No doubt Internet access (whether for home or business) is a space ripe for a little disruption. Traditional cable companies approach Internet service with the same “if it ain’t broke…” mentality as telcos, even though many among us would argue it is, in fact, ‘broke.’ They tend to operate with that same opacity and complacency that inspired us to make mobile service more fair, friendly and approachable.
So, yeah, let’s give it a go.
Today, we’re excited to announce that we bought the majority stake in a small, independent Internet service provider (ISP) in Charlottesville, Virginia called Blue Ridge InternetWorks (BRI). Just like that, we’re starting our new mission to bring the things that people love about Ting for mobile to the world of fixed access.
We love Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia, mostly because of all the beautiful things that tend to surround a college campus – entrepreneurship, a strong focus on education at all levels, culture, creativity, philanthropy, activism… just the sort of activities that benefit the most from and contribute the most to the Internet.
We love BRI mostly because they are a smart, small, independent operator doing things differently. In short, BRI and Ting are beautifully aligned: We both believe in a hands-off approach to the Internet at large and a hands-on approach to customer service.
Together, we think we can bring home Internet subscribers in Charlottesville the sort of shockingly human experience and fair, honest pricing that our mobile phone subscribers have appreciated so much these past couple of years (love you guys).
In just a few days, the Army will launch the first of two massive blimps over Maryland, the last gasp of an 18-year-long $2.8-billion Army project intended to use giant airships to defend against cruise missiles.
And while the blimps may never stave off a barrage of enemy missiles, their ability to spot and track cars, trucks and boats hundreds of miles away is raising serious privacy concerns.
The project is called JLENS – or “Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System.” And you couldn’t come up with a better metaphor for wildly inflated defense contracts, a ponderous Pentagon bureaucracy, and the U.S. surveillance leviathan all in one.
Built by the Raytheon Company, the JLENS blimps operate as a pair. One provides omnipresent high-resolution 360-degree radar coverage up to 340 miles in any direction; the other can focus on specific threats and provide targeting information.
Technically considered aerostats, since they are tethered to mooring stations, these lighter-than-air vehicles will hover at a height of 10,000 feet just off Interstate 95, about 45 miles northeast of Washington, D.C., and about 20 miles from Baltimore. That means they can watch what’s happening from North Carolina to Boston, or an area the size of Texas.
Click headline to read more and access hot links--
That AT&T just won an eight-figure contract to provide the federal government’s General Services Administration with new mobile devices isn’t itself particularly notable.
What is: Casey Coleman, an AT&T executive responsible for “delivering IT and professional services to federal government customers,” oversaw the GSA’s information technology division and its $600 million IT budget as recently as January.
Officials both at the GSA and AT&T say all federal rules and regulations limiting former government officials’ interactions with current government employees have been followed during the contract bidding process.
“We won the contract on the merits," AT&T spokesman Jim Greer told the Center for Public Integrity. "GSA has been a customer of ours for decades. As in the past, our work on the [request for proposal] adhered to all GSA and federal guidelines.”
Added GSA spokeswoman Jackeline Stewart: "Casey Coleman was long gone before we received any proposals and had no involvement with the evaluation of the proposals that GSA received ... She had no direct or indirect part or involvement in the procurement or subsequent award. AT&T was awarded the contract through a competitive process.”
While there’s no evidence anything illegal took place, the public still should be aware of, and potentially worried about, Coleman’s spin through the revolving door between government and companies that profit from government, said Michael Smallberg, an investigator at the nonpartisan watchdog group Project on Government Oversight.
The TV industry has already shut down Aereo at the Supreme Court and driven it into bankruptcy, but that’s apparently not enough: now CBS, Fox, NBC and other big broadcasters are asking a judge to block any asset sale that would allow the defunct streaming TV company to reinvent itself as a cloud-DVR service.
According to bankruptcy court filings, the broadcasters believe that an asset sale could deprive them of the ability to collect copyright damages related to Aereo’s services. Aereo allowed consumers to retransmit and record over-the-air TV signals via their mobile devices. The Supreme Court shut down the service this summer after six of the nine Justices concluded that Aereo required a license.
That ruling effectively ended a bid by Aereo’s investors to create an internet-based TV service, and forced the company into bankruptcy. The issue now is whether Aereo can re-emerge from bankruptcy with a new business model that is based just on its remote recording technology. While the Supreme Court ruled that the portion of Aereo’s service that allowed consumers to watch live TV infringed copyright, it declined to rule on whether Aereo’s cloud-based recording service — which operated akin to a VCR — was legal.
