Some people can’t get FCC subsidy because “Street” isn’t the same as “St.”

A rubber stamp stamping the word,

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | acilo)

Some broadband users who qualify for the government’s new $50-per-month subsidies haven’t been able to obtain the discounts because of technical problems in the Federal Communications Commission’s rollout of the program.

The problems stem from the FCC’s National Verifier and how the broadband providers’ systems interact with the FCC database, as detailed in an article published by Protocol today. Small mismatches between entries in databases—such as having an address recorded as Elm St. in an ISP’s system and Elm Street in the FCC’s—can cause people’s applications to be rejected.

ISPs may be partly to blame as some collected information in the wrong format despite having received training on how to use the system from the FCC. In hindsight, though, the FCC could have allowed ISPs to use the program without requiring such strict data matching. The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) was rolled out quickly relative to other government programs because of the pressing need to get subsidies to consumers, and the FCC hasn’t been able to fully stamp out this problem in the month since the program began.

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#charter, #comcast, #emergency-broadband-benefit, #fcc, #policy


Fake DMCA takedown notice targeted Ubuntu downloaders yesterday

This week, Redditor u/NateNate60 got a nasty surprise in his inbox—a DMCA infringement warning from his ISP, Comcast Xfinity. The notice warned him that Comcast had “received a notification by a copyright owner, or its authorized agent, reporting an alleged infringement of one or more copyrighted works.”

The strange thing about this warning was the “infringed work” in question: Ubuntu 20.04, which is free to redistribute by any means desired. Adding insult to injury, the hash listed on the notice is the same one associated with Canonical’s own torrent for Ubuntu 20.04.2—u/NateNate60 was getting dinged for torrenting an unmodified copy of an open source operating system.

DMCA, P2P, and you

Typically, DMCA infringement warnings are sent as a result of an ISP customer using BitTorrent to acquire media or software illicitly. While the customer is attached to the swarm, their public IP address is advertised—this allows other members of the swarm to request pieces of the files being torrented from that user.

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#comcast, #dmca, #piracy, #tech, #ubuntu


Verizon forces users onto pricier plans to get $50-per-month gov’t subsidy

Illustration with a Verizon logo on a smartphone screen and a stock market graphic in the background.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | SOPA Images )

Verizon and other Internet service providers are preventing some low-income customers from getting new $50-per-month government subsidies unless they switch to different plans that are sometimes more expensive.

Over 825 ISPs nationwide are selling plans eligible for the new subsidies that the US government made available to people who have low incomes or who lost income during the pandemic. Verizon stands out among big ISPs in its use of the subsidy to “upsell” customers to pricier plans, according to a story yesterday by Washington Post tech columnist Geoffrey Fowler.

“Soon after the EBB [Emergency broadband Benefit program] launched, I started hearing from Washington Post readers about their frustrations signing up with certain ISPs,” he wrote. “Verizon elicited the most ire from readers.”

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#att, #charter, #comcast, #fcc, #policy, #t-mobile, #verizon


Comcast offers tantalizing hint of a future with upload speeds above 35Mbps

A Comcast modem/router gateway sitting next to a laptop.

Enlarge / Picture of a Comcast router/modem gateway from the company’s website. (credit: Comcast)

Comcast today offered the latest hint of a future in which its cable customers won’t be limited to 35Mbps upload speeds. Announcing a recent lab test, Comcast said its research team “deliver[ed] upstream and downstream throughputs of greater than 4Gbps” and that “future optimization” will allow “even greater capacity.”

This was “the first-ever live lab test” of a Broadcom “system-on-chip (SOC) device that will pave the way for Comcast to deliver multigigabit upload and download speeds over its hybrid-fiber coaxial (HFC) network,” Comcast said. It won’t require installation of more cables because the “technology works using the same types of connections already installed in hundreds of millions of homes worldwide,” Comcast said.

Cable customers have been waiting a long time for upload speeds that aren’t a tiny fraction of download speeds. Comcast’s cable uploads, ranging from 3Mbps to 35Mbps, are so low that Comcast hides them deep within its online ordering system. While cable download speeds of up to 1.2Gbps are prominently displayed, Comcast doesn’t tell customers what upload speeds they’ll get until they enter a valid credit card number.

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#biz-it, #cable, #comcast, #docsis-4-0, #full-duplex-docsis, #upload-speeds


Comcast nightmare: Six months without Internet despite $5,000 payment

Illustration of a house, with frayed fiber wires that don't extend far enough to connect the home to Internet service.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

When Edward Koll and his girlfriend, Jo Narkon, bought and moved into a new house in Draper, Virginia in late September 2020, they had every reason to think that Comcast Internet would be readily available.

They had done their due diligence before buying the house, plugging the address into the Comcast website to make sure it had cable Internet and contacting Comcast directly to make extra sure. Both the Comcast website’s availability checker and a Comcast sales rep confirmed to them that the house had service.

But Comcast had given the couple false information because of an error in its coverage map, and it didn’t tell the couple about this mistake until after they bought the house. That was over six months ago, and Koll and Narkon still don’t have home Internet service.

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#biz-it, #comcast, #features, #policy


Comcast scrambled to fix mistake that cut some users’ upload speeds by 20%

A computer keyboard with a key labeled

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Peter Dazeley)

Some Comcast customers received an unwelcome surprise yesterday morning when their upload speeds were suddenly lowered from 20Mbps to 16Mbps. Comcast was raising download speeds on its “Extreme Pro” tier from 600Mbps to 800Mbps—good news, to be sure—but the plan’s relatively pay 20Mbps upload speeds received a simultaneous 20 percent cut.

Customers affected by the change complained to Comcast, and two of them emailed Ars yesterday. When we passed these complaints on to Comcast public relations, a spokesperson initially told us that “there was no change to the upstream speed.” But after we pointed out that customers were in fact getting reduced upload speeds, Comcast investigated further and discovered it made a mistake while rolling out download-speed upgrades for some of its plans.

“The customers who received the [download] speed increase last night should now be seeing the correct upload speeds in their usage meter,” Comcast told Ars last night. “When we pushed the speed increase overnight, there was an issue with how the upload speeds were provisioned, which is why the meter and our internal tools that our care agents use were showing the upload speed of 16Mbps. Once you notified us, we quickly looked into it and everything should be correct now.”

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#biz-it, #comcast, #upload-speeds


Comcast hides upload speeds deep inside its infuriating ordering system

An NBC peacock logo is on the loose and hiding behind the corner of a brick building.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

Comcast just released a 2020 Network Performance Data report with stats on how much Internet usage rose during the pandemic, and it said that upload use is growing faster than download use. “Peak downstream traffic in 2020 increased approximately 38 percent over 2019 levels and peak upstream traffic increased approximately 56 percent over 2019 levels,” Comcast said.

