Reader is a Happy Camper After Changing to FiOS

Reader is a Happy Camper After Changing to FiOSLong time reader Don Naphen recently changed over to FiOS and I asked him to share his thoughts using his new system. Here is what he had to say.

Happy Sunday, Ron!

Well, it’s been exactly one week since I had FiOS installed, and I can’t say enough good things about it. The TV of course is excellent (as was DirecTV), but the biggest improvement has been with my broadband. Absolutely fantastic! With Comcast, I was getting around 10 Mbps download, and upload speeds were just a shade better than DLS. Now, after checking things out, I find my downloads are just a shade over 30 Mbps and uploads are hovering at 28 Mbps! Wow!

To be fair, I was using an older Check Point router made by ZoneAlarm, and that possibly was one reason for the slower stats. With Verizon, its cable modem and router are integrated in one unit with a solid built-in hardware firewall. The installation took just over four hours, as a fiber optics line had to be run from the pole to the house. My former Internet feed was from just outside my bedroom to the PC, so the tech used that as an access point. He then fed a line into the basement and found that the coax used by DirecTV was exactly the same as FiOS, so he just swapped over the new coax into the splitter! It saved a lot of work, as the feed into my living room was a custom job by my nephew who fed directly into the base of my fireplace (sealed off long time ago) to eliminate the ugly, dangling wires look. All in all I am one very happy camper. Oh, my nephew also ran a new dedicated electrical outlet (20 amps) to the breaker box and used a power strip that he hard wired to the hook up points. Very nice indeed!

I’m sure now that Comcast is looking at some serious competition, the price wars will begin. Collectively I was paying $150 for DirecTV/Comcast with no deals offered. Now I’m paying $94 a month and the TV package has more than I had with Comcast. Also, with all the stormy weather we’ve had, the dish had its share of “searching for satellite” prompts. That’s all history. The only pain is learning the new channel designations all over again!

Okay, I didn’t mean to fill your screen Ron, but thought I’d share some thoughts on a rainy Sunday morning here in the Greater Boston area. Time for another cup of coffee and to try and wake up. Take care and have a great day!


Thanks Don. When my subscription concludes with DirecTV, FiOS is an option I will investigate.

Are Big Corporations Trying to Shut Down the Internet?

In front of a crowd of tech enthusiasts, Sen. Al Franken made some shocking statements that would rattle even the most casual web user. He stated that large corporations have a goal in mind to destroy the Internet as it stands and by doing so, they would gain what amounts to a monopoly on faster connections.

He was speaking about the ongoing debate of net neutrality, a heated topic among politicians surrounding legislation that either allows or denies companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and AT&T to impose caps and limits on various parts of the web and opening it up for others.

The main target of the Senator’s speech was Comcast, who is currently in an ongoing dispute surrounding one of Netflix’s primary bandwidth providers, Level 3. In this case, Comcast is attempting to impose high bandwidth rates on the provider to deliver their content to customers. Comcast is citing that the Netflix traffic causes an increase in their customer’s usage and this surge warrants additional fees. Because Netflix is seen as somewhat of a competitor of Comcast, this fee is seen as an unfair business practice.

AT&T made a serious move towards capping and limiting their customer’s usage by imposing new limits on monthly throughput and adding overage charges should their users go over a 150GB or 250GB limit. This new restriction goes live on May 5th, and will impact their entire DSL and U-verse customer base. While this particular kind of step isn’t part of the main net neutrality debate, it does play a role in limiting how users can consume content on the web.

A customer, for example, may not be able to enjoy as much streaming video content over Hulu and Netflix as they could on a truly unlimited plan. This is often seen as a workaround for ISPs to limit the use of these services without actually targeting them directly and potentially violating standing FCC regulations.

Whether you believe Sen. Al Franken or not, there is something happening in the ISP world that doesn’t sit well in the tech community, and despite overwhelming opposition to these changes, large providers are moving forward anyway.

What are your opinions on Sen. Al Franken’s statements? Please comment below.

