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24 Oct

Charter® Develops its Wireless Plans and Proposes to Deploy LTE Small Cells

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Deploy LTE Small Cells

Charter® has set forth numerous prospects for the future, especially in its wireless sector. The inside-out strategy proposed by Charter® will begin in 2018 with the WiFi first MVNO through Verizon Communications®. The Telco, which is also one of the major internet providers in US, is also planning to extend and develop their services into a mobile core infrastructure through the deployment of licensed LTE small cells. By this, Charter® intends to further diversify and make its cheap internet and cellular networks more efficient.

Officials stated that, “Charter® is actively testing licensed small cell technologies which will put us on the path to providing next-generation super-fast, high capacity broadband to our customers. We will combine this 4G LTE and 5G technologies with our existing advanced high-speed network to profoundly enhance connectivity for millions of our subscribers.”

Charter® also gave full details of its plans in a recently made filing with the FCC. The filing says, “The wireless component of Charter’s network is transitioning from a nomadic Wi-Fi network to one that supports full mobility by incorporating Wi-Fi with multiple 4G and 5G access technologies to deliver a seamless connectivity experience. In navigating this transition, Charter® is emphasizing an ‘Inside-Out’ strategy, focusing first on wireless solutions inside the home and office, and then eventually expanding outdoors.”

Executives at Charter® have appeal to the FCC to release the 3.5 GHz spectrum for licensed and unlicensed usage. The rules for the band will be discussed by the agency at the open meeting scheduled by the FCC. Charter® has put pressure on the agency to release the spectrum quickly and in implementing rules to limit licenses within a geographical area of a county.

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Seamless Connectivity Experience

According to the filing, “Large license sizes would limit access of the band to the country’s largest wireless carriers and would likely result in deployment only to the most densely populated areas. Smaller license sizes will enable new entrants, like Charter®, to tailor their investment and deployment plans by leveraging existing infrastructure.”

It further states, “In particular, Charter’s existing hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) network provides the backhaul, power, and location to rapidly deploy small cells for the provision of wireless broadband service. By contrast, increasing the geographic licensing size of PALs to PEAs would preclude new entrants such as Charter® from investing in the 3.5 GHz Band due to their large geographic size.”

The efforts by Charter® in advancing its wireless networks will also extend into the core network arena. Charter® is planning to use the Evolved Packet Core of Verizon®, IMS infrastructure, SIM cards, and roaming. However, Charter® is currently assessing various EPC vendors and in the process of carrying out tests in its own virtual EPC to develop its core network.

19 Oct

AT&T’s U-Verse® Service to Become Unavailable on Web Browsers

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U-Verse® Service Unavailable

The concept of live TV has shifted away from the traditional forms of viewing such as on a television set to more advanced platforms like smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Many of the TV and internet providers operating in the country have adjusted accordingly making sure that the contents are catered to and delivered across all mediums and not only on television. AT&T’s DirecTV Now® is one such live streaming service that has made available its service across a range of platforms. In view of this, AT&T U-Verse® will become unavailable through internet browsers from the next month onward.

Due to this, customers will no longer be able to access on-demand programming or stream live content using their internet browsers. An AT&T U-Verse® statement said, “In an effort to focus our U-Verse® streaming application development on core platforms, we will no longer support U-Verse® streaming via uverse.com effective October 31, 2017. We encourage our U-Verse® customers to take advantage of the other streaming applications available to them, including via the iOS and Android platforms.”

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Streaming Application Development

AT&T U-Verse® has set forth this new move because of its decreasing investment in its legacy cable TV service. Besides, this service is also diverting many of its customers into another prominent streaming service owned by the Telco, DirecTV®. Last year the number of U-Verse® connections lost by AT&T® amount to approximately 1.4 million. Moreover, the streaming service has also lost a significant part of its customer base amounting to 428,000 connections in the first quarter of this year.