But while upload use on Comcast’s network quickly grows—driven largely by videoconferencing among people working and learning at home—the nation’s largest home-Internet provider with over 30 million customers advertises its speed tiers as if uploading doesn’t exist. Comcast’s 56 percent increase in upstream traffic made me wonder if the company will increase upload speeds any time soon, so I checked out the Xfinity website today to see the current upload speeds. Getting that information was even more difficult than I expected.

The Xfinity website advertises cable-Internet plans with download speeds starting at 25Mbps without mentioning that upstream speeds are just a fraction of the downstream ones. I went through Comcast’s online ordering system today and found no mention of upload speeds anywhere. Even clicking “pricing & other info” and “view plan details” links to read the fine print on various Internet plans didn’t reveal upload speeds.

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#biz-it, #comcast, #policy, #upload-speed


Comcast responds to pressure, cancels data cap in Northeast US until 2022

The back of a Comcast van driving along a street in Sunnyvale, California.

Enlarge / A Comcast van in Sunnyvale, California, in November 2018. (credit: Getty Images | Andrei Stanescu)

Comcast is delaying a plan to enforce its 1.2TB data cap and overage fees in the Northeast US until 2022 after pressure from customers and lawmakers in multiple states.

“[W]e are delaying implementation of our new data plan in our Northeast markets until 2022,” Comcast said in an announcement yesterday. “We recognize that our data plan was new for our customers in the Northeast, and while only a very small percentage of customers need additional data, we are providing them with more time to become familiar with the new plan.”

Comcast has enforced the data cap in 27 of the 39 states it operates in since 2016, but not in the Northeast states where Comcast faces competition from Verizon’s un-capped FiOS fiber-to-the-home service. In November 2020, Comcast announced it would bring the cap to the other 12 states and the District of Columbia starting in January 2021. But with yesterday’s announcement, no one in those 12 states and DC will be charged overage fees by Comcast in all of 2021.

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#biz-it, #comcast, #data-cap, #policy


Comcast lifts uploads to 5Mbps amid complaints its low-income plan is too slow

A Comcast service van parked outside a residence.

Enlarge / A Comcast service van in October 2014. (credit: Mike Mozart / Flickr)

Comcast is doubling download speeds and increasing upload speeds for the $10-per-month Internet Essentials plan that it sells to low-income subscribers.

Comcast had faced criticism for keeping the plan’s speeds at 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up during the pandemic, though even those speeds were an increase from the 15Mbps/2Mbps offered until March 2020. In today’s announcement, Comcast said it is “doubling the program’s Internet download speed to 50Mbps and increasing the upstream speed to 5Mbps for all new and existing customers at no additional cost.”

The speed upgrade “will be rolled out nationally beginning March 1,” Comcast said.

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#biz-it, #comcast, #internet-essentials, #policy


State reps try to ban Comcast data cap and price hikes until pandemic is over

Illustration of a water hose with Internet data trickling out of it, represented by 1s and 0s.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

In response to Comcast imposing a data cap on Massachusetts residents, state lawmakers have proposed a ban on data caps, new fees, and price increases on home-Internet services for the duration of the pandemic.

The legislation was filed on Tuesday this week by Democratic state representatives Andy Vargas and Dave Rogers. Vargas called the bill a “response to Comcast Internet data cap plans,” while Rogers said the goal is “to push back at Comcast and any other service providers who try to raise prices or fees during a pandemic.” Verizon FiOS and RCN also provide Internet service in Massachusetts but do not impose data caps.

Vargas and Rogers previously led a group of 71 Massachusetts lawmakers who urged Comcast to halt enforcement of its 1.2TB monthly data cap, arguing that the cap hurts low-income people and is unnecessary because of Comcast’s robust network capacity. While Comcast already enforced the data cap in 27 states for several years, the cable company brought the cap to the rest of its territory—an additional 12 states including Massachusetts and the District of Columbia—this month. Comcast is easing-in enforcement so that the first overage charges for newly capped customers will be assessed for data usage in the April 2021 billing period.

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#comcast, #data-cap, #massachusetts, #policy


Big ISPs pause donations to 147 Republicans who tried to reverse Biden’s win

Illustration of the Republican Party's elephant logo on one side of a see-saw, with a pile of gold coins on the other side.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | SilverV)

Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon say they have suspended political donations to the 147 Republican members of Congress who voted against certifying Electoral College results, but the companies left the door open for resuming campaign contributions to those lawmakers in the future.

“We will be suspending contributions in 2021 to any member of Congress who voted in favor of objecting to the election results,” a Verizon spokesperson said, according to Light Reading. We asked Verizon if the suspension of donations will last throughout 2021 and will update this article if we get a response.

“The peaceful transition of power is a foundation of America’s democracy,” Comcast said in a statement yesterday. After “the appalling violence” at the US Capitol last week, “our focus needs to be on working together for the good of the entire nation. Consistent with this view, we will suspend all of our political contributions to those elected officials who voted against certification of the Electoral College votes, which will give us the opportunity to review our political giving policies and practices.”

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#att, #biden, #charter, #comcast, #policy, #republicans, #t-mobile, #trump, #verizon


Comcast data cap blasted by lawmakers as it expands into 12 more states

The back of a Comcast van driving along a street in Sunnyvale, California.

Enlarge / A Comcast van in Sunnyvale, California, in November 2018. (credit: Getty Images | Andrei Stanescu)

Dozens of state lawmakers from Massachusetts urged Comcast to halt enforcement of its 1.2TB monthly data cap, saying the cap hurts low-income people during the pandemic and is unnecessary because of Comcast’s healthy network capacity.

“Network capacity is not an issue for Comcast or a valid excuse to charge customers more,” 71 state lawmakers wrote in the letter last week, one day before Comcast brought its data cap to Massachusetts and other states where it wasn’t already enforced. “Comcast itself claims it has plenty of capacity across its network, including areas where no caps are currently imposed… It is inconceivable that Comcast would choose to impose this ‘cap and fee’ plan during a pandemic, when many Massachusetts residents are forced to work and attend school from home via the Internet.”

The letter said the lawmakers “strongly urge Comcast to discontinue this plan, and to reconsider any future attempts at imposing a data cap or any perversion of the principles of net neutrality in Massachusetts.” The lawmakers also pointed out a statement by Comcast executive Tony Werner, who said the increased broadband traffic caused by the pandemic “has all been within the capability of the network.”

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#biz-it, #comcast, #data-cap, #massachusetts, #policy


Comcast raising TV and Internet prices, including a big hike to hidden fees

Comcast Xfinity cable television installation truck parked on a street in front of a suburban home, San Ramon, California, May 17, 2018. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

Enlarge / Comcast Xfinity cable television installation truck parked on a street in front of a suburban home, San Ramon, California, May 17, 2018. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images) (credit: Getty Images | Smith Collection | Gado)

Comcast is raising prices for cable TV and Internet service on January 1, 2021, with price hikes coming both to standard monthly rates and to hidden fees that aren’t included in advertised prices.

