As a blizzard hammered the east coast on Thursday morning, news of a pending deal that could see Time Warner Cable merge with Comcast hammered pay TV subscribers across the country. The two national TV, Internet and phone service providers are regularly ranked at the very bottom of the industry when it comes to subscriber satisfaction, and consumers had strong reactions when they learned the two giants intend to merge. How strong? According to one report, they likened the unholy union to the Death Star in “Star Wars” and the evil Eye of Sauron from “The Lord of the Rings.” More →
Are you feeling excited about the officially announced merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable? If not then you aren’t alone — there are plenty of other groups out there who aren’t keen on letting the two most hated ISPs in the United States combine to form a broadband behemoth. The Wall Street Journal has written a handy little primer of all the challenges that Comcast will face in its quest to become the supreme overlord of American Internet service providers. In short, here are three groups that could help kill off the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger. More →
Comcast and Time Warner Cable on Thursday confirmed the rumors, announcing a $45.2 billion all-stock merger plan, though the deal is yet to be approved by the shareholders of the two companies, and also by regulators including the FCC and the Justice Department. “This transaction will create a leading technology and innovation company, differentiated by its ability to deliver ground-breaking products on a superior network while leveraging a national platform to create operating efficiencies and economies of scale,” Comcast said in a press release. More →
If there’s one thing that Comcast seems to love more than anything else, it’s shafting its basic cable subscribers and pushing them to upgrade to one of its many pricier bundle plans. If you’re looking for examples, recall the company’s brilliant shakedown that made basic cable subscribers use digital adapters that degraded their signal and forced them to pay an extra $10 a month to get the same HD channels they used to get for free as part of their basic package. Now GigaOM reports that Comcast has blocked streaming of the Olympics for customers who only subscribe to its basic cable services despite the fact that the Olympics are being shown primarily on NBC, the Comcast-owned network that basic cable subscribers can already access through their subscriptions. More →
For a brief period of time, the Internet at large served the consuming masses. For those who can recall the day the mainstream public discovered YouTube, you’ll fully grok this concept. Janitors, executives, students, engineers, hippies, and baby boomers all sat down to watch video after video (after video). In a way, this defined the consumption era. The public began yearning for home-based Internet services, not satisfied with having to report to work, a local library, or a coffee shop in order to catch up on the latest news and converse over AIM. The thirst for knowledge shaped the business models surrounding Internet service providers, but those days are long gone. Unfortunately for us, the ISPs haven’t yet realized it.
A decade ago, the average Internet user logged on in order to be quenched. They desired to consume news. To read articles. To watch multimedia. There were exceptions, of course, but the vast majority of those breaking into the Internet scene were doing so in order to swallow up content produced by professionals. Pros produce, the masses consume.
Because of that, asymmetry became an accepted Internet delivery method, but as the technology continues to empower mere mortals to produce richer and more engrossing content, I’m left to wonder: when will the upstream get the respect it deserves? More →
You’re probably a good person who tries to help your fellow man whenever you can, but did you know that you might be lending your home Internet connection to anyone and everyone in your area? Last June, Comcast became the latest Internet service provider to offer up its subscribers’ home Internet connections to any other Comcast customers who might be in the area. By default, newer Comcast routers enable a second public Wi-Fi network that anyone within range can connect to using their Comcast account login credentials. As Minnesota’s Pioneer Press recently learned, however, not all Comcast customers knew of the change and some of them were horrified to learn about it. More →
It’s time to accept the fact that targeted ads are no longer restricted to your browser. Facebook is stuffing them inside your mobile apps, Apple might put them in your thermostat, and now The Washington Post is reporting that Comcast and NBC Universal are bringing targeted advertisements to your television. Much like the intelligent political ads that Dish and DirecTV announced earlier this week, the newly-minted NBCU+ service will “allow marketers to target groups of consumers that fit certain demographic and interest profiles.” More →
In a bit of good news for Comcast subscribers — a rare bit of good news, some might argue — a new report suggests that the company is about to double or even triple its Internet data speeds for some subscribers. DSLReports on Tuesday afternoon cited an anonymous source in claiming that Comcast is preparing to increase data speeds for some subscribers. Speeds were already boosted for many users less than a year ago, but the ISP apparently isn’t done widening pipes for its customers. More →
In a federal copyright-infringement lawsuit filed recently in Philadelphia, Comcast is suing a former employee over the rights to software he developed while working for the pay TV giant in Colorado. Defendant Robert Orlowski helped form the company Tuning Analytics, LLC to market and sell software he developed that tracks a TV watcher’s viewing habits by being installed on his or her set-top box. Orlowski also filed two patents protecting the technology used in his software. According to Comcast’s suit, however, it has rights to Orlowski’s software and to all related patents. More →
Don’t worry, American consumers: the death of net neutrality is no big deal and it won’t harm your online experience at all. That’s the takeaway from the various responses U.S. Internet service providers offered up to the public following Tuesday’s U.S. appeals court ruling that killed net neutrality rules. Some believe the ruling will ultimately lead to the destruction of the Internet as we know it today, giving service providers free rein to squeeze money out of companies looking to give their services an edge by allotting them additional bandwidth that standard service will not enjoy. But according to companies such as Comcast and Verizon, that won’t be the case at all. More →
With the increasing number of ultra-high definition (UHD, or 4K) TV sets and displays being launched by various companies – including affordable models that were just introduced at CES 2014 – content providers are apparently trying to provide more 4K content that can take advantage of the higher resolution screens. Comcast has confirmed during a panel on UHD content that it will start offering 4K content as soon as February, the Hollywood Reporter says, when it will stream “some stuff” in 4K from the 2014 Winter Olympic Games that take place in Sochi from February 7 to February 23. More →
Like a good exorcist, the Federal Communications Commission looks set to drive back the merger sent from hell. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Republican FCC commissioner Ajit Pai says that the FCC is very unlikely to sign off on any proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable because the Obama administration has shown itself much less likely to approve major telecom mergers — such as the blocked AT&T-T-Mobile merger — than a Republican administration might be. A merger between Time Warner Cable and Comcast, which are the two largest cable providers in the United States, would further consolidate an industry that is already uncompetitive in many major markets. In addition to Comcast, smaller cable provider Charter has also been rumored to be interested in buying up Time Warner Cable.
Longtime readers know that I’ve been very critical of both Comcast and Time Warner Cable over their pricing policies, their service quality and their overall business practices. This is why I gasped in horror when I learned Friday morning that Comcast is talking with the Federal Communications Commission about what regulatory hurdles it needs to cross to merge with Time Warner Cable. More →