Customers who have left their U-Verse® connections have already subscribed to other AT&T® services like DirecTV® and DirecTV Now®. At the second quarter of the year, AT&T® had a TV subscriber base of about 25.2 million. Recently, the Telco has declared in a SEC filing that during the third quarter it has lost around 90,000 of its video subscribers. Due to this large drop out of subscribers, AT&T® has minimized the investments to keep up the streaming service particularly U-Verse®.

Previously, AT&T® considered shelving the U-Verse® service entirely. The Telco simply intends to focus its resources on many of its streaming services that are most popular amongst its subscriber base. It is not the first time that AT&T® decided to roll back the U-Verse® service. The Telco had rolled back the U-Verse® branded internet and phone service to improve its other services such as the AT&T® Internet and AT&T® Phone.

18 Oct

Charter® and Viacom® Finally Sign a New Agreement

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Charter®-Viacom® Agreement

In a recent announcement, the officials from Charter Communications® and Viacom Inc® confirmed that they have finally reached “an agreement in principle”. The new deal between both the parties will ensure that the cable networks of Viacom® will continue to air on the cable service of Charter Spectrum®.

The authorities from Viacom Inc® had earlier warned Charter® subscribers that they would lose access to Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV, and other networks, if Charter® failed to sign a new deal. Fortunately, Charter® has managed to pull off a new deal before these popular networks were removed from their channel lineup.

In a joint statement, the officials from both the companies stated, “Viacom® and Charter® have reached an agreement in principle. Spectrum® subscribers will continue to have access to Viacom’s networks, without disruption, while we finalize terms.”

Reports from several reliable sources claim that the previous contract between Viacom Inc® and Charter® expired on last Sunday but both the companies refused to share any insight on the expiry date of the previous contract. However, it is true that both of them has agreed to a short-term extension of the contract, which means that customers will not have to worry about losing access to these channels.

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Short-Term Contract Extension

Viacom® had earlier stated that they were not asking the telecom company to pay greater fees for their individual channels instead they only wanted Charter® to carry all their 23 TV channels as a part of their new Spectrum® TV service. The telecom giant has shown their reluctance to carry all the channels of Viacom® and we still don’t know how many Viacom® channels have Charter® agreed to carry in the recently signed agreement.

Some of the channels of Viacom® are not as popular as they once were and it has put them on a tough spot. However, Viacom® network shows such as “The Comedy Get Down”, “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah”, “South Park”, “Paw Patrol”, and “SpongeBob SquarePants”, continue to draw a large number of audiences even now. Consequently, audiences were frustrated when they heard that Viacom® would be pulling their channels from the TV service of Charter®.

One of the TV subscribers of Charter®, Mark Hull, posted a comment on the official Facebook page of Charter Spectrum®, in which he wrote “Negotiate for the channels, because if not, I’ll be putting your equipment in a trash bag on my front porch, and you can come get it before it rains next.”

11 Oct

Audience Network Renews “Mr. Mercedes” For Another Season

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Mr. Mercedes Season 2 Renewed

It seems that Hollywood movies and TV shows will stick with the trend of adapting the famous works of Stephen King, as the Audience Network of AT&T® recently announced that they would be airing the second season of the critically acclaimed TV show, “Mr. Mercedes” by the end of 2018.

Reports from reliable sources indicate that the director Jack Bender, writer David E Kelley, and the lead actor Brendan Gleeson, will all be returning for the second season of the TV show. Sonar Entertainment is producing the TV series and the production for the second season will most likely begin by the start of 2018.

The second season, which will be roughly based on the Bill Hodges Trilogy of Stephen King, will have a total of 10 episodes. The Bill Hodges Trilogy includes some of the best and most popular works of King such as “End of Watch,” “Finders Keepers,” and “Mr. Mercedes.” The SVP of Audience Network, Christopher Long clarified that the huge success of the first season of the TV show is one of the major reasons why it was renewed for another season.