TV customers are getting an especially raw deal, as Comcast is adding up to $4.50 a month to the “Broadcast TV” fee and $2 to the Regional Sports Network (RSN) fee. That’s an increase of up to $78 a year solely from two fees that aren’t included in advertised rates.

As in past years, even customers who still are on promotional pricing will not be spared from the Broadcast TV and RSN fee increases. “Customers on promotional pricing will not see that pricing change until the end of the promotion, but the RSN and Broadcast TV fees will increase because they’re not part of the promotional pricing,” a Comcast spokesperson told Ars.

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#biz-it, #comcast, #policy


Comcast to enforce 1.2TB data cap in entire 39-state territory in early 2021

Illustration of a Comcast Internet user being yanked away from a computer monitor and other equipment.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

Comcast’s 1.2TB monthly data cap is coming to 12 more states and the District of Columbia starting January 2021. The unpopular policy was already enforced in most of Comcast’s 39-state US territory over the past few years, and the upcoming expansion will for the first time bring the cap to every market in Comcast’s territory.

Comcast will be providing some “courtesy months” in which newly capped customers can exceed 1.2TB without penalty, so the first overage charges for these customers will be assessed for data usage in the April 2021 billing period.

Comcast’s data cap has been imposed since 2016 in 27 of the 39 states in Comcast’s cable territory. The cap-less parts of Comcast’s network include Northeastern states where the cable company faces competition from Verizon’s un-capped FiOS fiber-to-the-home broadband service.

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#biz-it, #comcast, #data-cap


Broadband power users explode, making data caps more profitable for ISPs

An illustration of $100 bills being sucked into an Internet connection.

Data cap cash. (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

The number of broadband “power users”—people who use 1TB or more per month—has doubled over the past year, ensuring that ISPs will be able to make more money from data caps.

In Q3 2020, 8.8 percent of broadband subscribers used at least 1TB per month, up from 4.2 percent in Q3 2019, according to a study released yesterday by OpenVault. OpenVault is a vendor that sells a data-usage tracking platform to cable, fiber, and wireless ISPs and has 150 operators as customers worldwide. The 8.8- and 4.2-percent figures refer to US customers only, an OpenVault spokesperson told Ars.

More customers exceeding their data caps will result in more overage charges paid to ISPs that impose monthly data caps. Higher usage can also boost ISP revenue because people using more data tend to subscribe to higher-speed packages.

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#att, #biz-it, #broadband, #comcast, #data-caps, #openvault, #policy


The tech antitrust problem no one is talking about

After years of building political pressure for antitrust scrutiny of major tech companies, this month Congress and the US government delivered. The House Antitrust Subcommittee released a report accusing Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook of monopolistic behavior. The Department of Justice filed a complaint against Google alleging the company prevents consumers from sampling other search engines.

The new fervor for tech antitrust has so far overlooked an equally obvious target: US broadband providers. “If you want to talk about a history of using gatekeeper power to harm competitors, there are few better examples,” says Gigi Sohn, a fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy.

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#att, #broadband, #charter, #comcast, #competition, #policy, #verizon


Comcast says Peacock has nearly 22M sign-ups

Comcast’s latest earnings report includes some official user numbers for Peacock, the new streaming service from Comcast-owned NBCUniversal.

Specifically, Comcast says that Peacock has received nearly 22 million sign-ups since it launched in July, and that it’s “exceeding our expectations on all engagement metrics in only a few months.” What’s not clear, however, is how many of those sign-ups come from paying subscribers.

NBCUniversal has emphasized the free, ad-supported tier while pitching the service. That tier includes a large library of classic shows and movies like “30 Rock,” “Parks and Recreation” and “Saturday Night Live.” However, if you want access to a larger library of content (particularly Peacock Originals), as well as earlier access to new NBC shows, you’ll need to pay $4.99 per month for Peacock Premium, or $9.99 per month to remove the ads.

It’s also worth noting that the service has had some major limitations on connected TVs. Peacock only launching on Roku last month and, thanks to continuing business disagreements, it’s still not available on Amazon’s Fire TV.

Netflix, meanwhile, just reported that it has 195 million paying subscribers, while Disney+ had 60.5 million subscribers as of August 3.

#comcast, #media, #nbcuniversal, #peacock


Comcast says gigabit downloads and uploads are now possible over cable

Illustration of Internet cables filled with ones and zeroes.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Pasieka)

Comcast’s cable Internet still has a heavy emphasis on download speeds, as even its gigabit-download service only comes with 35Mbps uploads. But that may not be the case forever, as today Comcast announced a “technical milestone” that can deliver gigabit-plus download and upload speeds over existing cable wires.

Specifically, Comcast said it conducted “a trial delivering 1.25Gbps upload and download speeds over a live production network using Network Function Virtualization (NFV) combined with the latest DOCSIS Technology.” Comcast installed the service at a home in Jacksonville, Florida, where “the technology team consistently measured speeds of 1.25 Gbps upload and 1.25Gbps download over the connection.”

The speeds were delivered over a hybrid fiber-cable network, with the coaxial cable providing the final connection into the home. That’s nothing new—Comcast has been using both fiber and cable for years, but Comcast said the trial benefitted from the company’s “ongoing effort to extend fiber further into neighborhoods.” Normally, symmetrical gigabit speeds require a fiber-to-the-home connection. But many more homes have cable than fiber, so a symmetrical gigabit technology could be deployed faster if it doesn’t require bringing fiber all the way to each building.

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#biz-it, #cable, #comcast, #docsis, #fiber, #gigabit


Comcast adds new tri-band X-Fi pods to home Wi-Fi lineup

Today, Comcast launched an upgrade to its existing Plume-based Wi-Fi mesh offerings, the X-Fi Pods. The new, tri-band X-Fi Pods appear to be direct implementations of Plume’s Superpod design—which is good news for Comcast customers, since the Superpods still sit comfortably at the top of our Wi-Fi mesh performance charts.

The new tri-band X-Fi Pods are available today at $119 for one or $199 for two, and they integrate with X-Fi customers’ existing $25/mo X-Fi managed Wi-Fi.

Why does tri-band matter?

One important distinguishing characteristic between Wi-Fi mesh kits is the number of radios in each node. The highest-performance mesh kits—such as Netgear Orbi RBK53, Plume Superpods, or the new X-Fi Pods announced today—have three radios in them, not just two. The extra radio allows the mesh nodes to simultaneously communicate both to the client devices connected to them and the “backhaul” (their connection upstream to the router) on 5GHz radios.

