FCC Allows LTE-U Devices to Share Airwaves Used for Wi-Fi

The Federal Communications Commission will now allow new 4G LTE wireless devices (known as LTE-U, for unlicensed) to use a portion of unlicensed 5Ghz airwaves currently used for Wi-Fi. With this decision, wireless providers can now deliver mobile broadband service, sharing the airwaves with Wi-Fi, says new FCC chair Ajit Pai, who made the ruling as a way of ending the dispute between the two industries. In the wake of this decision, Verizon Communications and T-Mobile US announced they will launch LTE-U networks and devices in the spring. Continue reading FCC Allows LTE-U Devices to Share Airwaves Used for Wi-Fi

Vizio Settles FTC, New Jersey Lawsuit Against Data Collection

Vizio just agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission and the New Jersey Attorney General. The lawsuit accused the smart TV manufacturer of using its TVs to track what its owners watched — without their knowledge or consent — and then selling that information to marketing firms. According to the FTC, Vizio began gathering such data in 2014, and even retrofitted smart TVs sold as early as 2010 via a software update, for a total of 11 million TVs. Continue reading Vizio Settles FTC, New Jersey Lawsuit Against Data Collection

Super Bowl 2017: Still an OTA Event, With Uptick in Streaming

Although streaming video has become increasingly popular, the Super Bowl still draws most fans to an over-the-air broadcast. That’s been true in the past and is still true for 2017, for what is expected to be the biggest TV event of 2017. Despite streaming options for the Super Bowl, on February 5, only 16 percent of U.S. viewers will watch the New England Patriots play the Atlanta Falcons this way, according to a survey commissioned by advertising company MGID. Those fans that wish to stream the game can access it through Fox Sports. Continue reading Super Bowl 2017: Still an OTA Event, With Uptick in Streaming

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

CES: Advances in OLED, 4K, HDR TVs and Streaming Options

Television displays are must-see products at CES. Last year saw LG’s 98-inch 8K display and that company’s prototype 18-inch rollable display among other highlights. This year, expect to see more manufacturers unveiling what was shown last year — 4K and 8K, HDR and OLED — in more varied and mature versions. But the biggest, brightest TV displays don’t matter a whit for an entire generation that’s happy with a few streaming video services and a laptop. They too will have more choices at CES 2017. Continue reading CES: Advances in OLED, 4K, HDR TVs and Streaming Options

Departure of FCC’s Tom Wheeler Could Impact Net Neutrality

The FCC announced that Tom Wheeler will resign his chair position on January 20. The Obama appointee led the agency for the last three years. It is customary for the chairperson to resign when there is a new administration. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel’s nomination for another term was also impacted last week by the Senate’s decision not to vote prior to adjourning for the year. Rosenworcel is expected to step down by the end of December. President-elect Donald Trump will have two FCC seats to fill, one from each major party. Meanwhile, the departures leave the agency with two Republican commissioners and one Democratic commissioner. Continue reading Departure of FCC’s Tom Wheeler Could Impact Net Neutrality

ABC, ESPN, Fox News to Join Hulu’s Live Streaming Service

Hulu announced it has signed deals with 21st Century Fox and Disney to include the media giants’ broadcast and cable channels in Hulu’s planned live streaming service, expected to launch in early 2017. ABC, ESPN and Fox News will join channels including CNN, TBS and TNT, following an earlier deal with Time Warner. All three companies are part owners of Hulu. The fourth owner, Comcast, has not yet reached an agreement for channels under the NBCUniversal banner. According to The New York Times, “Hulu’s live offering will be the latest cheaper and slimmer television package at a time when more people are canceling traditional — and more expensive — cable subscriptions.” Continue reading ABC, ESPN, Fox News to Join Hulu’s Live Streaming Service