Politico – Al Franken: ‘They’re coming after the Internet’
The Frugal Geek – AT&T Caps Usage for All Customers – AT&T To Impose Caps, Overages
Reflections by Ron Schenone – AT&T to Customers: The All You Can Use Buffet is Closed

AT&T To Customers: The All You Can Use DSL Buffet Is Closed

The folks at AT&T are about to impose caps for all of their DSL customers and also for their U-Verse customers. What is interesting about the proposal are the limits that are going to be placed on existing customers and the additional charges when they exceed the limits. AT&T has an interesting premise it cites to show that 98% of customers will not be affected since the average AT&T customer uses only 18GB of data per month.

The new AT&T limits will be 150GB monthly usage cap for all DSL customers and a 250 GB usage cap on all U-Verse users. Notices to all of these AT&T customers will start going out this month and will become effective starting on May 2. But AT&T tells us not to worry, be happy, and accept the limited usage rates since this is the way it is going to be, like it or not.

There are two things that bother me about the data limitation plan being instituted by AT&T. First, I believe that existing customers should be exempt and that the limitations should apply to new customers only. Why is it that large corporations seem to think they can employ or change new features on a whim and that customers are obligated to go along with the new plan? Yes, you can change providers, but that misses the point. When these people signed up, they signed up for unlimited usage. Just because the folks at AT&T were stupid and did not forecast that the system would be abused is their problem, not the problem of the customer.

Second is that this limitation on data will have long-range effects for all of us. If AT&T doesn’t lose a large amount of customers, other providers will also enforce data limits. Depending on how you use you Internet service, this could limit the amount of TV programs or movies you watch on the Internet.

What AT&T has also failed to mention is if the data plan is restricted from unlimited usage, will there be a price reduction? We all know the answer to that question. AT&T will provide less service but will want to keep its pricing the same.

I look at the proposal being made by AT&T this way. Let us say that you go down and purchase a new automobile, SUV, or truck. The company offers a 10 year, 100,000 mile power train warranty. After you buy the vehicle you receive a letter that states that 2% of vehicle owners have abused their vehicles so the company is dropping the warranty to 5 years, 100,000 miles on the power train. I know that I would not be a happy camper.

I personally believe that AT&T has already calculated the cost of a civil suit into the equation and knows it will be cheaper paying consumers a stipend than to continue on with its unlimited plan. All of you who use DSL from AT&T, I feel your pain.

Comments welcome.

Source – Broadband DSL Reports

How To Turn Your iPad Into An Awesome Remote Control

There are many uses for an iPad: reading, watching movies in bed, surfing, you name it. But what if you want to use the iPad to control another device? The large screen size can make the iPad into the remote that you’ve always wanted but never had, with the ability to control countless devices with tailored interfaces per device. Want to listen to music? Browse through graphical album art and have the ability to control AirTunes speakers too. Want to watch TV? Don’t fuss around with Comcast’s ugly on-screen guide, pick the show right from your iPad!

Let’s take a look at some of the best iPad remote apps:

Remote for iPad – Free

It took Apple months to make an iPad-native version of their insanely popular Remote app, which lets you control a running copy of iTunes over a WiFi network, but now that its here we couldn’t be happier with the results. Apple tweaked the interface to utilize all of the space in the iPad’s screen, and added many unique enhancements that make this app even better than the original iPhone version.

The iPad Remote app can find iTunes libraries without the manual setup process, too: any iTunes library with the “Home Sharing” feature turned on will be able to be selected without entering a code, and in case you’re at a friends house, you can still use the old method. Browse through large thumbnails of album art to find the album you’re looking for, and pick the song you want from a handy pop-up menu. Since listening to music on the iPad itself is kind of an awkward experience, this lets you use that great music selecting interface on a computer that’s more likely to be hooked up to good speakers.

If you have and AirPort Express, Apple TV, or any AirPlay-supported device or devices, Remote will also let you control not only which speakers are in use, but also the respective volume levels of each set of speakers. Pretty fancy stuff!

Remote HD – $7.99

Remote HD takes a wider approach to iPad Remote interfaces, and allows you to control a PC with your iPad in several different ways. Just buy the app and install the “Remote Helper” application from the developers’ website on a PC or Mac, and you’ll be ready to go.