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#comcast, #plume, #pods, #superpods, #tech, #wi-fi, #wi-fi-mesh, #wifi, #wifi-mesh, #x-fi


NBCUniversal’s Peacock is now live on Roku

NBCUniversal and Roku announced late last week that they’d resolved the dispute that was keeping NBCU’s streaming Peacock app off Roku’s smart TV platform. And as of this morning, Peacock has launched on Roku .

When Peacock launched in July, it was not available on either Roku or Amazon Fire TV — in Roku’s case, the reported issue was how much of Peacock’s ad inventory Roku would be able to sell.

The dispute escalated on Friday, with NBCU threatening to pull its TV Everywhere apps from Roku as well. Instead, the day ended with the companies announcing a deal.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with [NBCU parent company] Comcast that will bring Peacock to Roku customers and maintains access to NBCU’s TV Everywhere apps,” Roku said in a statement. “We look forward to offering these new options to consumers under an expanded, mutually beneficial relationship between our companies that includes adding NBC content to The Roku Channel and a meaningful partnership around advertising.”

NBCU still hasn’t announced a deal that would bring Peacock to Fire TV. And HBO Max, the other new streaming app from a major media company, still isn’t available on either Roku or Fire TV.

Peacock is available in a number of different tiers, with a free, ad-supported plan offering a select library of NBCU content, with more content (including Peacock originals like “Brave New World”) available for $4.99 a month, and then an ad-free tier that costs $9.99 per month.

“We are excited to bring Peacock and its unrivaled catalog to millions of Americans who enjoy entertainment on their favorite Roku devices,” said Maggie McLean Suniewick, Peacocck’s president of business development and partnerships, in a statement. “Roku customers are engaged streamers and we know they’ll love access to a wide range of free and paid content.”

#comcast, #media, #nbcuniversal, #peacock, #roku


Comcast shut off Internet to hundreds, saying they were illegally connected

A Comcast/NBC logo.

(credit: Comcast)

Comcast says that a broadband reseller illegally sold Comcast Internet service in residential buildings in the Denver area and has terminated the connections to those buildings.

As reported by Denver7 this week, the shutoff affected hundreds of people who live in buildings serviced by AlphaWiFi, “which installs and services Internet in approximately 90 apartment buildings across Denver.” The shutoff came as a surprise to residents, including Kaley Warren, who has been working at home during the pandemic:

“It is my entire lifeline,” said Warren, who said that without warning last Friday, her Internet service disappeared. “I felt lost. It was truly the first time during the pandemic that I was had the feeling of ‘What am I supposed to do?'”

When contacted by Ars, a Comcast spokesperson said that “AlphaWiFi is under a standard commercial agreement which expressly prohibits the resale of Comcast services.” Comcast did not answer questions about how many people were affected and when they will get service restored, but it did provide us with the same statement it previously gave to Denver7, which says:

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#biz-it, #comcast, #policy


Pure Storage acquires data service platform Portworx for $370M

Pure Storage, the public enterprise data storage company, today announced that it has acquired Portworx, a well-funded startup that provides a cloud-native storage and data-management platform based on Kubernetes, for $370 million in cash. This marks Pure Storage’s largest acquisition to date and shows how important this market for multi-cloud data services has become.

Current Portworx enterprise customers include the likes of Carrefour, Comcast, GE Digital, Kroger, Lufthansa, and T-Mobile. At the core of the service is its ability to help users migrate their data and create backups. It creates a storage layer that allows developers to then access that data, no matter where it resides.

Pure Storage will use Portworx’s technology to expand its hybrid and multi-cloud services and provide Kubernetes -based data services across clouds.

Image Credits: Portworx

“I’m tremendously proud of what we’ve built at Portworx: an unparalleled data services platform for customers running mission-critical applications in hybrid and multi-cloud environments,” said Portworx CEO Murli Thirumale. “The traction and growth we see in our business daily shows that containers and Kubernetes are fundamental to the next-generation application architecture and thus competitiveness. We are excited for the accelerated growth and customer impact we will be able to achieve as a part of Pure.”

When the company raised its Series C round last year, Thirumale told me that Portworx had expanded its customer base by over 100 percent and its bookings increased by 376 from 2018 to 2019.

“As forward-thinking enterprises adopt cloud native strategies to advance their business, we are thrilled to have the Portworx team and their groundbreaking technology joining us at Pure to expand our success in delivering multi-cloud data services for Kubernetes,” said Charles Giancarlo, Chairman and CEO of Pure Storage. “This acquisition marks a significant milestone in expanding our Modern Data Experience to cover traditional and cloud native applications alike.”

#carrefour, #ceo, #cloud, #cloud-computing, #cloud-infrastructure, #comcast, #computing, #enterprise, #exit, #kroger, #kubernetes, #lufthansa, #mirantis, #netapp, #portworx, #pure-storage, #series-c, #startups, #storage, #t-mobile


As it adds Jeremy Milken to the partnership, Watertower Ventures nears $50 million close for its new fund

Derek Norton and Jeremy Milken have known each other for twenty years. Over their longtime personal and professional relationship, the two Los Angeles-based serial entrepreneurs have invested in each other’s companies and investment firms, but never worked together until now.

Milken is taking the plunge into institutional investing, joining Norton as a partner in Watertower Ventures just as the firm prepares to close on a $50 million new fund.

It’s an auspicious time for both Los Angeles-based businessmen, as the LA venture community sees a wave of technology talent relocating from New York and San Francisco in the newly remote work culture created by the COVID-19 epidemic.

“I see two things happen. One people look at the effects of where the market’s going. We’re seeing a lot more companies that are starting up now as a result of a [the pandemic],” said Norton. “New company formation is happening faster than before covid. [And] a lot of venture capitalists that have relocated to LA. They’ve moved down to LA for lifestyle reasons and they’re saying that they don’t need to go back to San Francisco.”

For Milken, the opportunity to get into venture now is a function of the company creation and acceleration of digital adoption that Norton referenced. “The pandemic is accelerating change in the marketplace. Things that might have taken a decade are taking two years now,” Milken said.

These opportunities are creating an opening for Watertower Ventures in markets far beyond the Hollywood hills. The firm, whose original thesis focused on Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York, is now cutting checks on investments in Texas and Utah, and spending much less time looking for companies in the Bay Area.

Derek Norton, founder, Watertower Ventures: Image Credit: Watertower Ventures

Norton’s latest fund is the only the most recent act in a career that has seen the investor traverse the financial services digital media and the early days of the internet. Norton built Digital Boardwalk, a pioneering internet service provider and the second commercial partner for the trailblazing browser service, Netscape.

Later, at Jeffries Technologies, and the $120 million Entertainment Media Ventures seed and early stage venture capital fund, Norton was intimately involved in bringing tech to market and focusing on early stage investments. With that in mind, the Watertower Ventures group, which launched in 2017 with a small, $5 million fund, is a return to those roots.