As the court filings show, the broadcasters believe a bankruptcy sale would let Aereo escape this question by relaunching as a new corporate operation. Here’s the key passage from a motion filed this week (emphasis mine):
What does a company that rose to prominence selling domain names know about offering gigabit fiber internet access? Well, it at least knows that customers can’t stand Comcast and other huge telecom companies, and are desperate for an alternative.
Today, Tucows Inc., an internet company that's been around since the early 90s—it’s generally known for being in the shareware business, registering and selling premium domain names, and hosting corporate emails accounts—announced that it's becoming an internet service provider.
Tucows plans on becoming an ISP in Charlottesville, Virginia, where it intends to offer ultra high-speed internet. It eventually wants to expand to other markets all over the country.
The company will go head-to-head with two of the country's largest ISPs: Comcast and CenturyLink, both of which have horrendous reviews in Charlottesville.
"At the simplest level, we'll be offering a lot more product for the same price, and a much better customer experience," Elliot Noss, the CEO of Tucows, said in an interview. "We want to become like a mini Google fiber."
Last week, we wrote about how some of the leaked emails from the Sony hack revealed that the MPAA was funding and coordinating various Attorneys General attacks on Google, even over topics that have nothing to do with copyright infringement. In response, Mississippi AG Jim Hood told the Huffington Post that he barely knows anyone at the MPAA, and has no idea who their lawyers are -- and that the MPAA has "no major influence" on what he's working on:
Hood said the MPAA "has no major influence on my decision-making," although he noted that content creators occasionally provide reports and advice to him. "They're just reporting wrongdoing. There's nothing unusual about that," he said. Hood said he has never asked MPAA a legal question, isn't sure which lawyers they employ, and doesn't think he's ever met the organization's general counsel.
Okay. Now keep that above paragraph in mind as you read the latest report from the NY Times, in which reporters Nick Wingfield and Eric Lipton (who just a few months ago had written that big article on questionable lobbying of Attorneys General) dig deeper into the Sony emails concerning the MPAA and AGs Jim Hood and Jon Bruning from Nebraska.
The Times also uses some public records requests to show that the infamous letter that Hood sent to Google was almost entirely written by the MPAA's lawyers. You can see the whole thing at the link, but this thumbnail shows a pretty long letter with the only parts actually written by Hood's office being the intro at the top in green and a few minor word choices. All the rest came from the MPAA's lawyers at Jenner and Block.
Click headline to read more and access the hot link to letter--
Early-stage entrepreneurs can learn how to transform their ideas into a successful business, thanks to a new program in the University at Buffalo School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL).
The Startup CEL program will provide specialized support and guidance to young, innovation-driven companies as they navigate the complex pathway to commercializing their product, service or technology.
Startup CEL will launch this February in partnership with Ignite, the business development program of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) Inc., and UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CBLS).
“At the CEL, we proudly support entrepreneurs as they launch, grow and sustain successful businesses that create jobs and invigorate our regional economy,” says Thomas Ulbrich, assistant dean and executive director of the CEL. “For individuals who are just beginning to take their ideas to market, the Startup CEL program will provide crucial knowledge and strategic insights, as well as a valuable support network of entrepreneurs, to increase their probability for success.”
Using the Disciplined Entrepreneurship framework, the Startup CEL program will offer a comprehensive, integrated and proven step-by-step approach to creating innovative, highly successful products. Participants will learn to understand their customer, focus on key market opportunities, overcome obstacles, scale a business and understand and communicate with potential investors.
The BNMC and Ignite will provide workspace at both the Thomas R. Beecher Jr. Innovation Center and at dig, a co-working space designed to help entrepreneurs form, refine and launch their business ideas. In addition, Ignite will provide mentoring, networking and collaboration opportunities, and help identify potential class participants through its relationship with entrepreneurs working at the Innovation Center, dig and other facilities on the medical campus and in the community.
The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has filed a lawsuit accusing Sprint of illegally billing mobile customers for tens of millions[m] of dollars in unauthorized third-party charges.
Sprint operated a billing system that allowed third parties to cram unauthorized charges on customers’ mobile bills and ignored complaints about the charges, the CFPB alleged in its complaint.
