Comcast’s hotspot network grows to 1M nodes, driven by crowdsourced Wi-Fi

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Comcast revealed on Wednesday it has grown its Wi-Fi hotspot network to 1 million nodes. Considering that on Tuesday its FCC filing on its planned acquisition of Time Warner Cable listed 870,000 hotspots, it appears to be ramping up its wireless network quickly.

Comcast can scale so quickly because its broadband customers are doing much of the heavy lifting. Its latest wireless home gateways all operate in dual modes, providing a private home network for the customer and a public network that can be accessed by any Comcast broadband customer. Comcast also offers public hotspot capabilities to all of its business customers and has built with thousands of high-powered outdoor hotspots in key high-traffic zones in its operating territory.

Comcast isn’t breaking out how many neighborhood hotspots it’s running versus commercial access points, but they make up the vast majority of its network. Comcast is part of the CableWiFi consortium, which pools together the outdoor and business hotspots of Time Warner, Cox Communications, Cablevision Systems and Bright House Networks. CableWiFi has 200,000 hotspots in total, meaning Comcast has more than 800,000 access points transmitting from living room shelves.

Though its hotspot network is a considerable resource for Comcast’s customers, it’s not the easiest to use. Customers still have to log in to each hotspot using their Xfinity credentials, but emerging technologies like Hotspot 2.0 will eventually make those connections automatic. When that happens Comcast can turn its hotspot footprint into a kind of mobile data overlay offloading smartphone and tablet traffic off from cellular networks.

Comcast told regulators it’s weighing using that footprint to create a Wi-Fi First mobile network, using cellular systems to fill in the gaps between its hotspots. It hasn’t revealed whether it would sell such a service to consumers to sell Wi-Fi capacity to other carriers.

 

Charting Charter’s Progress

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Charter Communications’ launch of a new app that can stream more than 130 live TV channels in the home to tablets and smartphones (with some out-of-home access expected down the road) marks the latest step in the operator’s transformational process under Tom Rutledge, who took the helm more than two years ago.

A big piece of this shift involves other services as well as a fresh brand that Charter will use as it completes all-digital upgrades.

Following up on plans first revealed by Rutledge last November, the company confirmed (subscription required) that Charter (hat tip: DSL Reports) has already introduced that new brand, “Spectrum,” in two markets — Fort Worth, Texas, and Greenville, S.C.

Similar to Comcast’s Xfinity playbook, Charter is introducing the brand with new services that are tied to this analog-reclamation process. At this stage, Spectrum means the doubling of max Internet download speeds – from 30 Mbps to 60 Mbps – at no additional cost, alongside a hefty expansion of live HDTV channels, a larger VOD library, and advanced voice service paired with unlimited nationwide calling

As this site shows, Charter is using the new brand to tout a set of new triple-play packages: Select, Silver and Gold.

And expect the brand to reach several more Charter markets in the coming weeks and months, as the MSO expects to complete its all-digital shift in all markets by the end of 2014. Those efforts are already underway in markets such as southern California, and parts of Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Massachusetts and Missouri.

- See more at: http://www.multichannel.com/blog/bauminator/charting-charter-s-progress/373747#sthash.Lh5RryoI.dpuf

Comcast, NCTA cheer FCC 5 GHz Wi-Fi order

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March 31, 2014 | By 

FCC commissioners agreed to open up 100 MHz of spectrum in the 5 GHz band available for use with Wi-Fi services, in a big win for Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA)  and other broadband providers that have said they need more unlicensed spectrum to support advanced services.

“Today’s decision is a win for every consumer who uses Wi-Fi.  It will help alleviate congestion and pave the way for next generation Wi-Fi technologies that will operate at gigabit-per-second speeds,” Comcast VP of Regulatory Policy David Don said in a prepared statement.

The move was also cheered by National Cable & Telecommunications Association CEO Michael Powell, who said the FCC action will drive a “substantially faster Wi-Fi experience” for American consumers.

The FCC said the new rules will remove the restriction on indoor-only use for the 5 GHz band. “This in turn will allow U-NII devices to better integrate with other unlicensed portions of the GHz band to offer faster speeds and reduce congestion at crowded Wi-Fi hot spots such as airports and convention centers,” the commission said.