  • First, you can use your iPad as a trackpad and keyboard for your computer. If you have a media center PC hooked up to a television this can be hugely useful as you’ll no longer have to keep track of a keyboard and mouse to control the computer with–just use your iPad! The iPad trackpad controls the cursor with little to no lag, and while the keyboard isn’t as good as a real hardware keyboard for obvious reasons, it’s perfectly fine in a pinch.
  • Remote HD also gives you VNC-like access to the PC or Mac that the Remote Helper app is running on, allowing you to see and interact with Mac OS X or Windows from your iPad screen. Want to run a full OS on an iPad? Here’s your chance to try it out!
  • There’s also application-specific controls for media apps, allowing you to skip ahead, play, pause, and adjust the volume in lots of popular media applications such as VLC, Windows Media Player, Quicktime and iTunes.

All of these features are wrapped in a nice-looking, easy to use interface. Remote HD: the swiss army knife of iPad remote apps–it does a little bit of everything.

Comcast and DirectTV Remotes

Two of the biggest TV providers in the US, Comcast and DirectTV, have also released custom iPad apps for their TV service. While these apps don’t necessarily let you control the TV as you’re watching it, you can stream TV shows to your device, see the grid-guides in an easier to navigate format than the onscreen ones, and even set your DVR without even turning on your TV.

Comcast is working to provide a large on-demand library of content to be streamed to their iPad app, and if you have DirectTV’s Sunday NFL Ticket, you’ll be able to stream live games to your iPad as well. While it doesn’t look like live TV streaming is ready just yet, I imagine the providers would love to provide this feature in the future.

Comcast Says Cord Cutting Is Not Really Cord Cutting – It’s The Economy, Stupid!

Just because 662,000 folks have left Comcast since the beginning of the year, doesn’t mean they have switched to DISH Network, DirecTV, Netflix , or another competitor. According to Comcast these folks are using over the air services. Comcast also explains that the subscribers who have left did so because of economic reasons. The economy sucks and people don’t have the money to spend on cable TV services. At least this is what Comcast says is the reason that its earnings have dropped.

A recent article also states:

A “small number” of former Comcast subscribers did appear to be swapping out cable for a free, over-the-air signal, said Comcast Cable president Neil Smit. But based on exit interviews, he said, they don’t seem to be planning on using the Web or services like Netflix, Apple TV, Hulu, et al as a cable substitute.

On the one hand, that distinction seems to be pointless, since someone who isn’t getting cable anymore isn’t getting cable anymore. Which makes them a “cord cutter,” technically speaking.

But those customers aren’t the ones that worry cable companies and Wall Street–or excite potential disruptors and their investors: When those guys are talking about cord cutting, they’re thinking about customers using the Internet and “over the top” services to get what they want.

So we’re still stuck where we’ve been for a while: Lots of people–many of whom are the kind of people who read sites like this one–say that cord cutting is either here or inevitable. And the incumbent cable companies say they see no sign of it.

The average video customer now pays Comcast an average of $130 per month, a 10 percent bump.

I see it this way. If 662,000 subscribers quit, and your earnings are down, then a 10% bump to $130 a month didn’t cover the loss in subscriptions. Of course, I didn’t attend the Bernie Madoff school of accounting. There are so many downright lies and deceit in corporate America that only a loon would believe any of this tripe.

Comments welcome.

Source – All Things Digital

In Case Of Fire Grab Your Cable Equipment First

In Fargo North Dakota, there was a fire at an apartment complex that destroyed 62 of the units, leaving about 150 residents homeless. Some of the residents lost all of their personal belongings, plus their cable equipment from Cable One. In the fine print Cable One requires that the customer be responsible for any damaged equipment and pay for it if it is destroyed. Some residents are stating the cable company now wants to charge them between $500 and $1,000 depending on the type of equipment the customer was using at the time of the fire.

Service agreements that customers sign say you’re responsible for returning equipment in good working condition. But Rich Smith says he wasn’t responsible for the fire, and what it did to his third-floor home. He admits the cable wasn’t the first thing on his mind after the fire, but when he called CableOne Wednesday, “The operator I talked to said it was a big loss to the company. I really had to bite my tongue because I know she didn’t write the policy.”

CableOne’s general manager said, in a phone call, that they’ll work with customers on a case by case basis. It will be based in part on their payment history, and the depreciated cost of older equipment. They won’t charge for modems or DCTs, but they will for DVRs, which are worth $500 when new. G-M Scott Geston added, “We’ve been hurt too.”