The complaint from the CFPB, an agency established by Congress in 2010 to protect customers of the U.S. financial sector, mirrors complaints made by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and 51 state-level governments against AT&T earlier this year. In October, AT&T agreed to pay US $105 million[m] to settle those complaints of similar unauthorized third-party charges.
As the use of mobile payments grows, the CFPB will hold mobile carriers accountable for “illegal” third-party billing, CFPB Director Richard Cordray[cq] said. “Consumers ended up paying tens of millions of dollars in unauthorized charges, even though many of them had no idea that third parties could even place charges on their bills,” he said in a statement.
Nextel Brasil is set to double its 2015 CAPEX to USD1 billion as it extends its mobile network to around 200 new cities next year, on top of the 497 covered at present.
In order to facilitate its goals, Alfonso de Orbegoso, vice president of legal and regulatory affairs, confirmed that Nextel has inked a five-year network sharing agreement with fellow mobile operator Vivo – a deal which is expected to be initiated before the end of the year.
In addition, Orbegoso told Telesintese that Nextel is still interested in acquiring the vacated 1800MHz frequencies previously held by the now-defunct Unicel in Sao Paulo state.
.Massachusetts has the fastest growing population among northeastern states, according to a report released Tuesday that called that development “striking” and a contributing factor to a growing labor force and optimism about the state’s economic prospects.
The MassBenchmarks report, summarizing the recent sentiments of area economists, attributed the growing population and labor force to international immigration and a “lower level of domestic net outmigration than has been experienced in recent recoveries.”
MassBenchmarks co-editor Michael Goodman, director of the Public Policy Center at UMass Dartmouth, said that compared to previous post-recession periods, fewer people have moved out of Massachusetts. There’s been a simultaneous increase in international immigration.
“It’s definitely been a boost to our growth,” Goodman told the News Service. “It’s certainly a good sign.”
According to the population estimates program at the UMass Donahue Institute, Massachusetts is growing twice as fast as the Northeast region on average, and faster than any other Northeast state, based on data for the year ending July 1, 2013. An institute official said a fresh batch of annual population data is due out later this month.
“While Massachusetts shows a reasonable rate of natural increase compared to other Northeastern states, it’s total positive migration – specifically the large number of international in-migrants offsetting a relatively small number of domestic out-migrants – explains why the state leads the region in growth,” institute officials wrote in a summary of the most recently available population data.
Among other reasons for optimism about the state’s economic track, because experts noted state gross product growth has “kept pace with strong national growth for the past two quarters,” and said consumers have more money and businesses face lower costs of falling oil and gas prices. One MassBenchmarks editorial board member estimated that half a percentage point might be added to the national economic growth rate this year because of lower oil prices.
Massachusetts software, information technology and staffing services sectors are “doing well,” according to MassBenchmarks, while wages are rising “modestly” and the state is getting a lift from the national economic expansion marked by the addition of more than 300,000 jobs in October and upward revisions of job growth in August and September.
UK-based telecoms giant Vodafone Group has announced plans to re-enter the US mobile market through its Vodafone Americas subsidiary, and will operate as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), piggybacking on the network of T-Mobile US.
The new service is expected to launch in late 2015 and will target the company’s more than 400 multinational customers based in the US, as well as another 500 multinationals based outside of the country, but with a ‘strong US presence,’ it said.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, earlier this year Vodafone completed the sale of its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless to Verizon Communications for USD130 billion, ending its long-running partnership with the US mobile market leader. Vodafone gained its stake in Verizon Wireless back in April 2000 following the September 1999 tie-up between UK-based Vodafone Air Touch (now Vodafone Group) and Bell Atlantic Mobile (now Verizon).
Comcast today announced that it has increased Internet speeds for residential customers in Portland, Salt Lake City and Seattle as well as those living in the Denver metro area and Colorado Springs.
Specifically, the company has increased the download speeds of three service tiers: “Performance” now offers speeds up to 50 Mbps, up from 25 Mbps; “Blast” is now 105 Mbps, up from 50 Mbps; and “Extreme 105” has been bumped to 150 Mbps. These improvements come at no additional cost to the customer.
“We want our customers to have a great online experience whether they’re streaming video, posting photos or just checking email,” said Eric Schaefer, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Data and Communications Services, Comcast. “The speed of your Internet service is an important contributing factor to that experience and nationally, we’ve increased our Internet speeds 13 times in the last 12 years. Today, about half of all our customers subscribe to speeds faster than 50 Mbps.”
