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Counting Down to ASC 606
October 19, 2017
There will be little New Year's Eve celebrating but perhaps a lot of morning-after hangovers for U.S. businesses that haven't begun preparing for ASC 606, the Financial Accounting Standards Board's new rules about revenue recognition. They are set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018. The news is much the same for Europe, though there the rule's name is "IFRS 15." The change is hard to do.
Evolution of the 4th Utility: Fixed Broadband
October 17, 2017
In-home broadband has become "the fourth utility" in United States households, many of which have multiple connected devices and viewing screens. More than 85 percent of U.S. homes have broadband service, according to Parks Associates, 93 percent of those have DSL, fiber or cable high-speed, fixed-line Internet services. Fixed broadband demand is a key contributor to operators' ongoing profits.
Companies Cheer Completion of Open-Design Transatlantic Internet Cable
September 23, 2017
Microsoft on Friday announced completion of the Marea undersea cable, which stretches 4,400 miles between Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Bilbao, Spain. A joint project of Microsoft, Facebook and global telecommunication infrastructure company Telxius, the cable lies more than 17,000 feet below the ocean's surface. It is the first cable to link Virginia and Spain.
Kari's Law: A 911 Fix That Will Make the US Safer
August 22, 2017
The 911 emergency number was created back in the day when telephones were connected by wires, before cellphones or Voice over Internet Protocol in the home, and before Multi-Line Telephone Systems in the enterprise. In the early days, anyone could dial 911 for police, fire or medical emergencies. When consumers dropped land lines and started using Internet phone services, a 911 problem surfaced.
Comcast, Google Can Publish Users' Email Contents
August 2, 2017
Comcast's Terms of Service for its Xfinity Internet service gives it, its agents, suppliers and affiliates the right to "reproduce, publish, distribute and display" the content worldwide. It also lets third parties copy, republish or distribute material posted or transmitted using Xfinity Internet. This would include confidential information sent by a company employee or an independent contractor.
Major Tech Firms Pressure FCC to Stay the Net Neutrality Course
July 18, 2017
The Internet Association, which represents 40 leading technology companies -- including Facebook, Google, Amazon and others -- on Monday filed comments with the FCC, urging it to maintain Net neutrality regulations enacted during the Obama administration. The rules have created a level playing field that has helped fuel innovation in the broadband Internet space, according to IA.
Vendor Exposes Millions of Verizon Customers on Amazon Cloud
July 17, 2017
Verizon, the largest wireless carrier in the U.S., has confirmed that data belonging to about six million of its wireless customers was exposed after the information mistakenly was allowed to remain unprotected on an Amazon cloud server. The disclosure follows reports that an engineer at Nice Systems allowed the data of 14 million Verizon customers to reside on an Amazon Web Services S3 bucket.
Microsoft Aims to Boost Internet Connectivity in US Heartland
July 11, 2017
Microsoft has unveiled an ambitious plan that would use technology found in the television white space spectrum to develop affordable broadband Internet access for at least 2 million consumers. The aim is to bridge the technology gap between urban and rural American communities. The spectrum is a currently unused portion in the 600 Mhz frequency range.
Netflix Climbs the Growth Wave as Cable TV Slides
June 22, 2017
A few short years ago, Netflix was nothing more than a mail order Blockbuster-type video rental business. Since then, it has been growing rapidly and changing. Believe it or not, Netflix today has more U.S. subscribers than cable TV. That's an amazing accomplishment for Netflix -- and a major hit to traditional cable television. Netflix and cable TV are on opposite sides of the growth wave.
OTA Report: Consumer Services Sites More Trustworthy Than .Gov Sites
June 22, 2017
The Online Trust Alliance on Tuesday released its 2017 Online Trust Audit & Honor Roll. Among its findings: Consumer services sites have the best combined security and privacy practices. FDIC 100 banks and U.S. government sites are the least trustworthy, according to the audit. The number of websites that qualified for the honor roll is at a nine-year high.
Verizon Makes New Oath
June 19, 2017
Verizon last week completed its US$4.5 billion acquisition of Yahoo's operating business assets, merging it with its existing AOL business to create Oath. The new subsidiary encompasses more than 50 media and technology brands -- including HuffPost; Yahoo Sports, Finance and Mail; AOL.com; Makers; Tumblr; TechCrunch; Flickr; and Build Studios.
The Best Wireless Service and Smartphone
June 8, 2017
During a recent grocery checkout conversation, the cashier asked me which was the best wireless service and best smartphone. This is a question I get frequently, and though it seems straightforward, it's difficult to answer. As I told the cashier, it depends. "On what?" she asked. That's when I realized that the industry's marketing doesn't answer the big question: "Which carrier is best for me?"
Comcast Rolls the Dice With Xfinity Instant TV
May 24, 2017
Comcast has led the way in cable television ever since it acquired AT&T Broadband a decade ago. However, in recent years, new technologies from new competitors have been eating away at Comcast's growth. That's why Comcast not only has introduced Xfinity Mobile, which is its new wireless service, but also is getting ready to launch its own IPTV service, Xfinity Instant TV.
Federal First Responder Project Presents Juicy Telecom Opportunity
May 16, 2017
Competition in telecom price and service packages has been getting a lot of attention lately. However, network providers also have been pursuing other opportunities that consumers might miss if they're exposed only to traditional advertising. AT&T's cooperation with the U.S. government in developing a national emergency responder network is a case in point.
Charter's Wireless Play
May 15, 2017
Charter Spectrum has announced it will resell Comcast's Xfinity Mobile wireless service to customers inside its region. The good news is that this deal lets Charter get quick access to wireless without competing with Comcast. Comcast and Charter Communications last week said they had reached an "operational agreement" about working together.
