Consumers Top Cable Data Limits by Streaming 4K Video

Some consumers who binge on Netflix shows and other streaming programs in Ultra HD are beginning to feel the financial pinch. The 4K content quickly eats up users’ data caps — and costs them extra money for more high-speed Internet access. The number of such “power users” has reportedly doubled in the past year, and shows no sign of decreasing as more companies are unveiling new streaming video services. Consumers who watch a lot of video content may have few options except to upgrade to an unlimited data plan. Continue reading Consumers Top Cable Data Limits by Streaming 4K Video

New California Legislation Aims to Strengthen Net Neutrality

After California state senator Scott Wiener introduced a bill in May to the state assembly to ensure net neutrality, a committee voted to remove protections, an action that some said would allow broadband suppliers to throttle applications. Now those protections are being reinstated. Assembly member Miguel Santiago who proposed the changes to the bill passed last month, and Wiener came to an agreement on a new version of the bill that will make it the strongest net neutrality protection in the United States. Continue reading New California Legislation Aims to Strengthen Net Neutrality

Verizon Plans to Introduce 5G Residential Broadband in 2018

In late 2018, Verizon Communications will begin to sell 5G home broadband services in three to five cities, first in Sacramento, California. All these cities are expected to be outside the Northeast U.S. region where it has a landline business and also offers its FiOS high-speed fiber-optic Internet service. To access the 5G signal, customers will have a box in their windows to convert it to Wi-Fi inside the house. If Verizon succeeds, it could compete in cities where most users have access to only one broadband provider. Continue reading Verizon Plans to Introduce 5G Residential Broadband in 2018

Elgato 4K60 Pro Unlocks 4K Playback for Prosumer Creators

On November 21, Elgato will launch a new PCIe component that allows a user’s PC to record video at 4K UHD (2160p), 60 frames per second. Priced at $400, this product is aimed at those making gaming-related video who don’t have access to a professional studio. Games with 4K-resolution imagery are becoming more prevalent, especially with Microsoft’s debut of its Xbox One X console. But it currently costs a minimum of $800 for the hardware to capture video at 4K 60 fps, and the hardware that does exist isn’t built for gaming uses. Continue reading Elgato 4K60 Pro Unlocks 4K Playback for Prosumer Creators

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

Netflix Makes Updates to Improve Visual Quality of Downloads

Last week, Netflix opened the doors to downloaded content for offline viewing on mobile devices. Now, the company is describing some judicious technology adjustments it made to ensure viewers enjoy an improved video image, and that the resulting content doesn’t eat up the mobile device’s storage. The company did that by switching video codecs, although the result favors Android users, as well as improving its already-established method of varying data rates based on the needs of each scene in a movie or TV show. Continue reading Netflix Makes Updates to Improve Visual Quality of Downloads

Dish Ships HopperGO, Mobile Video Solution for Hopper Users

The Dish HopperGO, originally announced at CES, is now shipping, and early reviews deem it a good device for specific uses. About half the size of a smartphone, the tiny device is basically a 64GB USB drive with built-in wireless access that connects to the user’s Dish Hopper 3 or Hopper 2 and offers a capacity of up to 100 hours of TV. The user can unplug the device and then watch four hours on one charge through the Dish Anywhere app. The device’s interface consists of an “on” button and a USB port. Continue reading Dish Ships HopperGO, Mobile Video Solution for Hopper Users

Comcast to Introduce 1,000-GB Data Limits in Select Markets

In the wake of customer backlash over limits and surcharges, by June 1, Comcast will unveil a 1,000-gigabyte cap for broadband customers in markets previously limited to 300-gigabytes monthly. In 2012, the company stopped enforcing a universal 250-gigabyte limit, and since then has been testing different Internet plans in mainly Southern states, reaching 14 percent of its homes or 2.8 million customers. Comcast has stated that 10 percent, or more than 2 million people, use 300 gigabytes or more a month. Continue reading Comcast to Introduce 1,000-GB Data Limits in Select Markets

