WATT THE…?! LA Times Gets it Wrong on Cable Box Energy Efficiency
June 19, 2014
In March we reported that the new voluntary energy conservation agreement (VA) among multichannel video providers, device manufacturers and energy advocacy groups would soon be working to deliver energy savings for 90 million American homes. The VA included commitments to efficiency standards that would improve set-top box efficiency by up to 45 percent and rack up more than $1 billion in consumer energy savings annually.
So imagine our surprise when in spite of this agreement (which was embraced by the US Department of Energy and received strong bipartisan praise), we saw a report in the LA Times on Monday with a headline proclaiming cable TV boxes had become the second biggest energy users in many homes. Even more unfortunate is that we’ve seen this erroneous story picked up by others who are not even trying to check the facts.
The energy efficiency advocates NRDC, ASAP, ACEE and NCTA, CEA and the CCTA have already submitted a joint letter to the LA Times correcting what we see as a deeply unfair portrayal of advances made under the Set-Top Box Energy Conservation Agreement. You can see that letter here. Whether or not the LA Times chooses to address our letter, it’s important to correct what we see as an incredibly misleading report.
As a baseline, an average TV set top box consumes less than 12-kilowatt hours (KwH) of energy per month. Based on the average American household energy consumption of 903 KwH per month, a TV set top box is responsible for just 1.3 percent of a typical household’s energy use. Compare that to 46 percent for heating and cooling.
The LA Times article suggested that cable boxes that were rated for 500 watts were “about the same as a washing machine” and could cost “$8 a month for a typical Southern California customer.” First, a 500-watt rating on the back of a set top box has nothing to do with power consumption and is most likely a UL safety rating. Second, an average set-top box consumes less than $2 per month of power. Even a DVR set top box without the latest energy efficiencies running at 30 watts of power when on, costs about $3 per month in Southern California.
The article says experts report the VA “will provide only a fraction of the potential gains and take years to realize.” Again, wrong. While traditional US Department of Energy approaches would have taken eight years, the voluntary approach immediately offered significant energy savings. After only one year of operation, companies are already ahead of schedule, with 85 percent of new set-top box purchases already meeting Energy Star 3 efficiency standards, and many models offering even greater savings.
Throughout the article, readers are misled, left with a false picture of both the power consumption of these devices and the current efforts to achieve greater efficiencies. As part of the significant transparency and monitoring requirements of the VA, service providers are making the energy usage of new set-top boxes available for consumers to review. We encourage you to see for yourself how the VA is both reducing energy consumption and saving consumers money.
Speed Upgrades Start In Los Angeles, NYC
Time Warner Cable said it has begun to offer broadband speeds of up to 300 Mbps (downstream) in parts of New York City and Los Angeles as part of its “TWC Maxx” all-digital network and service upgrade initiative.
In the upgraded areas, TWC subs who are on the MSO’s Standard tier (15 Mbps down by 1 Mbps upstream) are being bumped to 50×5, while customers on the Ultimate plan (100 x 5) are being accelerated to 300 x 20 at no extra charge, the MSO said, noting that customers will need a DOCSIS 3.0 modem to get the boost. Its Standard service runs about $57.99 per month, while Ultimate is priced about $107.99.
Areas that are getting the speed boost include Costa Mesa and West Hollywood in California, and in areas of Woodside (in Queens) and Staten Island in New York City.
TWC’s network and Internet speed upgrades are coming “soon” to the LA areas of Covina, Cypress, Hoover, Crenshaw District and Jefferson Park, and to upper Manhattan and additional neighborhoods in Queens and Staten Island in New York City. By the end of June, TWC will be delivering the new, faster speed plans to more than 200,000 customers, the MSO said.
Time Warner Cable Business Services unit has also introduced speed tiers of 100 Mbps down by 10 Mbps upstream, as well as 200×20 and 300×20 as new options, complementing the speeds of up to 10 Gbps it offers via its fiber-based Metro Ethernet platform tailored for larger commercial customers.
