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DSLreports - front page

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Published: Fri, 21 Oct 2016 09:37:16 EDT

Last Build Date: Fri, 21 Oct 2016 09:37:16 EDT

Copyright: Copyright 2005-2010,

Major DDoS Attack Causing Headaches on East Coast -

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 09:37:16 EDT

A major DDoS attack is causing major networking headaches this morning, impacting users of a large number of major websites including Twitter, Github, Reddit, Airbnb and Spotify. The attack appears to be focused on taking down DNS provider Dyn, and the resulting carnage is well documented by the folks over at Down Detector, which indicates that connectivity at many of the biggest ISPs has been impacted.

A statement posted to the Dyn website said the following:

This attack is mainly impacting US East and is impacting Managed DNS customers in this region. Our Engineers are continuing to work on mitigating this issue.

Starting at 11:10 UTC on October 21th-Friday 2016 we began monitoring and mitigating a DDoS attack against our Dyn Managed DNS infrastructure. Some customers may experience increased DNS query latency and delayed zone propagation during this time. Updates will be posted as information becomes available.
DDoS attacks have been growing in power recently thanks in large part to poorly-secured "internet of things" devices that are now being compromised and sold for use in DDoS command and control infrastructure. In some instances, these IOT-infused botnets have been used to silence security researchers investigating criminal activity, and researchers like Bruce Schneier have been warning have been warning for some time that the check is about to come due.

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AT&T in Talks to Acquire Time Warner -

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 12:00:02 EDT

Confirming previous rumors on this subject, Bloomberg notes that AT&T has been in talks with Time Warner about a possible acquisition. Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes is interested in such a deal if the price is right, though it's worth noting that the company turned down an $85-a-share acquisition offer from Fox earlier this year that valued Time Warner at $75 billion. ISPs have increasingly been pushing into the content and advertising space to feed insatiable investors as wireless and wireline broadband subscriber growth slows.

AT&T finds itself trying to keep pace with Verizon (which acquired Yahoo and AOL) and Comcast (which owns NBC Universal and has made notable investments in Buzzfeed and Vox).

AT&T also feels that owning Time Warner (and by proxy, HBO) would also give the company added leverage as it begins rolling out its new streaming video platform later this year. Owning Time Warner and its broadcasters CNN, HBO and the Warner Bros film studio could lower AT&T's content costs over time.

The problem? After shelling out $69 billion to acquire DirecTV, AT&T's $120 billion debt load could make such a deal risky if AT&T wants to retain its investment-grade credit rating.

That said, the deal may never materialize, and the Bloomberg report says talks between the two companies "have focused on building relations between the companies rather than establishing the terms of a specific transaction."

Update: Other outlets like the Wall Street Journal say the deal is much more serious, and could be finalized as soon as this weekend.
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Networking 101: Updating a Laptop's Internal Networking Card -