The plan, even at the time, was always to raise a larger fund. After founding and running the boutique investment banking business at Watertower Group, Norton knew he had to raise a starter fund to prove the thesis he was working on.

That thesis was to provide a bridge between early stage companies and large technology companies using the network that Norton has built in the Southern California tech and entertainment community over decades.

“We want to take our contacts at Google, Apple, Facebook, Disney, Microsoft, Cisco, Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, and other companies we believe should have a relationship with our portfolio companies, and help the CEOs and management teams more effectively do business development,” Norton told SoCal Tech when he closed his first fund in 2017. “We want to connect them to the right person at those companies to create a commercial relationship. That has a really large impact on early stage companies, who typically don’t have a deep network of relationships, and the ability to get to those type of people. It’s because of our advisory business that we have those relationships, and that’s also why those relationships stay fresh and active, versus people who aren’t in those businesses. It’s almost a full time job to maintain that, and that’s where our value-add is.”

Milken, who has spent his professional career in entrepreneurship, was ready to try investing, and was intimately familiar with Watertower and its portfolio, as an investor in the firm’s first $5 million fund.

“Two years ago we started having those conversations,” said Norton in an interview. “As Jeremy exited his business in September it created the opportunity to go out and raise together as the evolution of our partnership.”

Jeremy Milken, general partner, Watertower Ventures. Image Credit: Watertower Ventures

With the new capital coming in, Norton expects to back some 30 to 35 companies, he said. And, in a testament to the first fund’s performance, which has it in the top decile of venture funds for its vintage, Norton said he was able to raise the capital amidst the economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some 70 percent of the existing portfolio has been marked up, according to Norton.

Even though limited partners, the investors who back venture funds, were reluctant to commit capital to new firms in March and April, fundraising returned with a vengeance in June and July, according to Norton. The paper performance likely was enough to woo additional limited partners and individual investors including TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer, the former head of streaming at Disney.

Mayer’s presence in the firm’s investor base is a testament to the firm’s pitch to founders. “We view fundraising as a massive distraction for these early stage companies from their business. We try to deliver that network that’s ours to those founders,” said Norton.

“I think we’re in a unique position starting with a fresh fund here,” says Norton. “Uncertainty creates opportunity and people are bringing solutions. We haven’t noticed any slowdown whatsoever, we’re working with twenty five companies per week. Since the inception of the fund, we haven’t seen deal flow at this level.”

#att, #comcast, #corporate-finance, #entrepreneurship, #facebook, #finance, #financial-services, #google, #investment, #kevin-mayer, #los-angeles, #louisiana, #money, #new-york, #partner, #private-equity, #tc, #texas, #tiktok, #utah, #venture-capital, #verizon


Comcast lost 477,000 cable-TV customers in Q2 amid 12% drop in revenue

A Comcast sign at the Comcast offices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Enlarge / A Comcast sign at the Comcast offices in Philadelphia. (credit: Getty Images | Cindy Ord )

Comcast lost 477,000 cable-TV subscribers in Q2 2020 amid a company-wide drop in revenue caused by the pandemic. The net-customer loss consists of 427,000 residential TV customers and 51,000 business TV customers, Comcast’s earnings report today said. The customer losses are more than double the 224,000 net-customer loss in last year’s second quarter.

Comcast’s Q2 subscriber loss followed a Q1 loss of 409,000 TV customers, for a total of 886,000 video customers lost in the first six months of 2020. By contrast, Comcast lost 733,000 video customers in all of 2019, an average of 183,000 per quarter.

While Comcast’s TV-customer losses accelerated this year, they’re still only about half as large as the customer losses reported by DirecTV owner AT&T. Comcast is down to 20.4 million TV customers, which is higher than any other cable or satellite TV provider.

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#biz-it, #cable-tv, #comcast


Comcast’s data cap and overage fees return tomorrow after 3-month break

Illustration of a water hose with Internet data trickling out of it, represented by 1s and 0s.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

Comcast is scheduled to reinstate its home-Internet data cap tomorrow, July 1, after more than three months in which customers were provided unlimited data to help them through the coronavirus pandemic.

AT&T, by contrast, announced today that it is “continuing to waive home-Internet data overage charges for AT&T Internet customers through September 30.” There is a big caveat with AT&T, though: the company’s announcement said the extended data-cap waiver does not apply to DSL and fixed wireless. While AT&T fiber customers will have unlimited data for another three months, other AT&T home-broadband customers will apparently face data caps and overage fees starting tomorrow.

Comcast and AT&T suspended their data caps and overage fees in mid-March, initially promising two months of unlimited data. The companies later extended that pledge to June 30, but Comcast hasn’t granted any further extensions. We contacted Comcast yesterday but didn’t receive answers to questions about its data cap, and Comcast’s website still says the data-cap waiver only goes through June 30. While Comcast didn’t answer the data-cap questions, a spokesperson pointed out that the cable company extended other pandemic offers for college students and people with low incomes beyond June 30, and it is keeping its Wi-Fi hotspots open to the public for free for the rest of 2020.

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#att, #biz-it, #comcast, #data-caps, #fcc, #keep-americans-connected-pledge, #policy


Comcast, Mozilla strike privacy deal to encrypt DNS lookups in Firefox

The Firefox logo.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Anadolu Agency)

Comcast is partnering with Mozilla to deploy encrypted DNS lookups on the Firefox browser, the companies announced today. Comcast’s version of DNS over HTTPS (DoH) will be turned on by default for Firefox users on Comcast’s broadband network, but people will be able to switch to other options like Cloudflare and NextDNS. No availability date was announced.

Comcast is the first ISP to join Firefox’s Trusted Recursive Resolver (TRR) program, Mozilla said in today’s announcement. Cloudflare and NextDNS were already in Mozilla’s program, which requires encrypted-DNS providers to meet privacy and transparency criteria and pledge not to block or filter domains by default “unless specifically required by law in the jurisdiction in which the resolver operates.”

“Adding ISPs in the TRR program paves the way for providing customers with the security of trusted DNS resolution, while also offering the benefits of a resolver provided by their ISP such as parental control services and better optimized, localized results,” the announcement said. “Mozilla and Comcast will be jointly running tests to inform how Firefox can assign the best available TRR to each user.”

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#biz-it, #comcast, #dns-over-https, #firefox, #mozilla, #policy


Small ISP cancels data caps permanently after reviewing pandemic usage

Ethernet cables plugged into a wireless router.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | RichLegg)

The coronavirus pandemic caused big ISPs to put data caps on hold for a few months, but one small ISP is going a big step further and canceling the arbitrary monthly limits permanently. Antietam Broadband, which serves Washington County in Maryland, announced Friday that it “has permanently removed broadband data usage caps for all customers,” retroactive to mid-March when the company first temporarily suspended data-cap overage fees.

