Archives For Broadband

Amid new Roku apps and the launch of the Roku Streaming Stick, company CEO Anthony Wood also let slip this week that Roku “has been in talks” with companies about introducing new lower-cost, broadband-only TV services. Wood said at a recent industry event that he expects a new virtual MSO to pop up in the next 12 months. Such a company would offer a limited channel line-up delivered entirely over the Internet, and would target consumers unwilling to shell out major cash for cable TV.

We’ve heard people forecast the rise of virtual MSOs before, but the timing was never right. Today, however, consumers are well accustomed to watching TV online, and both content and service providers have had time to experiment with different models of Internet delivery. We’re also already seeing companies like Aereo and Skitter test out hybrid television models, suggesting that there’s a market for cheaper TV service.

It’s important to note, though, that Wood doesn’t expect some new start-up to jumpstart the virtual MSO market. Says Wood: “A lot of this is about getting access to the content, and that requires a lot of money and experience to structure it well.” That means we’re looking at an industry incumbent to be the source of a new online TV service. And it also means that any future venture is only going to move forward in a mode of extreme caution. Incumbents want to protect their existing revenue sources. Any new service will operate with that premise at its core.

Cablevision subsidiary OMGFAST! has begun leasing Apple TV to broadband customers in South Florida. While they probably sport the cleverest (or nerdiest) name in Internet service, long term, $5 a month for a $99 device you can easily pick up on your own may not be the best value. Then again, we imagine there are those unfamiliar with the space who would also benefit from installation assistance.

From the promo page:

Special Offer: $5 per month for Apple TV box with free installation. Apple TV provides access to Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus and more on your TV. Also allows iPhones, iPads, Macs and iPods to display video, music and photos on your big screen!

Charter Drops TiVo… For TiVo

Dave Zatz —  September 5, 2012

tivo-charter

Wondering what happened to Charter’s stalled rollout of TiVo? Charter (CHTR) has updated their TiVo page with new details.

You want a better TV experience – loaded with better browsing capabilities, personalized recommendations, and integration with smart phones and tablets. And we’re dedicated to bringing it to you, just not through the launch of TiVo Premiere from Charter. Instead, we’re doing something even better. We’re pursuing software solutions that will integrate into our next-generation video platform, ultimately delivering even more capabilities to the Charter TV experience.

And from TiVo’s recent quarterly call:

In terms of our relationship with Charter Communications, both TiVo and Charter are focused on driving TiVo software to future set-top box platforms and potentially to already-deployed Charter set-top boxes. Obviously, deployment there has been slowed by the fact that Charter is now looking to utilize TiVo on a next-generation platform that is still being determined. So we don’t have as much visibility in the timing there as we’d like.

So it’s safe to say Charter’s goal of deploying TiVo across their footprint in 2012 is off the table. As to what comes next, guess we’ll have to wait and see. And, speaking of cable deals missing in action, neither TiVo nor Cox have had much to say about the partnership they inked in 2010. Yet, having moved one million Virgin Media TiVo boxes in the UK, perhaps Cox and Charter aren’t so relevant to TiVo these days.

(Thanks Sam!)

According to a post over on DSLReports, Amazon and AT&T are now locking down free Internet access on old Kindle models so that users can only visit Amazon.com, Wikipedia, and the Kindle store after they hit a fixed monthly cap. No more browsing the wider web, or hacking Kindle hardware to create a free-riding mobile hotspot off of Amazon’s Whispernet service.

I’ve always been fascinated by the Whispernet model where Amazon bundles free Internet service with its e-reading hardware. However, the primary purpose behind Whispernet has always been to give users anytime/anywhere access to books, not to the Internet at large. While unrestricted access would be nice, the bundling model unfortunately doesn’t scale if users can chew up 3G bandwidth at will.

DSLReports cites a further post on the MobileRead forums suggesting that some users are now getting Kindle warning alerts when they skate past 50 MB in a single month. It’s not clear yet if the warnings are only popping up outside the U.S. This comes from one user in Canada:

I was using the browser when it popped up a message to say that I’d hit my 50 MB monthly limit of 3G Web access on my Kindle 3G. When I clicked the ‘OK’ button (which was my only choice, really), I got a second message saying that I’d have 24 hours of grace to continue to use 3G for Web browsing, but that after that I could use 3G only for visiting Amazon.com, Wikipedia, and the Kindle Store. Otherwise I will be obligated to use Wi-Fi.