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 07:40:02 EDT

In the last decade or so, I have owned about half a dozen laptop computers. Across this quite unscientific sample of portable computing power, it has become noticeable that the first item to fail quite consistently on these devices is the internal wireless connection. In some cases the Wi-Fi fails in a slow and predictable fashion, although in other cases this essential part goes down in flames in a fashion that evokes the word catastrophic to mind. For a while, the solution seemed to be to bypass the issue. More specifically, this is to get around the broken internal wireless with an external solution- namely a USB Wi-Fi adapter. These are quite affordable in many cases, and come with their own software and integrated antenna. This method often is a simple way to upgrade the wireless standard of an older notebook from the venerable N150, to a more modern AC1200 that can take advantage of a 5 GHz signal. With adapters for under $30 that provide a stable connection, this is often the Go-to way to get things working again. However, a USB wireless adapter is often a patch to the problem. While it gets the laptop back connected, it really does not fix anything. The internal wireless was broken in the notebook, and it remains broken, just with the problem rerouted to an external adapter. While this may be a philosophical objection, the other criticism of the USB wireless adapter is a more practical one. Namely, that with notebooks having only three USB ports, and not all of them the USB 3.0 variety, it is difficult to give even one port up on a continuous basis for the wireless connection. With the wireless adapter occupying a USB port, and the mouse in another one, this only leaves the last port open for use with everything else, including a printer, scanner, external hard drive and flash drive- well you get the idea. Sure, a USB hub is the solution to this port shortage issue, but this sacrifices the portability that the notebook originally promised. Digging Deeper Into the Problem The more direct cure to the problem of a notebook s wireless getting wonky is to actually fix the issue. Just realize that opening a notebook, while not exceedingly difficult, may not be for all users. With the proper screwdriver, and some know how, the innards of a laptop computer are accessible, and can be worked on. Those looking for guidance in how to open their computer, should look on YouTube for their model as their are many helpful videos that will demonstrate how to proceed, along with tips such as to remove the battery before proceeding further, and to keep a tray handy for the small screws that are easily lost. With the notebook opened, it becomes a task to identify the wireless card. Depending on the age of the notebook, there are different standards for the wireless card. It may also be covered by a thin ribbon cable connector that crosses above it. The cards fit into one of two categories: the full height card, and the half height card. The half height card is the newer standard, and is also called a mini PCI wireless card. Two screws hold either card in, and it connects to the motherboard at the other end via a row of contacts as it slides into a receptacle. A mini PCI card may also be used via a full size slot with a card bracket adapter. There are also two wires (black and white) that connect to the card, and these are for the antennas. In most notebooks, the antenna is behind the display to physically locate it away from the electrical interference of the motherboard. Be aware that the connectors for the wires for the antenna are quite fragile, and should be manipulated with the utmost of care. They simply plug into the wireless card, in a kind of teeny coax cable design (although they plug in, not twist). Also, do not forget the drivers for the adapter. Ideally download them on another machine, or in advance, as the new wireless card will not provide a connection without the drivers so you will not be able to download anything with th[...]

Comcast Bumps Speeds in Company's Northeast Division -

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 18:10:02 EDT

Comcast says the company has bumped the standard speeds for customers in the company's Northeast division. A company announcement states that most "Blast" customers in the region will see their download speeds increase from 150 Mbps to 200 Mbps, and "Performance Pro" customers will see an increase from 75 Mbps to 100 Mbps, both at no additional cost. Comcast's Northeast division comprises of 14 northeastern states from Maine through Virginia and the District of Columbia.

To grab the new speeds, customers may need to reboot their modem. Comcast says it will reach out to customers that need to upgrade their modem to nab the faster speeds.

"As customer demands and technology evolve, we continue to increase our broadband speeds to deliver the fastest and most reliable Internet experiences possible, both inside and outside of the home," the company says of the update.

It's worth noting that Comcast's Northeast division has yet to see the company's ever expanding usage caps and overage fees, in large part thanks to increased competition. Comcast has made it abundantly clear it hopes to cap all users eventually, though increased competition in the region from the likes of (uncapped) Verizon FiOS has so far kept these glorified price increases in check.

There's some additional discussion about the latest speed bump in our Comcast forum and in the full Comcast announcement.
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New AT&T Streaming Video Service: 100 Channels, $50 Per Month -

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 08:30:02 EDT

AT&T is planning to make a massive splash in the streaming video market later this year, launching three different streaming video services sometime in the next few months. "DirecTV Now" will be the core on demand and live streaming service, while "DirecTV Mobile" will take aim at mobile users and "DirecTV Preview" will offer some ad-driven, free content largely just promoting other AT&T options. AT&T has said that all three services will exist to ultimately upsell users to traditional DirecTV service.

Traditionally, ISP-crafted "me too" streaming options fail for one major reason: executives are afraid of cannibalizing traditional video subs, so they intentionally hamstring these services, be it in selection, functionality, or price.

