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Comcast has decided to start encrypting even their basic cable channels, forcing customers to use a settop box on every TV where they want to watch cable TV. Previously, basic cable channels would just require hooking a TV up to the coax jack in the wall.
We are beginning to proactively notify customers in select markets that we will begin to encrypt limited basic channels as now permitted by last year's FCC B1 Encryption Order. While the vast majority of our customers won't be impacted because they already have digital equipment connected to their TVs, we understand this will be a change for a small number of customers and will be making it as convenient as possible for them to get the digital equipment they may need to continue watching limited basic channels.
Comcast will provide up to two DTAs free for two years, provided that the customers do not currently have equipment on their account. Customers will also have to request the settop boxes during the offer period around the time of encryption. Comcast has put up this FAQ about what to expect from the new encryption.
According to a Google study, the mobile internet pipes are getting faster. Google used their Site Speed reports from Google Analytics and opted-in web publishers to get an idea of the speed of websites around the world. Google has again aggregated that data into the following graph:
As you can see, on the desktop side of things, not much has improved from 2012 to 2013. Speeds are just slightly better, but not by enough to really have much significance. On the mobile side of things, however, the mean time to load has decreased by about two seconds. The median time has decreased by about one.
Google credits most of these speed increases to LTE/4G roll outs as well as increased processing power in mobile devices. Read the full Google report.
Sony has launched the world's fastest home Internet service in Tokyo, Japan. The new fiber-based service is capable of 2Gbps download and 1Gbps upload, besting that of Google Fiber. Not only is Sony's new Internet faster, it's also cheaper, coming in at just $51 per month.
The new service is called "Nuro" and is available to homes, apartments, and small businesses in Tokyo and six surrounding prefectures for $51 per month, with a two-year contract, and a $535.49 installation fee, which is currently being waved for people who apply online. The price includes the rental of an optical network unit.
Xbox Live suffered an outage over the weekend, with thousands of users reporting various issues when trying to sign onto the service. The problem is, the outage came and ruined gamers' weekends, yet again.
The outage took out most of the Xbox 360's functions, including Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu and YouTube - not to mention the thousands of games that Xbox Live Gold subscribers love to, and pay to, play. The service is now working, but it should serve everyone - I'm looking at you, Microsoft - as a stark reminder of the dark path that is always-online consoles.
Sure, we (see: most of the first world) have Internet access, but it does go out from time to time. So do the services themselves, in this case: Xbox Live - and when it does, those thousand-dollar (console + games + Xbox Live Gold access) devices are rendered next to useless. Expensive, Internet-less paperweights. Microsoft, see the light please, before it is too late.
According to a document obtained by PhoneArena, Sprint will be rolling out LTE to 21 new markets tomorrow, April 12. Sprint has said that the roll out in Los Angeles will be more of a soft roll out as they continue to test bits and pieces much like the San Francisco roll out has taken place.
The markets below are said to be receiving LTE tomorrow:
- California: Los Angeles, Contra Costa County
- Florida: Palm Bay, Port St. Lucie, West Palm Beach
- Indiana: Bloomington and Lafayette
- Illinois: Rochelle
- Minnesota: Mankato-North Mankato
- Missouri: Joplin
- North Carolina: Charlotte, Shelby, Albemarle, Sailsbury, Lincolnton
- Tennessee: Memphis, Greenville, Tullahoma
- Texas: Denison, Kerrville
- Virginia: Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News
The document says that users will be able to enjoy download speeds of 6-8 Mbps down and 2-3 Mbps up. Of course, to use LTE, you'll need an LTE compatible Sprint device such as the LG Optimus G, Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung Galaxy Note II, or Apple iPhone 5. I'm still waiting for LTE to come to a city near me.
Verizon CEO takes credit for LTE-capable iPhone, states that video streaming accounts for 50% of their traffic
Verizon's chief executive has come out swinging, saying that video streaming now accounts for 50% of Verizon's traffic. Verizon CEO, Lowell McAdam, was speaking at the National Association of Broadcasters, when he said that his company's investment in their LTE network has benefited their customers, making high-quality streaming video possible.
He also said that with 3G you could only watch small video clips that require heaps of buffering, but with 4G LTE there are endless possibilities. The network believes that streaming video will continue to be popular with customers, and that by 2017 it could consume two-thirds of all traffic on the Verizon network.
Google's rollout of their gigabit broadband Internet service, Google Fiber, has cost the Mountain View-based company around $100 million so far. We've now got Carlos Kirjner and Ram Parameswaran of Bernstein Research estimating that the gigabit Internet rollout has cost Google $94 million total so far.
The estimate that Google have spent $42 million in Kansas and $52 million in Missouri. The analysts have the idea that the Austin rollout will cost around the same amount as the Kansas City, but they have remained skeptical on a nationwide build out. They added:
We remain skeptical that Google will find a scalable and economically feasible model to extend its build out to a large portion of the US, as costs would be substantial, regulatory and competitive barriers material, and in the end the effort would have limited impact on the global trajectory of the business.
Engadget is at NAB in Las Vegas, Nevada checking out the latest technology from Intel. Intel debuted an upgraded Thunderbolt technology capable of 20 Gbps in both directions. This is double that of the previous Thunderbolt iteration, which was only capable of 10 Gbps.
Intel stated that they currently have around 200 licensees and added that more Thunderbolt devices should be coming in the upcoming months. Intel also added that thinner Thunderbolt cables are in the works. The upcoming controller is code-named Redwood Ridge and Intel added that it will be built into some of Intel's upcoming Haswell processors.
Falcon Ridge, the next-gen Thunderbolt technology, will enable 4K video file transfer and display. This will be in addition to being capable of 20 Gbps transfer. The technology will be backwards compatible with previous cables and connectors.
It has been confirmed that Austin, Texas will be getting the elusive Google Fiber. Austin, TX will be just the second city to get access to Google's super-fast 1Gbps fiber internet connection and TV service. Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri is the other city to have access to Google's fiber ISP.
Gig.U congratulates Google and the City of Austin for their initiative to bring a world-leading network to one of the world's great research university communities. This effort will pay enormous dividends for the country, as it will help develop the human capital America needs to lead a global economy that increasingly creates value with big data and big bandwidth. The Austin project, as well as the recent response to the North Carolina Next Generation Network project demonstrates that university communities are increasingly recognized as attractive partners for next generation network deployments because of the innovative spirit and demand profiles of their residents. We look forward to watching and learning from the exciting growth and innovation to come from the Google Fiber projects, and accelerating such efforts in Gig.U communities throughout the country.
It's probably not enough to draw most people to move to Austin, but it could certainly help the start-up scene. Austin, Texas is already home to the South by Southwest conference and start-ups wouldn't have to travel if they were already based in Austin.
US Cellular is trying something new for their would-be customers, where they're offering up some play-before-you-pay trials saving customers from signing a two-year agreement, to only be disappointed with US Cellular's network performance.
The offer is for just selected markets, starting off with Eureka, CA, Klamath Falls, OR and Knoxville, TN. Some carriers already offer this, but what happens here is that you don't need to actually sign a contrat in order to get any of the equipment to test their network out. US Cellular will instead offer a loan device, with three on offer: Motorola's Electrify M, Samsung Chrono 2 or Samsung Galaxy Metrix, which can be used for eight days with 500 minutes, 500 texts and 1GB of data included.
This is a great way to test out their network, to see if it's worth a dive into a two-year contract on a new device.