AT&T to Purchase Media Giant Time Warner for $85.4 Billion

Over the weekend, AT&T announced it has agreed to acquire Time Warner for $85.4 billion in cash and stock. If the deal passes regulatory hurdles, AT&T would become home to Turner cable networks (such as TBS, CNN and TNT), premium cable channel HBO and the Warner Bros. film and TV studios. The telco, which already owns DirecTV, would also pick up a stake in Hulu. The new business would combine the carrier’s millions of wireless and pay-TV subscribers with Time Warner’s major media entities, enabling AT&T to produce and distribute an array of content across wireless phone, broadband and satellite TV. Continue reading AT&T to Purchase Media Giant Time Warner for $85.4 Billion

Discovery Invests $100 Million in Digital Content Conglomerate

To expand its social media presence, Discovery Communications invested $100 million in Group Nine Media, a new holding company composed of NowThis, The DoDo, Thrillist, Discovery’s digital network Seeker and digital production company SourceFed Studios. In two years, Discovery will be able to buy a controlling stake in Group Nine. German media company Axel Springer will continue to be the second-largest shareholder. NowThis, The DoDo and Thrillist are said to be valued at $400 million, for a total deal value of $550 million. Continue reading Discovery Invests $100 Million in Digital Content Conglomerate

Hardware, Service Recommendations for Today’s Cord Cutters

According to research firm SNL Kagan, cord-cutting started in 2011 when the cable industry lost 744,000 subscribers. Last quarter, cable was down 298,000 subscribers. In response, streaming video services such as Amazon, Hulu and Netflix are ramping up investments in original programming. With a growing array of options for today’s cord cutters, The New York Times offers suggestions based on consumers’ habits. For movie fans, NYT cites Netflix as best service and the Roku Streaming Stick as best hardware. For sports, PlayStation Vue is the recommended service, with Fire TV or Google Chromecast the best hardware — while Roku’s Stick, Netflix and Amazon are recommended for binge watchers. Continue reading Hardware, Service Recommendations for Today’s Cord Cutters

FCC Introduces Amended Version of Consumer Privacy Rules

The Federal Communications Commission has offered new regulations — modeled on the Federal Trade Commission’s Internet-privacy policies — that scale-back some of consumer privacy rules in the first version. Internet providers must still get the consumer’s approval before selling her browsing history or other sensitive information to a third-party, but they are now allowed to market more data. Consumer advocates have given wide approval to the new plan. The FCC will vote on the revised regulations later this month. Continue reading FCC Introduces Amended Version of Consumer Privacy Rules

Google Aims to Deploy Both Wireless and Fiber with Webpass

Google Fiber, an Alphabet company, just asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to expand its current service using the 70/80 Ghz band to connect apartments to high-speed Internet. The technology, which Google Fiber acquired by purchasing San Francisco broadband company Webpass, beams Internet signals to the roofs of apartment buildings, from there connecting individual apartments via cable. Now, Google Fiber wants to roll out this service on a much larger scale. Continue reading Google Aims to Deploy Both Wireless and Fiber with Webpass

FCC, Market Trends Push Move to Unlock Set-Top Box Market

Federal Communications Commission chair Tom Wheeler continues to promote his plan to “unlock” the set-top box marketplace, ending the dominance of cable and satellite TV companies. Opposing the plan are, no surprise, those same cable and satellite companies, including Comcast and AT&T’s DirecTV, which reap profits of $20 billion a year in set-top-box rentals. CBS also opposes the plan, as do other studios that believe regulation will get in the way of quickly making their content available on multiple platforms. Continue reading FCC, Market Trends Push Move to Unlock Set-Top Box Market

AT&T to Roll Out Streaming TV Service Aimed at Cord-Nevers

By the end of 2016, AT&T plans to debut DirecTV Now, a streaming service targeting cord-nevers, the 20 million households with no cable or satellite service. Sources say that AT&T intends DirecTV Now, which will deliver multiple live-feeds via broadband to the home, to become its primary video platform within five years. The platform will offer more than 100 channels and the ability to stream to two devices simultaneously, all without the need for cable or satellite service. AT&T bought DirecTV for $48.5 billion last year. Continue reading AT&T to Roll Out Streaming TV Service Aimed at Cord-Nevers

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