AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon have reached an agreement with music and movie publishers that will help enforce copyright infringement while giving the ISPs a chance to level with their customers. According to Ars Technica, copyright owners will continue to scour the dark corners of the net looking for anyone downloading and illegally sharing their content. If an IP is found to be downloading or sharing illegal content — likely via P2P networks — the music and movie companies will alert the ISP directly. ISP’s will then send a note to the offending customer, without passing off private information unless there is a court order to do so. Users may get up to four alerts from the ISP, but after that the ISP can choose to start implementing “temporary reductions of Internet speeds, redirection to a landing page until the subscriber contacts the ISP to discuss the matter or reviews and responds to some educational information about copyright, or other measures that the ISP may deem necessary to help resolve the matter.” If a user believes he or she has been targeted without merit, an appeals process can be started for a $35 fee but, as Ars Technica notes, it’s unclear who will be the judge in that process. Read on for the full details on the six strikes. More →
Motorola Mobility announced the Televation on Monday, a new device that plugs into a Wi-Fi router and uses your home network to stream live television to connected IP devices. Once it’s plugged into a router, it will automatically translate programming from MPEG-2 to MPEG 4 and match a device’s resolution to display content properly. Motorola is also providing Android and iOS SDKs so that its customers will be able to develop custom applications for finding shows and other content offered by cable providers. “Consumers love entertainment, and want easy access to TV no matter where they are in the home,” said John Burke, senior vice president and general manager, Converged Experiences, Motorola Mobility. “Coupled with the explosive popularity of tablet devices, this represents a terrific opportunity for MSOs [multiple system operators, or cable companies] to increase customer satisfaction while generating new revenue.” Unfortunately, it sounds like Televation will not be a direct-to-consumer product, and will instead be offered to Motorola’s cable partners, so pricing has not yet been announced. Hit the jump for the full press release. More →
Reports have begun sprouting up all over the Internet claiming that Comcast, and a handful of other ISPs, are blocking access to torrent treasure trove, The Pirate Bay. Being a Comcast customer here in Boston, I thought it might be a good time to test the reports. My findings: yup, they’re definitely blocking it. Attempts to navigate to thepiratebay.org result in a timeout error — I even switched DNS servers to make sure it wasn’t a name-server record error causing the behavior. After firing up my trusty VPN client and initiating a session, connectivity to the site was immediately restored. Comcast now has more impetus to bar connections to the torrent index — its merger with NBC Universal means that the ISP owns content that is potentially being shared illegally — but the blocking of sites that do not further a corporation’s interests is a very slippery slope. I’ve reached out to Comcast for comment and will report back with any additional information provided. Anyone else seeing this behavior? If so, drop us a comment and let us know where you are and what ISP you’re using.
UPDATE: Comcast has issued the following statement to BGR: “We’re not blocking PirateBay [The Pirate Bay] and reports online indicate users from several ISPs around the world are affected. We have FAQs about our network management practices available here.” More →
Today, entertainment giant Comcast announced its plans to provide live and On Demand content to its customers via its Xfinity TV iPad and Android applications in 2011. Via a press release, the company explains:
Comcast Corporation, the nation’s leading provider of entertainment, information and communications, today announced plans to enable in-home streaming for live and On Demand content this year on Apple’s iPad as well as Android powered tablets. Later this year, customers will be able to watch live news, TV shows and movies in their homes whenever they want. Comcast also made two more announcements about its Xfinity TV service today. First, Comcast provided details about the play now capability that will be available on the iPad in the coming weeks and which will enable the viewing of On Demand programming on the iPad.
“Live streaming and the play now feature on our Xfinity TV app are two important pieces of our strategy to deliver any content to any device, any time,” said Brian L. Roberts, Comcast’s Chairman & CEO. “Comcast has a series of upcoming online enhancements and app releases that are part of a much larger effort to reinvent how customers interact with their entertainment on TV, online and on mobile devices.”
Extending home entertainment services to mobile devices is going to be the next frontier for cable/satellite providers. It’s nice to see Comcast is stepping up to the plate. Hit the jump for the full press release. More →
The Federal Communications Commission put in place a limited set of net neutrality rules today, and early reports suggest people are not overly pleased. The “Open Internet” order was approved 3-2 in a vote that took place on Tuesday, with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and two more Democrats voting in support of the new rules. While the full details of the order are not yet available, the intended purpose of these rules is theoretically to ensure consumers are protected while not imposing too much control over ISPs and content providers. Preliminary reports suggest the rules are more stringent for wired Internet service providers, with wireless ISPs granted more space to work the system. More →
Today, Google and Verizon released a joint statement outlining the parallel feelings the two companies foster towards net-neutrality. The statement contains seven points that both feel are crucial to keeping the world wide web open and accessible while fostering innovation, growth, and leadership in the United States. Google and Verizon support FCC enforcement of net-neutrality principles and published the memo as, “a suggested legislative framework for consideration by lawmakers.” Hit the jump to read the statement in its entirety. More →
According to the LA Times, Sony is preparing to launch two new cable television channels on October 1st. The first channel, tentatively called Sony Pictures Movie HD, will feature full-length, HD-quality films from Sony’s vast library of movies. The channel would be included as an additional HD channel within a basic television package and would not be a premium offering like HBO, Starz, or Showtime. The second channel is the already operational FEARnet, a horror movie venture between Sony, Lionsgate, and Comcast. Currently offered as a pay-per-view channel and online, FEARnet will be expanding to a dedicated, ad-supported HD channel starting in October.