For most customers, the speed increases will go into effect automatically over the next few days but for those who want more immediate access, they can simply re-start their modem. Comcast will notify those customers who may need to upgrade their hardware to receive the increased speeds. This also will come at no additional cost to customers who lease their modems from Comcast.
The changes impact customers in the Portland, OR, Salt Lake City, UT and Seattle, WA markets as well as those in the Denver metro area and Colorado Springs, CO.
Even though systems such as Hadoop and Spark can grapple with large amounts of data, their tools for analyzing and parsing this information efficiently and in real-time are still limited. A two-year old Seattle startup called SpaceCurve on Tuesday will release a new database system aimed to speed the process of analyzing location-oriented data as it is being generated.
"We're in a position to fuse spatial data that is very complex and difficult to work with," said SpaceCurve CEO Dane Coyer. The software can "continuously ingest high-volume geospatial data" and allow users to query and monitor the information.
About 80 percent of data has some sort of geospatial component, IT analyst firm Gartner estimates. Yet few enterprise software tools are equipped to make the most of this data, Coyer said.
Traditional databases and even newer big data processing systems aren't really optimized to quickly analyze such data, even though most all systems have some geospatial support. And although there are no shortage of geographic information systems, they aren't equipped to handle the immense volumes of sensor data that could be produced by Internet-of-things-style sensor networks, Coyer said.
The SpaceCurve development team developed a set of geometric computational algorithms that simplifies the parsing of geographic data. They also built the core database engine from scratch, and designed it to run across multiple servers in parallel.
As a result, SpaceCurve, unlike big data systems such as Hadoop, can perform queries on real-time streams of data, and do so at a fraction of the cost of in-memory analysis systems such as Oracle's TimesTen, Coyer said.
Shaw will start 2015 off by slapping consumers in the face: the company plans to raise home internet prices by 10% in January, while slashing already mediocre speeds by up to 50%.
“Canadian Internet users everywhere ought to be outraged that Big Telecom giants like Shaw are trying to charge customers more money for slower Internet," says Josh Tabish of OpenMedia, a grassroots pro-Internet organization headquartered in Vancouver.
The news leaked onto Reddit recently and, needless to say, people aren't pleased. "That is about the scummiest thing I've seen a company do to its clients," one user proclaimed.
Early next year, after the 114th Congress begins meeting, a new Washington coalition will move quickly to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-nation trade agreement that will destroy American jobs, restrict individual liberty and burden American taxpayers. Oh, and it will do so without any real debate.
The coalition pushing approval consists of multinational corporations eager to escape the rigors of competition, Republican lawmakers who talk free markets but act as enemies of competition and President Barack Obama, as loyal a friend as Wall Street and multinational corporations have ever had in the White House.
The broad strokes of the proposed agreement show it is not about lowering the few remaining tariffs and trade barriers, with a few exceptions such as easing Japanese protections for domestic farmers so cheap California rice can be sold in Tokyo.
At least the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative does not call it a free trade agreement, because it is anything but. Rather, it is a trade-restriction agreement that protects monopolists, large corporations and various state-owned enterprises from the rigors of competition while diminishing worker rights and gutting environmental rules and food safety inspections.
The agreement would even let foreign companies seek damages if U.S. or state rules threaten their profits. Plaintiff companies would not have to sustain damages to collect damages from American taxpayers. They would only need to show a threat to their profits, leaks from the trade talks have revealed. Under previous trade deals, American taxpayers already have paid $3 billion in damages, with $14 billion in claims still in litigation.
Proponents of Ultra HD/4K are still waiting for the pixel-packed format to deliver the kind of “wow” factor that excites consumers to snap up new, shiny 4K televisions in droves.
Early on, the only wow factor delivered by 4K was the reaction to the price of early TVs themselves.
While 4K delivers more pixels — about four times the resolution of today’s HD — and while the price points have come down, today’s 4K content isn’t demonstrably better than the best content that’s available in 1080p HD, and still leaves something to be desired.
Still, the entire video industry seems now to be in hot pursuit of “better” pixels. The secret sauce of this new and improved 4K recipe is something called High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging.
Following the Ultra HD buzz that enveloped last year’s International CES, HDR is expected to be one of the hot topics at next month’s gadget-fest in Las Vegas, even if much of what will be shown on the floor is of the pre-standard, prototype variety.
