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DSLreports - front page

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Published: Fri, 28 Apr 2017 14:00:02 EDT

Last Build Date: Fri, 28 Apr 2017 14:00:02 EDT

Copyright: Copyright 2005-2010,

Report: Average Cable Bill May Top $140 By 2020 -

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 14:00:02 EDT

At a time when customers are leaving cable in droves, the average cable bill continues to climb at a staggering pace. And according to a new report over at, if prices continue climbing at the current rate of 8% per year, the average cable bill will eclipse $140 by 2020. The report puts the climbing price into perspective by comparing to the rate of inflation, which is 1.93%. In other words, the price of cable has been climbing at 4x the rate of inflation.

What does that rate of increase look like? Well, in 2016, the average price of cable broke $100 a month (at about $103 per month). Just five years before in 2011, the average cable bill was only $73 per month.

To be more specific, the story points to another report from Consumer Reports, which breaks down some of the price increases we will see throughout this year. AT&T plans an increase of $2 to $8 a month this year, plus $5 to $6 a month for local broadcast television fees.

Comcast has already increased their prices by 4 percent, with local broadcast fees of $5 to $7 expected there, plus $3 to $5 a month for regional sports networks. Cox customers are expected to take on a 2 percent increase in 2017, plus local broadcast fees of $3 to $4 a month and up to $6 a month for regional sports. And most analysis isn't even factoring in the bevy of sneaky fees providers use to jack up the advertised rate post sale.

The cable companies are quick to pass the blame to broadcasters for the price increases, especially for local and regional programming (though they tend to downplay their own role in jacking up hardware rental and other additional costs). Regardless of who s at fault, the point is customers are paying more. And as options for non traditional TV (mainly streaming services like Sling TV and YouTube TV) continue to rise, that s not what customers want to hear.

Many customers are taking this opportunity to finally cut cable. Another recent report predicts that 25% of US homes won't subscribe to traditional cable by next year. Not coincidentally, subscriptions to streaming television services are on the rise. Major players on the market now like Sling TV, DIRECTV NOW and PlayStation Vue offer no contract pricing that s a third of the cable price with the same channels. While services are staying secretive about subscriber counts, it s clear they re growing rapidly.

And with Hulu debuting its own live TV service soon, and YouTube TV s planned expansion, it s also clear that cable companies need to figure out a new strategy fast.
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Forum Topic: Suddenlink Ramps up Annoying Browser Hijacking -

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 12:00:02 EDT

Users in our Suddenlink forum note that the now Altice-owned ISP has ramped up its use of browser hijacking and redirection, or the practice of hijacking mistyped URLs to either direct consumers to an ISP's own search portal -- or just directly injecting content into a browser stream to either upsell products or announce service changes. While consumers can usually opt out of this type of browser hijacking via their ISP portal, more than a few ISPs have had trouble ensuring that this opt-out functionality works correctly.

Analyst Predicts Dish, T-Mobile & Amazon Super Union -

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 10:00:02 EDT

Dish has been hoovering up spectrum for years, and just nabbed another $6.2 billion in spectrum at the 600 MHz auction. And while there's a growing consensus on some fronts that Dish boss Charlie Ergen is just spectrum squatting ahead of an inevitable sale, there's another segment of analysts that believe Dish is on the cusp of a new cross-industry mega-deal that may just ramp up overall wireless competition.

Over at his blog, wireless industry analyst Tim Farrar sees a three-way tie up between T-Mobile, Amazon and Dish as a likely outcome.

According to Farrar, previous talks between Dish, Google and T-Mobile to build an LTE Advanced network have broken down, in part because Google has scaled back its broadband ambitions and has shifted its attention to more experimental wireless options. That may have forced Dish to

"A three way partnership between Dish, Amazon and T-Mobile therefore seems to me to be the single most likely deal to emerge in the next few weeks. T-Mobile has emphasized its desire for a rapid build out of its large block of new spectrum, and it could easily include a buildout of DISH s incentive auction spectrum at the same time. Amazon could use the capacity not only for in-home services such as Echo, but also to support other activities such as drone deliveries, while DISH could provide wireless service built around Sling TV, as well as fixed wireless broadband if desired."

While the most common theory seems to be that Dish will simply sell its spectrum to Verizon and AT&T, Farrar shoots down that theory.

"Verizon and AT&T have their sights set on mmWave spectrum and 5G, so neither seems like a potential buyer of DISH s spectrum, while Comcast appears determined to rely on its MVNO deal with Verizon after only buying 5x5MHz of spectrum in the incentive auction," he notes.