[Via Barron's] More →
Big news coming out of the NY/NJ/CT tri-state cable companies, and it’s downright exciting. Cablevision, Time Warner, and Comcast have all teamed up to announce a roaming agreement that will allow their subscribers to freely roam on any of the companies Wi-Fi networks. Think about that for a second… as long as you are a Cablevision, Time Warner, or Comcast customer, you can get free Wi-Fi access at practically limitless locations (thousands) all across the NY metro area from all three providers, and connect to any of their networks from your computer, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry — whatever. According to the press release, authentication for this to happen is already in place starting today, so if you were just sticking to your own cable provider’s magic hotspot, fell free to mosey on over to one of the partner networks. Just try not to make Verizon too jealous, ok?
The net neutrality movement received a huge blow today when the US Court of Appeals sided with Comcast in its claim that the Federal Communications Commission lacks legal authority to demand ISPs shape internet traffic. Over the past few years, the FCC has grown increasingly concerned that ISPs would throttle connection speeds for things such as peer-to-peer file sharing and streaming media in order to dedicate more bandwidth to services it can better capitalize on. Comcast first challenged the FCC on net neutrality in 2008 when the FCC reprimanded Comcast for throttling the connections of clients who used a large amount of bandwidth through P2P networking.
As a rule of thumb, we at BGR are not in favor of government agencies (whether independent or not) imposing rules upon industries, although in this instance we’re actually finding ourselves disappointed if only for the fact we believe net neutrality must become a reality. More →
With little fanfare, Comcast launched a new online file backup service called Secure Backup & Share for its broadband internet customers. The new service utilizes Mozy, an online backup solution that is currently managed by Decho Corporation, a subsidiary of EMC. Using a tool installed on your PC and soon Mac, the service will backup selected files to a secure online location that can be accessed from any web browser, including your web-enabled mobile phone. Three tiers of storage are available including the Standard 2GB plan which is free, the Preferred 50GB plan which is $4.99 monthly or $49.99 yearly, and the Premier 200GB plan which is $9.99 monthly or $99.99 yearly. Apparently Comcast forgot about its bandwidth cap and “network management techniques” when offering these plans as the 200GB plan comes dangerously close to the 250GB monthly cap and the uploading process will definitely cause you to max out your connection for more than 15 minutes which may result in your connecting being throttled. Comcast does not state whether the cap or throttling is waived for those accounts that purchase a storage plan, so we must assume that both are still in effect, a situation that certainly diminishes the attractiveness of these plans. It also begs the question, if Comcast’s network is so strained that it has to enforce a cap and utilize “network management techniques”, why are they offering a bandwidth-intensive online storage solution?
[Via CNET] More →
According to Taiwanese WiMAX CPE makers, Clearwire is slowing its purchases of WiMAX equipment as it begins to ramp up its wholesale business. This expansion is not unexpected as Clearwire first offered wholesaler services in Q3 2009 and indicated that is looking to grow its wholesale business and add additional wholesale customers in the intervening quarters. Currently, Clearwire offers wholesale 4G services to Comcast, Sprint and Time Warner Cable, all three of which are strategic investors in Clearwire. Each reseller has the ability to sell 4G services with their own WiMAX CPE products, resell services in different geographic markets and offer individualized pricing schemes. Additional details on Clearwire’s wholesale business is expected during the company’s Q4 2009 earnings conference call on February 24th. Perhaps, Clearwire will slip in some info on that rumored Sprint Android 4G handset as well. More →
So… how do you overcome negative public perception and customer service issues that won’t seem to go away? Fix the root of the problem? No. You re-brand yourself of course! Today, Comcast announced that the company name will stay the same; however the services have been renamed to… XFINITY? Yes, XFINITY. Starting next week, Comcast will be rolling out the new name in 12 major markets. Comcast customers of Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Chicago, Portland, Seattle, Hartford, Augusta, Chattanooga, and San Francisco, you are now XFINITY Internet, XFINITY Cable, and/or XFINITY voice customers. XFINITY…sort of rolls off the tongue… wait, actually, no it doesn’t. Here is the corporate justification for the move: “XFINITY is about offering our customers more — more HD, more speed, more choice and more control over their services.” We would love to see Comcast improve their services and stop spending money on fighting net neutrality and changing all of the logos on their letterhead, but hey, that’s just us. More →
Back in 2007 and 2008, internet service provider Comcast was accused of throttling packet data traveling over its network; more specifically, packet data that was deemed to be P2P traffic, a la BitTorrent. The story goes: Comcast denies the whole thing, the Associated Press, smelling blood, launches an investigation, and customers’ suspicions are confirmed. After the AP published its report — stating Comcast was indeed throttling, or in some instances outright blocking, data flowing over ports commonly used by P2P sites and programs – Comcast suddenly remembered that it was, perhaps, doing a little “network management.” Class action lawsuits suits ensued (pun intended). Today it looks like Comcast has settled one of the suits, filed out of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, for a cool $16 million. The ISP maintains the settlement is to “avoid a potentially lengthy and distracting legal dispute that would serve no useful purpose”…right. Now, those who enter into the class action settlement aren’t going to be on easy street as they are guaranteed no more than $16 for their troubles, but can you really put a price on damning the man? More →