Upgrade from 4Mbps definition in 2011 keeps 1Mbps upstream minimum
Over the objections of carriers and cable companies, the FCC on Friday voted to change the definition of the term "broadband" to require a minimum speed of 10 megabits (one megabit equals one-eighth of a megabyte) per second (Mbps) download speed -- an upgrade from the previous definition of 4Mbps -- while keeping the old definition's requirement of at least 1Mbps upload. Although the US is far behind many other countries in typical broadband speed (and US customers pay more for the slower speed that typical prices in many other places), AT&T and Verizon, along with the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, argued that 4Mbps was sufficient for consumers.
Worcester, MA city council advises city manager not to allow Comcast transfer
A city council has declared it does not want Comcast to provide service to its residents. The council of Worcester, MA has voted against the transfer of the city's cable license from Charter to Comcast over the cable giant's "substandard consumer service practices," as well as believing it lacks the management experience to maintain the service for the region.
Bluetooth headphones feature 40mm drivers, 116dB sensitivity, on-ear controls
Genius announced a new set of stereo headphones today, giving consumers another option in the world of Bluetooth listening devices. The HS-920BT on-ear headphones feature 40mm drivers with a sensitivity of 116dB, an impedance of 32ohms and a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz. Controls are placed on right ear cup, giving users control over volume, tracks and receiving phone calls. Power is provided by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
Move to pave the way to merger will make Charter the second largest provider
Comcast Corporation and Charter Communications today announced that the companies have reached an agreement on a series of transactions that will see the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger divest approximately 3.9 million customers. The sale is part of the terms of the deal, where Comcast has agreed to cede a portion of its subscriber so that its total is less than 30 percent of total cable company subscribers overall.
Signs agreement with energy conservation groups, pay-TV companies
The US Energy Department has made an agreement with energy efficiency and electronic device groups to help conserve energy. The agreement includes new non-regulatory energy efficiency standards for set-top boxes used for pay-TV, with current targets set to improve efficiency by 10 to 45 percent by 2017, allowing more than 90 million US homes to collectively save more than $1 billion on their consumer energy bills each year.
Aereo-style service from NimbeTV requires cable service authentication
A startup offering cable TV streaming over the Internet has opened its service to everyone in New York, following a successful test period in the city. In a similar manner to Aereo's service, NimbleTV will offer cable subscribers access to the same channels but over the Internet, along with the ability to record programs via the cloud-based DVR.
Cable company could offer movie purchases shortly after theatre run
Comcast could allow its subscribers to buy movies on their cable boxes, according to recent reports. The cable company is claimed by unnamed sources to be preparing to offer customers the service, via set-top boxes and through the browser via the Xfinity TV website, with the possibility that it will launch before the end of this year.
Cloud-based DVR accesses free over-the-air TV channels via supported devices
Aereo, a cloud-based DVR company, has announced the upcoming availability of its television services in the Detroit metropolitan area, beginning October 28, 2013. Using web browsers, iOS devices, Android devices, and more, Aereo allows users to access 'over-the-air' television channels via an internet connection, that could once be attained with 'bunny ear' antenna over top of one's TV. Aereo's antenna are located in data centres for serviceable areas, which also include a remote DVR. Users control both with an Internet-connected device, and can view, record, pause, fast-forward and rewind as one would with a cable or satellite DVR.
Negotiations could lead to Netflix video on cable boxes in future
Cable providers in the United States could be adding Netflix to its set-top boxes in the future, according to a new report. The streaming video service is said to be in early-stage negotiations with cable services to introduce the app to customers, which would in theory allow subscribers to directly use Netflix without switching to another living room device, such as a game console.
Launch limited to Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania
Comcast has expanded its Xfinity TV service to offer a prepaid version to customers. The pay-as-you-go cable service will provide users with a number of standard definition channels, including a mix of local and national channels, and provides a way for potential viewers to get cable TV without requiring to submit to a credit check nor provide a Social Security Number.
