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DSLreports - front page

The largest broadband users community on the web

Published: Thu, 19 Oct 2017 06:30:13 EDT

Last Build Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2017 06:30:13 EDT

Copyright: Copyright 2005-2010,

Report: Comcast, AT&T Skirted Lobbying Rules at RNC -

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 10:00:03 EDT

A new report has accused Comcast, AT&T, and other giant companies of skirting lobbying rules by funding a high roller "cloakroom" at the Republican National Convention last year. According to a new report by the Center for Public Integrity, Comcast and AT&T were among a handful of large companies that covertly funded a "plush hideaway for lawmakers" at the Republican National Convention. Said cloakroom was constructed on the Cleveland Cavaliers practice court inside the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, and access to it was highly restricted to these companies and politicians.

The report notes that the companies skirted lobbying and disclosure rules by funneling the cash for the room through a limited liability company called Friends of the House 2016 LLC.

"The limited liability company effectively hid the corporations contributions from public view at a time when activist groups were pressuring companies to scale back giving to the Republican convention, and a few of the companies had publicly minimized their participation," notes the report.

The Center for Public Integrity obtained the bank records from a lawsuit filed in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas in Ohio. To confirm the payments shown in the bank records and to determine the purpose of them, the group attempted to reach representatives of the 20 corporations and trade associations named in the records. Of the 20 companies, 15 either declined to comment or did not respond to questions, the group notes.

At this same event, then candidate Trump gave a speech insisting he would not able to look the other way when the nation s political system has sold out to some corporate lobbyist for cash.

Among the companies, Comcast was the biggest donor, at $200,000. The company, which has refused to comment in response to media inquiries on this subject, has more than gotten its money worth.

Since Trump appointed former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai to run the FCC, Pai's major policy efforts have involved killing FCC plans to make the cable box market more competitive, helping derail privacy protections for broadband consumers, weakening the base definition of broadband (to help hide a lack of competition in the market), helping prison phone monopolies rip off inmate families, and making it harder for the poor to get access to decent broadband.

The FCC is expected to formally announce its plan to kill net neutrality and schedule a vote for the hugely unpopular move the day before Thanksgiving in order to help minimize backlash in the media, consumer groups stated this week.
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Forum Topic: ISPs and the KRACK WiFi WPA2 Vulnerability -

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 12:00:03 EDT

Users in our Comcast Xfinity forum discuss when Comcast -- and its myriad of hardware partners -- intend to issue a patch to fix the KRACK WiFi WPA2 vulnerability revealed earlier this week. Our users are asking similar questions (without many answers so far) in our Verizon FiOS forum. The flaw, which impacts nearly all implementations of the WPA2 encryption protocol, could allow hackers to intercept wireless communications or conduct new man in the middle malware injection techniques.

Cable's Solution to Cord Cutting? Broadband Price Hikes -

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 18:00:03 EDT

Cable providers and Wall Street continue to believe that the best response to cord cutting isn't offering cheaper, better television bundles -- but raising already expensive broadband prices even further. Wall Street has been pressuring cable operators for months to raise broadband rates, insisting that standalone broadband prices specifically should be nudged closer to $90 per month. Combined with usage caps and overage fees, cable providers hope these price hikes help counter the losses they're expecting as competition in the streaming video market heats up.

A research note from Morgan Stanley this week indicated that those price hikes are already well underway. The firm's data indicates that cable TV companies hiked broadband prices by 12% to $66 monthly year over year customers that buy only high-speed internet and not a TV package.

"As video revenue growth is increasingly pressured, leaning on data pricing is tempting to sustain earnings," noted the firm in a report.

None of this is particularly surprising. A lack of competition in the broadband space means few if any repercussions for imposing new hikes on broadband. And cable providers have spent years trying to convince customers that usage caps and overage fees are technical necessities, despite being little more than glorified rate hikes designed to both thwart -- and profit from -- the rise of cord cutting.

And with many telcos giving up on residential broadband and refusing to upgrade their networks, cable's enjoying a growing monopoly in many broadband markets -- making these price hikes easier than ever. As an added bonus, the current FCC is run by former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai, who has made it abundantly clear that standing up for consumers simply isn't part of his over-arching plan.