The decision to permanently drop the cap was made partly because of “learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic as more people worked and learned remotely,” Antietam explained. “During this period customers moved into broadband packages that more accurately reflected their broadband needs.” Like most other ISPs, Antietam charges different prices based on speed tiers as measured in bits per second, with Antietam’s advertised download speeds ranging up to 1Gbps.

“These are uncertain times. We felt a need to give customers as much certainty over their bill as possible,” Antietam President Brian Lynch said in the press release. “Eliminating data usage caps means that customers will know the exact amount of their broadband bill every month.”

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#antietam-broadband, #att, #biz-it, #comcast, #data-caps, #policy


Making Internet service a utility—what’s the worst that could happen?

The cable industry takes a subtle approach to anti-Title II advertising.

The cable industry takes a subtle approach to anti-Title II advertising. (credit: National Cable & Telecommunications Association)

It’s 2020, and a coronavirus pandemic has underscored how crucial broadband service is to the lives of Americans for work, entertainment, and school. Internet service is a necessity, and yet it isn’t regulated as a utility the way services like water and electricity are. But back in 2014 (when this story was originally published) and 2015, there was a hot debate over whether the Federal Communications Commission should treat broadband service like a utility—or, more precisely, as a Title II common-carrier service—in order to impose net neutrality rules.

We’re resurfacing this article from December 2014, which examined the cable industry’s argument that utility-style regulation would hurt broadband users and broadband providers. Ultimately, the FCC did reclassify broadband to enforce net neutrality in 2015, but never imposed strict utility regulations like price caps or network unbundling. Broadband users enthusiastically supported the rules and ISPs admitted to investors later that the extra regulation didn’t harm their businesses. But FCC Chairman Ajit Pai deregulated the broadband industry anyway, eliminating net neutrality rules and other consumer protections such as a prohibition on hidden fees. Since Pai’s decision, the top ISPs have been decreasing network investment despite operating in the mostly regulation-free environment they sought, and the FCC has relied on ISPs’ voluntary promises instead of real rules to keep customers online during the pandemic.

There seems to be nothing the broadband industry fears more than Title II of the Communications Act.

Title II gives the Federal Communications Commission power to regulate telecommunications providers as utilities or “common carriers.” Like landline phone providers, common carriers must offer service to the public on reasonable terms. To regulate Internet service providers (ISPs) as utilities, the FCC must reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, a move that consumer advocacy groups and even President Obama have pushed the FCC to take.

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#att, #biz-it, #cable, #comcast, #fcc, #features, #ncta, #net-neutrality, #net-neutrality-day, #netflix, #policy, #title-ii, #verizon


Comcast resists call to open home Wi-Fi hotspots, cites potential congestion

A Comcast/NBC logo.

(credit: Comcast)

Three US senators today urged Comcast to open all of its Wi-Fi hotspots to children who lack Internet access at home during the pandemic. A letter from Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) says that Comcast recently refused a request to do so because it would cause congestion for subscribers. But the senators argue that “Comcast’s excuse simply does not add up.”

Comcast has been praised by advocates for its pandemic response, which includes two free months of home-Internet service for new low-income subscribers, temporary suspension of its data cap, and making many of its hotspots free to the general public. But while Comcast opened up 1.5 million hotspots located at businesses and other public areas, there’s another category of Comcast Wi-Fi hotspots that still require a Comcast login and subscription. Those are the hotspots that are enabled by default on Xfinity routers used by home-Internet subscribers.

Since 2013, Xfinity gateways have broadcasted a separate network that other Comcast subscribers can log in to with a Comcast username and password. Unless you’ve disabled the functionality, anyone within range of your Comcast router can get Internet access if they have a Comcast subscription or have paid for a temporary Wi-Fi pass.

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#biz-it, #comcast, #policy, #ron-wyden


Comcast waives data cap until at least June 30 in response to pandemic

The back of a Comcast van driving along a street in Sunnyvale, California.

Enlarge / A Comcast van in Sunnyvale, California, in November 2018. (credit: Getty Images | Andrei Stanescu)

After promising 60 days without data caps and overage fees for all customers, Comcast has decided to extend the data-cap waiver until at least June 30.

Comcast announced the data-cap waiver on March 13, saying the waiver would last until May 13 to help customers deal with the pandemic. Today, Comcast said it will extend the data-cap waiver and other pandemic-related changes “through June 30 to help ensure students can finish out the school year from home and remain connected to the Internet during the COVID-19 crisis.”

Also extended to June 30 is Comcast’s promise not to disconnect Internet, mobile, or home phone service and to waive late fees if customers “contact us and let us know that they can’t pay their bills during this period.”

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#biz-it, #comcast, #data-cap, #pandemic


Lost item finder Tile expands partnership with Comcast, as Apple’s competitor looms

Bluetooth-powered lost item finder Tile is expanding on its two-year old partnership with strategic investor Comcast to help customers find misplaced items around their home. The two companies had first announced their intention to partner in early 2018 and later that year introduced a way for Comcast users to locate lost items using their Xfinity X1 Voice Remote. Now, Comcast is adding more set-top boxes and xFi Gateways into the mix as access points.

The companies announced today that select Comcast X1 and Flex set-top boxes as well as xFi Gateways will be able to work as extensions to the Tile network. Specifically, this includes the newer Xfinity devices like the xFi Advanced Gateway, and Xi5, Xi6, and XG1v4 devices, Tile tells us.

What this means Comcast’s boxes can supplement or even take the place of the Tile mobile app in terms of being an access point used to look for a lost Tile device, when an item goes missing.

This could be useful for those who don’t have the Tile app installed on their phone, whose phone is not within easy reach or has run out of battery, as well as for those those who just want the added convenience of having another way to search for their lost item.

Previously, Comcast Xfinity customers could use their X1 voice remote to see a Tile’s last-known location on the screen. Now, not only can Comcast users ring their Tile directly, the Flex set-top boxes and xFi Gateways can also work as finding extenders in the home.

Tile devices themselves come in a variety of form factors, including keychain or luggage dongles like Mate and the more powerful Pro, a Slim device ideal for wallets, and Tile Sticker for anything else — like laptops, bikes, tools, cameras, and more. In the home, Tile devices are often used to find small items like car keys, purses, or even a child’s favorite toy that’s always getting misplaced.

Alongside the support for Comcast boxes, the companies also updated the existing X1 remote functionality to include a new feature to directly ring missing items. Now, customers can say things like “Xfinity Home, find my keys” to have the Tile make its distinctive ringing sound so the lost item can be found.

“The average person spends about 15 minutes a day looking for lost items,” said Tile CEO CJ Prober, in a statement about the expanded partnership with Comcast. “We’ve been working with Comcast to alleviate this daily disruption. By allowing Comcast Xfinity customers to use their xFI Gateways and X1 and Flex set-top boxes as finding extenders, the Tile network becomes stronger and ensures users will quickly and easily find lost or misplaced items, bringing convenience to their daily routine,” he said.