Cable operators, programmers, equipment makers and software companies will be fixated on CES’s 4K news. Among major U.S. cable operators, just one — Comcast — has announced plans to launch a 4K offering before year-end. DirecTV, meanwhile, was the first U.S.- based multichannel video programming distributor to introduce a small, on-demand streaming offering that will pave the way for limited live 4K programming sometime next year. Almost all others are expected to follow. Amazon announced its 4K service last week.
NBC is now providing access to live broadcast feeds over the Internet — but only if viewers already subscribe to a cable or satellite TV provider that has a deal with the Comcast-owned programming group, and only if they happen to be in the right part of the U.S.
Initially, NBC’s authenticated 24-hour live-streaming feeds are available via the Peacock’s 10 owned stations, which include those in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas-Fort Worth and the San Francisco Bay Area. NBCU said it is “working with its TV affiliates to offer additional local launches moving forward.”
ABC has launched a similar authenticated service for access to live TV in select markets, on the web and via mobile devices. CBS, meanwhile, this fall introduced a $5.99-per-month subscription service, All Access, that includes livestreaming in 14 U.S. markets.
For NBC, in the present markets, the live TV streams are available to customers of Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network, Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse, Cox Communications, Cablevision Systems’ Optimum TV and others. The livestreams for now are available only on the web; NBC said it expects to launch the service on mobile platforms in early 2015.
The live video feeds include all of NBC’s programming, including local news; “Sunday Night Football”; primetime series like “The Voice” (pictured, above) and “State of Affairs”; and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”
The tall tales of the phone and cable lobby keep crumbling down.
Last week we saw a string of the country’s biggest Internet service providers, including Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner Cable, admit what we’ve said all along: Reclassifying Internet access as a Title II telecom service won’t hurt broadband investment.
For years they’ve been claiming the opposite just to scare the FCC away from using Title II to protect Net Neutrality.
And here’s another thing the cable lobby doesn’t want you to know: Buried deep in the $1.1 trillion spending package Congress just passed is a provision to extend a moratorium on local and state taxes for Internet access. That moratorium is called the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA), and Congress just reauthorized it through October 2015.
For weeks the cable lobby has been telling anyone who will listen that reclassification would sock Internet users with a “whopping” new Internet tax.
They claim that if the FCC reclassifies Internet access — which is the only way to protect the open Internet — steeper bills will follow.
The ITFA renewal in Congress erases any of these concerns, effectively blowing up one more industry talking point against Net Neutrality.
For those keeping count, that means two anti-Net Neutrality arguments fell in just over a week. One wonders what the lobbyists will conjure up next.
Their latest fear campaign started when industry-backed economists from the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) released a report claiming reclassification could result in as much as $15 billion in new taxes.
A co-op out of Winthrop is gaining momentum in their initiative to provide fiber-optic broadband service in rural Minnesota.
The RS Fiber Board in collaboration with Hiawatha Broadband Communications in Winona will provide affordable fiber-optic broadband service in ten communities and 17 townships in Renville, Nicollet and Sibley County.
The service aims to provide faster and more reliable access to television, internet, and phone. With a heavy emphasis on agriculture, tele-medicine, and education.
The groups financial planner, and local business man, Phil Keithahn says, "That's what this does. It levels the playing field for people who live and work in rural America with people who are in the twin cities. So it's an economic development tool for south central Minnesota."
The initiative is expected to serve 1,600 homes and businesses by late 2015 and has the potential to reach more than 6,200 customers by by 2016.
Click headline to read more and watch video news clip--
Suing Arista was always the plan. It appears there was no intention to attempt to negotiate a royalty arrangement with the company after Cisco discovered potential infringement of its patents and copyrighted material.
CEO John Chambers didn’t answer our question last week on whether Cisco did indeed attempt to hammer out a royalty deal with Arista. He said he couldn’t comment on litigation, but that the company was surprised by statements from Arista executives on how they didn’t have to re-invent existing technology in order to achieve its current success in data center switching, among other remarks.
His non-answer was enough to convince us no such alternative was even considered. The bad blood between Arista CEO Jayshree Ullal and Cisco/Insieme marketing VP Soni Jiandani is well known. There may be some resentment between Chambers and Arista Chairman and Chief Development Officer Andreas Bechtolsheim as well; Andy served as vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Gigabit Systems Business Unit, developers of the Catalyst 4500 line, from 1996 to 2003.
Indeed, our belief is that Cisco was ready to file suit against Arista back in June as the company was set to go public. But perhaps due to the bad PR implications of trying to derail the IPO, Cisco delayed its suits until this month, which was no accident.