In a competitive broadband market, cable operators would be forced to acknowledge that the only way to compete with the rise of streaming operators is to offer better, cheaper TV services and better customer service. But the broken broadband market and the lack of competition in that space allows them to simply seek their pound of flesh in other, more creative ways -- without seriously addressing why so many users are hanging up on traditional cable in the first place.
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Google Fiber Finally Launches in Parts of Louisville -

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 14:00:02 EDT

After months of delays, pivots, lawsuits and other hurdles, Google Fiber has officially launched in parts of Louisville. According to the Google Fiber blog, customers in Portland, Strathmoor and Newburg neighborhoods of Louisville can now sign up for gigabit broadband service. The company held a press event this morning at the Neighborhood House in Portland to formally announce the launch, rumors of which have been circulating for more than a year. Google formally confirmed Louisville as a launch market last April.

As we've noted previously, Google Fiber is backing out of the traditional TV business due to high programming costs and a lack of interest among Google's target customer base. As such it won't be bundling traditional TV service in new Google Fiber markets moving forward, starting with Louisville.

Google Fiber tries to avoid highlighting this shift in the blog post, unsurprisingly nudging users toward Alphabet/Google's new streaming video platform, YouTube TV.

"Google Fiber enables you to access all of the Internet, including taking advantage of all the ways you can get news, entertainment, and live sports -- Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, and now YouTube TV," the company states. "For customers interested in watching live TV with YouTube TV, you can sign up through Google Fiber for $35 a month."

Google Fiber's launch in Louisville was delayed by a failed AT&T lawsuit designed to slow Google's entry into the market and scuttle attempts at utility pole reform in the city. AT&T suedunder the pretense that it was worried about additional outages, but if you've spent any time watching the way AT&T does business, it becomes quickly clear the lawsuit was just another effort to hamstring competitors in the telecom space. Verizon, which not-coincidentally doesn't compete with Google Fiber in any of its east coast markets, has supported the rule changes as necessary and helpful in expediting broadband deployments.
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Verizon Poised to See Major TV, Broadband User Losses in Q3 -

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 16:00:02 EDT

Just like AT&T, Verizon is giving signals to Wall Street that its third quarter TV and broadband subscriber numbers won't be anything to write home about. The predicted losses come as Charter and Comcast ramp up their TV promotions in several markets, and Verizon's unwanted DSL customers continue to flee to faster cable competitors.

We forecast organic wireline revenue to continue to decline in Q3 as the company faces substantial promotional activity from its cable competitors, Scotia Capital said in a research note to investors this week. As a result, we expect the company will see net losses in both TV and Internet as well as declining wireline ARPU.

Cable providers added 84% of all net new subscribers during the second quarter, and continue to dominate the broadband market in the United States overall. Verizon hasn't helped its case by freezing its FiOS expansion years ago in order to focus on Millennial advertising. Those efforts, however, have faced heavy headwinds as well, with Verizon's Go90 streaming video platform effectively dead on arrival.

Every single major telco saw net broadband losses last quarter. Some telcos (Verizon) have all but given up on next-generation broadband upgrades as they shift they forus toward wireless and advertising. Other telcos (Windstream, Frontier, CenturyLink) are either incapable or unwilling to upgrade their lagging DSL customers at any real scale, or have prioritized focusing on enterprise revenues.

The result? There's tens of millions of frustrated DSL customers paying a significant amount of money for sub 6 Mbps DSL connections. Connections that don't even technically meet the FCC's now standard definition of broadband (25 Mbps down, 4 Mbps up). Those customers are all fleeing to cable, which is now starting to deliver speeds up to 1 Gbps via relatively inexpensive DOCSIS 3.1 cable upgrades.

