Rupert Murdoch Wants Media Giants To Create Netflix Competitor

Rupert Murdoch appeared on the WSJ.D conference earlier this week, with a host of other guests from the technology and business world.

One of the biggest things Murdoch said was the need for a Netflix competitor. He said media giants should work together to create this competitor, to stop Netflix from growing to the point where it has more influence than cable networks.

Cable networks are already feeling the sting of Netflix, with around 40 million subscribers, it has already surpassed one of the most popular paid cable TV broadcasters, HBO, in monthly subscribers.

Netflix Competitor

huluplus

Hulu Plus has been the streaming service most programmers backed, until it started to fail against Netflix. Comcast, Fox and Disney all had 33 percent share in the streaming provider, but have been actively looking for a buyer for months.

Rupert Murdoch might claim the cable industry needs a Netflix competitor, but to compete against Netflix they need a service which actually provides quality content, not washed up shows from the three companies.

In order to do that, the cable industry needs to cannibalize their own market. They need to give subscribers the option of either cable TV or Internet TV; similar to what HBO are willing to do with the new streaming service coming in 2015.

This might hurt the company in the short term, but imagine all of the great content coming on cable TV, on the Internet. The only problem would be making the Internet customers pay the same amount as regular cable TV buyers.

Al-a-carte systems might be put in place on cable in the new few years, lowering the price for customers – this might open more cable companies to Internet TV, but right now, it would hurt their own market too much to create a genuine competitor to Netflix.

Fifth of Home Buyers Would Pay More For Fast Internet

How much does fast Internet speeds mean to you? In the U.K, one-in-five Britons would pay more for a house, if it had fast Internet. In the same survey, a fourth of all people questioned would negotiate for less, if the house had slower Internet speeds.

In 2014, Internet is a big deal breaker. It is part of why urban areas are becoming incredibly popular in developing countries, because of the large amount of jobs and higher Internet speeds, when compared to rural areas.

In the U.K, Internet is not as big of a deal as in the U.S., but people still want the best speeds. The three major broadband providers, BT, Virgin Media and Sky, all provide packages from 5Mbps to 150Mbps.

Fast Broadband 

What exactly is “fast broadband”, well, according to most, it is fast enough to stream Netflix and play YouTube videos at 720p. It is fast enough to scroll down Facebook without seeing the loading sign, and fast enough to open more than two tabs at once.

This would come to about 30Mbps – the favorite package on Virgin Media is 50Mbps. On Sky and BT it is a little lower. On some other ISPs it is much lower, like Talk Talk, PlusNet, and EE.

In rural areas, it is hard to even obtain a quarter of that speed – and the U.K has a lot of rural land. This is one of the big pushes in the next ten years, to get broadband across 99 percent of the U.K and into all homes.

T-Mobile USA interested in new low spectrum sale

T-Mobile has a lot of high-band spectrum, but it is rather useless when the service cannot penetrate through walls or go across large rural areas.

This is why T-Mobile is appealing to the FCC, who are looking to open some of the spectrum below 1GHz to mobile providers, who currently lack the available spectrum.

Back in 2007 and 2008, both AT&T and Verizon Wireless managed to grab a lot of this spectrum, while T-Mobile and Sprint focused on high-band. Turns out the low-band spectrum proved the most useful, despite being underwhelming when it comes to speeds.

T-Mobile has been growing out its wireless network at a rapid rate, ever since CEO John Legere entered office. AT&T has seen a drop in their revenue from T-Mobile, but Verizon Wireless is currently not experiencing any problems with T-Mobile.

In order to get a foot past the two dominant network providers, T-Mobile needs this low-end spectrum. The biggest complaint of T-Mobile at the moment is their poor network indoors and in rural areas, where AT&T and Verizon Wireless shine.

The 600Mhz sale will begin sometime next year. T-Mobile is appealing for 50 percent of the spectrum to be handed to their network, in order to beef up the speeds indoors, but AT&T and Verizon Wireless don’t want a more powerful T-Mobile.