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Top Rated TV Shows

In a recent statement, Christopher Long said, “We’re thrilled that the first installment of Mr. Mercedes resonated with such a wide audience. David E. Kelley, Jack Bender, Dennis Lehane, and Sonar did a masterful job crafting a series that honored the original work by Stephen King. We’re excited to have the opportunity to create a second season with this incredible team.”

The director of “Mr. Mercedes”, Jack Bender said, “Mr. Mercedes is Stephen King writing about the monsters inside his characters rather than outside. We were extremely fortunate to attract an amazing cast, led by Brendan Gleeson and Harry Treadaway, to bring these flawed, complex colorful characters to life. With Sonar and AT&T®, along with great scripts and our talented team in Charleston, I am thrilled to keep telling this story.”

The first season of “Mr. Mercedes” was highly greeted by both critics and viewers and the TV shows currently holds an approval of 85 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. One of the highlighting factors that made “Mr. Mercedes” a critically acclaimed show is the stellar cast behind it. In addition to Brendan Gleeson, the other cast members of the show are Harry Treadaway, Mary-Louise Parker, Holland Taylor, and Scott Lawrence.

05 Oct

Level 3 Communications® And CenturyLink® Deal Gets Approved By Department Of Justice

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Level 3 Communications® Deal

The much anticipated and discussed merger between Level 3 Communications® and CenturyLink® recently got the regulatory approval from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) under certain conditions that include court approval for some of the provisions.

The pending merger is still awaiting regulatory approval from the California Public Utilities Commission and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) together with many customary closing conditions. It is expected that the deal will be closed in the third quarter of 2017, if approved by regulatory agencies.

Conditions to Grant Approval

The combined entity formed after the merger plans to divest some dark fiber assets and metro network assets of Level 3 Communications®, as per the decisions. These divestitures will not be affecting the operating cash flow and pro forma revenue of the combined entity. Level 3 Communications® is one of the biggest internet providers in the world and leading fiber optic internet provider of the country.

As per the statute, the combined business will have to divest the metro network assets of Level 3 Communications® to three metro areas Tucson, AZ, Albuquerque, NM, and Boise, ID. The combined business will continue serving all the current customers of Level 3 Communications®, unless they opt to be served by the buyer of the assets.

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Growing Bandwidth Requirements

CenturyLink® will be retaining all their existing business operations and networks in the metro areas. They will continue offering a full suite of data and telecommunication services to business and residential users. As per the clause, the combines business will be divesting 24 strands of dark fiber and this will connect thirty specified pairs of city across the nation. These fibers are not being used for commercial purpose presently. Therefore, the divestiture will not affect any of the current services or customers.

The Deal

Twenty-four states and territories already approved the merger that was announced on November 2016. The combined business made after the merger will provide the users a more complementary range of solutions and services to offer the advanced technology to meet the growing bandwidth requirements of consumer, business, and government users.

Telecom experts say that the completion of the merger will increase the network of CenturyLink® by 200,000 route miles of fiber. This includes 64,000 route miles in the 350 metro areas of the country and 33,000 subsea route miles that connect multiple continents. The on-net buildings of CenturyLink® are expected to increase about 75% to reach 75,000, which include 10,000 buildings in Middle East, Europe, Africa, and Latin America.

04 Oct

AT&T® Unveils Fixed Wireless Internet In 9 New US States

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Fixed Wireless Internet

One of the best internet providers in America, AT&T® has recently unveiled their Fixed Wireless Internet service in 9 new states. Reports say that the best internet provider has now rolled out Fixed Wireless Internet in over 16000 un-served homes in the US.

If you look at the rollout state-wise, the Telco has unveiled the Fixed Wireless Internet service in 18 states. The states including Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Louisiana Mississippi, got the service earlier this year, whereas the recent ones to be added in the list include Arkansas, California, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Kansas, and Texas.