“These significant speed increases and network enhancements will allow our Internet customers to get the most out of their TWC experience,” “With this service transformation, our customers can enjoy all the ways they use TWC Internet even better, including streaming video, downloading music and more,” TWC chairman and CEO Robert Marcus said, in a statement.
TWC has completed its all-digital rollout in NYC, and expects to wrap it in L.A. by year-end. With the upgrade, TWC is also expanding its VOD library to 75,000 hours of content, and extending the reach of a new cloud-based interface for its video platform.
The upgrades are part of the MSO’s three-year ops plan announced in late January, weeks before Comcast announced its proposed acquisition of the nation’s second largest MSO.
– See more at: http://www.multichannel.com/news/technology/twc-unleashed-300-meg-broadband-some/374029#sthash.3E7MRUhm.dpuf
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.
In a hyper competitive Pay TV marketplace, cable, DBS and telco TV providers all know that they have to continually innovate in order to compete for a spot in today’s connected home. They also know that a big part of that innovation has to come in the form of creating a more energy efficient set-top box.
That’s why we’re pleased to report that the voluntary energy conservation agreement (VA) among multichannel video providers, device manufacturers and energy advocacy groups continues to expand and progress. The agreement works to deliver energy efficiency solutions for 90 million American homes. The VA includes commitments to efficiency standards that will improve set-top box efficiency by up to 45 percent, and are expected to rack up more than $1 billion in consumer energy savings annually.
On February 25, 2014, energy advocacy representatives who joined the expanded VA in December 2013 met for the first time as voting members of the steering committee. Highlights from the meeting include:
- Pace, plc, a major manufacturer of set-top boxes, joined the VA, further expanding its reach.
- As part of the significant transparency and monitoring requirements of the VA, service providers will be making the energy usage of new set-top boxes available for consumers to review. For example, the new set-top boxes of the six largest cable operators are posted to a web site hosted by CableLabs Energy Lab, the lab established by the cable industry to pursue energy efficient solutions.
- The VA also includes commitments to conduct industry-funded field verification testing. The steering committee finalized a Request for Proposal to be issued next week, seeking bids for a contractor to conduct verification testing in households to confirm that the posted efficiency levels are being achieved in the field. Potential candidates are invited to contact Paul Glist at the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine (PaulGlist@dwt.com) to request a copy of the RFP.
- The Independent Administrator of the VA will continue its operations to assess each company’s compliance, produce an annual report, and handle many other transparency and verification functions. The Independent Administrator is already collecting the data to be used in its first annual report of progress during the first year of operation under the VA.
The Agreement Signatory organizations that participated in the meeting are (listed according to number of customers): Comcast, DIRECTV, DISH Network, Time Warner Cable, AT&T, Verizon, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Cablevision Systems Corp., Bright House Networks and CenturyLink; manufacturers Cisco, ARRIS (including Motorola), EchoStar Technologies and Pace; and energy efficiency advocates Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), which also represented its affiliate the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP). The VA was embraced last year by the US Department of Energy, as it terminated its regulatory approach in favor of the VA.
For Immediate Release
FREE CALLS TO THE PHILIPPINES
FOR TIME WARNER CABLE PHONE CUSTOMERS
New York, November 12, 2013
– Time Warner Cable today announced that all call placed by its Home Phone and Business Services customers to landline and mobile numbers in the Philippines will be free through November 30th, and is retroactive for all calls placed since November 8th.
“It is a difficult time for those who have loved ones in the Philippines and our thoughts go out to those impacted by Typhoon Haiyan. To help the Filipino-American community keep in touch with family and friends, we are making all calls placed to the Philippines free for our Phone customers,” said Rob Marcus, Time Warner Cable’s President and COO.
TWC Phone customers who make calls to the Philippines during the eligible time period do not need to make any changes to their accounts. Customers who were charged on or after November 8th will automatically be credited.