Of course Ergen has a long-standing reputation as being incredibly difficult to deal with in negotiations, meaning it's still entirely possible that no deal happens and Dish still cashes out (and Verizon has expressed interest in Dish's spectrum several times). Most industry players were blocked from communicating as per anti-collusion rules affixed to the recent spectrum auction. But those rules expired yesterday, opening the doors to what's expected to be a flood of new M&A speculation under Trump, be it a Sprint/T-Mobile merger or some other, broader combination.
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Here's How To Comment on the FCC Plan to Kill Net Neutrality -

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 16:00:02 EDT

While a broader, formalized public comment period should occur later this year, consumers can already share their thoughts on the FCC's plan to kill net neutrality and gut oversight of large ISPs like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon. To comment, simply head over to the FCC website and check out Docket 17-108, aka the FCC's "Restoring Internet Freedom" proposal (it's ok to laugh). From there you'll have two options from the panel on the left-hand-side of the screen (you may need to head here and enter 17-108 in the top box if the FCC's website misbehaves): • Click on "+ New Filing" if you want to draft a longer-form comment on pdf or word document and attach it for submission to the agency. This option's best for network engineers, industry execs, or academics submitting more detailed analysis of the FCC's plan. • Click on "+ Express" for a simpler form with an embedded comment section. Be polite and concise. Yes, most of us realize a former Verizon lawyer gutting all meaningful oversight of some of the most anti-competitive companies in American industry is an obnoxious example of pay-to-play government and revolving-door regulators at work. But remember your grandmother's advice about flies and honey, as more coherent, reasoned comments are more likely to have an impact. Why Commenting Matters Sure, FCC Commissioners Mike O'Rielly and Ajit Pai likely have every intention of trying to ignore your input on the proceeding. But to reverse the FCC's Title II classification of ISPs and gut the rules, the pair need to be able to prove to a court that the broadband market has changed substantially enough (since the last net neutrality court case) to warrant a full reversal and all the complication that entails. That task is made monumentally harder if we can generate enough documented public and industry resistance to the plan. That said, net neutrality advocates also need to understand that this may all be a theatrical game of good cop, bad cop. Pai likely knows he's on shaky legal ground, so he may be threatening to kill net neutrality as part of a stage play. His saber rattling may be followed by a GOP "compromise" proposal to craft a new net neutrality law. This law, likely appearing this summer, will be proposed as a solution that "finally puts the debate to bed," but will likely be ghost written by ISP lobbyists and lawyers to ensure the proposal has no real teeth. The end result would be net neutrality "protections" in name only, and the press (based on my experience with similar past efforts) won't be quick to explain this. Either way, public input during this round of the net neutrality fight is going to be integral in driving Pai back on his heels. Former industry allies like Google and Netflix are slowly backing away from the debate as they grow larger (and more interested in turf protection). That means the onus is going to be consumers, startups, and smaller businesses to make their concerns heard, and sitting on your hands guarantees failure. read comment(s)[...]

Weekend Open Thread! -

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 18:00:02 EDT

Let us know what you're up to this weekend in the comment section below!
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FCC Falsely Claims Net Neutrality Took Away Your Freedom -

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 08:07:32 EDT

Press outlets are having a field day with FCC boss Ajit Pai's speech this week, where he declared his intention to gut not only net neutrality rules but most government oversight of giant ISPs. From continued false claims that net neutrality kills broadband investment (we've noted repeatedly that's not true and countless industry executives continue to agree) to claims that net neutrality protections somehow hurts consumer privacy (what?), Pai trotted out all manner of falsehoods to justify his elimination of broadly popular net neutrality protections. But the kicker, as noted by Ars Technica, was Pai's claim that he was killing oversight of the telecom industry to somehow "restore freedom" to the internet. Pai's accompanying press release was entitled "Restoring Internet Freedom for All Americans." The agency's NPRM (pdf), which outlines Pai's plan to roll back ISPs under Title I, is similarly and absurdly named "restoring internet freedom (pdf). According to the FCC's materials, gutting oversight of giant ISPs like Comcast will "benefit all Americans" by "boost ing competition and choice in the broadband marketplace" and "will restore Internet Freedom by ending government micromanagement and returning to the bipartisan regulatory framework that worked well for decades." Except no "freedoms" were lost by implementing some fairly-basic rules protecting consumers, entrepreneurs and competitors from AT&T, Verizon and Comcast's well-documented anti-competitive behavior. The rules didn't impose any restrictions on consumers, they protected consumers from large ISPs taking advantage of the lack of competition in the last mile. And removing popular consumer protections doesn't somehow magically create broadband competition. The idea that useful consumer protections harmed "freedom" is a line of nonsense being sold to partisans that have zero understanding of what net neutrality actually is. Who actually gets more freedom if Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, is successful gutting net neutrality? Large ISPs, of course. There's only one reason large ISPs are lobbying for the elimination of these rules: they want the "freedom" to be able to lie you to about throttling. They want the freedom to track and sell your online behavior without checks and balances. They want to be able to block or hamstring select services to drive you to more expensive data plans. These things aren't theoretical -- they've all already happened. Since Pai wants to kill real net neutrality rules and replace them with "voluntary" agreements with ISPs, you can be certain these kinds of abuses will happen again (and worse). While a broader public comment period on Pai's agenda will occur later this year, consumers bothered by Pai's distortions can already share their thoughts with the FCC boss. First, go to the FCC listing for the "Restoring Internet Freedom" proposal. From there, on the left-hand-side of the screen, you can either click on "+ New Filing" if you want to attach a longer treatise (say for network engineers, academics, or the simply verbose), or the "+Express" link if you want to submit more concise thoughts on Pai's attempt to "free" you and your comment(s)[...]