This one statement made me think. What is the real value of a used DVR?

but they will for DVRs, which are worth $500 when new.

For any of us who have had cable service, we are aware that the equipment that is supplied may be used when we receive it from the company. We are all aware that used electronic equipment, no matter what it is, loses its value fairly quickly. For those who lived in the apartment complex and who had insurance, it would be interesting to see the value that the insurance company would put on a used DVR.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – Today

Hulu May Drop Plus Plan To $4.95 But Content Remains Stale

When I read an article this morning about Hulu reducing the price for their Plus plan to $4.95, something struck me as odd. If Hulu Plus was so great why would they be dropping the price in half, from $9.95 to $4.95? I read some of the comments to the original article and one in particular pretty much stated what the problem is:

The problem is that they are cutting all the most appealing content from the service, Hulu Plus has a huge catalog of content, but it’s 95% leftovers from the 80’s, give us current content when and how I want it (quickly and on the devices we want) and people will pay for it, even more than $10/mo, but if they give us 20 y/o content that we might not even have liked the first time, they shouldn’t expect our money.

It’s funny when they get worked up about piracy too, it’s just another market force, people only go to it when they don’t have other valid options, just like they’re doing here.

But it isn’t only Hulu Plus that is coming under fire. Netflix also has their own detractors who complain that much of the content for streaming is old and stale. We are entering into a shift of technologies, similar to what we experienced when we changed over from receiving programming via an antenna and making the switch to cable TV.

I recall many who believed why would anyone pay for content that could be received for free over the airwaves? The main reason was because of the increased content one received with cable. Over the years this has changed with the advent of satellite TV as well. This expansion via satellite allowed those who were unable to get cable, have an alternative option.

I am still waiting to hook up my Roku. Just 9 more until my birthday. I am practicing my surprised look every day. Once I do get it hooked up I’ll be able to try these streaming services from Netflix, Hulu and others to determine how well it works, or doesn’t work for me.

Comments welcome.

Source – All Things Digital

Netflix vs ISPs – Is There A Battle Brewing?

As many of you know, I am a huge fan of Netflix. I have been with them for 5 years and have enjoyed their service and find their  $9 a month package a real value. The $9 a month package provides one DVD at a time plus you can stream all the video content you want. But it was only a matter of time before a battle would brew between Netflix and ISPs such as Comcast and others. The ISPs see Netflix streaming as a real threat to their TV broadcasting business as they should. If people dump cable or satellite TV in favor of broadband streaming to their TV sets. the ISPs would take a major hit in revenue.

In one recent article it stated that:

How does Netflix get tangled in the businesses of the likes of AT&T and Comcast (and Comcast’s proposed merger with NBC Universal)? Online video is seen as a major threat to traditional cable and satellite television firms, many of which want the FCC to allow companies to pay extra for higher-speed “channels” in the broadband Internet pipe.

In the third quarter, Netflix saw a 52 percent gain in subscribers to 16.9 million. Revenue increased 31 percent to $553 million. But most interesting: 66 percent of subscribers watched more than 15 minutes of streaming video compared with 41 percent during the same period last year. The company predicted Wednesday that in the fourth quarter, a majority of Netflix subscribers would watch more content streamed from the Web on Netflix than on DVD.

“This growth is clearly driven by the strength of our streaming offering. In fact, by every measure, we are now primarily a streaming company that also offers DVD-by-mail,” Reed Hastings (above), Netflix co-founder and chief executive, said in a release.

The company has already begun to wade into the debate over net neutrality at the FCC. Netflix lobbyists have visited the media bureau and other officials at the FCC at least three times in the last year and said in written comments that the FCC should not allow paid prioritization, or specialized services, that allow an Internet service provider to favor its own content or block out new competitors.

Analysts tout Netflix’s strides in forging partnerships with content companies and device makers, making it one of the most significant applications in Internet television. It has deals to distribute on Apple TV and Google TV. Netflix is already on the Wii game console and Blue-ray players.

So far content companies have been slow to distribute their shows and movies through online platforms like Netflix and many television shows are delayed by at least one day for online viewers.

