‘Dig Once’ Broadband Legislation Generates Bipartisan Support

“Dig Once” legislation — whereby construction workers would install plastic pipes any time they build or upgrade roads and sidewalks — is gaining momentum. The idea is that, although the plastic pipes that can house fiber cables may be empty when installed, they make it easier and cheaper to add at a later date. Good news is that the proposal has bipartisan support, having been proposed since 2009 by California Democrat congresswoman Anna Eshoo and now supported by Tennessee Republican representative Marsha Blackburn. Continue reading ‘Dig Once’ Broadband Legislation Generates Bipartisan Support

Hulu TV Service Will Likely Offer Simultaneous Streams, Alerts

Hulu’s upcoming live TV service will compete for cord cutters with offerings such as Dish’s Sling TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now, Sony’s PlayStation Vue and YouTube TV. While details of the new service have been limited, the company’s marketing site (where it’s currently taking sign-up requests) has teased a few tidbits. The service will likely offer a combination of Hulu’s on-demand content with the option of live TV for a monthly fee below $40. It will also feature a DVR option; a new interface with user profiles, guest profiles, and recommendations; the ability to pause a live TV show for later viewing; real-time custom alerts for events and programs; and support for multiple, simultaneous streams on live TV. Continue reading Hulu TV Service Will Likely Offer Simultaneous Streams, Alerts

FCC: Pai Halts Privacy Rules, Foreshadowing Broader Repeal

After a 2-to-1 vote, the FCC put a halt to a portion of the privacy rules passed in October. New FCC chair Ajit Pai said those rules required high-speed Internet providers, such as AT&T and Comcast, to secure their customers’ data against hacking and other unauthorized uses. This stay of new government rules may be a foreshadowing of a broader repeal of privacy protections, believe some experts. In line with that, Pai also stated that the Federal Trade Commission, not the FCC, should “oversee broadband and Internet industries.” Continue reading FCC: Pai Halts Privacy Rules, Foreshadowing Broader Repeal

YouTube Plans to Launch Internet TV Service for $35 a Month

YouTube announced yesterday that it plans to launch a new subscription Internet TV service in the next few months. As the latest entry in the growing collection of skinny bundle offerings that target cord cutters and cord nevers, YouTube TV will offer more than 40 broadcast and cable television channels for $35 per month. Google’s YouTube is hoping the timing may be right for such a service; there are an estimated 10 million homes that currently subscribe to a broadband service, but not television. Continue reading YouTube Plans to Launch Internet TV Service for $35 a Month

SoftBank Reportedly Ready to Sell Sprint to Deutsche Telekom

When the U.S. spectrum auction ends in April, Japan’s SoftBank Group plans to approach Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile US about taking over Sprint, for a merger of the two wireless carriers. Until then, SoftBank is restricted by FCC anti-collusion rules preventing discussions between competitors. SoftBank ran into U.S. antitrust regulations two-and-a-half years ago when it was forced to stop negotiations to acquire T-Mobile for Sprint, a deal that would have put SoftBank in control with Deutsche Telekom a minority shareholder. Continue reading SoftBank Reportedly Ready to Sell Sprint to Deutsche Telekom

FCC Wireless Spectrum Auction Bidding Closes at $19.6 Billion

The FCC’s wireless spectrum auction has concluded, generating $19.6 billion in total bids, less than many analysts’ expectations but still “an amazing success,” according to former FCC chair Julius Genachowski, who said the auction will lead to additional investment and innovation. AT&T, Comcast, Dish Network, T-Mobile and Verizon were among the 62 bidders who made upfront payments last year. More than $10 billion of the money raised will go to broadcasters that opted to relinquish spectrum rights, more than $6 billion to the federal deficit, and up to $1.75 billion to broadcaster costs for changing channels. Continue reading FCC Wireless Spectrum Auction Bidding Closes at $19.6 Billion

HBO Now Service Has More Than 2 Million Subscribers in U.S.

During a conference call yesterday with analysts detailing HBO’s strong 2016 earnings, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes announced that the cable network’s standalone streaming service HBO Now, which launched in April 2015, has officially surpassed the 2 million domestic subscriber mark. “Wall Street has been keenly attuned to the pace of subscriber growth for HBO Now as a bellwether of how major media giants will evolve their businesses in the digital era,” reports Variety. The service is vital to Time Warner since “HBO is in the midst of carriage renewal deals with major MVPDs, including the two largest cable operators, Comcast and Charter Communications.” Time Warner is also looking to merge with AT&T, parent of DirecTV. Continue reading HBO Now Service Has More Than 2 Million Subscribers in U.S.