The AT&T® Fixed Wireless Internet service is also accessible to un-served small business as well in the said American states. “The new Fixed Wireless Service from AT&T® is an innovative initiative to reach and connect more businesses and individuals across local rural communities,” said James White the State Representative of Texas. “AT&T’s focus on serving underserved rural communities is great news for businesses, families, and individuals who rely on a strong connection at home, at work and at play.”

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Serving Underserved Rural Communities

“The more than 35000 men and women who work for AT&T® and call Texas home, are proud to work with our local, state and federal leadership to provide the connectivity that Texas’s residents and businesses demand,” said Dave Nichols, who handles “regulatory, legislative, governmental and external affairs activities in Texas” since 2010.

AT&T® has promised to roll out the Fixed Wireless Internet service in 400,000 locations by the year-end, and over 1.1 million locations by the year 2020. The rollout begun earlier this year as part of a commitment from AT&T® made to the FCC’s Connect America Fund. The Telco has promised to deliver the best internet service with download speeds of around 10 Mbps minimum and 1 Mbps upload speeds to un-served homes and business alike.

“Closing the connectivity gap is a top priority for us,” said VP Cheryl Choy wired voice and internet products at AT&T®. “Access to fast and reliable internet is a game changer in today’s world. This service will bring countless opportunities for more customers in underserved rural locations.”

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.”

25 Sep

Comcast® Acquires IoT Tech Startup Stringify

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Comcast® Acquires Stringify

Comcast® recently announced that they have acquired the Internet of Things startup Stringify. The Telco intends to leverage the technology developed by this startup firm for using in its Xfinity Home® services and products as well as in its best internet packages. Previously, Stringify aided Comcast® in developing and setting up of its xFi cloud-based home Wi-Fi management platform, which was rolled out earlier this year.

Stringify announced the acquisition on its recent blog post., stating about carrying out numerous update in its service to make it ready for use by Comcast®. “Our team joins the fast-growing engineering group at Comcast® that develops the technologies behind Xfinity Home® and xFi, Comcast’s new and personalized Wi-Fi experience that provides customers unique control of their home networks,” the blog post reads.

Stringify was founded in 2014 and offered cloud-based automation service for the Internet of Things platform. Besides, it has also taken part in the development of apps for both Android and iOS platforms.

Stringify has collaborated with about 500 products and services notably Nest, Amazon Alexa, Netgear, etc. Stringify explained in their blog post that, “Comcast® is a perfect fit for Stringify. With xFi and Xfinity Home®, Comcast® is delivering elegant, powerful IoT and automation experiences to millions of customers. The Comcast® team shares our passion for using technology to solve real-world problems, and to connect the world in meaningful ways.”

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Home Wi-Fi Management Platform

Comcast® has not yet released the financial aspects relating to the purchase of Stringify. The Telco has remained secretive in many of its recent acquisitions particularly in the areas of home automation and security. They recently revealed that the five-year-old division now has a customer base of one million. Comcast® even made several investments in many of its major platforms, particularly xFi. It has made a significant investment in Plume recently, which amounts to about $37.5 million.

Plume is a startup assisting Comcast® in developing its xFi network. It has developed an array of Wi-Fi pods that functions together with broadband gateways in order to extend the wireless signal range inside residential spaces. Moreover, Comcast® has also recently acquired iControl Networks. This new deal has provided them the means to license its home automation systems to other internet providers in the country such as Cox Communications®, Rogers Communications, and numerous cable operators.

22 Sep

Internet Providers May Fall Under FTC Jurisdiction

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Ninth Circuit Court Of Appeals

Recently, the judges in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals questioned lawyers of AT&T® and Federal Trade Communications (FTC) regarding whether FTC has the right to prosecute the Telco for “allegedly throttling the subscribers with unlimited wireless data” without sending due notice. AT&T® told the judges the lawsuit is invalid and that FTC cannot enforce a fine since the Telco does not fall under the jurisdiction of FTC.

FTC has appealed a ruling in favor of AT&T® by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last year, and a year on, the lawsuits still remains wide open. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is yet to give a ruling on the present lawsuit as yet. Similar lawsuits have occurred before between AT&T® and FTC.