14 million people potentially affected by disconnect
In the latest development in the Time Warner Cable and CBS licensing disagreement, Time Warner Cable has yet again discontinued CBS-owned programming in New York City, with other venues to follow. Channels affected by the negotiation failure are local CBS stations, Showtime, The Movie Channel (TMC), Flix, and the Smithsonian channel. Areas likely to see the programming cut are Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, and Pittsburgh.
Third party devices need adapter, Comcast set-top boxes unaffected
Comcast will start encrypting its basic cable service in the coming months. Though users with a Comcast-provided set-top box will be able to decrypt the new signals without any problem, customers with either a third-party cable box or devices that directly connect to a cable outlet will need to request some equipment.
Acquisition to give Virgin Media stronger position against Sky
British cable service provider Virgin Media has been acquired by Liberty Global. The deal, worth $23.3 billion in cash and stock, gives Liberty a bigger stake in European businesses, as well as providing both companies the chance to save around $180 million per year after regulatory and shareholder approval and the acquisition closes.
Gear4 adds new case designs to iPhone 5 cover range
Gear4 has revealed its range of cases for the iPhone 5. The new range includes a number of cases that are fairly nontraditional in their appearance, such as the edge-protecting Band ($20) that leaves the front and rear accessible while protecting the handset from shock damage. Thin Ice ($20) provides protection with its tough plastic design with a liquid rubber back, while also being the thinnest case for the iPhone 5 that Gear4 has to offer.
Target: 17m low-income housholds not connected
Private industry is chipping in to help increase adoption of computer technology and broadband access in the US. FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski, announced today that the private sector will be contributing up to $4 billion in hardware and services to as many as 17 million low-income families. As part of the program, Microsoft will be offering $250 computers and the cable companies will be providing broadband Internet access for $10 a month.
Tuneblocker iPod cable
Matais has come up with a simple solution to a minor annoyance that affects every iPod and iPhone user -- the unwanted sync. Tune Blocker allows users to charge their devices through USB, without having to sync through iTunes. The cable comes with a built-in switch, so users can choose whether or not to sync.
New SATA cable for Mac Pro
Newer Technology has announced its first eSATA Extender Cable, which is compatible with all Mac Pro models. The cable connects to the two unused internal Mac Pro SATA ports and replicates them in a PCI slot, allowing users to use two external eSATA connections. The cable is engineered as a "Perfect Fit Solution" enabling six total SATA drives to access the motherboard. NewerTech's eSATA Extender Cable costs $25 and is available now.
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters has made several additions to its Jam Jacket family of iPod cases, including new models for the iPod nano and iPod touch. Available today are the Jam Jacket with MultiClip for iPod touch, which features a unique, multi-function "MultiClip," and the Jam Jacket for iPod nano featuring a laser-etched design on the back of the case. Both cases are available immediately for $20. The Jam Jacket with MultiClip for the iPod touch features a unique 3-in-1 integrated clip built into the back of the case. The silicone-covered MultiClip acts as a clip/stand combo, as well as a cable management solution. Users can clip it on their belt, or pop out the MultiClip to use it as a desk stand (both vertically and horizontally)
Verizon on cableco options
Verizon is putting pressure on the Federal Communications Commission to make switching away from cable companies easier, Reuters reports. The company observes while phone companies will often handle the switchover from one carrier to another themselves, cable subscribers must typically get their own cable disconnected. This discourages people from switching, Verizon argues, "entrenching the cable incumbents' dominant market position."
Comcast sues FCC over cap
Comcast recently issued a lawsuit to the FCC over a pending decision, which would institute a 30-percent cap for cable's share of multichannel-video providers. Comcast, the largest cable provider in the US, currently sits at 27-percent, according to Broadcasting and Cable. David Cohen, executive vice president for Comcast, said in an interview, "the record at the FCC provided absolutely no support for a horizontal ownership cap of 30% -- a position that has been supported by the courts."