 

 

 

Charter CEO Working to Reduce ‘Cable Guy’ Visits

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Tom Rutledge also says he is “observing” the Comcast takeover of Time Warner Cable but adds, “We don’t need M&A to be a successful company.”

1:00 PM PDT 3/10/2014 by Paul Bond

Tom Rutledge is no fan of multiple visits from the “cable guy,” he said during a conversation at the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet and Telecom Conference in Florida on Monday.

The Charter Communications CEO said he is working hard to minimize the need to roll out personnel and trucks to customers because “getting that out of the business” improves the quality of the product. One way Charter is accomplishing that is by selling triple-play services so that multiple products can be installed with a single visit and fewer “transactions.”

“Taking transactions out of the business actually increases customer satisfaction,” Rutledge said. “The opportunity for things to go wrong are legendary. I mean, people make movies about it — Cable Guy. Getting that out of the business dramatically improves satisfaction.”

Rutledge also talked about “a whole bunch of opportunities” for Charter and other cable companies that will come by way of looming 10-gigabyte-per-second Internet speeds and wireless Internet connections in every home.

“We’ll have the ability to probably do something along the lines of a ‘wireless drop,’ meaning a wireless connection for every household, which might not even require a physical connection between the house and the street,” he said.

He said that he does not anticipate that consumers will want to navigate giant TV screens with their fingers the same way they do with iPads and other tablets, therefore Charter is focusing on improving remote controls for such functionality.

Of the impending Comcast acquisition of Time Warner Cable — a company Charter once coveted — Rutledge said, “We’re observing them.” He added, “We don’t need M&A to be a successful company.”

Charter shares, meanwhile, were rising 1 percent to more than $128 a share on Monday during midday trading. Wall Street analysts have been friendly to the stock lately, and, on Monday, Jefferies Group upgraded shares to “buy” with a $150 price target. On Friday, Northland Capital upgraded the stock to “outperform.”

Sources: Senate Hearing On Comcast/TWC Moving To April 2

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Will Make Way for Hearing on STELA

By: John Eggerton Mar 10 2014 – 04:07pm

According to sources, the Senate Judiciary Committee is moving its hearing on the proposed Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger from March 26 to April 2.

That move will be to make room for a hearing on the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA), said multiple sources. The committee would be unlikely to hold two big hearings on the same day.

STELA has been heating up, with a draft of a bill in the House Communications Subcommittee and movement in the Senate Commerce Committee as well, where Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D- W. Va.) has asked for input on what should be in the bill.

The House Communications Subcommittee is holding a STELA hearing March 12, with witnesses from across the stakeholder spectrum including National Cable & Telecommunications Association President Michael Powell.

Pay-TV Firms, CEA, Energy Agree On Set-Top Standards

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Voluntary Pact Aims At Saving $1B Per Year By Conserving Power

By: John Eggerton Dec 23 2013 – 11:20am

The cable and consumer electronics industries, energy efficiency groups and the Department of Energy have struck a deal on voluntary energy efficiency standards for set-top boxes that they say will result in “significant energy savings for more than 90 million U.S. homes” while avoiding regulations that cable operators had argued would hurt, not help.

The new standards — including energy-use monitoring by pay-TV providers — are predicted to boost set-top box energy efficiency between 10% and 45%, depending on the box, by 2017.

That is expected to translate into more than $1 billion annually, a figure that could grow with the growth of whole-home devices and increasing demand for DVRs and HD set-tops.

The standards agreement applies to all types of boxes from pay-TV providers: cable, satellite and telco. Energy use monitoring will be subject to an independent audit. DOE also reserves the right to test the boxes under the federal Energy Star verification process.

“As Americans increasingly rely on more electronic devices and gadgets, managing energy consumption is both an environmental and economic priority for consumers and industry alike, Michael Powell, NCTA’s president, said in a statement. “The cable industry is working hard to improve the overall consumer experience and we are proud to develop solutions that will reduce our energy footprint and result in real energy savings for millions of consumers.”

