Apple Pursues Premium Bundle to Sell HBO, Showtime, Starz

In its latest pay TV proposal, Apple wants to offer a premium bundle that combines HBO, Showtime and Starz, three channels it already sells individually (sources say Apple does not yet have a deal with any of the networks for a package deal). The bundle would be different than a traditional subscription level offered by a conventional pay TV operator, since Apple could offer its proposed premium bundle as a “standalone product, delivered via its iOS devices and its Apple TV set-top box,” reports Recode. “Sony, AT&T and Dish all sell Web TV packages, and Google and Hulu have announced plans to sell their own.” Continue reading Apple Pursues Premium Bundle to Sell HBO, Showtime, Starz

Samsung S8 Offers Bigger Screen and Bixby Virtual Assistant

Samsung Galaxy S8, arriving in stores April 21, sports a high-tech look, featuring a screen that goes from edge to edge, with just a hint of metal at the top and bottom. The screen measures 5.8-inches, compared to the S7’s 5.1-inch. The smartphone’s virtual assistant Bixby offers voice control, and Samsung is positioning the phone as capable of doubling as a desktop computer. That’s a lot of phone, but it’s got a price to match, at $720 at Verizon and starting at $750 for AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. Continue reading Samsung S8 Offers Bigger Screen and Bixby Virtual Assistant

Comcast’s Upcoming Streaming Option to Target Cord-Cutters

Comcast is planning a third quarter launch for its expanded streaming video service called Xfinity Instant TV. The $15-$40 per month service, targeting broadband subscribers looking to opt out of traditional cable bundles, “will include major broadcast networks as well as add-on options for sports channels like ESPN and Spanish language channels such as Telemundo and Univision,” reports Reuters. The company hopes customers will later upgrade to the X1 platform. Xfinity Instant TV is a new version of its Stream service that was tested earlier in Boston and Chicago. Dish and AT&T are already targeting cord cutters, but “Comcast’s service is different in that it is limited to its territories and to its own broadband subscribers.” Continue reading Comcast’s Upcoming Streaming Option to Target Cord-Cutters

Congress Makes a Move to Change New Internet Privacy Rules

The Republican-controlled Senate voted yesterday to reverse FCC privacy protections created under the Obama administration and former FCC chair Tom Wheeler that would have forbidden Internet service providers from using customer data without permission for use in targeted ads. “The measure passed in a 50-to-48 vote largely along party lines,” reports The New York Times. “The House is expected to mirror the Senate’s action next week, followed by a quick signature from President Trump.” The decision means service providers would not require permission to track and share the browsing and app activities of its customers. Continue reading Congress Makes a Move to Change New Internet Privacy Rules

‘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

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