Continue Reading…

My wife and I just can’t seem to kick this gypsy lifestyle and are on the move once again. While we’d initially contemplated moving closer in to DC or returning to Maryland, we’ve changed tack and will be venturing deeper into the Northern Virginia suburbs next month. And, as with our former home, we’re fortunate to have Verizon’s FiOS TV & Internet service as an alternative to the cableco. At the house we’ve vacated, it was a no-brainer to dump Cox Communications given their inability to sufficiently support the two SDV Tuning Adapters required to power our TiVo DVRs and Verizon’s superior CableCARD support. But, this time around, we’re starting with a blank slate and the decision will be a bit trickier… as Verizon’s CableCARD experience has diminished and Comcast hasn’t implemented SDV.

On the Internet front, I assume either provider would be sufficient. Verizon may offer insane new speeds over fiber, but Comcast’s offerings aren’t too shabby. And, honestly, for most there’s a point of diminishing returns — how much broadband do we really need on a regular basis? Yet, there is one area where Verizon trumps Comcast’s Xfinity. At least for now. And that’s the lack of data caps.

Regarding television services, we’re not prepared to cut the cord and one of these two will be providing “cable” TV. Verizon’s DVRs beat Comcast… unless Xcalibur/X1 is being deployed to our region. Not that it really matters as I’ve upgraded to a TiVo Premiere Elite XL4 and intend to distribute one or two TiVo IP-STBs around the house for a whole-home DVR experience. So what will be the differentiators? What comes to mind at the moment is that Comcast continues to block HBO GO over Roku — for reasons unknown, that obviously have nothing to do with providing a great customer experience. On the other hand, Comcast does offer the nice Xfinity TV iPad app with tons of On Demand content. And, speaking of On Demand, it’s started rolling out to TiVo Premieres.

Decisions, decisions.

boxee-cablecard

Earlier this year, Boxee petitioned the FCC regarding the possibility of Big Cable encrypting their basic tiers, including the local affiliates. Despite the NCTA’s less-than-friendly retort, Comcast and Boxee seemed to have found some common ground in providing Boxee devices access to basic cable. From their joint FCC filing:

Comcast and Boxee representatives updated Commission staff on discussions between Comcast and Boxee on an initial and a long-term solution for consumers with retail IP-capable Clear QAM devices (“third-party devices”) to access encrypted basic tier channels in Comcast’s all-digital cable systems once the Commission allows for such encryption.

The initial solution involves the development as soon as possible of a high-definition digital transport adapter with an ethernet connector (“E-DTA”). This solution would enable a customer with a third-party device to access basic tier channels directly through an ethernet input on such third-party device or via the home network, and to change channels remotely in the E-DTA via a DLNA protocol.

The long-term solution, which would follow shortly after the initial solution, involves the creation of a licensing path for integrating DTA technology into third-party devices (“Integrated DTA”). Such a device could access encrypted basic tier channels without the need for a cable operator-supplied DTA or set-top box.

What’s most interesting about this proposal is the fact that it doesn’t involve CableCARDs — the existing solution for third party products to authenticate and access cable content. While Light Reading believes these access methods may foreshadow the death of AllVid, I see this more as the road to an industry-created AllVid solution – some secure, centralized way to distribute cable around the home… that manufactures like Boxee and TiVo could leverage. And without the ongoing hassle and confusion of CableCARD.

Comcast Xfinity Instant mobile video app 1

With all the promotional buzz around Verizon’s viewdini mobile video portal last week, it was easy to miss Comcast’s new video app, Xfinity Instant. To be fair, Comcast’s mobile app isn’t a commercial product yet, but it was on display right beside viewdini in the Comcast booth at this year’s Cable Show in Boston.

Right now, Xfinity Instant is a project out of Comcast Labs with no set launch date. However, at least in concept, it bears a striking resemblance to viewdini. With a magazine-like layout for tablets, the Comcast app lets users filter video content by actor, genre, title or network. It also provides recommended titles based on your viewing habits, and highlights featured videos in editorial fashion. You can launch a video selection directly from the app and rate content when you’re done watching it.

Comcast Xfinity Instant mobile video app 2

What’s most interesting about the app, though, is that according to the demo guys at the booth, Xfinity Instant was developed with no knowledge that viewdini was in the works. In fact, one Comcast employee explained that the development team hadn’t even heard of viewdini until it was announced at the show. Apparently in the rush to cozy up to Verizon as a viewdini content partner, Comcast senior management didn’t get around to telling its own developers about the potentially competitive product. Continue Reading…