Also signing on to the agreement were the Consumer Electronics Association, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and the Appliance Standards Awareness Project. Multichannel video providers onboard include Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network, Time Warner Cable, AT&T, Verizon, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Cablevision Systems, Bright House Networks and CenturyLink.

Back in June, NCTA asked DOE to pause an effort to come up with government-mandated energy efficiency standards because such regulation would foreclose innovation and “sabotage” a voluntary agreement among equipment manufacturers and the top multichannel video providers.

Under the voluntary agreement reached last fall, Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Verizon, Charter, AT&T, Cablevision, Bright House Networks and CenturyLink – along with consumer-equipment companies Cisco, Motorola, EchoStar and Arris – said new set-tops would meet Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star 3.0 levels. Devices that meet that standard are 45% more efficient than ones that don’t, according to the EPA.

Also, “light-sleeper” mode software will be employed by cable operators to more than 10 million DVRs already in use, and satellite operators will include a power-down feature in 90% of the set-tops they deploy.

Energy conservation advocates did not sign on to that agreement, and the Energy Department restarted the process, which will now officially be terminated with the agreement to the new standards.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who has been pushing for the standards, praised the agreement, but said she would monitor its progress to insure industry follows through.

“In 2011, I urged the CEOs of every major television service provider to work together to introduce more energy efficient set-top boxes,” the senator said in a statement. “At the time, set-top boxes were costing Americans $3 billion in electricity charges each year — with $2 billion wasted when televisions were not being used. Today’s voluntary announcement demonstrates the television industry took this matter seriously, and I commend industry and efficiency advocates for agreeing to make 90% of all set-top boxes as efficient as today’s most energy efficient boxes by 2017.”

She said she would “monitor the situation carefully to ensure the industry remains committed to building on today’s substantial progress in future years.”

The National Resources Defense Council issued a statement by Noah Horowitz, one of the lead negotiators for the voluntary agreement and a senior scientist and director of the Center for Energy Efficiency at NRDC: “This historic agreement promises to put $1 billion back in the pockets of U.S. consumers every year because the new set-top boxes will use less energy. We appreciate the industry’s renewed commitment toward making the devices that bring pay TV into 90 million-plus U.S. homes more efficient and look forward to working together to reduce their future energy use.”

Comcast and Khan Academy Announce Multi-Year, Multi-Million Dollar Partnership to Help Close the Digital and Educational Divide

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The combination of low-cost internet service and free, world-class education has the power to help level the playing field for low-income families.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA

Today, Comcast’s Executive Vice President David L. Cohen and Salman Khan, founder of the non-profit Khan Academy, announced a comprehensive partnership that will combine the free, world-class educational content of Khan Academy with the transformative potential of Internet Essentials, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program.

For Comcast, this is one of the largest commitments the Company has made to a non-profit partner. The commitment includes hundreds of thousands of PSAs, significant digital promotion in both English and Spanish, as well as multiple joint promotion opportunities around the country over the next few years.

“While Comcast has made great progress connecting more than 1 million low-income Americans, or more than 250,000 families, to the Internet through our Internet Essentials program, there are many more families who are still eligible to participate, but have not yet signed up,” said Cohen. “Research consistently shows that the number one barrier to broadband adoption is a bucket of digital literacy issues, including a lack of understanding of the relevancy of the Internet and of the value it provides. Khan Academy is almost uniquely positioned to help lower that barrier because its content is the ultimate proof point of the value of the Internet.”

In a survey by Comcast of its Internet Essentials program subscribers, 98 percent indicated their kids use the Internet for homework and 94 percent feel that Internet access in the home has had a positive impact on their child’s grades. Khan Academy offers a personalized learning experience which includes over 5,000 free educational videos and 100,000 practice problems, in areas from basic Math to college level Biology and Art History. Khan Academy is helping kids do better in school and is preparing them to compete for 21st century jobs.

“In order to scale our free resources to the world, Khan Academy developed our materials on an online platform,” said Khan. “This approach helps us reach millions of individuals. In order to get the full value of Khan Academy, you need access to broadband. We’re excited to partner with Comcast, so we can help expand the number of people who can gain access to our site.”

