Archives For Broadband

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…

verizon-math

For three of the last four years, I’ve been fortunate to live in markets where there’s choice in Internet and cable. Because where there’s competition, consumers generally see better rates and service. After Cox was unable to effectively support CableCARD in relation to SDV, despite contrary ra-ra reports to the FCC (indicating no complaints), we made our first jump to Verizon FiOS. A year or so later, when we flipped our 1976 house for new construction, we once again had a choice – that time between Comcast and Verizon. And, believe it or not, a deciding factor in choosing Verizon over Comcast was their decision to block HBO GO on Roku.

Fast forward two years, my Verizon agreement is up today. Which both VZ and Comcast must know given the quantity of mailers we’ve received these last couple weeks. 30 days ago, it’d have been a hard decision to make. But Ryan Block’s painful attempt to cancel service and Scott Lewis’ difficulty in getting CableCARD in his TiVo going, in conjunction with Comcast’s continued HBO GO Roku blockade, sealed the deal… despite promises of several hundred-dollar gift cards and the real interesting Xfinity plan (displayed below) of basic cable, Internet, and HBO GO (that I couldn’t actually watch on my preferred streamer). Continue Reading…

fiber-composite-tv-boxes-v2

Google Fiber beta invites are rolling out, shedding light on upcoming hardware consolidation. Via kcjak:

Just got an email from Google Fiber saying we’ve been selected into their test program. Test includes replacement of the hardware, which will combine the network box and storage box into a single unit, as well as upgrade of WIFI to 802.11ac. New Google Fiber app, as well, but currently supported only on Android platform.

We’re not entirely surprised as we’d previously documented incoming TV Box updates and recently stumbled upon this public image – picturing, for the first time, the v2 extender in the lower left. But cramming the Google Fiber router and television hub into a single, refreshed Storage Box is news, perhaps shedding light on Google’s ongoing service intentions. Continue Reading…

Comcast-Labs

While Comcast dicks around with TiVo, to presumably avoid costly Time Warp licensing and FCC scrutiny, the cable giant continues to crank away on their preferred platform – the X1, which has been deployed across 100% of their footprint and sees 20,000 new installs every day. And now, in possibly a first for a cableco, they’re ‘going Google’ by making pre-release features available to subscribers via “Comcast Labs”

Comcast engineers have added a subsection under “Settings / Preferences” called “Comcast Labs,” designed as a sandbox to beta test new features before they go live. Comcast Labs [...] serves as a playground where customers can test innovation before it receives the final stamp of approval. [...] beta features will be given a thorough test-drive to aggregate user data in order to determine whether they get the green light to officially launch on X1.

Continue Reading…

verizon-symmetry

As my two year subscription comes to an end, Verizon is courting me with free HBO and an upcoming boost in FiOS upload speeds to match download numbers:

Dear Customer: Thank You! The free speed upgrade is part of Verizon’s continuing commitment to recognize customers for their loyalty. Customer upgrades to equalized download and upload speeds will continue throughout the fall, starting with customers enrolled in My Rewards+ or who join the program now. When completed, more than 95 percent of existing FiOS customers will enjoy the upgrade equalizing their Internet download and upload speeds.

comcastic

Both Comcast and Verizon are good homes for TiVo owners. Yet, my FiOS Internet remains cap-free (compared to Comcast’s indecision on the matter) and I’m permitted to stream HBO GO via Roku – factors that led me to Verizon in the first place. Of course, Comcast isn’t ready to give up on my business having enabled TiVo Xfinity On Demand across their footprint, with a slightly better channel lineup, and weekly mailers offering attractive promotional rates (including a $200 gift card). But do I really want to go to the hassle of making a change … in light of Verizon’s Slingbox-loving upload increase? Hm.