Archives For Broadband

Comcast xfinity tv everywhere fancastThat’s right, today is the day that Comcast officially launches it’s version of TV Everywhere, not quite in time for Hanukkah. While the Xfinity name is somewhat unfortunate, it appears we’re supposed to think of the service as the next generation of Project Infinity. For those of you paying attention, Comcast launched Project Infinity back at CES 2008 in an effort to beef  up its on-demand library. Xfinity goes to the next level by taking on-demand online, a phrase which was, incidentally, the original name for the new service. But I digress.

Comcast has now made Xfinity available to all subscribers of both its broadband and cable TV services. For authentication purposes, users must download software at the Fancast Xfinity site before being able to access content online, but once the Move Networks Abode Air video player is downloaded, subscribers are free to browse cable TV content online at will. Keep in mind that, yes, Xfinity viewing does count toward the Comcast bandwidth cap, but at 250 GB, there seems to be quite a bit of wiggle room. And for bandwidth monitoring, Comcast has promised to release a new Web-based meter in the first quarter of next year.

On the content front, Xfinity service includes shows from AMC, A&E, BBC America, Time Warner, CBS, and a dozen or so other programmers. Premium subscribers to Starz, HBO, and Cinemax can also access shows from those networks online.

To supplement your Xfinity viewing, you can surf on over to Hulu for more content. With the new Comcast/NBCU deal in the works, however, I can only assume that Hulu will, as Ryan Lawler predicts, become something of a lame duck in the next year. In fact, Comcast’s COO Stephen Burke just this week stated that the deal with NBCU lets Comcast create its own hybrid of the Hulu model – part free content and part premium television online.

There’s plenty more to say on the topic of Xfinity, but for now it’s worth it just to sit back and see how consumers react. If you’re a subscriber, please add your thoughts in the comments below. I’ll be putting Xfinity through its paces over the next few weeks as well, so expect to hear more about the service soon.

Comcast xfinity tv everywhere remote dvr scheduling bandwidth usage meter gifts

With the NBCU news drowning out other Comcast conversation, I thought I’d take this moment to tally up the gifts the MSO has promised to all the good little subscriber girls and boys this year. First and most important, TV Everywhere, er, On Demand Online, um, Xfinity is scheduled to roll out before the start of Hanukkah on December 12th. Yes, that’s right, Broadcasting and Cable has discovered that the new name for the Comcast service will be Xfinity. Actually it will be Fancast Xfinity TV, but you can call it Xfinity for short. If you’ve been following along with the story so far, the new Comcast offering will let subscribers to both television and broadband service access TV shows anywhere and everywhere from a Comcast portal site. Never again be without NCIS, NCIS LA, or the upcoming NCIS Louisville, NCIS Dubuque, or NCIS Stars Hollow.

Of course, if you want to watch a lot of TV online, you’ll need to keep track of your bandwidth usage. Comcast now has a bandwidth meter in trials that should roll out to all customers in Q1 of next year. We first heard about ISP bandwidth meters back when operators started testing bill-by-the-byte models in 2008. Now that Comcast has one coming to market (with an independent third-party company validating measurements), it will be interesting to see any aggregate data collected on consumer bandwidth usage. How much are we really using the interwebs? I’ll be curious to get a look at not only how online TV affects my personal bandwidth numbers, but also how Slacker usage, Squeezebox listening, and massive photo uploading impact my meter readings.

Finally, Comcast has promised that remote DVR scheduling is on the horizon. Granted the company’s been a bit busy of late, but I’ve been checking on the feature landing page and haven’t seen any changes to note from Dave’s original report. Then again, Comcast has probably been keeping tabs on whether we’ve been bad or good. If we all stay on the non-naughty list, maybe we’ll see remote DVR features by CES.

Philly Gets the WiMAX Love

Mari Silbey —  November 6, 2009

Clear WiMAX launch philadelphia 5

Philadelphia got its official Clearwire WiMAX launch yesterday with a celebration in the city’s Love Park. I say official because Clear’s 4G service has been available in the Philly metro area for just over a month now. I signed up with my own Motorola USB modem (filched, with permission, from my employer at a trade show), and the discount pricing on offer for the first six months of use. So far, it’s been a joy, even out in the western suburbs where I reside.

Along with the official Clear launch came news this week that Comcast is also starting to market WiMAX services in Philly through its relationship with Clearwire. However, while Comcast WiMAX market rollouts are very closely following Clearwire’s own, yesterday’s launch event appears to have been all in the signature green of the Clear brand. More lemon/lime pics below. Thanks, Derek!

arris--digeo-moxi

There’s some good news and there’s some bad news. I’ll give you the good news first. Digeo, the shepherds of the Moxi DVR experience, has escaped bankruptcy and liquidation. With what I assume have been slowing cableco sales and poor retail sales, Arris (ARRS) has stepped in and essentially bailed them out for a mere $20 million. There’s also some good news for the non-executive and non-HR Digeo staff… who will be retained. For now.