Khan Academy is a non-profit with a mission to provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. In the last two years, Khan Academy has delivered over 330 million lessons and 1.6 billion exercise problems. Currently, it has 10 million users per month and over 4 million exercise problems completed each day.

Internet Essentials from Comcast is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive program designed to help close the digital divide. It provides low-cost broadband service for $9.95 a month plus tax; the option to purchase an Internet-ready computer for under $150; and multiple options to access free digital literacy training in print, online, and in-person.

For more information, visit www.comcastcorporation.com or follow Comcast on Twitter and Google+.

About Khan Academy:

Khan Academy is a 501(c)3 non-profit with a mission of providing a free world-class education for anyone, anywhere. Khan Academy provides free online educational material (e.g., practice exercise, instructional videos, dashboard analytics, teacher tools) that support personalized education for users of all ages in a scalable way. In the last two years, the organization has delivered over 330 million lessons and 1.6 billion exercise problems. Currently it has 10 million users per month and over 4 million exercise problems completed each day. Khan Academy covers subjects from basic Math to college level Biology and Art History. For more information, visit www.khanacademy.org.

About Internet Essentials:

Internet Essentials from Comcast is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program. It provides low-cost broadband service for $9.95 a month plus tax; the option to purchase an Internet-ready computer for under $150; and multiple options to access free digital literacy training in print, online, and in-person. A household is eligible to participate if it has at least one child eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), is located where Comcast offers Internet service, has not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days, and does not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment. Families that enroll in the program can continue to enjoy the service as long as one child eligible to participate in the NSLP is living in the household.

For more information about Internet Essentials visit InternetEssentials.com for English and InternetBasico.com for Spanish. Educators or third-parties interested in helping to spread the word can find more information at InternetEssentials.com/partner. Parents looking to enroll in the program can call 1-855-846-8376 or, for Spanish, 1-855-765-6995.

About Comcast Corporation:

Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is a global media and technology company with two primary businesses, Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal. Comcast Cable is the nation’s largest video, high-speed Internet and phone provider to residential customers under the XFINITY brand and also provides these services to businesses. NBCUniversal operates 30 news, entertainment and sports cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, television production operations, television station groups, Universal Pictures and Universal Parks and Resorts. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.

WICT Names Best Companies For Women In Cable

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By: MCN Staff Oct 17 2013 – 03:25pm
Comcast, Cox, NBCU Share First Place Nods Based On PAR Survey Results

Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) picked the current “Best Companies For Women In Cable” today, based on results of the 2013 WICT PAR Survey. After each survey is conducted, distinguished operators and programmers are recognized as the highest achievers based on the survey data. This year two companies tied for the first-place position of best operator, Comcast and Cox Communications. NBCUniversal attained the first-place position of best programmer.

The PAR Survey gauges gender-related qualitative and quantitative employee data, and assesses companies’ practices as to how they support Pay equity, Advancement opportunities, and Resources for work/life support. Mercer, a leading global consultant on human capital issues, gathered and analyzed the data, creating an executive report that will be available in December 2013 on WICT’s web site, www.wict.org. This year marks the tenth anniversary and the ninth cycle of the PAR Initiative, which is now administered biennially.

In all, 25 companies participated in the survey, representing 59% of the overall cable work force.

Other companies singled out for recognition were:

  • Cable providers: Bright House Networks, second place; Time Warner Cable, third place; Midcontinent Communications, fourth place, and Suddenlink Communications, fifth place.
  • Programmers: Discovery Communications, second place; Disney ABC Television Group, third place; Scripps Networks Interactive, fourth place, and Turner Broadcasting System Inc., fifth place.

The PAR Survey is administered in partnership with the NAMIC AIM Survey. The PAR Initiative is underwritten by the Walter Kaitz Foundation and supported by each of WICT’s local chapters.

“This is the 10th year of the PAR Initiative, and as the industry continues to raise the bar on equitable gender employment standards, the data over time shows gains for women in several key areas, including a higher percentage of women at the executive and senior levels,” Parthavi Das, WICT Chief of Staff, said in a release. “However, promotion rates are lower for women as compared to men and departure rates are higher, and the concern is that if the trend continues the number of women in management will decline over the next five years.”