Google Fiber Confirms Louisville as New Launch City -

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 18:00:03 EDT

The Mayor of Louisville is confirming that Louisville has formally been chosen as a Google Fiber expansion city, even if the company doesn't appear to be ready to officially confirm the move yet. "Many have eagerly waited to hear these words: Google Fiber is coming to Louisville," city Mayor Greg Fischer tells the Louisville Courier Journal. However, Google Fiber remains relatively murky about the timeline for any such Louisville expansion, or which city neighborhoods are likely to be connected first.

Reports earlier this week indicated that the company's Louisville launch will be the first market to witness Google Fiber's pivot toward using wireless as part of their deployment plans.

Google Fiber didn't announce the launch over at its official blog. And nothing new appears to have been added to the company's availability page, which still indicates that Google Fiber has only begun conversations with city leaders about the possibility of expansion into the city.

But the company did provide with a fairly general statement confirming that Louisville is definitely moving out of the "maybe" category and into a hard launch target.

"The start of construction is an exciting moment for Google Fiber in Louisville. Building a new fiber network is a big job, and we re grateful for the continued patience and support of the city s residents and leaders," the company said. "Working with our partners, we can t wait to continue to develop creative ways to bring super fast connectivity to Louisville."

Google Fiber's flirtations with Louisville were sidelined back in February after AT&T sued the city after it passed utility pole fiber attachment reform rules aimed at speeding up the deployment of competing broadband services. This is one of several reasons Google is apparently considering a shift toward a model that utilizes both next-generation wireless broadband and traditional fiber helping it (at least partially) bypass the added expense, time, and bureaucracy involved in traditional fiber deployment.
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Dish, Hearst Strike New Deal, Channels to Return to Dish Lineup -

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 07:40:02 EDT

Dish and Hearst Broadcasting have struck a new programming agreement that will return missing local broadcast channels to the Dish channel lineup. Last month, Dish customers lost access to 33 Hearst TV stations in 26 markets after the two sides failed to reach a new retransmission deal. Like most programming contract disputes, the standoff involved both sides spending weeks complaining that the other side was intractable, while customers continue to pay Dish for channels they can no longer get access to (and won't get refunds for missing out on).

And while it looked like the two sides might not strike a deal and the channels would be missing for good, the companies somehow managed to put on their big-boy pants and get a deal done.

Of course the vocal, chatty attitude both companies exhibited during the standoff has quickly been replaced with dead silence, as the two sides prepare to pass on the higher rates from the confidential deal to you, the consumer.

"DISH..has reached a multi-year agreement with Hearst Television Inc. for carriage of the broadcaster s local channels in 26 markets across 30 states," is all Dish was willing to say of the standoff. "Terms of the agreement were not disclosed."

Such feuds are one of countless reasons why a growing number of frustrated pay TV customers are cutting the cord and moving to cheaper, more flexible streaming alternatives. The FCC under Wheeler had considered beefing up rules protecting consumers from being held hostage during these feuds, but nothing ever came of it. The FCC under Ajit Pai seems even less likely to impose such restrictions, leaving consumers facing higher rates -- and more programming blackouts -- than ever.

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Comcast's Broadband Monopoly Helps it Buck Cord Cutting Threat -