AirQueue USB 2.0 extender
Synchrotech today unveiled the AirQueue, a 7.75-inch USB 2.0 extension cable specifically designed to allow large or unusually designed USB devices to work with Apple's recently released MacBook Air. The AirQueue is certified to work with Synchrotech's own MicroU2E USB ExpressCard reader, which allows users to access a wide array of USB 2.0-based ExpressCards with a MacBook Air. The extender cable is priced at $6.
TiVo Tru2Way/OCAP set-top
DVR maker TiVo is preparing to support Tru2Way technology, according to a financial statement released by the company. Fomerly known as OCAP, the technology enables two-way interaction over cable set-tops, including services such as games, chat, web browsing and shopping. The technology will only be available in in the form of an upcoming standalone device, however, and not as an update for present set-tops like the TiVo HD or Series 3.
Motorola DOCSIS 3.0 modems
Though typically associated with cellphones, Motorola has announced its very first collection of modems based on the DOCSIS 3.0 standard, which has yet to deploy in any wide fashion in North America but can dramatically increase the possible bandwidth of cable Internet connections. Aimed at the average consumer is the SURFboard SB6120, which permits as much as 160Mbps in standard DOCSIS mode, or 195Mbps under Euro-DOCSIS; because of its internal design, this works without the need for hybrid support by cable operators.
Comcast changes terms
Comcast has changed the wording of its terms of service to allow controversial behavior on its part, reports say. The company was accused late last year of sabotaging BitTorrent traffic, in some cases making it unusable regardless of the intended purpose. In keeping with some of the company's excuses for traffic shaping, Section III of Comcast's new terms of service now explains that it "uses reasonable network management practices that are consistent with industry standards."
30, 50Mbps cable Internet
A company in the Canadian province of Quebec will soon match Verizon in deploying some of the fastest consumer Internet access in North America, according to reports. Cable supplier Videotron is preparing to debut two "Ultimate Speed Internet" plans, capable of downloads at 30 and 50Mbps, respectively. This is an upgrade on the company's current top tier of 20Mbps, and takes advantage of pre-DOCSIS 3.0 technology. The plans will cost $65 and $80 CAD per month.
One-touch video transfers
Pinnacle Systems today debuted Pinnacle Video Transfer (site not updated), a device that record analog video onto any USB 2.0 storage device without the need for a computer. With the touch of a button the company says users with little or no technical expertise can record from a TV, DVD player, iPod, or other device to a USB flash drive or USB hard drive. Users can select three different recording levels for each device, opting for varying video qualities and sizes. Pinnacle Video Transfer will ship January 15th for $130, and includes three RCA audio/video cables as well as a power supply and a quick start guide.
LTI-1 to showcase at NAMM
The RapcoHorizon Company is planning to unveil its new LTI-1 stereo interface at Winter NAMM 2008. The device, which is designed to connect laptops to audio equipment via a 3.5mm plug and a 3-foot attached cable, features bult-in ground lift switches as well as a -20db pad with left and right LXR outputs. The RapcoHorizon Company will showcase the new device -- which is already available for $135 -- at Winter NAMM in Booth no. 4558, Hall C. [corrected]
2TB Tivo Series 3
WeaKnees.com has recently unveiled upgraded Series 3 TiVo DVRs, featuring both an internal and external hard drive, each rated at one terabyte. The hard drives work in tandem to provide 292 hours of HD video storage – up from TiVo's current 20 to 30 hours – or 2800 hours of standard definition video. The units come with cables, a backlit, programmable remote, and a six month warranty for parts, labor and technical support. WeaKnees.com is selling the upgraded TiVos for $1800, and are offering a $200 mail-in rebate
FCC to limit cableco size?
The FCC may be nearing the imposition of a cap on the size of cable companies, reports say. A proposed plan currently has the vote of FCC chairman Kevin Martin, as well as the two Democrat members of the Commission, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein. This may virtually guarantee the passing of the resolution, although the two remaining commissioners have not declared their opinions. If it passes muster by the rumored December 18th deadline, the cap will limit corporations to controlling 30 percent of the cable market.