“We applaud those companies recognized as the best for women in cable. They offer great lessons that we will share as part of an ongoing advocacy campaign to help the industry absorb and enact best practices,” Maria E. Brennan, CAE, President & CEO of WICT, said in the release. “We appreciate the commitment of time and resources that companies dedicated to participating in the PAR Initiative this year. We are also grateful to NAMIC for their partnership, as well as to the Walter Kaitz Foundation and the WICT local chapters for their support of PAR.”

Initial findings from the 2013 PAR Initiative were released during a joint Town Hall with NAMIC, as part of Diversity Week. The Executive Summary may be downloaded from www.wictparinitiative.org; a full report will be released later this year.

CableLabs Plants Flag In Silicon Valley

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CableLabs Plants Flag In Silicon Valley

New Innovation Office and Lab to Open October 28
By: Craig Kuhl Oct 22 2013 – 07:31am

When the doors of the new CableLabs Innovation Office and Lab facility swing open on October 28 in the Silicon Valley, cable’s R&D consortium will embark on a new era of strategic thinking and boot up a venue tasked with sparking new ideas and the debut of a process aimed at bringing those ideas to fruition.

The 17,000-square-foot Innovation Office and Lab, located at 400 W. California in Sunnyvale, will report into CableLabs CEO Phil McKinney and represent the follow-on to a CableLabs office originally opened-up in San Francisco in November 2011.

The new facility, initially to support seven CableLabs employees, will focus on managing and developing the R&D organization’s innovation portfolio while also encouraging employees, CableLabs members, and potential development partners to identify and develop new technologies for the cable industry. It will also be used to host events and lay down firm roots in the tech-savvy area. In fact, it has already scheduled an open house on November 21 so vendors, members and Silicon Valley locals can poke around and schmooze.

The facility “will allow greater flexibility and collaborative efforts with bellwether, emerging technology firms,” McKinney said in an email exchange with Multichannel News.

A main goal of the Silicon Valley facility is to accelerate the process of developing new ideas and how to get them to market for efficiently, while also creating fresh investment opportunities.

“The intent of Innovation Office is to be a developer, catalyst and enabler of innovation and will reach out to contributors and thought leaders as well as innovative companies focused on emerging technologies,” McKinney added.

CableLabs vice president of innovation Christian Pape will head up the facility’s day-to-day operations. He’s also been charged with developing the office’s business model and establishing the vision of the new lab beyond its start-up period.

“We will look at innovations in three horizons; one, two and three years out,” Pape explained. The new facility will “make cable a relevant technology to developers in the Silicon Valley” and provide lab capabilities that are “on par” with the CableLabs facility in Colorado.

Setting The Innovation Process

CableLabs holds that the process of identifying and vetting ideas will be rigorous and disciplined, and will start with presentations made to “theme leaders” at the R&D organization.

“They [the theme leaders] are the execution arm, and pitch ideas just like a venture capital firm would. We have already generated a significant backlog of ideas and identified 20 worthy of further examination that could lead to investment,” Pape said.

Theme teams will assess ideas based on three key questions: Will it change the customer experience? Will it change the economics of the industry and its growth? Will it change the competitive business of industry and strategic alliances?

And, there’s a “wow” factor: Does it capture the imagination?

“It’s like a business case and the audience is the executive team,” Pape said. Once an idea is approved, it first enters a gated stage process before later heading to customer validation and proof-of-concept stages that look to deliver on the problem trying to be solved. “Data is then collected and presented to the executive committee,” Pape added.

The new facility aims to pursue new technologies and business models that extend beyond the traditional cable industry.

“That is the focal point. We recognize our members’ business is changing, so we’re serving their needs and strategies. We think it will lead us to new places beyond the cable space,” Pape said.

High on the Innovation Office’s radar screen are technologies such as IP, display technologies and Ultra HD/4K. Seven projects are already funded and being accelerated through the Silicon Valley facility, according to CableLabs.

“It’s not just about harnessing technology, it’s about building out to the future, so we’re looking for trends and opportunities,” Pape said.

 

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