In addition, Time Warner Cable has made The Filipino Channel available at no additional cost to digital TV subscribers through November 15th to help customers better connect to news and information about Typhoon Haiyan recovery efforts.
About Time Warner Cable
Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) is among the largest providers of video, high-speed data and voice services in the United States, connecting more than 15 million customers to entertainment, information and each other. Time Warner Cable Business Class offers data, video and voice services to businesses of all sizes, cell tower backhaul services to wireless carriers and managed and outsourced information technology solutions and cloud services. Time Warner Cable Media, the advertising arm of Time Warner Cable, offers national, regional and local companies innovative advertising solutions. More information about the services of Time Warner Cable is available at twc.com, twcbc.com and twcmedia.com.
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Bobby Amirshahi Shelley Loo
(212) 364-8292 (212) 364-8293
NCTA: Cable Wi-Fi Pushes Past 200,000 Hotspots
U.S. cable operators have deployed more than 200,000 Wi-Fi hotspots, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association estimated in a blog post Monday.
That’s up from about 150,000 in June, the last time the NCTA offered a count, and up from 50,000 in May 2012.
The NCTA is also revealing the new figure as the House Energy and commerce committee gets ready to discuss next-gen “Gigabit” Wi-Fi Tuesday. The cable industry has been urging the government to loosen restrictions on the 5GHz band if Wi-Fi is to meet the anticipated demand of wireless broadband access.
The bulk of those 200,000 hotspots come from cable operator members of the “CableWiFi” roaming alliance – Cablevision Systems, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks.
Those operators have primarily used their hotspots as a free add-on for cable modem customers, though some operators also support pay-as-you-go plans for non-subscribers.
Comcast, meanwhile, has also kicked off a program that envisions turning millions of DOCSIS-powered wireless gateways in customer homes into quasi-public hot spots, hitting on a trend that is already well underway in Europe. When equipped with the right firmware, those gateways use a new “xfinitywifi” signal, or SSID (service set identifier), that are accessible to authenticated, roaming Comcast broadband subs. Comcast’s Xfinity WiFi site estimates that the operator now provides access to more than 300,000 hotspots through its upgraded gateways and partnerships with other MSOs.
More than a year after it enlisted in the landmark cable WiFi alliance, Cox officially opened up access this week to free, out-of-region WiFi for subscribers to its Preferred, Premier, and Ultimate High Speed Internet tiers. Users can sign on to hotspots with the “CableWiFi” identifier using their Cox login credentials. (See Cable WiFi on a Hot Streak.)
Cox customers now have access to WiFi hotspots in regions served by three other members of the club — Comcast Corp., Cablevision Systems Corp., andBright House Networks. Time Warner Cable Inc. is the fifth member of the WiFi club, and a Cox spokesperson said he expects TWC hotspots to be integrated into the Cox service before the end of the year. Charter Communications Inc. is the only top-five US MSO not participating in the WiFi alliance yet. (See Charter Goes Own Way on WiFi.)
Current “CableWiFi” locations open to Cox subscribers include areas of metro Washington D.C.; Boston; Richmond, Va., Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Time Warner Cable would add hotspots in Dallas, Los Angeles, and New York City.
Cable companies have numerous reasons for wanting to add WiFi access to their service portfolios. Not only does free WiFi offer customers more incentive to pay the monthly cable bill, it’s also a brand extension for operators outside the customer’s home. Cable operators are looking at monetizing new hotspots as well, in part by offering paid access to non-subscribers. (See Cisco ‘Heats’ Up Hotspots.)
But there’s a cost side to the equation too. In addition to the capital expense of installing new WiFi access points, there’s also the issue of increased network traffic from users who switch to WiFi on mobile devices to avoid costlier mobile broadband services.
At the Cable Show, Cox CTO Kevin Hart told Light Reading that new WiFi hotspots affect network planning strategies. With WiFi roaming agreements in place, operators now have to account for traffic from out-of-region cable customers, in addition to their own subscribers.
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading Cable