AT&T, for whatever it's worth, told the Wall Street Journal this week that it will be pricing the service competitively (100 channels of live and on demand content for around $50/month), and isn't afraid of cannibalizing its legacy TV users:

AT&T executives aren t concerned that a lower-priced internet video service observers expect around $50 a month could eat into its existing TV business, which had 25.3 million subscribers who paid an average monthly bill of $117 in the latest quarter. That means you have found something that the market really, really wants, Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said last month, at an investor conference.
That contradicts the company's earlier statements that the streaming service will exist to upsell users to more expensive traditional options, so we'll see. No company wants the lion's share of its customers to suddenly migrate from $110 per month traditional satellite TV to $50 a month streaming video. So it should prove interesting to see just how AT&T -- always creative in terms of trying to dictate what customers want -- intends to prevent that from happening while simultaneously offering a streaming service that somehow stands out in an increasingly crowded market.
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Forum Topic: Comcast to Charge New 'Voice Technology Fee' -

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 14:10:02 EDT

Users in our Comcast forum debate and discuss Comcast's plan to begin charging a $2 per month "Voice Technology Fee" starting in 2017, just as the company faces a new lawsuit over covertly raising rates using below the line fees.

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Verizon is Feeling the Pain of T-Mobile Competition -

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 12:10:02 EDT

Verizon has long tried to claim that its wireless network is so superior, it doesn't need to compete with T-Mobile on price. But the company's latest earnings report suggest that T-Mobile continues to drag down the companies subscriber tallies, suggesting that Verizon's message isn't working quite like it used to as T-Mobile's network improves and Verizon refuses to match many of T-Mobile's promotions.

According to the latest earnings report, Verizon lost 36,000 phone customers on the quarter.

And while the company says it added 442,000 postpaid additions last quarter, the lion's share of those additions were tablets (often given away at steep discounts) and connected car customers (which may or may not actually stay connected). These tallies disappointed Wall Street analysts, which were expecting postpaid additions somewhere closer to 766,000.

BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk notes that this is the first time Verizon s post-paid paid phone base has declined in the third quarter, which should be setting off some alarm bells at Verizon Wireless.

Fortunately for Verizon, profitability still isn't a problem thanks to having some of the most expensive service in the wireless industry. Though quarterly profits of $3.75 billion were down notably from $4.17 billion this time last year.

On the FiOS and fixed-line broadband side of the equation things improved from last quarter's poor showing due to Verizon's worker strike. The company added a net 90,000 Fios Internet connections and 36,000 Fios Video connections, but saw an overall net loss of 66,000 broadband subscribers thanks to Verizon's efforts to drive away the company's unwanted DSL subscribers across countless markets.

With growth slowing in both wireless and fixed line broadband, it makes sense that Verizon has started looking to expand into the advertising and content business via its acquisition of Yahoo and AOL. That said, between the failure of its Go90 streaming platform and the recent hacking and surveillance scandals plaguing Yahoo, Verizon's pivot efforts haven't been off to a particularly stellar start.
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Broadband Prices Drop in Areas With Gigabit Broadband -

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 16:10:02 EDT

While it might be true that nobody yet needs a gigabit connection, that doesn't mean there's not some significant benefits in deploying such services. Vox (Comcast is a major investor) this week pooh pooh'd gigabit deployments, proclaiming that after many cities deployed gigabit connections, "nobody is sure what they're good for." Their "proof" largely consisted of quoting a think tank funded by the broadband industry (the ITIF), which of course has a vested interest in stalling such deployments.

But Vox, in hunting for the "killer app" for gigabit lines, doesn't realize that competition itself is the killer app.

A new report by the Fiber to the Home Council found that in areas where gigabit service is introduced, the cost of slower tiers drops significantly. When gigabit is available, tiers of 100 Mbps or faster drop in price by as much as $27 per month, or about a 25% decline, says the group. Pricing for 25 Mbps service also decreases between $13 and $18 monthly when gigabit speeds are offered in an area, the study found.

ISPs have also made it repeatedly clear that the very act of advertising gigabit service results in consumers calling in to upgrade. And while they don't always subscribe to gigabit speeds, the very presence of gigabit does nudge them toward faster tiers.

These decreases and thanks in large part to the fact that it's often a new competitor, be it Google Fiber, Ting or a municipal broadband provider, that's been willing to deploy speeds incumbents haven't been willing to offer.