T-Mobile believes with this new spectrum, more customers will move over to their Un-Carrier deals, currently sweeping the nation.

HBO Streaming Service To Cost $15 Per Month

HBO announced a new streaming service would be coming to broadband-only customers in 2015 – but revealed little about how the service would operate or how much it would cost.

In a new report from The Information, it appears the streaming service will cost $15 per month. This would be the same as the cable-version of the service, and in the report it claims the price could go even higher than the regular cable-version.

Continue reading HBO Streaming Service To Cost $15 Per Month

HBO jumping off the cable bandwagon in favor of broadband-only service in 2015

HBO, creators of Game of Thrones, are looking to expand their horizons with a new broadband-only service, coming in 2015.

The service, set to be a stand-alone over-the-top service, will offer all of HBOs present and past shows, for a monthly fee. The fee has not been disclosed and CEO of HBO Richard Plepler did not reveal anything about the service, citing proprietary secrets.

This is the biggest U.S. network to step out of the cable-only route, citing the 10 million broadband-only homes in the U.S. as a big opportunity for expansion – somewhere they have not tackled yet.

It also comes in the wake of the highest piracy rates ever for Game of Thrones, HBO’s blockbuster TV show. Currently, fans of the show have no choice but to download it illegally on torrents, or wait for months before it becomes available.

In an age where the show can be spoilt within a few days, it is not good enough. Plepler believes the new streaming service will be able to create million in revenue for HBO, who are owned by Time Warner Cable.

HBO has a streaming service already, HBO Go – but this requires a cable connection. The service has still received heavy use when Game of Thrones and other hit-shows air.

The Split From Cable

It looks like not just HBO are looking to split from cable. Today, CBS networks also announced they would offer a streaming platform for $5.99 per month, cheaper than Netflix.

CBS All Access will offer over 5,000 shows, including The Big Bang Theory and Star Trek. This is obviously a bigger collection than HBO, even if HBO’s show are more current and popular right now.

We expect this is not the only move away from cable to happen in the next month – with more networks looking to maximize profits in the U.S. and overseas.

Alaska GCI will offer 1Gbps, with data caps

Alaska could be the next US state to offer 1Gbps Internet speeds, but with a rather obnoxious catch: data caps. The Alaskan ISP, General Communications Inc (GCI) announced a few months ago they would update their lines to 1Gbps,  but gave no specifics.

Ever since the announcement, GCI has been promoting the fact Fiber re:D will offer 1Gbps. Still no date on when Alaskans will get it, even though Anchorage is expected to be the first city sometime in 2015.

The 1Gbps speed will surpass 250mbps as the best in the state. Alaska has a rather low internet speed and internet adoption overall, but has been growing in the past five years at a considerable rate, unlike other states.

In an statement on data caps, GCI said:

Despite the speed increase, Landes said GCI has no plans to remove its cap to data usage. The fastest plan offered by GCI, 250 mbps, comes with a data cap of 500 gigabytes. Landes said the purpose of GCI’s data caps is to manage the strain on its network and ensure it can offer the speeds it advertises to customers.

Data caps are definitely not a good move, but GCI is the most valuable ISP in Alaska. If you want average Internet, they are the only provider in the state, meaning they get to in-act their own laws.

The 500 gigabytes data cap should be more than enough for more families, even though it still makes heavy Internet users run the risk of getting harshly billed for overusing the network.

From previous experience, we know that data caps are nothing for the 90 percent of customers in an area, but for the 10 percent who live on the Internet, it becomes a walk on a tightrope to manage data every month, to make sure you’re in line.

Lexington Kentucky refuses Comcast merger, on grounds of awful service

There’s nothing better than seeing city leaders agree unanimously that Time Warner Cable is just awful. That’s what happened at Lexington, Kentucky, where the leadership refused the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger on grounds that the service is awful.