It seems that the cable and satellite companies have been caught asleep at the switch. But it will be up to the FCC to decide exactly how companies like Netflix, Apple, Google, and others will be allowed to stream content to our homes. So yes, there is a battle brewing.

What do you think? Who is going to win the battle?

Will a streaming only package be a benefit to consumers? Would you subscribe to a streaming only package and give up DVDs being mailed to your home?

IMO I would go for a streaming only feature if it included the latest movies.

Comments welcome.

Source – The Washington Post

Cable Companies Still Don’t Believe That Consumers Are Cutting The Cord

Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg told a Goldman’s media conference that cable TV is going to go the way of the landline phone. He further stated that consumers are getting ready to cut the cord and head on over to the Internet for their video entertainment. But this one statement really hit home:

The next generation of consumers won’t have any interest in paying for it.

“Young people are pretty smart. They’re not going to pay for something they don’t need to,” he said. “Over the top is going to be a pretty big issue for cable.”

So when will this happen? It is going to be a while before this happens but the hand writing is on the wall.

“We take the over the top issue with video very seriously,” he said. “I think cable has some life left in its model…but that it is going to get disintermediated over the next several years.”

Seidenberg’s argument is that over the top is a much bigger deal for cable guys like Comcast (CMCSA), who have an entire business built around the bundle, than it will be for his company, which is a relative newcomer to video. Theoretically, he’ll be be able to replace some video subscribers with subs who pay for robust broadband connections. But like it or not, it’s going to happen, he says.

I was recently at our daughters home and they have a new blu-ray player that streams video from various sources. In the morning after she fed her 2 year old, she fired up the blu-ray player and streamed cartoon video’s of her choosing. She was able to control the content and when she wanted to have her child watch it.

I believe that one day we will be getting the majority of our entertainment via the Internet including TV.

Comments welcome.

Source – All Things Digital

The Google-Verizon Proposal Is Nothing More Than A ‘Proposal’

The sky is falling crowd has been having a field day since last week, when it was announced that Google and Verizon were in the process of some type of a deal. The rumors were flying that Google [once again], was going against their ‘do no evil’ mantra. Today the two companies announced their proposal for a direction that the Internet and FCC should take.

But this is exactly what the announcement was. A ‘proposal’ not a secret behind the door deal designed to sabotage net neutrality. But more like recommendations that could open the dialogue and provide congress with a direction to take and hopefully protect all consumers as well as service providers.

But the task is not going to be easy. With the authority of the FCC in question following a court decision in favor of Comcast, congress is going to have to address this and other issues.

If you haven’t read the Google-Verizon proposal, check out the link below.

Share your thoughts with us and let us know what you think.

Comments as always are welcome.

Source – Google

Good Advice From Hulu CEO – Don’t Dump Cable

Most of you are aware that Hulu now offers a $10 a month paid subscription program called Hulu Plus. The company is offering additional features with its Plus paid edition that free users will not be receiving. But in a moment of  candor, the CEO of Hulu is telling consumers not to dump their cable service. I would imagine that this same advice would apply to those who have satellite service as well.

As with most technologies, Hulu Plus is meant to complement, not replace, traditional TV services. The CEO made a comparison of how smart phones complement, but do not replace, the traditional PC. A recent article also stated:

To spell it out: Hulu’s network owners — GE’s NBC, News Corp.’s Fox, and Disney’s ABC — all have corporate cable siblings, and they all make lots of money from cable subscription fees. (And the broadcasters themselves are trying to get the cable guys to pay them for their stuff, too). So they have no interest in upsetting the likes of Comcast by creating a real cable competitor.

Doesn’t matter what Kilar says, argue the Web TV optimists/cable cynics. They believe that sooner or later the content guys will eventually want to break free from the cable guys and go “over the top” — by selling their stuff direct to consumers, or via rival middlemen like Hulu or perhaps Apple.

Interesting take. But wouldn’t it be more likely that one of the cable carriers like Comcast would buy Hulu?

Comments welcome.


Verizon Won’t Block P2P

There should be an image here!Seems like Verizon is taking an interesting stance on allowing its subscribers to use P2P networks. It is saying that, unlike Comcast, it’d never block them. Now, obviously, this doesn’t mean a green light to software, movie, and video game piracy — rather, that folks such as myself who use P2P options like BitTorrent can download legitimate things like Linux distros without fear of being cut off.