So while it's true there's no "killer app" yet for gigabit speeds, that misses the point that gigabit deployments not only future-proof the network, but they have some very direct and immediate benefits when deployed.
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FCC Cable Box, Privacy Plans Could be DOA if Wheeler Departs -

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 10:10:02 EDT

Despite some early hints that he wouldn't mind sticking around, Tom Wheeler's tenure at the FCC is likely coming to an end with the election of a new President. Many (myself included) were highly skeptical of the Wheeler selection due to his wireless and cable lobbying past, but the FCC boss has proven to be the most consumer-friendly FCC boss in the history of the agency (granted, that may not be saying all that much for an agency traditionally stocked by revolving door regulators with only a passing interest in consumer issues). With Clinton leading in most polls, Politico notes that her team is prepping a short list of Wheeler replacements, most of which are considered ultra-safe and potentially underwhelming. And while Wheeler achieved some impressive things during his tenure (most notably net neutrality rules and Title II reclassification), there's a lot more he'll likely be leaving unfinished. Wheeler's plan for improved cable box competition appears to have hit a brick wall of lobbying by the cable and entertainment industries. A similar fate could easily be in store for the FCC boss' plan for some basic broadband privacy protections, with that effort facing the collective lobbying resistance of the telecom, marketing, and content industries (even "pro-consumer" Google is opposing the rules). Knowing full well Wheeler's efforts are threatened by the possibility of a step backwards under a Trump or Clinton FCC boss, consumer groups issued a letter this week urging the FCC to act quickly to protect consumers while it still has time. "Controlling the device market, consumers personal information, or what websites and services Americans have access to are all ways that cable and broadband providers serve as gatekeepers online and in the media," said Public Knowledge. "The longer these issues are delayed, the more difficult it will be for consumers to trust that they can reach the content and services of their choice." The FCC was quick to issue a report this week highlighting the FCC's accomplishments for consumers, though it failed to even mention the growing threat of zero rating and usage caps. That said, the cable box and privacy fights may already be out of Wheeler's hands. Lobbyists have been immeasurably effective in demonizing Wheeler's cable box plan, weakening support among his allies on the Commission that previously voted for the proposal. And while the FCC's privacy plan is scheduled for a vote next week, Wheeler's cable box struggles make it clear that a vote in favor doesn't mean the plan will actually be implemented or actually have any teeth. Especially if a Wheeler replacement isn't particularly keen on upsetting the status quo (or Google). While Wheeler's leadership has been a surprise for consumers, the cable box and privacy rule struggles -- combined with the agencies refusal to seriously address usage caps or zero rating -- could put a bit of a damper on the tail end of the Chairman's otherwise consumer-friendly comment(s)[...]

Google to Launch Streaming TV Service in Early 2017 -

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 16:10:02 EDT

You can add Google to the laundry list of companies planning an "over the top" streaming TV service. According to a new report in the Wall Street Journal, Google has finalized an agreement to bring CBS content to the service, which is expected to launch sometime in early 2017. The report notes that Google is also in the final stages of talks with 21st Century Fox and Walt Disney to add those companies' content to the service, which is expected to be "housed under the YouTube brand" according to the report.

The service, to be called "Unplugged," aims to be a "low-cost option targeting consumers who either have resisted subscribing to traditional pay-TV or cut the cord due to rising costs."

While Google sells traditional TV service in its Google Fiber footprint, subscriber numbers have been low for the service. An over the top service might be well received by the general public, but it also might prove promising if bundled with Google Fiber's existing broadband offerings.

That said, Google's Unplugged service is joining an increasingly crowded field. In addition to looming live TV services from Hulu and Apple, AT&T also intends to jump into the streaming video market later this year with three different streaming video services under the DirecTV Now brand.

Google is looking to offer a skinny bundle of live TV channels with a price in the range of $25 to $40 a month, states the Journal. The report also notes that the service will be entirely separate from YouTube Red, a subscription service ($10 or $13 for iOS users) that offers ad-free YouTube video viewing.
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