Archives For Broadband

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.

youtube-rating

Following in the footsteps of Netflix, YouTube has just launched their Video Quality Report to rate, and possibly shame, broadband providers as the net neutrality and peering debate boils over. In my ‘hood, Verizon performs admirably, with its worst showing 8PM – 11PM with 93% of streams coming thru in high def, whereas the Comcast Xfinity service performs slightly worse across the board, bottoming out at 89% HD 8PM – 10PM. Granted, Comcast offers lower tiers of service than Verizon (as I discovered from my mother’s originally, painfully slow broadband connection… that we upgraded.) Historically, I’ve had YouTube buffering annoyances on FiOS at both my former and current locations, but that seems to have been sorted at some point – and I doubt it was ever about bandwidth, rather it was most likely in how the traffic was being handled. Google must agree as they currently rate Verizon’s regional fiber performance as YouTube HD Verified:

Users on YouTube HD Verified networks should expect smooth playback on YouTube most of the time, even when watching videos in high definition (720p).

dishworld While DISH may have acquiesced on the ad skipping front, in return they have inked one of the very first deals to offer “live” programming via the Internet:

The extensive and expanded distribution agreement grants DISH rights to stream cleared linear and video-on-demand content from the ABC-owned broadcast stations, ABC Family, Disney Channel, ESPN and ESPN2, as part of an Internet delivered, IP-based multichannel offering.

Of course there’s no telling when DISH might launch a web television service and certainly others (Verizon, Sony) are pursuing similar. But this represents the first time a major content provider has indicated publicly that they’re willing to play ball. So the sea change begins.

Comcastic TV Broadband Venn Diagram

There are so many implications to the proposed Comcast acquisition of Time Warner Cable that it’s a little hard to stay focused on one angle. However, I do want to interject something into the argument that the deal is all about the expansion of broadband. While that’s true, it’s also a simplistic statement. Why? Because broadband is all about TV right now. Think about it. What is driving the ridiculous growth of Internet traffic? It’s video. And what major video source is in the process of shifting to IP delivery? Television. You can’t tease out one side of the business from the other when the financial considerations of both are so intensely intertwined – from how networks are upgraded, to how bandwidth gets allocated, to how service packages are created.

There is one thing I think we’ll have to pay a lot more attention to going forward, and that’s how the major operators (including Comcast-Biggest-Cable-Company-of-All-Time-Warner) decide how to divide up their total delivery capacity between public Internet service and their own managed IP services. To be sure, ISPs depend on being able to market higher Internet speeds and cheaper prices to keep customers (at least in some markets), but I wonder whether in the future there will be less incentive to make public Internet services high-performing if cable companies can make more money from their own managed IP offerings.