And while this is all great news for cable providers, it's not such great news for the American consumer. As competitive pressure diminishes, these cable giants are starting to enjoy a bigger broadband monopoly than ever before in many markets, since they technically have few if any competitors at speeds of 25 Mbps or above. That means less incentive to lower rates and improve customer service, and more incentive to engage in consumer annoyances like usage caps and overage fees, or privacy and net neutrality violations.
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Charter, Viacom Avoid Blackout, Strike New Programming Pact -

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 07:40:03 EDT

Charter and Viacom have avoided an annoying programming blackout and struck a new programming contract. After some sound and fury from Viacom last week, the duo struck a temporary contract extension last weekend, and managed to secure a new full contract this week. "Viacom and Charter have reached an agreement in principle. Spectrum subscribers will continue to have access to Viacom s networks, without disruption, while we finalize terms, the companies said in a joint statement. Terms of the deals weren't disclosed, but as is usually the case -- Charter customers can expect higher bills reflecting the new arrangement.
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Acquired Frontier Customers Say They're Still Being Overcharged -

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 08:30:03 EDT

Last year, Frontier Communications acquired Verizon's unwanted FiOS, DSL and POTS customers in Florida, California and Texas but bungled the integration, resulting in prolonged billing issues, outages, and other problems. And while Frontier has long stated that it now has these issues under control, customers in many of these states say the company continues to overbill them for services. Users that call customer service say they get the runaround from Frontier's customer service department.

Local Florida news outlets (hat tip: Stop the Cap) report customers facing hundreds of additional dollars in errant charges, and spending months on the phone trying to resolve the problems.

"Ever since Frontier took over, our bill has gotten exceedingly more each month, now up to $260," complained one Florida customer acquired from Verizon. "Even charging us for a 2nd cable box/DVR for the past year that we never had."

"I do ask to talk to a "supervisor," which I wait on hold for 20 minutes to get one on the phone, to spend another hour and they can't help me," she added. "Hours upon hours wasted trying to deal with them."

The complaints mirror complaints we often see here in our forums from Frontier customers, whether they're in Frontier's legacy territory or these newly acquired markets.

"It seems like every few months I have to call and have something removed from my moms bill that she didn't ask for," complains one West Virginia customer. "You have to keep an eye on the bill monthly, Don't give up paper billing so you can have proof of wrong doing in case you are told you aren't being charged for that."

In some of these areas, users find themselves between a rock and a hard place due to a lack of viable competition in many markets. In Florida, for example. customers frustrated with Frontier's sloppy billing practices and substandard service often only have the choice of Charter Spectrum (if they're lucky), which has been facing very similar complaints after bungling its own massive acquisition of Bright House Networks in the state. While this lack of competition and mindless growth for growth's sake pleases Wall Street, the reality for consumers on the ground often isn't quite so pretty.
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Michigan Introduces New, Awful Bill to Ban Community Broadband -

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 10:00:02 EDT

Michigan is the latest state to try and pass a law supported by (and likely written by) incumbent ISPs that tries to prevent communities from building their own broadband networks. Towns and cities for years have been forced to consider building their own broadband networks, thanks to a lack of competition in the broadband sector. This lack of competition usually results in regional duopolies doing the bare minimum to improve service in these markets, forcing towns and cities to get creative if they actually want to receive faster speeds at more reasonable prices.

If large ISPs really wanted to stop this from happening, they could improve service and lower rates. But more often than not, it's much easier to just pay state lawmakers to introduce awful, protectionist bills banning towns and cities from building their own networks, or in many instances even partnering with private companies like Google to improve local connectivity.

Michigan Freshman Representative Michele Hoitenga is the latest to rubber stamp the whims of broadband duopolies, and has introduced HB 5099, a new bill that would make it difficult if not impossible for Michigan towns and cities to build or improve local broadband networks, even in instances where local ISPs refuse to. The bill proclaims that local communities cannot use federal, state, or even their own voter-approved funds to invest in even the slowest Internet infrastructure.

And while it doesn't ban public/private partnerships outright, it does its best to discourage them, notes the folks at Institute for Local Self-Reliance, which has been fighting such ISP-written protectionist drivel for years.

"(An) exception allows local communities to engage in public-private partnerships, but the bill s ambiguous language is likely to discourage local communities from pursuing such partnerships," the group notes. "Rather than put themselves at risk of running afoul of the law, prudent community leaders would probably choose to avoid pursuing any publicly owned infrastructure initiatives."

The bill is expected to hamper existing municipal broadband projects in the state in places like Sebewaing, Holland and Lyndon Township. In Lyndon Township, locals frustrated with sub-standard broadband recently voted overwhelmingly to approve funding and construction of a fiber network that will obliterate the slow, expensive service currently only partially available in the region. These bills help large ISPs disregard the will of the public, something that often annoys Republicans and Democrats alike (most municipal broadband networks are built in Conservative areas).

