Startup Layer3 Streams 200 HD Channels on Private Network

For the high-end customer, startup Layer3 TV is offering a high-end solution: a wide selection of HDTV networks, delivered over the Internet, and installed by technicians driving all-electric BMW i3s. Unlike other streaming services, such as Hulu and Netflix, which use the public Internet, Layer3 has contracted the use of privately managed networks, a more costly option that provides better, more robust results. Layer3 debuted in Chicago in early September and plans to expand to major markets in the next 18 months. Continue reading Startup Layer3 Streams 200 HD Channels on Private Network

European Commission Pledges Free Internet, Wi-Fi and More

In his “State of the European Union” address, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker spelled out a list of proposals. Internet access will be established as a universal service, obsoleting old universal services such as pay phones. Free Wi-Fi will be provided in the next four years for every EU city, town and village, and the Commission suggests a target date of 2025 for all EU households to have download speeds of at least 100Mbps, and full deployment of 5G mobile communications systems. Continue reading European Commission Pledges Free Internet, Wi-Fi and More

EU to Propose Stricter Regulations Impacting Digital Services

The European Union has unveiled proposed regulations designed to help protect its consumers. The goal is to create a single market out of Europe’s many regions, enabling its 500 million consumers to access the same services. But the EU proposals also create stricter demands for privacy and against copyright infringement, including reforms that would hold streaming services responsible for instituting better anti-piracy methods. From the perspective of Silicon Valley and much of Hollywood, the EU’s efforts are a form of protectionism. Continue reading EU to Propose Stricter Regulations Impacting Digital Services

Stream-Ripping, the New Music Piracy, Becoming Problematic

The recording industry is concerned about a burgeoning trend: stream-ripping. Numerous mobile apps and sites now allow users to download MP3 files from songs on YouTube, thus circumventing both advertising and paid streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. The music industry has had reasonable success in fighting the kind of peer-to-peer file sharing that hurt CD sales, but this new kind of piracy is proving much harder to combat because it sources legitimate streaming services. Continue reading Stream-Ripping, the New Music Piracy, Becoming Problematic

EU’s Highest Court Rules For-Profit Links Infringe Copyrights

The Court of Justice of the European Union, the EU’s highest court, has narrowed an April decision by the court’s advocate-general that determined that links to copyrighted material shouldn’t be considered a breach. Now the CJEU has specified a distinction: anyone profiting from posting a copyrighted link is responsible for researching whether the linked material is copyright protected, and any such link is considered an infringement if approval has not been secured from the rights holder. Continue reading EU’s Highest Court Rules For-Profit Links Infringe Copyrights

Intel Acquires Movidius, Plans Next Wave of RealSense Tech

Intel announced it is acquiring Movidius, the Irish computer vision company that builds processors for drones, robots, VR systems and more. Movidius was an early partner with Google and was responsible for Project Tango’s 3D sensor technology. Intel is planning to move beyond PCs; the Movidius deal is expected to help it expand its artificial intelligence portfolio and build upon its RealSense platform. According to Intel, with Movidius the company “gains low-power, high-performance SoC platforms for accelerating computer vision applications.” Continue reading Intel Acquires Movidius, Plans Next Wave of RealSense Tech

FCC Chair Pushes Compromise Plan to Open Set-Top Boxes

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler hasn’t given up on his goal to open up the TV set-top box market, thus breaking the cable industry’s dominance in this arena. Sources say he is preparing a “compromise version” of his proposal by which cable companies would be required to make their feeds available, via apps, to competitive device manufacturers. In today’s market, the set-top box, which once simply translated cable signals for TV sets, can now be used to offer access to cable TV and video-streaming services such as Hulu or Netflix. Continue reading FCC Chair Pushes Compromise Plan to Open Set-Top Boxes

Netflix Video Codec Study Finds x265 More Efficient Than VP9

After comparing 5,000 streaming clips from 500 titles using x264, x265, and libvpx codecs, Netflix found x265’s implementation of HEVC to be the most efficient while offering the highest quality. However, “whether that matters in light of compatibility and licensing issues isn’t so obvious,” notes Streaming Media. The study, which focused on VOD rather than live, compared codecs and not specifications (instead of comparing encoding specs, Netflix compared implementation of the specs). “Netflix’s tests clearly show that x265 is 20 percent more efficient than libvpx when encoding premium content using the most stringent settings, and measuring quality with VMAF.” Continue reading Netflix Video Codec Study Finds x265 More Efficient Than VP9

