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Cable provider Time Warner Cable suffered through another turbulent year, losing 831,000 paid subscribers in 2013. The No. 2 broadcaster in the United States lost 119,000 during Q1, 191,000 in Q2, 306,000 in Q3, and 215,000 subscribers in Q4 - but still has 11.5 million video subscribers in the United States, though that number is expected to decline further.
Several companies have shown interest in trying to acquire Time Warner Cable, with Charter Communications expected to raise its bid for the struggling cable provider. As Time Warner Cable continues to lose subscribers, both Charter and Comcast are likely to show great interest in picking up the company.
Although there are disputing reports of cord cutting, in which subscribers go to Netflix and other online-based services, cable and satellite providers are clearly struggling. Premium subscription channels such as HBO and Starz are increasingly opening up content through connected TVs, tablets and smartphones, which will continue to increase.
AT&T has recently filed for a patent that would institute a credits-based system. The new system is designed to allow AT&T to lower the bandwidth allotment for file-sharers, but the implications of the patent go much further than that. The new patent could have a chilling effect on content distribution networks, including Steam, Origin, and Netflix.
The patent, titled "Prevention Of Bandwidth Abuse Of A Communications System", would theoretically allow AT&T to create Internet plans that would only allow access to certain sites or protocols. The patent has a brief description:
The user is provided an initial number of credits. As the user consumes the credits, the data being downloaded is checked to determine if it is permissible or non-permissible. Non-permissible data includes file-sharing files and movie downloads if user subscription does not permit such activity. If the data is permissible, the user is provided another allotment of credits equal to the initial allotment. If the data is non-permissible, the user is provided an allotment of credits less than the initial allotment
The wide adoption of connected high-definition TVs opened the door to great potential for consumers accessing apps, streaming video, and other dynamic content. Software maker Opera recently shared several web trends that consumers can expect to see from connected TVs and other entertainment devices in the living room.
Opera believes Internet video will explode on TV in 2014, as the amount content also drastically catches up. Next, TV apps are going to become more relevant and viewers will become more comfortable using these types of apps as the overall experience improves. Due to new connected technology apps available, TV ads also are going to become interactive, providing a more targeted, entertaining experience.
Moving forward, smart TVs will become even more affordable, so casual consumers will be able to explore different options available. As more people begin to upgrade their TVs and purchase newer models, the amount of content will also increase - on-demand, Netflix, Hulu, and pay operators are expanding their streaming offerings.
The growth of connected technologies will also drive demand for apps which have typically only found their way to smartphones and tablets. Since refrigerators, thermostats, and other connected home appliances typically don't rely on a traditional GUI to operate, apps are the best way for home owners to interact with smart technology.
"As users continue to adopt and interact with apps, it is their data - what they say, what they do, where they go - that is transforming the app interaction paradigm," a Gartner analyst recently noted. "In the next three to four years, apps will no longer be simply confined to smartphones and tablets, but will impact a wider set of devices, from home appliances to cars and wearable devices."
For example, an app would send out an alert via the connected refrigerator to the owner to notify milk - or another staple food item - is running low.
Despite the growth of connected technologies, after a recent security study discovered at least one connected refrigerator was part of an organized botnet, security issues will clearly need to be addressed.
A recent botnet with more than 100,000 hijacked PCs and electronics also included at least one refrigerator, according to security research group Proofpoint. The botnet also relied on "multi-media centers" and connected high-definition TVs, though this is the first public disclosure of a smart refrigerator - and household appliance - used in an organized botnet.
The 'Internet of Things' continues to frighten researchers trying to determine guidelines on how to defend connected devices that are able to connect to the Internet. Despite the security threat, consumers are expected to embrace the Internet of Things, though provides "great promise for cyber criminals," according to security experts.
These types of attacks targeting connected devices will only increase, security researchers warn, as more consumers begin to use smart refrigerators, washers and dryers, and other common household appliances.
If you're a resident of Provo, Utah, then this news is right up your alley: Google is now accepting registrations for its gigabit Internet service, known as Google Fiber.
The high-speed broadband will include any customers sitting on the former iProvo network, a fiber-optic backbone that was installed, and later sold to Google. Google did note: "We can't install fiber to everyone in Provo all at once, so we're going to work in waves, starting with the North Park area next month and finishing in the Foothills area hopefully by the end of this year".
Provo residents can choose from three different service plans, with the minimum offering 5/1Mbps, which will cost you a $30 one-time fee for installation. Higher tiers are available, with Gigabit Internet on offer for $70 per month, or a Gigabit Internet + TV offer for $120 per month.
Alcatel-Lucent and BT have teamed up to work on a new research project: 1.4Tbps broadband. The new technology using commercial-grade hardware, spun with a new protocol which pushes for these insane, next-gen speeds.
The new protocol has been dubbed Flexigrid, which allows multiple signals to be laid over the top of one another within the same cable. During testing, the researchers were able to layer seven 200Gbps channels, which created something they called an "Alien Super Channel", which was capable of driving 1.4Tbps across 255 miles of fiber.
The two connections were the bases of a BT research facility in Suffolk, to another BT Tower, in London. 1.4Tbps is... well, fast, very fast. How fast in real-world terms? Well, someone with this connection could stream some 64 hours of HD through Netflix, 38 hours of 4K through Netflix, or an insane 36,409 songs... all within a single second.
Automaker Ford will team up with researchers from Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), hoping to overcome the "technical challenges" currently facing autonomous vehicles.
"To deliver on our vision for the future of mobility, we need to work with many new partners across the public and private sectors, and we need to start today," said Paul Mascarenas, Ford Chief Technical Officer, in a statement. "Working with university partners like MIT and Stanford enables us to address some of the longer-term challenges surrounding automated driving while exploring more near-term solutions for delivering an even safer and more efficient driving experience."
Automated driving research is a major initiative among auto manufacturers, and partnering with two of the top universities in the country will help Ford. Specifically, the company will work with Stanford to develop sensor able to accurately see around obstacles, in an effort to try and develop a vehicle with "common sense."
During CES 2014, autonomous vehicles continued to receive a warm welcome from attendees, as each year autonomous technologies are spotlighted.
As it stands today, South Korea's largest mobile network, SK Telecom, has 'regular' 75Mbps LTE mobile broadband. The South Korea-based company has just announced plans to push out some insane mobile Internet speeds.
SK Telecom's upcoming '3band LTE-Advanced' will offer speeds of up to 300Mbps, or LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) by aggregating "more than two frequency bands". The service will roll out toward the end of the year. New Agency, Yonhap, reports that users can download an 800MB file in 22 seconds, which is just insane.
The company will be showing off its new blistering fast Internet at Mobile World Congress next month, in Barcelona.
The emergence of connected technologies, with products ranging from high-definition TVs and refrigerators to newer cars, there is huge potential possible for innovative companies. However, a lag in security of connected devices will give cyber criminals a new platform to exploit moving forward, depending how they access the compromised unit.
"Botnets are already a major security concern and the emergence of thingbots may make the situation much worse," said David Knight, Proofpoint Information Security division, in a statement. "Many of these devices are poorly protected at best and consumers have virtually no way to detect or fix infections when they do occur."
Manufacturers and security experts are working on next-generation security products aimed at helping keep connected technologies more secure. As more consumers embrace 'smart' goods at home and in the workplace, this will continue to be a struggle in the looming years.