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 12:00:03 EDT

Comcast's latest earnings continue to indicate that Comcast has found a fantastic way to buck the cord cutting trend: cornering the already uncompetitive broadband market. The company's latest earnings indicate that Comcast managed to add 42,000 video subscribers on the quarter, in pretty stark contrast to the 233,000 customers lost by AT&T during the same period. While TV growth was modest, Comcast also managed to add an impressive 429,000 broadband subscribers during the first quarter, driven in part by the company's slow but steady deployment of ultra-fast gigabit service. Of course if you ask Comcast, the company will tell you its incredible products, amazing X1 set top boxes, and endless innovation are to thank for it being able to buck (barely) the cord cutting trend. But the real reason is something else entirely. With AT&T and Verizon effectively hanging up on millions of unwanted DSL customers, and plenty of second-tier telcos like CenturyLink, Frontier and Windstream, unwilling to upgrade their networks at any scale, these frustrated customers are heading to what's quite often their only option if they want a broadband connection faster than 3-6 Mbps: Comcast. When they get there, these users find it's cheaper to sign up for a bundle of television and broadband, than just broadband alone. That doesn't mean those customers will stick around as TV customers. Nor does it mean that cord cutting is overhyped or non-existent. What it does mean is that Comcast enjoys a monopoly in many broadband markets and is using that power to shove these users toward bundles. In many markets, TV and broadband bundled can be $20 less on promotion than just broadband alone. Many of those customers may find themselves cutting the TV component once the full rates kick in. Especially this year, as a flood of new live streaming alternatives from AT&T, Hulu, Amazon and others begin to flood the market. That's of course where Comcast clearly hopes its usage caps and its decision to exempt its own stream service from said caps will help keep these users captive. Even if these users ultimately realize that streaming gives them greater flexibility at a lower price point once initial promotions expire, Comcast still gets its pound of flesh courtesy of completely arbitrary and unnecessary usage caps, again only made possible by the lack of competition Comcast faces in the lion's share of its broadband markets. And with regulators like FCC boss Ajit Pai making it clear he's a rubber stamp for every massive ISP whim and desire, the prognosis for consumers -- and the already uncompetitive broadband market -- isn't what you'd call comment(s)[...]

ISPs Trot Out Old Lies to Defend New Attack on Net Neutrality -

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 08:17:56 EDT

AT&T, Verizon and Comcast are pleased as punch by the FCC's announcement that it plans to dramatically scale back regulatory oversight of some of the least competitive companies in America. As noted yesterday, FCC boss Ajit Pai intends to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) today that proposes reclassifying ISPs under Title I of the Communications Act, thereby killing the existing net neutrality rules -- and the FCC's authority to protect consumers. The FCC is then expected to approve the decision on May 18 (opening the door to a public comment period) before finalizing the vote later this year. Needless to say, massive mono/duopolists with a well documented history of anti-competitive behavior were pretty excited by the idea of less oversight of their their ever-growing broadband, television, phone, and media empires. It might go without saying the nation's biggest ISPs weren't entirely honest with their assessments of the situation, or their role in lobbying regulators to sell consumers out. In a blog post, Comcast's top lobbyist David Cohen tried to insist that consumers have nothing to worry about. "Title II and net neutrality are not the same," tried to claim Cohen. "Title II is a source of authority to impose enforceable net neutrality rules. Title II is not net neutrality. Getting rid of Title II does not mean that we are repealing net neutrality protections for American consumers." Except that's a lie. Getting rid of Title II eliminates the FCC authority, making them incapable of defending the FCC's 2015 net neutrality rules. The remaining "cop on the beat," the FTC, lacks authority over broadband, and ISPs have exploited common carrier loopholes to avoid what little oversight the agency has. The reason large ISPs loathe Title II and net neutrality isn't because it harms their ability to invest. They despise it because it prevents them from using their mono/duopolies over the last mile to engage in incredibly-profitable anti-competitive behavior. Cohen similarly lied to readers about the impact net neutrality had on network investment, citing a debunked industry study to try and claim Title II and net neutrality crippled the broadband sector. "Last month in Forbes, Hal Singer, citing data from 2016, noted "Domestic broadband capital expenditure ("capex") declined sharply in 2016 relative to 2014, the last year before reclassification as a common carrier," claims Cohen. "Relative to 2014 levels, the twelve largest ISPs invested $3.6 billion less in domestic broadband in 2016, a 5.5 percent decline." The individual Cohen cites, Hal Singer, is paid by ISPs to cherry pick data that supports large ISP positions. But if you candidly asked most large ISPs over the last year, they were quick to note that net neutrality didn't hurt their investment in the slightest. Similarly, when you have someone not tangentially-employed by mega-ISPs -- the data shows investment is actually up. The reason large ISPs loathe Title II and net neutrality isn't because it harms their ability to invest. They despise it because it prevents them from using their mono/duopolies over the uncompetitive broadband last mile to engage in incredibly-profitable but anti-competitive behavior. You know, like when AT&T prevented iPhone users from using Facetime just to force them to buy more expensive wireless data plans. AT&T issued its own misleading missive supporting the FCC's giant middle finger to consumers. We applaud FCC Chairman Pai s initiative to remove this stifling regulatory cloud over the internet," claims AT&T. "Businesses large and small will have a clearer path to invest more in our nation s broadband infrastructure under Chairman Pai s leadership. And we are hopeful that bipartisan agreement can be reached on principles that protect in[...]