“We have worked aggressively and vigorously to negotiate these terms with Time Warner,” Mayor Jim Gray said. “They have just not been reasonable. We are looking for better customer service and they are not willing to offer it. That’s why the council took the action that it did today.” Until changes are made that will help Lexington cable customers, Gray said, “They will not approve” the transfer of ownership.

Considering Time Warner Cable and Comcast regularly fight for the bottom of customer satisfaction reports, it is no surprise the city leaders do not want this merger to happen.

Comcast did announce plans to revamp their customer service, adding a new VP of Customer Satisfaction, but we doubt this will make huge changes in the way Comcast deals with customers.

Unfortunately for almost everyone in the United States who doesn’t live in a competitive area, Comcast and Time Warner Cable like to keep out of each others way and purposefully ramp up prices in non-competitive markets.

Now that they want to merge, it is either spend hundreds of thousands on lobbying or improve customer service. Hopefully, with the new incentive from President Barack Obama on net neutrality and defending customer rights, Chairman of the FCC Tom Wheeler will think twice about the merger.

 

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Broadband hits 700 million homes worldwide

The subscription for global broadband hit a new milestone earlier this week, 700 million people now have broadband in their homes, with China holding the most lines at 220 million.

This is another great step in broadband growth worldwide, even with plenty of areas still lacking in any strong broadband growth, due to greedy ISPs and governments trying to keep mainstream Internet adoption away from citizens.

In most European countries, we continue to see small growth in broadband lines. The biggest growth spots are in China, Brazil, India, Indonesia and Russia.

The United States is just behind China when it comes to overall broadband lines, with 215 million, but lags behind when it comes to fixed subscriptions, with only 74 million.

Six Billion More To Go

700 million broadband subscribers still only accounts for about 1/8th of the whole population. We will never see a full seven billion people on the Internet, not unless the population goes even higher, to 11 billion, as some analysts report.

In the UK, around 75 percent of all the population have some sort of broadband subscription, whether that is wireless or through modem. The same sort of figure in the United States. In China, it is only 1/8th of the total population.

Places like the Republic of Congo, Botswana, Zimbabwe and other African countries have a much lower rate of broadband subscription to population. Most African countries still have low fixed broadband, but some mobile subscriptions are becoming huge.

Nigeria, one of the growing economies in Africa, almost has 20 million mobile subscribers. Analysts believe that like India and China, Nigeria is another growing power in the African continent, and could be a huge source of revenue for broadband providers in the next few years.

Verizon backs down from throttling unlimited LTE users

Verizon announced their unlimited 4G LTE users would be hit with some throttling, or as they like to call it, “network optimization”, in order to make sure Verizon Wireless is maximizing profits.

After a rather large backlash from the Internet and an open letter from FCC’s Chairman Tom Wheeler, it looks like Verizon has backed down from the plans, announcing they will not continue.

 

The original announcement looked to stop grandfathered 4G LTE contracts, alongside users who use more than 4.75GB of data, from using the unlimited service without lower speeds.

This is the first time unlimited users, who pay more for the zero-cap data, would be hit with throttling. We are not sure how much these users were costing Verizon, but it must have been a tidy sum for them to try and impose these caps.

It is also the first time a wireless carrier has tried to use speed changes to dissuade people from owning legacy accounts or using more than the average customer, a tactic sometimes used by Comcast and other ISPs.

Sadly, Verizon has yet to learn that the Internet hates ISPs and wireless carriers and will rage at just about any change, especially when it affects both power users and people who pay an enormous amount to have large amounts of data.

Even with the withdrawal by Verizon, we doubt this is the last we will hear about caps and throttling. It is obvious Verizon wants users to have caps on their mobile usage and hit them with penalties for going over the caps.

The FCC has been a major force for good this time, instead of lazily brushing Verizon off and letting them make the rules on wireless contracts. This is good for consumers who want to own and continue owning legacy accounts with unlimited data.