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repeal-hybrid-tax

I’m not much of a letter writer (these days), but something about our former governor’s hybrid and electric vehicle tax rubbed me the wrong way. He argued that tax revenues were or would be down due to a reduction in gasoline purchases and these lost funds are necessary for ongoing road maintenance and whatnot. While that seems logical on the surface, the remedy struck me as punitive. And, if the state were concerned with equity, they’d tax owners by miles driven against vehicle weight – which probably provides a more direct correlation to road wear and tear. “Hybrid” also strikes me as an artificial, inelegant line in the sand… given my coworker who drives a hybrid Chevy Tahoe that is less fuel-efficient than say a gas-only Toyota Camry. Also, in something of a policy contradiction, early hybrid vehicles were granted HOV lane exemptions… which were indefinitely extended in 2012 by the very same administration.

The annual tax was originally proposed at an even $100 but, due to some sort of miscalculation, was later passed at $64 and went into effect last July. Amidst some noise, from folks such as myself, an effort to repeal the tax started working its way through the Virginia legislature earlier this year, Continue Reading…

There goes the Hopper: Dish agrees to limit ad skipping in Disney deal

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.

It's (All Gonna Be) Comcastic!

Dave Zatz —  February 13, 2014

comcastic

Charter had been looking to tie up the country’s second largest cable operator, but #1 Comcast has swooped in with a $45 billion agreement to acquire Time Warner Cable. The deal will be closely scrutinized by federal regulators, but at least one pundit expects minimal push back given their largely distinct areas of operation. However, that simplistic analysis overlooks Comcast’s identity as a media entity along with dramatically increased negotiating power when it comes to retransmission and licensing (in both directions). Further, Public Knowledge has concerns in relation to such a large percent of Americas relying on a single entity for their voice and data services. Having said all that, TWC isn’t a great cable company for TiVo owners and a Comcast infrastructure would be a significant improvement. Assuming we’re still using TiVo after the years required to close the deal, remove the punitive content restrictions, and retrofit those head-ends.

FCC grants waiver of accessibility rules to e-readers

TiVo execs eye potential Charter rollout, U.S. launch of network DVRs

Verizon LTE TV

Verizon has remained steadfast in its claim that it will not use the acquisition of Intel’s OnCue assets to launch a nationwide over-the-top video service. However, the fact that Verizon is now apparently talking to CE manufacturers about embedding LTE multicast technology in TV sets does have me wondering how long the company will stick to that plan.

As quick background, Verizon spent time demoing LTE multicast at an event in NYC this week. Unlike how most video is delivered in individual streams to consumer devices, multicast technology allows multiple devices to access the same stream of video at the same time. This is useful for live events, when theoretically many people want to watch the exact same content.

Verizon has been futzing with LTE multicast for some time, but the fact that the company is now talking to manufacturers about adding it to TVs is what interests me. Continue Reading…