Tile claims to now locate some 6 million items daily across 195 countries worldwide, with a 90% success rate in finding lost items. To date, it has sold 26 million Tile devices.

However the company is preparing to face steep competition. Apple has effectively confirmed its plans to release a Tile competitor called Air Tags that are more deeply integrated into its iOS operating system and have special privileges that aren’t offered to third-party apps. Tile has gone on the offensive about Apple’s plans, arguing to Congress that Apple’s behavior is anti-competitive and needs regulation.

This month, Tile told a congressional panel that Apple has failed to live up to promises aimed at resolving their dispute, noting Apple did not reinstate the “Always Allow” background permission. This permission would allow Tile to compete on a more even playing field with Apple’s own “Find My” app, which doesn’t have to continually remind users that it’s using their location data like third-party apps do. Tile also spoke about how Apple planned to allow its own Air Tags to use UWB (ultra-wideband) for better location finding, but not open that up to competitors like Tile.

The fight for regulation will be a long-term battle. In the more immediate future, Tile’s partnerships are how it will continue to grow its customer base and device usage.

On this front, Tile also recently partnered with Skullcandy to release the first wireless earbuds that are findable with Tile: Skullcandy’s Push Ultra, Indy Evo, Indy Fuel and Sesh Evo. This allows the earbuds maker to better compete with Apple, whose Find My app can locate Apple’s own AirPods.

In total, Tile now works with over 20 partners across audio, travel, smart home and PC categories.



#apple, #bluetooth-tracker, #comcast, #hardware, #lost-item, #tile


NBCUniversal’s Peacock launches on Comcast tomorrow

NBCUniversal’s new streaming service Peacock is launching for Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Flex customers tomorrow, April 15, at no additional cost.

Comcast says the rollout to its platforms begins tomorrow and will complete by month’s end.

This lines up with the schedule that the company announced in January, which pointed to a broader launch on July 15. NBCUniversal says that’s still happening, though the launch will no longer coincide with the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

Comcast subscribers will get access to Peacock’s premium tier, which it says will include an on-demand library of more than 15,000 hours of TV and movies, including “30 Rock,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Yellowstone,” “Law & Order” and its various spin-offs, “Jurassic Park” and “Shrek.” It also will include early access to NBC’s late-night shows “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon and “Late Night With Seth Meyers.”

When the service launches more broadly in July (which is also when it launches on mobile), there will be a free tier with roughly half as much content. If you pay for Peacock Premium separately, it will cost $4.99 per month with ads, or $9.99 per month without ads. (Peacock’s ad load will be relatively light at launch, with no more than five minutes of ads per hour.)

Like every streaming service, Peacock will eventually feature original programming, including a reboot of “Battlestar Galactica.” The release dates for some of that original programming may be delayed, however, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down productions worldwide. But Peacock Chairman Matt Strauss told reporters today that a few of its series are on track for 2020, including the “Psych” movie, “Brave New World” and the reboots of “Punky Brewster” and “Saved by the Bell.”

Strauss added that he remains “very optimistic” about Peacock’s prospects, thanks to “a vast library of content that we know is going to resonate.” (Lest this seem like merely putting a brave face on a tough situation, it’s worth noting that Disney+ recently passed more than 50 million subscribers despite — “The Mandalorian” aside — a relatively limited slate of originals.)

“What’s postponed in 2020 will come back to us, even bigger, in 2021 — when Peacock will, arguably, really be hitting its stride,” Strauss said.

Dana Strong, president of consumer services at Comcast Cable, also noted that “viewing on every dimension of our platform is up during this period,” with a year-over-year increase of two hours per day per household, as well as a 50% increase in video-on-demand viewing.

Strauss also downplayed COVID-19’s impact on advertising, noting that Peacock reached the milestone of 10 advertising sponsors at launch, and characterized its deals as being more focused on the “long-term.”

And while Comcast (as NBCUniversal’s parent company) makes sense as the initial cable partner for Peacock, he said, “We see an opportunity to do similar bundling deals with other distributors.”

#comcast, #entertainment, #media, #nbcuniversal, #peacock, #streaming-service, #tc


Verizon refuses to give DSL users its low-income deals during pandemic

A Verizon FiOS truck on a street in New York City.

Enlarge / A Verizon FiOS truck in Manhattan on September 15, 2017. (credit: Getty Images | Smith Collection | Gado)

Verizon is one of numerous home-Internet providers offering temporarily free service to low-income households during the pandemic. But a big restriction on Verizon’s offer makes it impossible for many people to get the deal.

The Verizon problem is one of several that’s been pointed out by advocates for poor people at the nonprofit National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA). Charter, CenturyLink, and Frontier have also been labeled disappointments even as Comcast earned praise. The NDIA is maintaining a list of pandemic-related telecom offers. A similar group called EveryoneOn offers a search tool to find low-income offers by ZIP code.

Verizon on March 23 said it would provide two months of free home-Internet and phone service for current low-income subscribers in the Lifeline program and $20 monthly discounts for new low-income subscribers. The $20 discount lowers the starting price for 200Mbps Internet to $19.99 a month. But the broadband offers are available only on Verizon’s fiber-to-the-home FiOS service and not in DSL areas where Verizon never upgraded homes from copper to fiber.

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#att, #biz-it, #centurylink, #charter, #comcast, #frontier, #lifeline, #policy, #verizon


Subscription drive, day 4: A pitch from “Comcast’s least favorite journalist”

Illustration of Jon Brodkin's face on a poster that says

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

After eight and a half years working full-time for Ars Technica, it’s time for me to write something totally unlike anything that previously appeared under my name: a sales pitch. I’m a journalist for good reason, as I’m too gruff and unfriendly to be in sales, so please temper your expectations.

As you probably gathered by now, we’re doing a subscription drive this week. Every person who buys a subscription will help us get through a difficult financial time, as the pandemic and oncoming recession cause a predictable decline in advertising revenue throughout the media industry.

In addition to giving you some nice perks like ad-free articles and a YubiKey 2FA device, your subscription dollars help make sure that people like me get to keep writing for Ars. I’ve written more than 3,000 articles for Ars Technica, and I don’t intend to stop any time soon.

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#ars-technica, #att, #broadband, #comcast, #fcc, #journalism, #staff, #verizon


Comcast waiving data caps hasn’t hurt its network—why not make it permanent?