Regulators Set Conditions for Approval of Charter-TWC Deal

While federal regulators are closer to approving the Charter Communications acquisitions of both Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, the FCC and Justice Department have introduced conditions designed to protect streaming video companies and help provide affordable broadband services for low income households. The $71+ billion deal would make Charter the second-largest broadband service provider in the U.S. with about 19.4 million subscribers, and the nation’s third-largest cable TV provider with 17.4 million customers. Continue reading Regulators Set Conditions for Approval of Charter-TWC Deal

Media Giants Join Forces Against FCC Opening Set-Top Box

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to begin to allow third-party companies to develop devices and apps to carry pay TV signals, thus loosening the grip of the set-top box manufacturing market and the pay TV companies that lease them. But now Disney, CBS, 21st Century Fox, A&E Television Networks, Time Warner, Scripps Networks Interactive and Viacom have banded together to oppose the move, in comments filed with the FCC. The founder of Roku has come out against the idea as misguided and unnecessary. Continue reading Media Giants Join Forces Against FCC Opening Set-Top Box

Netflix, Not AT&T or Verizon, Throttles Speeds Over Networks

For the last five years, Netflix has been throttling speed of its service to AT&T and Verizon subscribers so they would not exceed mobile data caps and incur extra charges that could discourage viewing on mobile devices. After T-Mobile’s chief executive noted that AT&T and Verizon customers were watching Netflix at slower speeds, the two carriers were initially blamed, but denied the charges. Net neutrality rules prevent wireless carriers from throttling the speed, but those rules appear not to apply to content companies. Continue reading Netflix, Not AT&T or Verizon, Throttles Speeds Over Networks

Verizon’s Zero-Rating for Go90 Likely to Spur FCC Response

Up until now, “zero rating” has been a gray area in net neutrality, but Verizon’s recent action might force the FCC to clarify its stance. Zero rating means that an Internet provider allows certain video and/or music streams to not count against a subscriber’s data cap. Verizon just confirmed that it has applied zero-rating to its new go90 service, thus giving itself preferential treatment and putting competitors such as Netflix, YouTube and other streaming services at a disadvantage. Continue reading Verizon’s Zero-Rating for Go90 Likely to Spur FCC Response

Aereo Founder Introduces Starry, Low-Cost Wireless Internet

Chet Kanojia, who founded the now-shuttered Aereo, is attempting to circumvent Internet service providers with a new startup dubbed Starry. In development for a year, Starry will offer low-cost wireless Internet at speeds the company claims will be faster than wired broadband — and without any of the hassles of getting a technician out to the home to install and maintain the network. Needless to say, ISPs that provide broadband networks are not happy. Starry Internet will be offered first in Boston, beginning February 5. Continue reading Aereo Founder Introduces Starry, Low-Cost Wireless Internet

FCC Queries Comcast, AT&T and T-Mobile About Data Caps

Comcast, AT&T, and T-Mobile USA received a letter from the FCC asking them to answer questions about their use of “zero rating,” by which some types of content are exempted from a customer’s data cap. Though FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler insisted this doesn’t constitute an investigation, the FCC has previously noted that data cap exemptions can favor the exempted content over content that counts against a customer’s data use. The FCC asked the companies’ technical and business personnel to be available for discussions by January 15. Continue reading FCC Queries Comcast, AT&T and T-Mobile About Data Caps

Comcast’s Stream TV Does Not Affect Subscriber Data Caps

Comcast just launched Stream TV, its live streaming TV service, in the Chicago and Boston areas (including eastern Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine), and plans to debut the service in all its territories by early 2016. What makes Stream TV of interest is that its usage does not count against the 300GB data plans available in some Comcast territories or use a customer’s Internet bandwidth measured in bits per second. Stream TV is an IP cable service delivered over Comcast’s managed network rather than the public Internet. Continue reading Comcast’s Stream TV Does Not Affect Subscriber Data Caps

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