The bad news is well known by the investors and owners who’ve taken a bath on such a promising property (Moxi) that never really gained the traction and following it probably deserved. There’s been all sorts of chatter regarding the $110 million investment Digeo, a Paul Allen Vulcan property, made in Moxi back in 2002. But that’s just a portion of the total amount that’s been keeping these guys afloat. Several hundred on the payroll is not a trivial expense, never mind development costs and infrastructure expenses. Which is probably why they’ve trimmed down to a lean 75 employees, the most recent and notable reduction coming as a massive re-org and re-focus in January, 2008.

Arris, who seems to primarily serve the cable industry with IP communications, intends to round out their portfolio with a multimedia end-user offering in acquiring Digeo. They see value in the Moxi experience, but perhaps equally important, they see value in Digeo’s intellectual property portfolio. Arris says Moxi customers, cable or retail, should not expect any interruption in service and that updates will continue to flow. But anyone who objectively analyzes the current US landscape will see little opportunity for a retail DVR to find wide success.

Which is why I expect the Moxi HD DVR to take a backseat to a renewed focus on serving cable providers. Although, as DirecTV continues to serve ReplayTV owners, the few Moxi HD DVR customers should continue receiving guide data for some time – even with a de-emphasis on retail. Additionally, I expect hardware prices will probably be slashed in the near future to unload inventory that they can’t move at $800/pop.

My pal Tim has been mucking about in the newish DirecTV widget platform and, based on his video above, isn’t all that impressed. (Which may be partially attributed to DirecTV’s house brand of DVR which doesn’t function as smoothly his former DirecTiVo models. He’s just a little bitter.) While DirecTV’s “App Store” (Flickr, Twitter, weather, etc) seems too slow in his home to be usable, I prefer this on-box Internet app overlay experimentation to the connected television trend –  folks will purchase/upgrade their sets with much less frequency.

Mapping Television Online

Mari Silbey —  September 16, 2009

Mapping online TV Verizon Comcast Time Warner Cable AT&T Hulu

The landscape of television online is changing so rapidly, it’s hard to keep up. Since the announcement of TV Everywhere trials by Comcast and Time Warner Cable, Verizon has jumped into the mix, and AT&T has started testing its own TV portal site. Comcast’s Stephen Burke has also announced that the initial Comcast trial will go national in the next 30 to 60 days – a far more optimistic timeline than those presented at the TV Everywhere breakfast in New York last month.

That’s all on the good side. On the bad side, there’s word over at Multichannel News that Hulu is considering a new subscription model. It’s not surprising, but we may soon be paying to watch free broadcast TV channels online. Given that ads still don’t bring in TV-level cash on the Net, a subscription model makes sense. Don’t be mad. As Mark Cuban (rightly) rants, subsidized TV is not a constitutional right. Better to focus on getting the pay-TV providers to roll out their TV Everywhere services faster, faster, faster. At least we’ve already written the check for that content.

Having trouble keeping up? Don’t worry. It’s only going to get more chaotic and confusing for a while. But if I can ultimately watch my shows anywhere I go, I can live with that.

gogo-uma

While I’m a little late to this particular mile high club, I finally experienced the joy of in-flight WiFi last Friday. Unlike Boeing’s now defunct Connexion satellite solution, it appears that most domestic airlines are utilizing Aircell’s Gogo service – essentially 3G EVDO connectivity in the sky. On my cross country Virgin America flight, the prices for Internet access were more than reasonable: $13 for a laptop or $8 for a handheld. Although, as we discovered, we didn’t need to pay for each device, periodically swapping the connection between Macbook, iPhone, and Blackberry.

Not only were Gogo’s download speeds (and latency) perfectly suitable for typical web browsing, I also had no probs with SD YouTube video (above). In fact, after seeing how quickly the buffer filled, I gave HD a shot. Giving it a minute to build a buffer worked out fine as well. (In fact, I’m more stoked than ever about Call of Duty, Modern Warfare 2. Come November 10th, you can safely expect a period of blog silence.)

Officially, in-flight VoIP is restricted. Which is probably a good thing given how loudly most folks talk into their cell phones. However, when Melissa connected her 8900 Curve to check for email, T-Mobile’s UMA service automatically kicked in. I wouldn’t say it was very usable, with frequent audio drop outs, but the fact that she could check voicemail from 36,000 feet was inspiring.