Hulu Aims to Reinvent Live TV Experience
May 4, 2017
Hulu has announced a new live-streaming television service for $39.99 per month, which will place the company in direct competition with newly launched services from DirecTV Now, YouTube and other OTT content providers. The Hulu with Live TV beta will offer 50 channels of live-streaming television -- including sports, news, entertainment, children's programming and local network affiliates.
C Spire's Place Among Cable TV Challengers
April 27, 2017
Cable TV has been facing mounting attacks from new technologies and new competitors. C Spire recently joined the action, announcing plans to enter the pay-TV space. It's not yet clear what C Spire TV will be, or how it will impact the marketplace. What we know so far is that C Spire is a regional player in Mississippi, so the service won't be available throughout the U.S.
Reversing Net Neutrality
April 3, 2017
When one side or the other in a political debate refused to accept a decision, it used to be simply annoying, but lately it has become dangerous to business and to the economy. The current administration's wants "to jettison the Obama administration's net neutrality rules, which were intended to safeguard free expression online," Steve Lohrmarch wrote last week.
House Votes to Kill Privacy Rules Binding ISPs
March 30, 2017
The House of Representatives has approved the Congressional Review Act, undoing privacy restrictions imposed on ISPs during the Obama administration. The Senate passed the CRA last week in a 50-48 vote along party lines. The White House has expressed support for the CRA. "This is one time I believe the White House," remarked John Simpson, privacy project director at Consumer Watchdog.
Consumer Advocates Bemoan Senate Vote to Lift ISP Privacy Restrictions
March 25, 2017
Privacy advocates and consumer groups are fighting back against the U.S. Senate's Thursday vote to undo privacy restrictions on Internet service providers. In a 50-48 party line vote, the Senate approved the Congressional Review Act, S.J. Res. 34. If the House of Representatives gives it the green light, it then will go to the president to be signed into law.
Verizon Wakes Up to Join Mobile TV Race
March 17, 2017
Following decades of slow movement due to cable companies facing no competition, the television world is changing rapidly. Lots of challengers have arisen in the pay-TV space in recent years. One of the latest comes from Verizon, which has improved its FiOS mobile app to offer data-free streaming. AT&T's DirecTV started this ball rolling with its wireless TV, or mobile TV, offering.
FCC Reverses Course on Internet Privacy Rules
March 2, 2017
The Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday issued a joint statement following the FCC's temporary stay of data security regulations. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and FTC Acting Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen issued the statement to address the FCC's decision, in essence, to overturn rules designed to bolster broadband consumer privacy.
Ode to Sprint: Somebody Calls You, You Answer Quite Slowly
February 7, 2017
As I write this, I'm listening to twangy guitar music that calls up vague images of big spiny cactus, dust, and a riderless swaybacked horse. Lots of dust. I've been listening to the same few bars for 43 minutes and counting. Every few seconds, the music is interrupted by this: "We apologize for the wait. We are currently experiencing higher than normal volumes and long hold times. ..."
Wireless, Telecom and Pay TV: The Future Is Coming Into Focus
February 2, 2017
Wireless, telecom and pay TV -- including cable, satellite and Internet services -- are all on a growth trajectory, but each company is taking a different path. That means comparing them will be more difficult going forward. In the past, the companies in these sectors in many respects looked the same and offered nearly the same basic services. Looking forward however, things appear very different.
Softbank Pumps $1B Into Global Web Access Race
December 20, 2016
Softbank has cut a check for $1 billion to OneWeb, which plans to build a constellation of satellites to provide Internet access to underserved parts of the world, the companies announced Monday. Helmed by satellite industry veteran Greg Wyler, OneWeb raised a total of $1.2 billion in its latest round of funding. The company will deploy 650 Ku band satellites into orbit at a height of 750 miles.
FCC's Tom Wheeler Hitting the Road
December 15, 2016
United States Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler on Thursday announced that he will leave the agency he helmed for the past three years on Jan. 20, the day President-elect Donald Trump will be sworn in. "Serving as FCC chairman during this period of historic technological change has been the greatest honor of my professional life," Wheeler said.
AT&T, Time Warner Defend Merger to Lawmakers
December 10, 2016
AT&T and Time Warner executives this week appeared before a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee to respond to lawmakers' concerns about their $84 billion merger. Their testimony came at a time of high public skepticism of institutional power. Rival content and mobile providers applied further pressure with questions about the impact the deal would have on competition and pricing.
Pay TV's Newest Innovation: Giving Users Control
November 21, 2016
With the launch of Stream Saver, AT&T Mobility has given users control over their streaming video quality. Stream Saver is similar to Sprint's video optimization and T-Mobile's Binge-On plans. Now, the only major carrier not offering a video optimization service is Verizon Wireless. Stream Saver lets users choose. They can use it or not depending on their particular circumstances.
Can Charter Turn a Frog Into a Prince?
November 4, 2016
Charter intends to revive the damaged Time Warner Cable image and brand in the minds of the customer and investor, which is both a challenge and an opportunity. Charter and Comcast are two of the companies American consumers hate the most. However, the pay-TV industry has begun a complete transformation. In the coming new world, both Charter and Comcast may have a second chance.
Tech Industry Lambasts New FCC Privacy Rules
November 1, 2016
The U.S. FCC last week adopted privacy rules for both wired and wireless broadband ISPs aimed at giving consumers greater control over their data, more privacy, and stronger security safeguards for that data. The rules implement Section 222 of the Communications Act. They establish a framework of customer consent required for ISPs to use and share their customers' personal information.
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