Illustration of a water hose with Internet data trickling out of it, represented by 1s and 0s.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

Back in the before times, when a larger percentage of the human race roamed the Earth, i.e., several weeks ago, Comcast customers had to deal with something called a “data cap.” Cable users who consumed more than a terabyte of Comcast-branded Internet data in a single month had to pay an extra $10 for each additional, precious block of 50GB, or $50 more each month for unlimited data. Now, with a pandemic sweeping the United States and more people spending each day at home than ever, consumer-broadband usage is way up. But instead of raking in as many overage fees as it can, Comcast decided to upgrade everyone to unlimited data for no extra charge, for two months beginning March 13—and its network has no problem handling it.

Comcast on Monday said it has measured a 32 percent increase in peak traffic since March 1 and an increase of 60 percent in some parts of the US. VoIP and video conferencing is up 212 percent, VPN traffic is up 40 percent, gaming downloads are up 50 percent, and streaming video is up 38 percent.

Comcast, the nation’s largest cable and home-Internet provider, described the pandemic’s impact as “an unprecedented shift in network usage” but not one that diminishes Comcast’s ability to provide sufficient Internet bandwidth. “It’s within the capability of our network; and we continue to deliver the speeds and support the capacity our customers need while they’re working, learning, and connecting from home,” Comcast said. The company continues to monitor network performance and “add capacity where it’s needed.”

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#att, #biz-it, #comcast, #data-caps, #policy


Comcast wins Supreme Court case over interpretation of civil rights law

Byron Allen wearing a tuxedo and holding a microphone while speaking on stage at a charity event.

Enlarge / Byron Allen onstage during his 4th Annual Oscar Gala to Benefit Children’s Hospital Los Angeles at the Beverly Wilshire on February 9, 2020. (credit: Getty Images | Greg Doherty)

Comcast has won a US Supreme Court case against Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios Networks (ESN), dealing a major blow to Allen’s attempt to prove that Comcast’s refusal to carry ESN channels was motivated by racial bias.

The key question taken up by the court was whether a claim of race discrimination under the 42 U.S.C. § 1981 statute can proceed without a “but-for causation.” As the Legal Information Institute explains, a “but-for test” asks “but for the existence of X, would Y have occurred?”

The US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled in 2018 that the case could proceed because ESN “needed only to plausibly allege that discriminatory intent was a factor in Comcast’s refusal to contract, and not necessarily the but-for cause of that decision.” The Supreme Court ruling issued yesterday reversed that decision, saying that a “plaintiff bears the burden of showing that the plaintiff’s race was a but-for cause of its injury, and that burden remains constant over the life of the lawsuit.”

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#biz-it, #byron-allen, #comcast, #policy, #supreme-court


Comcast aggressively moves to work-from-home during pandemic

A pedestrian walking by a Comcast retail store.

Enlarge / A Comcast Xfinity retail store on January 23, 2020 in San Mateo, California. (credit: Getty Images | Justin Sullivan)

Comcast says it is shifting large portions of its cable-division workforce out of offices and call centers in an effort to dramatically boost work-from-home numbers during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ve asked every employee that is able to work from home to do so, in every office across the country,” Comcast said in a statement to Ars. “In addition, we have been transitioning thousands of customer service representatives across the country to work from home. We have teams working around the clock to help our call-center teams make this transition to work from home while continuing to support our customers.”

It’s not clear just how extensive Comcast’s work-from-home shift is. Comcast said it’s keeping most retail stores open and did not give us any information about contractors, for example. But it’s clear that Comcast is doing more than Charter, which is facing employee complaints over its rigid rules against working at home. Comcast is the biggest cable company in the US and Charter is the second biggest.

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#biz-it, #comcast, #policy


Comcast and T-Mobile upgrade everyone to unlimited data for next 60 days

A Comcast service van covered in logos.

Enlarge / A Comcast service vehicle in Indianapolis, Indiana, in March 2016. (credit: Getty Images | jetcityimage)

Comcast announced late Friday that it is suspending enforcement of its data cap and overage fees for 60 days during the coronavirus pandemic.

“With so many people working and educating from home, we want our customers to access the Internet without thinking about data plans,” Comcast’s announcement said. “While the vast majority of our customers do not come close to using 1TB of data in a month, we are pausing our data plans for 60 days giving all customers unlimited data for no additional charge.”

Normally, Comcast charges an extra $50 per month for unlimited data, or $10 for each additional block of 50GB after customers exceed 1TB.

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#biz-it, #comcast, #policy, #t-mobile


AT&T waives data cap during coronavirus; Comcast keeps charging overage fees

An AT&T sign on the outside of a building.

Enlarge / An AT&T sign outside a company office in New York City. (credit: Getty Images | Roberto Machado Noa )

AT&T is waiving home-Internet data caps during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Many of our AT&T Internet customers already have unlimited home-Internet access, and we are waiving Internet data overages for the remaining customers,” AT&T said in a statement provided to Ars today.

AT&T imposes monthly data caps of 150GB on DSL, 250GB on fixed wireless, and 1TB on most of its faster wireline services. Overage charges are $10 for each additional 50GB, up to a maximum of $100 or $200 per month, depending on the plan.

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#att, #biz-it, #comcast, #data-caps, #policy


Comcast accidentally published 200,000 “unlisted” phone numbers

A Comcast service van with the brand name

Enlarge / A Comcast van in San Ramon, California, February 25, 2020. (credit: Getty Images | Smith Collection | Gado)

Comcast mistakenly published the names, phone numbers, and addresses of nearly 200,000 customers who paid monthly fees to make their numbers unlisted. The names and numbers were made available on Ecolisting, a directory run by Comcast, and picked up by third-party directories. After discovering the mistake, Comcast shut Ecolisting down, gave $100 credits to affected customers, and advised them that they can change their phone numbers at no charge.

This is similar to a mistake in the early 2010s that resulted in Comcast paying a $33 million settlement in 2015.

The Denver Post reported last week:

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#biz-it, #comcast, #policy


Comcast, Charter expand broadband domination as cable hits 67% market share

An illustration of Earth, with circuits covering North America and an Ethernet cable being plugged into the planet.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Henrik5000)

Led by Comcast and Charter, the cable industry increased its dominance of US home Internet in 2019, finishing the year with a 67-percent market share.

Leichtman Research Group’s latest broadband-market review found that the top eight cable companies combined to add 3.14 million broadband subscribers in 2019, reaching a total of 67.98 million. Comcast and Charter accounted for most of the total subscribers and most of the gains: Comcast added 1.41 million subscribers in the year to reach 28.63 million, and Charter added 1.41 million to reach 26.66 million. Cox, the third biggest cable company in the Leichtman review, added 110,000 subscribers to hit 5.17 million. The net additions for each company were slightly higher than in 2018.

The top eight traditional phone companies, which offer a mix of copper and fiber services, lost a combined 619,605 subscribers to reach a low of 33.24 million in 2019. The top four telcos—AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, and Frontier—all lost subscribers.

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#att, #biz-it, #broadband, #cable, #charter, #comcast, #fiber, #policy, #verizon