Now this is not to say that every ISP that says no to throttling and other interference, both private and government based, is worth applauding. I will say this, however: it beats the heck out of having everything metered to death.

I think that Comcast, like many cable companies, has a lot of nice people working in its offices. But its service is not something that I will be seeking out any time in the near future. This is not because I am being unfair — rather, the fact that my own needs are not being addressed by Comcast and companies like Comcast means that I am a very satisfied Verizon FiOS subscriber. You couldn’t pay me to use cable again.

[Photo above by takomabibelot / CC BY-ND 2.0]


Build Your Own ISP

Simply rolling out your own ISP is a fascinating concept. And I suppose for large businesses, large neighborhood associations, etc., it may very well be a viable option based on what I have seen here. As the article points out, there is a significant challenge when trying to round up enough people in a nearby vicinity as to have a buy option for a connection that can be translated into something “ISP” worthy. But I think the idea is cool, though.

Now the article goes into the whole Net Neutrality thing, which I think gets too deep into politics and so I’ll leave that to the individual readers to sort that out themselves. But simply from a perspective of choice, having apartment buildings, companies, etc., all offering their own flavor of ISP would be fantastic as it might mean that these individual groups could set the rules on how their pipes are being used, instead of a single company.

So what say you? Hit us up here in the comments and let us know what you think of rolling your own ISP. If you had the means, would you undertake such a task?

[awsbullet:101 Internet Businesses You Can Start from Home]

FCC Not Hampered By Recent Court Ruling – Plans On 60 Regulations To Bring Broadband To All

It does not appear that the FCC is letting a recent court decision against the agency and is proposing some 60 regulations to provide broadband services to all in the U.S. Some feel that the FCC could face an up hill battle in their goal to bring broadband services to low incomes families as well as service to rural areas.

In a recent article it stated the following:

The court ruling jeopardizes parts of the FCC’s plan, including subsidies for broadband, and the agency should bring Internet service under rules used for telephones, the advocacy group Public Knowledge said in an e-mailed statement.

Subjecting Internet service to telephone rules would have “far-reaching and destructive consequences,” including lawsuits, AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and Time Warner Cable Inc. said in a Feb. 22 letter to the FCC.

It would seem that the large Internet providers are circling the wagons to try and stop broadband for all. It seems these large corporations do not want the U.S. to be part of the 21st century, as other countries continue to pull ahead in the services being offered.

I personally believe that these companies do need to stop the FCC so that we can continue to lag behind and keep the Internet in the hands of only those who can afford it. These conglomerates need to raise rates as well, throttle back on services and milk every dollar they can out of the consumer.

Of course I do not believe any of what I just said, but it is safe to predict this is what most likely will happen.

Comments welcome.


Comcast vs FCC – It Isn’t About Free Speech It Is About Economics

When is our U.S. Congress going to wake up and get off of their butts to handle the broadband and net neutrality issues once and for all? In the recent court decision against the FCC and their right to regulate Comcast, it is not just a FCC vs Comcast situation. It is a United States of America problem that hinders our country from competing with the rest of the world. It is the problem that our major telecommunications entities are not going to provide services to all of America and not just where the money is.

In a recent article it also states that:

Comcast and the other carriers will be emboldened to continue what they’ve started: the subjugation of America’s broadband future to their interests and those of their entertainment industry partners and subsidiaries. Our second-class status in broadband will soon be even worse if they get what they want: turning the Internet to a television-on-steroids system where control is in the middle, where the edges of the networks — that is you and me — do what the center tells us we may do.

The cable and phone companies have built networks from the favored position of having been government-granted monopolies. They are an effective duopoly — wireless providers can’t provide the same bandwidth and they are trapped by the oligopoly (carrier owned, to a major extent) in the backbone networks — and they are going to use it for their benefit, not ours.

Some are saying that this is just another example of more government control. That the government is going to try and control free speech by hindering Comcast and the way they do business. I respect those opinions and usually I also am concerned about to much government in our lives. But we are in competition with all of the world when it comes to the Internet. We need to be able and provide access for everyone in the U.S. no matter where they live.

If this wasn’t the case than rural America should still have dirt roads whilce the major cities enjoy freeways.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.