Plex Media Player System Adds DVR Feature for Broadcast TV

Client-server media player system Plex has debuted beta DVR functionality, enabling users to record broadcast TV programs and stream them to other devices. Recorded content can be watched on TV/mobile devices with Plex apps for Apple TV, Android, iOS, Roku, Chromecast, game consoles and many smart TVs. For now, scheduling shows is only available via Plex’s Web interface. The DVR feature also requires the use of a networked TV tuner to access broadcast TV signals; Plex has partnered first with tuner maker SiliconDust. Continue reading Plex Media Player System Adds DVR Feature for Broadcast TV

LG Expands Smart Home Strategy with New IoT Partnerships

At IFA 2016 in Berlin, LG is demonstrating smart home technology and its expanding IoT ecosystem with new partnerships and collaborations. In addition to connected smart refrigerators featuring sensors, touchscreens and cameras — as well as a host of new IoT accessories such as light bulbs and motion sensors — LG has announced that its SmartThinQ Hub now includes support for Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa. “To chat with Alexa, you’ll have to press a button on the LG hub, whereupon you’ll be able to ask Alexa to amend your schedule, play your favorite song, or check the forecast,” reports Digital Trends. “You’ll also be able to command Alexa via a remote.” Continue reading LG Expands Smart Home Strategy with New IoT Partnerships

Rocket Explosion is a Setback for Facebook’s Internet Program

A Falcon 9 rocket designed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX exploded during a prelaunch test at Cape Canaveral yesterday, destroying a satellite and its payload that was scheduled to launch into orbit on Saturday. The accident marks a setback for Facebook’s effort to bring Internet access to the world. The satellite was a joint venture between the social giant and France’s Eutelsat Communications, part of Facebook’s Internet.org initiative to help get unconnected people online and lower the cost of Internet access. This particular satellite would have reached more than a dozen countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Continue reading Rocket Explosion is a Setback for Facebook’s Internet Program

Appeals Court Sides with States vs. City Broadband Networks

In recent years, some cities have created broadband networks to provide Internet in communities — especially rural ones — where commercial services aren’t willing to set up shop. Those so-called “municipal broadband networks” just got slapped down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which upheld laws in North Carolina and Tennessee halting their growth. For now, the ruling only impacts networks in those two states, but other cities that have created municipal networks have taken note. Continue reading Appeals Court Sides with States vs. City Broadband Networks

Twitter Now Shares Advertising Revenue with Video Creators

In an effort to lure content creators and better compete with social platforms such as Facebook and Snapchat, Twitter announced that it will share 70 percent of ad revenue with users that upload videos. “Those are much better margins than what a video creator can get on the world’s biggest video site, Google’s YouTube, which pays creators 55 percent of the video ad revenue,” reports Wired. Twitter has reportedly already applied the 70-30 revenue split with some big names, including the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball. However, Twitter is playing catch up; YouTube generates billions of daily video views, and Facebook algorithms have been emphasizing live video in the platform’s News Feed. Continue reading Twitter Now Shares Advertising Revenue with Video Creators

FCC Pushes for 5G Standards with Emphasis on Cybersecurity

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is reminding the tech industry that cybersecurity standards should be a significant consideration while moving forward with the development of 5G wireless Internet. Last week, the FCC published a request “for comment on a new set of proposed 5G rules to the Federal Register focused on adding specific ‘performance requirements’ for developers of example Internet-connected devices,” reports FedScoop. Companies interested in a license to access 5G spectrum will need to comply with the new requirements, which will include network security plans. Continue reading FCC Pushes for 5G Standards with Emphasis on Cybersecurity

Spotify Prepares to Go Public, Seeks Long-Term Music Rights

Spotify is readying an initial public offer next year, pressured by its most recent financing. Private-equity firm TPG, hedge fund Dragoneer Investment Group and Goldman Sachs are part of a group that issued $1 billion in convertible debt, which carries an interest rate that increases until Spotify’s IPO. Investors also get a discount on shares if they convert debt into equity — 20 percent now, but increasing if Spotify delays the IPO. One problem prevents Spotify from doing so: long-term rights for the music it plays. Continue reading Spotify Prepares to Go Public, Seeks Long-Term Music Rights

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