Cisco's suits came two days after expiration of the 180-day lockup period on Arista, the time in which company insiders are prohibited from selling shares immediately following an IPO. If insiders flood the market with Arista stock it may cause a significant decrease in its value; being sued by Cisco would undoubtedly sink it even deeper.
Argentinian regulatory duo the Secretaria de Comunicaciones (SeCom) and the Comision Nacional de Comunicaciones (CNC) have confirmed that Claro Argentina has paid USD281.49 million for the 3G and 4G-suitable spectrum that it was awarded in the government’s recent frequency auction.
While the licence fees attributed to rival cellcos Telecom Argentina (Personal) and Movistar Argentina have yet to be formally divulged by the authorities, local business site Ambito Financiero has reported that the former will pay USD410.78 million, with the last-named due to pay USD209.14 million.
Movistar opted not to bid for 3G spectrum, while Personal acquired supplementary regional frequencies in the 850MHz band, hence the disparity in licence fees. The spectrum awarded to the fourth and final bidder, media conglomerate Arlink (Grupo Uno), has yet to be confirmed by the regulators.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, winners of the 4G spectrum are required to provide coverage of all localities with more than 500 inhabitants (around 98% of the population) within five years, with the licences valid for a period of 15 years.
American Express today announced the opening of a new technology hub in Palo Alto, expanding its presence in Silicon Valley. The new team being assembled will focus on innovations in big data, cloud computing and mobile infrastructure.
“Technology innovation is driving the company’s ongoing digital transformation, and our team in Silicon Valley is focusing on core capabilities that we expect to be key to our ability to continue to innovate and move our business forward,” said Marc Gordon, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer. “By developing infrastructure and frameworks to be used broadly across the organization, the team in Palo Alto will play a crucial role in our global business growth and future success.”
Chief Technology Officer Nik Sathe, who previously served in executive roles at Google and PayPal, overseeing the development of digital payments capabilities and platforms, will be the senior executive based at the Palo Alto hub.
Over time, American Express expects to employ some 200 individuals in the Palo Alto hub. The company chose the location, in part, to cultivate the technology talent building their skills locally at technology firms, in the start-up community and at area universities.
Chicago-based US Cellular, the United States’ fifth largest mobile network operator by subscribers, has announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Vertical Bridge Holdings to sell 595 towers for approximately USD159 million.
Wells Fargo Securities and TD Securities served as financial advisors to US Cellular on the transaction, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2015.
Alexander L Gellman, CEO of Vertical Bridge, commented: ‘Vertical Bridge is excited to acquire this portfolio of towers in large metropolitan markets. Many of these sites are in locations that would be very difficult to replace.’
Back in 2001, then newly minted Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman (and now top cable industry lobbyist) Michael Powell was asked a question about the digital divide.
He quipped, “I think there is a Mercedes divide. I would like to have one, but I can’t afford one.” The talking point hasn’t changed: Last week I met with a telecom industry investor who is completely unconvinced that there is anything wrong with the state of high-speed Internet access in America. He looked me right in the eye and said, “Sure, I’d like a Ferrari too.”
The staying power of the “it’s like a luxury vehicle” meme in the minds of those who fervently support the status quo got me thinking. It’s the end of the calendar year — the time when our need for summing-up expresses itself in a flowering of lists.
So here’s my list of the Three Great Myths about U.S. Internet access. Go to any meeting on high-speed Internet access policy and you’ll hear these lines.
One of the more dubious Comcast practices brought up by opponents of Comcast's planned $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable is the cable giant's sluggish refusal to support certain internet video services and platforms running over its broadband network.
Case in point is the HBO Go app on Roku, which Comcast hasn't supported since around 2011 or so for no coherent reason. To get the app to work, it needs to simply authenticate with the cable provider to prove you are a cable subscriber (since, at least until next year, there's no HBO Go standalone option).
Much smaller cable companies haven't had a problem in getting this to work, but Comcast, with its limited resources, somehow just can't seem to spend the time. Roku's neutrality filing with the FCC expressed concern that cable authentication systems could be used as yet another way gatekeepers could extract tolls from streaming services.
As we noted when Comcast similarly refused to support HBO Go on the Playstation 3, the company -- when it can be bothered to comment on the issue at all -- usually trots out the excuse that getting this stuff to work is well, gosh -- time consuming: