Archives For Broadband

Staying Connected On The Go

Dave Zatz —  December 18, 2014 — 6 Comments

Since first adding a Palm V modem to my tech arsenal about 15 years ago to access Mindspring dial-up email on business travel, I’ve remained Internet-connected when mobile (and have even used “mobile” connectivity to power the home). The last few years, I’ve done my best to stay off public WiFi — the level of exposure and ease of interception exceeds my comfort levels. I wouldn’t say I’m paranoid and it’s not like I dabble in state secrets, but I’d rather not make my personal data any more accessible than it probably is. (Remember that time someone tweeted as me via Southwest Air WiFi?) Not to mention, those wireless networks (free or otherwise) often don’t perform so well – either by (poor or upsell) design or due to saturation.

With that in mind, I’ve been a huge fan of mobile phone tethering — which was fully ensconced within my workflow by 2006, when I kept my laptop online via a USB-connected 3G Sprint PPC-6700 while riding Amtrak to a NYC eventContinue Reading…

fios-bonus

As the story goes, I renewed Verizon FiOS services in August after several years of stellar performance (at two addresses) and in light of the potential disruption an Xfinity install might bring along with Comcast’s ongoing HBO GO Roku blockade. After Tech of the Hub received a pretty fantabulous FiOS renewal offer that effectively comps two years of premium channels, including HBO and Showtime, I popped into my account to see if renewing our two-year contract just 4 months in might yield similar goodness. And, indeed, I had the option to re-up my exact same bundle… for even less money. At only $75/mo for 50/50Mbps Internet, plus a healthy selection of cable television content and the all locals (without an aerial antenna), it’s extremely hard to consider cutting the cord.

mobitv-connect

Next up in the streaming stick space is the MobiTV Connect… that just passed thru the FCC. The company originally known for streaming amazingly low resolution television content to Sprint phones clearly continues to pivot. And, back in September, MobiTV told The Donohue Report their HDMI hardware would launch via two US wireless carriers in early 2015. More akin to Chromecast than Amazon Fire TV Stick, the microUSB-powered dongle is designed to be controlled via smartphone. Indeed, the FCC-published manual includes Android screenshots used for wireless pairing – with both Bluetooth LE and WiFi making appearances. Of course, much more interesting than the stick hardware itself, are the over-the-top video services that may be made available … and at what cost.

google-fiber-tv-box-2

By way of retired blogger Brent Evans, we learned that Google Fiber customers have started receiving next generation hardware. An updated Fiber Jack now receives power-over-Ethernet from a new Network+ Box … that combines both broadband router and DVR storage into a single enclosure with this go around while expanding wireless capabilities to 802.11ac/n. Lastly, the updated TV Box (shown above) is smaller, squarer, and now entirely silent. Beyond feeding “cable” to the television, each dual band unit also acts as a WiFi extender. We’re hopeful that Google will ultimately enable more than 4 per home at some point, given the wireless enhancements and as Brent says this is a common complaint. Also, based on a prior FCC pop, we’re still awaiting a refreshed Bluetooth LE remote. Lastly, on the content front, Google picked up HBO GO and Showtime Anytime within the last few weeks. Score!

Sprint Shutters WiMAX Network

It’s an inglorious end for the first 4G mobile broadband service to debut in the US. Sprint has announced that it will officially discontinue operation of its WiMAX network “on or about November 6, 2015.” Sprint completed its acquisition of WiMAX operator Clearwire in the summer of 2013 and has plans to re-farm the Clearwire spectrum for the growing Sprint LTE network.

WiMAX was always the underdog in the 4G mobile broadband race, but Sprint/Clearwire still drew in millions of customers for WiMAX service (including yours truly), and Clearwire used the technology to pioneer a no-contract 4G data plan.

In one interesting deployment, Clearwire partnered with an organization called Mobile Citizen to offer low-cost mobile Internet service exclusively to education and non-profit groups. Today, Mobile Citizen continues to market WiMAX service for the incredibly low price of $120 per year plus the cost of a hotspot, USB, or desktop modem. Sprint will maintain the partnership despite shutting down its WiMAX network, and Mobile Citizen says it is working with the carrier to “determine the timing and pricing of future LTE service plans and devices.”

By way of the TiVo Community and an FCC filing, we learn that TiVo has petitioned the powers that be for access to customers of a combined AT&T and DirecTV – should the merger be approved (now with NFL in the bag). And they do make a compelling argument… including drawing a clever parallel to Ma Bell (which is entirely unrelated to the current entity in anything other than name).

Any FCC action approving the merger of the leading DBS MVPD and the leading IPTV MVPD must require that the merged company comply meaningfully and effectively with existing law, including Section 629’s obligation to support commercial competitive devices.

If the merger is allowed, the merged company, in addition to being the largest MVPD, will be the only MVPD to supply programming and services via both direct satellite and wired transmissions. With its national scope, the new AT&T will in certain respects resemble the original AT&T system — a system that was required to open its network to device competition under the Commission

Further, TiVo doesn’t pull any punches in regards to DirecTV, leading us to wonder if their current partnership has soured in some way. TiVo has previously indicated discontent in regards to DTV’s decision to develop and deploy the prior TiVo experience…

TiVo’s experience with DIRECTV has shown that technical access to programming has not been a stumbling block to the use of retail devices. Device competition has been constrained, instead, by DIRECTV’s business objective of controlling the relevant device market, in a manner contrary to the intent of Section 629 and Commission regulations.

fios-quantum-gateway

Back in March, we learned Verizon was prepping a home automation-centric router. And, based on their FCC confidentiality request, it appeared they’d been targeting a summer release. While we’re not quite there, the unannounced Greenwave G1100 has popped up in one pal’s online account as the FiOS Quantum Gateway. Based on its presentation, we assume the G1100 replaces Verizon’s existing Actiontec hardware and handles both television and Internet duties… in addition to potentially bringing Zigbee home automation, via a HAN expansion port and as indicated by the emblazoned label previously submitted to the FCC. Of course, we don’t know if this is a simple extension of Verizon’s existing home suite… or some sort of new collaboration. Given home automation’s current retail struggles, acquiring this functionality via a provider like Verizon could very well remain the preferred sales channel.

Other tidbits from the just uncovered guide: Continue Reading…