Waymo Shifts Gears to Become a Supplier, GM Releases SDK

Alphabet has recalibrated its strategy with autonomous vehicle division Waymo. After spinning it off into a separate company, Alphabet is now focusing on Waymo’s ability to provide a complete hardware/software technological platform to manufacturers making self-driving cars. This new goal is in line with company CFO Ruth Porat’s directive that its moonshot initiatives actually meet specific financial targets. By doing so, Waymo becomes a direct competitor with companies such as Mobileye and Delphi. Continue reading Waymo Shifts Gears to Become a Supplier, GM Releases SDK

Media Industry Opts to Pull the Plug on Copyright Alert System

Internet service providers, Hollywood studios and record labels have opted not to extend their pact to combat peer-to-peer piracy via the voluntary program that involved issuing “copyright alerts” to offenders. The voluntary program was launched in 2013 as a means of fighting piracy without calling for congressional legislation. Internet users who accessed pirated P2P content were issued warnings, and “six-strike” repeat offenders faced penalties such as the slowing of their Internet delivery. In the end, however, the system was not equipped to deal with hardcore repeat infringers. Continue reading Media Industry Opts to Pull the Plug on Copyright Alert System

Trump Promotes Net Neutrality Opponent Ajit Pai to FCC Chair

President Trump has named Ajit Pai as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. He will replace Tom Wheeler, who stepped down on Friday. Pai, appointed as an FCC commissioner in 2012 by President Obama, has opposed many of the Commission’s recent initiatives, such as regulating cable mergers, introducing consumer privacy protection, and establishing net neutrality. In a December letter to the leaders of CTIA, NTCA, WISPA, the American Cable Association and Competitive Carriers Association, Pai and fellow commissioner Michael O’Rielly wrote of net neutrality’s “disproportionate impact … on smaller sized broadband providers,” promising to “revisit … the Title II Net Neutrality proceeding … as soon as possible.” Continue reading Trump Promotes Net Neutrality Opponent Ajit Pai to FCC Chair

DirecTV Now Experiences Rocky Start During its Initial Launch

Since AT&T launched DirecTV Now on November 30, the streaming service has experienced its share of difficulties, including missing features, billing issues and interruptions. The streaming service, developed as a replacement for cable/satellite, offers access to about 60 channels for $35/month and about 120 channels for $70/month. The service competes in the same arena as Sling TV and PlayStation Vue. AT&T acknowledges the problems faced during the launch, but chief technology officer Enrique Rodriguez states that most issues have been addressed. Continue reading DirecTV Now Experiences Rocky Start During its Initial Launch

Anime Strike: Amazon’s First Branded Subscription Channel

Amazon is launching Anime Strike, its first on-demand subscription service for Amazon Channels, available in the U.S. to Prime members for $4.99/month. The channel will offer more than 1,000 ad-free series episodes and movies, including same-day-broadcasts from Japanese series including “Scum’s Wish” (“Kuzu no Honkai”) and “Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga” (“Ao No Exorcist: Kyoto Fujouou-hen”). Also featured will be older anime titles including “Paprika,” “Tokyo Godfathers” and “Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS.” Continue reading Anime Strike: Amazon’s First Branded Subscription Channel

FCC TV Airwaves Auction Reaps Disappointing $18.2 Billion

The Federal Communications Commission’s auction of TV airwaves, nearing its end, has brought in about $18.2 billion in bids. That figure is far less than the last sale of government licenses, due, say analysts, to a lack of interest in low-frequency television airwaves. The spectrum auction enabled TV stations to sell their airwaves, which would be repurposed for use by the mobile industry. But potential buyers are apparently more interested in airwaves that “can carry more data over short distances.” Continue reading FCC TV Airwaves Auction Reaps Disappointing $18.2 Billion

Mossberg Questions the Direction of Streaming TV Services

Streaming TV is now mainstream, with even cable and satellite subscribers paying for services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime. Television networks also make their fare available for streaming via apps or smart TVs. But the typical streaming service model — whereby the subscriber doesn’t pay for a fat bundle of disparate channels and a DVR — is changing. Dish Network’s Sling TV and AT&T’s DirecTV Now, nominally streaming services, offer bundles of TV networks delivered in a linear fashion, just like cable or satellite. Journalist/author Walt Mossberg is concerned by the change.  Continue reading Mossberg Questions the Direction of Streaming TV Services

AT&T Unveils Atticus Chatbot to Answer Questions About TV

AT&T just unveiled its new Facebook Messenger chatbot, dubbed Atticus, that’s full of interesting trivia about a range of broadcast television programs, including “Modern Family,” “How to Get Away with Murder,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “American Horror Story,” “Pretty Little Liars,” and “The Office.” Described by AT&T as a “goofball,” Atticus has been known to say, “If the Dunphy family is looking for another kid, I’d be happy to join them. I’d be no trouble. Especially since I don’t physically exist. We’d be a real ‘Modern Family’.” Continue reading AT&T Unveils Atticus Chatbot to Answer Questions About TV

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