new app will radically improve the service by making it easier to carry out and manage conference calls.

With the VoiceEdge™ Conferencing app, a single click can help in initiating a conference call and resolve any of the issues for a smoother calling experience. Available to all Comcast Business® VoiceEdge™ subscribers, this new facility can add up to 50 participants for a conference call and initiate the call using the “click to start conference” feature.

John Guillaume, the Vice President for Product Management at Comcast Business® said, “With an increasingly distributed and mobile workforce, conference calls are an important tool for keeping teams connected, but this can become challenging from a user standpoint when different people are trying to access a conference call while traveling, in remote locations, from a different office.”

“We’re continually innovating and evolving our voice platform with a focus on improving the end-user experience and overall business impact,” he further added. “With Comcast Business® VoiceEdge™ Conferencing, the days of remembering long phone numbers and PINs or asking ‘who joined the call,’ are now a thing of the past – saving our customers both time and resources.”

The Conference app for VoiceEdge™ will also make it easier for users to join a conference call by simply clicking on the “join conference” link. The app comes with several management tools and options that allow those who host the conference calls to view and identify the users who are connected to the call.

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The VoiceEdge™ Conference app is an award-winning feature developed by Comcast Business® that was conferred the 2018 Internet Telephony Product of the Year by TMCNet. Comcast® being one of the best internet service has made a new development by introducing this feature as it allows business services to become more advanced and user-friendly. Besides, the VoiceEdge™ Conference app is also available for many of the standard tools and software used for business, such as Microsoft OWA, Skype for Business, and Google Chrome.

The VoiceEdge™ Conference allows the addition of 50 participants along with a moderator for making the conference call. It essentially takes away the elaborate processes of making a conference call by providing a one-click access feature. This makes it much easier and fast to make and manage conference calls with multiple users.

It also provides improved security with the feature of PIN-protected conferencing, which is crucial for business communications. The VoiceEdge™ Conference app is compatible with various PC and mobile operating systems, including Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows.

23 Feb

Comcast® Files an Application with FCC to Trial Services in 3.5 GHz Band

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Wireless And Mobile Services

Comcast® hopes to trial fixed wireless and mobile services over 3.5 GHz CBRS spectrum band and has filed an application with Federal Communications Commission. “Comcast® will conduct outdoor and indoor fixed and mobile testing in a small targeted portion of the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, market within its service territory. Specifically, testing will be conducted within a 7 km radius,” the company’s FCC filing stated.

“The field test will evaluate coverage, throughput, and mobility of equipment and facilities operating in the CBRS band to obtain data and advance Comcast’s understanding of the full potential of the technology and equipment utilized in these experimental operations. The field testing will also evaluate the performance of pre-commercial equipment in the CBRS band.”

The best internet provider also suggested that its interests firmly lie in phones that support CBRS band. “Through the use of mobile test devices and commercial handsets (i.e. ‘End User Equipment’), Comcast® will evaluate propagation characteristics for model verification, data throughput performance, inter-cell interference, and advanced Spectrum Access System (‘SAS’) functionality.”

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Deploy Wireless Services

Comcast® is one of the members of CBRS alliance, which includes some major internet providers and equipment vendors. In August last year, Comcast® seemed to have contacted Nokia® to conduct small cell trials and half a dozen mobile units operating in CBRS band in Philly. Comcast’s application with FCC to self-test CBRS band in their headquarters may suggest an even deeper interest to deploy wireless services. Comcast® is not the only company to show interests in CBRS band; even Charter® has urged FCC to regulate 3.5 GHz band in the previous month using geographic currency no more than counties.

Charter® has also suggested that their fixed wireless trials in rural locations on 3.5 GHz have shown it can provide speeds at 25 megabytes per second at ‘significant distances’. Charter® has conducted mobile and fixed wireless trials in the said band but is yet to disclose details on results of the trials.

The interests in mobile wireless in CBRS band from Comcast® could coincide with Xfinity® Mobile, which runs on Verizon® network. Xfinity® Mobile is Comcast’s MNOV tie-up with Verizon®. As of now, the wireless service from Comcast® roams on to the public wireless hotspots, and the company might be looking to add more locations that can handle CBRS band and traffic from the customers. If that goes through, Comcast® would have to pay a less amount to Verizon® for network use.

30 Jan

AT&T® and T-Mobile® will Help Customers to Stay Connected Throughout the Winter Olympics

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Video Streaming Services

If you are planning to visit South Korea to catch the live action of the upcoming Winter Olympics, then you will most likely wish to share your good fortune with your friends and family members who are not able to make it to South Korea. So, you will be probably planning to keep them up-to-date with the live actions from the Olympics but you will certainly need unlimited data, calling, and text to do so.

Two of the leading internet providers in the United States, AT&T® and T-Mobile® have already introduced attractive offers for their customers so that they can stay connected to their loved ones who are back at home. In a recent announcement, the officials from T-Mobile® said that their customers who are attending the Winter Olympics in South Korea will be able to enjoy unlimited data, text, and calling throughout the event.