In 2014, for instance, FTC alleged the Telco had throttled download speed when the subscribers exceeded monthly data caps by 3 to 5 GB. AT&T® dismissed the lawsuit stating that FTC has no authority to prosecute “common carriers”. In fact, Federal Communications Commission’s Net Neutrality rules classify internet providers as “common carriers,” something which FTC failed to dismiss in 2014. As a lawsuit settlement, FTC refunded more than 2.7 million AT&T® subscribers in 2016.

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Net Neutrality Rule

Joel Marcus, Deputy General Counsel for Litigation, and acting lawyer of FTC has said that FTC’s interest in the lawsuit with AT&T® strictly applies to data security. “At this point, the FTC is the only game in town in data security,” Marcus said. “But even beyond that you have the problem of the common carrier who sells dietary supplements or used cars or any of the other things the FTC ordinarily gets involved in.”

Marcus also pointed out that it was not the case until earlier this year, when President Donald Trump overhauled the Net Neutrality rule, which FCC passed in 2015. The Net Neutrality rule was enforced under the Obama Administration to correct the loopholes in privacy and data security that existed due to FTC’s “common carrier” exemption.

However, the judges say that the Republican Senate is now working on reversing the 2015 Net Neutrality rules. The reversal may reclassify internet providers as “common carriers”, and if passed, the changes will put some of the best internet providers namely AT&T®, Verizon®, Comcast®, Charter Communications®, and Cox® under the jurisdiction of FTC.

21 Sep

CenturyLink® Rolls Out New Business Wi-Fi For Small And Medium Businesses

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Cisco® Meraki Wireless Technology

CenturyLink® has introduced its new Wi-Fi offering for businesses known as Business Wi-Fi. This is a bundled offering provided by CenturyLink® allowing businesses with about 250 employees to make use of advanced network features including the Cisco® Meraki wireless technology. These new technologies will immensely benefit businesses in providing an enhanced customer experience as well in developing their businesses. The CenturyLink® Business Wi-Fi has numerous features such as the inclusion of real-time monitoring and analytics.

This will provide the businesses with a more secure, manageable Wi-Fi solution that also gives improved connectivity to the customers. As per Vernon Irvin, who is the senior vice president at CenturyLink®, “This solution provides an economical option for businesses with limited IT resources to harness the power of their Wi-Fi networks to more effectively engage with their customers and employees. We remain committed to empowering small and medium-size businesses by helping them securely connect to the power of the digital world.”

CenturyLink® Business Wi-Fi offers enterprise-grade Wi-Fi that is quick to deploy alongside easy management features. Besides, the network visibility is far enhanced allowing network users to access them using single internet providers. Cisco® Meraki access points and software licenses, 24/7 operational support, as well as access to Cisco’s cloud dashboard are some of the other notable features provided by CenturyLink®.

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Real-Time Monitoring And Analytics

The dashboard allows customers in viewing their designated networks, setting up SSID authentication, prioritizing selected applications, making changes to the password, and demarcating guest traffic from secure traffic. It will also allow them to monitor wireless health and connectivity features, utilize location-based analytics, etc. By using this analytics, businesses are provided with numerous insights into their services that can be used to maximizing the value delivered to the customers.

Todd Nightingale, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco® Meraki said, “At Cisco® Meraki, our mission is to deliver technology that is easy to deploy and manage. And nowhere is IT simplicity more important than with smaller businesses. By teaming with CenturyLink®, we’re removing complexity for small businesses and allowing them to focus on running their business.”

This new service is also available to the Alliance® program partners. CenturyLink’s new service reflects its dedication in providing services for small and mid-sized businesses. Previously, CenturyLink® introduced its Business VoIP feature for small business customers that offer premium home phone services for a monthly rate. It has also collaborated with Cisco® Meraki in providing a managed enterprise solution for single and multi-site customers.

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