Again, the large ISPs backing this latest bill (AT&T, CenturyLink and Charter) could stop towns from pursuing this kind of effort by actually offering better products and more reasonable prices. But given how corrupt most state legislatures are, it's far easier to write a bill, hand it to a rubber stamp politician alongside campaign contributions, then continue disregarding the backlash to existing pricey and substandard broadband services.
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Trendnet Powerline 1200 AV2 Adapter Kit Review -

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:30:02 EDT

Earlier this year, we had the opportunity to review another Powerline kit, the D-Link DHP-P701AV. For this review, we will taking a look at a similar kit from another manufacturer, the Trendnet Powerline 1200 AV2 Adapter Kit. While these Powerline kits do not get the level of attention as other networking gear, they must sell pretty well as my press contact commented that she would get me the item, but that they often go out of stock due to popularity. The Trendnet kit includes two Powerline adapters, to create a connection through power outlets in the home. This is a convenient way to get a signal to a wireless deadspot, or for the security of a wired connection. The model we test in this review is the Trendnet TPL-421E2K, which includes the two Powerline adapters. It has a street price on Amazon of just under $70, which puts this in the moderate range for a Powerline kit. Features The Trendnet TPL-421E2K includes a number of features: • Built-in Outlet- This is ideal so that the Powerline adapter does not block access to all the outlets, and can still be used for electrical needs. • Gigabit port- Some older Powerline gear featured Ethernet ports that had only 10/100 speeds, while this one has a 10/100/1000 Ethernet port for faster speeds. • AV1200 Speeds- This is a faster standard that more recent Powerline gear adheres to. It uses the ground wire in addition to the two electrical prongs to enhance data transmission speed. • MIMO Powerline technology- This is a technology to use the multiple electrical pathways between outlets to increase speed and coverage. It is the Powerline networking equivalent of Beamforming in wireless technology. • Power saving mode- The adapters go into a sleep mode when not active. • Pre-encrypted out of the box • Up to eight adapters can be used on a Powerline network • Up to a 5,000 sq ft home can be covered These Trendnet adapters are fairly power efficient, and did not get hot, or even warm throughout our testing. They reportedly use a peak electric consumption of 3.6 W, and in sleep a mere 0.5 W. Sleep mode gets entered in ten to twenty minutes with no data transmission. The adapters also have a three year warranty. What s In the Box? The box includes a CD and a Quick User Guide. The CD includes software, as well as a PDF of the User s Manual. While less computers have optical drives these days, and our first thought was The 1990 s called, and they want their CD back, it is nice to have the software on a disk, and to not have to search through the manufacturer s website. att=2335461 Next in the box are the adapters. Note that they have three LED s in the front for Power, Ethernet and Powerline. att=2335462 In addition to the Powerline adapters, and the CD, the kit includes two Ethernet cables. They are 5 ft in length, but they are not labeled, although we would assume they are CAT 5e standard. att=2335464 On the bottom of each Trendnet Powerline adapter, we can see the Gigabit Ethernet port, a Sync button, and a Reset button. The Sync button is to add the adapter to an existing Powerline network, or to change the encryption key. The Reset button, that is recessed, is to put the adapter back to factory specs. att=2335465 Setup These Powerline adapters come pre-encrypted out of the box, which means they are already setup at the factory, and ready to go. Therefore, it is a plug-n-play solution, that only requires plugging both adapters in, and to the Ethernet ports. The Powerline LED is multicolored and gives indication on the quality of the connection: red for good, amber for better, and green for best, and this will change from solid to blinking when data transmission is occurring. Our kit displayed green throughout use and testing. This Trendnet Powerline ad[...]

Forum Topic: FiOS TV Customers Lose Access to Univision -

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 12:00:02 EDT

Users in our Verizon FiOS TV forum indicate that the company's subscribers have lost access to Univision. It's just the latest instance of users losing access to channels they pay for (without receiving refunds) -- because broadcasters and cable operators can't negotiate new contracts without petty public bickering that harms paying customers already frustrated with high cable TV prices.