The best thing about T-Mobile’s new offering is that customers will not have to do anything to reap these benefits. This means that customers will not need to pay any sort of additional charges to enjoy these benefits. Yet it is crucial to note that the unlimited data and calling offering to customers across South Korea will automatically kick in from February 7 to March 20, 2018, and it will be available to all postpaid customers of T-Mobile®.

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International Day Pass

The President and CEO of T-Mobile®, John Legere said, “The Winter Games are full of unforgettable moments, and now, T-Mobile® customers in South Korea can snap, tweet, and share those big moments without worrying about bill shock when they get back home. And while the carriers gouge you and make you jump through ridiculous hoops, the Un-carrier makes it easy! Free and unlimited data and calling just happen from the moment you step foot in South Korea.”

Likewise, one of the best internet providers in the country, AT&T® has also announced that their customers who are in South Korea for the Olympics will be eligible to access the International Day Pass of the provider at zero additional charges. This implies that AT&T® customers will be able to save $10 a day on unlimited texts, calls, and data usage. However, the officials from the telecom company have not confirmed whether customers will have to call ahead to get the International Day Pass.

24 Jan

Charter Spectrum® to Offer Gigabit Internet Service Across the Capital Region

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Gigabit Internet Service

Reports from several reliable sources indicate that Charter Spectrum® subscribers across the Capital Region will soon be able to enjoy the Gigabit Internet service of the telecom giant. However, the Gigabit Internet service offered by Charter Spectrum® is mostly available only to the schools and businesses in the country at the present.

Charter Communications®, who are currently operating under the brand name Spectrum®, have already started to offer their high-speed internet service in the lower Hudson Valley and New York. Customers who have subscribed to the Spectrum® internet service in these areas will be able to enjoy a maximum internet speed of 1 gigabit per second, which is approximately 10 to 40 times faster when compared to the internet service available to customers in the Capital Region.

It is significant to note that gigabit internet speeds offered by the leading internet providers in the country were usually available only to business and government entities in the Capital Region. However, Verizon recently started to offer a 1-gigabit service to the residential subscribers in their FiOS network but the drawback is that this service is available only in certain parts of Albany and Schenectady counties.

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High-Speed Internet Service

The new internet service launched by Charter Communications® will certainly allow most residents to get connected to a reliable and high-speed gigabit internet service. Even though most residents are happy and content with the current internet speeds, the availability of gigabit internet service will increase the download speed, boost the streaming quality, and customers will be able to connect more number of devices to their internet network at the very same time.

In a recent interview, a spokesman from Charter Communications® said, “We’re currently in the process of upgrading the Capital Region to all-digital, which is an important first step to enabling faster speeds, including gigabit connections for residential customers. We intend to launch gigabit connections in additional markets in 2018 but haven’t announced any plans yet.”

The official also stated that customers would be able to stick to their Time Warner Cable® package if they wish to or they could even switch to the Spectrum® plans. He added, “They can keep their legacy Time Warner Cable® package or switch to Spectrum® if they prefer. We believe they will find Spectrum® is a better value with superior products and services, like the 100 Mbps starting speed for Spectrum® internet.”

22 Jan

Charter® to Create Original Programming for its Spectrum Customers

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Distribute Original Content

Charter Communications® is making plans to create and distribute original content. The Telco wishes to foray into programming like other major providers in the country. Because of that, Charter® had already appointed a new senior vice president to oversee its plans to produce and distribute original programming. The new senior vice president will focus on creating original content that is in tune with the interests of the viewers. Charter® has brought in Katherine Pope, the former NBC Universal and Chernin Group TV production executive, to serve as its new senior vice president.

The creation of original content is seen by Charter® as a way to offer a different experience for its Spectrum® customers. The hiring of the new executive will supervise the creation of planned original programming, such as a lineup of shows to aid on Charter®-carried channels. Charter® has a previous partnership with AMC and Viacom that involves co-production of television shows, and this new announcement will help in its quest to produce and air an array of original content.

Katherine Pope stated, “I’m excited to partner with networks, studios, and creators to build a high-quality original content experience for Charter’s wide-reaching and diverse audience. I look forward to working with David and the extraordinary team at Charter®.” This appointment of the new executive follows a previous deal between AMC and Viacom. It has reached an agreement with these companies regarding co-production and co-funding of content that will be air across the Spectrum platforms of Charter® in this year.

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Charter®-Carried Channels

Under the former agreement, Viacom and Charter® had reached an agreement regarding the co-production of original content that will be exclusively available to Charter® subscribers. David Ellen, Charter® Senior Executive VP said, “Katherine’s creativity, strategic prowess, and wealth of industry knowledge will play an instrumental role in positioning Charter® as an industry leader in the creation and distribution of high-quality, original entertainment that will further differentiate Charter’s market-leading video products in ways that create value and drive subscribership.”

Recently, many of the major cable and internet providers have also come with collaborating with various content production houses. The acquisition of NBC Universal by Comcast® is one key example that demonstrates this new trend among providers. Charter’s action plan for the creation and airing of original content makes it one among the other providers who have done the same with various production houses. Moreover, this comes amidst the rise of its internet service and a decline of video subscriptions.

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