The TV, Internet and Phone Blog

Information on Cable, Digital Television, and Internet Providers

Monthly Archives: July 2012

Google Soft Launches New High Speed Internet and TV Service Called Google Fiber

The soft launch for Google Fiber, the new high speed internet and TV service from Google, began last Thursday in some parts of Kansas City, MO. The limited release, to test the service and gauge interest, is only available in certain parts of Kansas City that Google is referring to as “fiberhoods.” Google alleges that their high speed internet service will be up to a hundred times faster than broadband high speed internet.

The TV and high speed internet bundle from Google Fiber does not offer phone service. This is because, according to Google, landline use is declining and Google has no interest in entering that market.

Google Fiber seeks to differentiate itself from other TV and internet services not only in the much higher speeds offered for internet service, but by creating a unified television and internet experience. The service allows a search function that encompasses:

  • Netflix
  • YouTube
  • Prerecorded (DVR) programming
  • On Demand programming
  • Live television

The current Google Fiber lineup includes many cable channels and premium channels, but no channels owned by Fox or Time Warner. The service’s DVR allows for 500 hours of storage and the ability to record eight shows at once. Together, the TV and high speed internet service costs $120 a month, with the highest internet speed offered 1 Gbps. If customers only want internet, the cost is $70 per month.

If the soft launch in Kansas City is successful, Google Fiber will likely expand to other markets. It is hard to tell at the start if the service will be a success—it seems geared toward a younger, more web-savvy generation, and may not catch on well with older customers, the type of customers who tend to have the money to afford such high-end cable and internet services. Either way, though, it will likely force other ISPs and cable TV providers to improve their services in the long run.

Cable TV News Watching Habits an Indication of Political Leanings

This may not be news to anyone who’s been paying attention, but now there’s the research to back it up: according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll, which 24-hour cable TV news network you regularly tune into is a major indicator of your political leanings on the right-left spectrum and also a pretty good indicator of party leanings.

MSNBC and Fox News are both popular channels on major cable providers like Charter Communications and satellite TV providers like DIRECTV. More than 3 million Americans tune into cable news each day, and cable news is the top regular source of campaign news in the United States, above local TV news, network TV news, internet news sites and local news papers.

The McClatchy-Marist poll focused on issues where left-wing and right-wing, Democrats and Republicans, tend to hold different views, and then the viewership for each of the top cable news channels:

Federal Spending

  • Only 19% of Fox News Channel viewers think that increasing government spending would help the economy, with 79% believing increasing debt would hurt the economy.
  • 55% of MSNBC viewers  say more spending would help the economy, with only 43% saying the increased debt would hurt the economy.

Taxes

  • Fox viewers are more likely to think the poor should pay more in taxes.
  • MSNBC viewers are more likely to be willing to pay more taxes and support higher taxes on the rich and Wall Street.

National Security

  • Fox viewers are more likely to be concerned about a terrorist attack.
  • MSNBC viewers are less likely to be concerned about a terrorist attack.

Higher percentages of Democrats view MSNBC (55%) and CNN (50%). The largest percentage of party-identified viewers for Fox News is Republican (43%). CNN tends to be in the middle ground between the other two in terms of content, but it has been found that its viewers lean more toward the left in general.

Satellite TV and Cable TV Still the Most Popular Way to Follow the Olympics

According to a survey by digital data collection company Research Now, satellite TV and cable TV will still be the most popular way to follow the 2012 Olympic Summer Games, in spite of the explosion of digital services available for following the Games online or on mobile devices. Research Now surveyed over 7,000 respondents in six countries that are anticipated to closely follow the Summer Games, the UK, US, Canada, Australia, France and Germany). The majority of respondents across all six nations showed satellite TV and cable TV as their first choice, with 16-34 year olds the least likely to follow on satellite or cable TV and the most likely to follow via news websites and social media.

Other information gained from the survey includes:

  • The percentage of respondents who will use social media to like or follow a team is 52%
  • The most popular online channels for following the Games will be sports websites (23%) and the official London Olympics website (22%)
  • Women are more likely to turn to Facebook and family for updates on the games, while men are more likely to follow on sports websites, apps for mobile phones, and Twitter
  • Facebook (21%) is more likely than Twitter (11%) to be followed as related to the Games
  • Among all of the groups surveyed, British people (the host nation) are more likely to watch or attend more than 30 hours of live events throughout the Games than the other countries surveyed
  • Americans are the most likely to follow sponsors (20%) on social media, twice as much as British or Australians
  • Germans were most likely to share video coverage as a form of engagement (18%)
  • The French are most likely to follow a team on Facebook or Twitter (65%)

While satellite TV and cable TV are still the dominant form of engagement, this truly could be the first “Social Olympics.”

Cable TV Brings Us More Grand Slam Tennis

According to USA Today, CBS, which is airing the last of 2012’s Grand Slam tennis tournaments, the US Open, will use its cable sports channel for additional coverage of the tournament, bringing outer court coverage of third and fourth round matches on Labor Day Weekend, September 1-3. These will air on CBS Sports Network, available in about 47 million of the 114 million TV households in the United States, and follow in the footsteps of broadcast networks using their cable networks for expanded coverage of big events, much as NBC is airing many hours of additional Olympic coverage on Bravo, NBC Sports Network, USA and other channels, and how Wimbledon aired not only on ABC but on ESPN, ESPN2 and other ESPN-related properties.

In addition to the extra middle-round matches, CBS Sports Network will also televise US Open Qualification matches, which will air on August 21 and August 24.

While the addition of more fractured cable lineups has cost viewers in terms of the bundled channels they must pay for through cable providers and satellite TV providers, sports fans are definitely benefiting from more cable options. Beginning in 2010, when NBC’s Winter Games coverage provided more live events than ever before, networks and their cable counterparts have been adding coverage for the types of events that many sports viewers are primed to watch. Just this past weekend, DIRECTV customers were able to watch more British Open golf coverage than ever before with dedicated cameras for various holes beyond those broadcast on ESPN.

Beyond all of that, this year’s US Open has all the makings of a classic, as Roger Federer won his first Grand Slam in years with this July’s Wimbledon win, Novak Djokovic took the Australian Open, and Rafael Nadal won the French. These top three players will once again battle for a Grand Slam title and the world number one ranking; and you’ll be able to see all of it, due to CBS and CBS Sports Network.

Americans Pay More for High Speed Internet than Other Developed Nations

According to Web Pro News, a new study from the New America Foundation has confirmed that Americans are paying too much for high speed internet when compared to the prices in other developed nations.

The report issued by the New America Foundation, entitled “The Cost of Connectivity,” compared high speed internet services in 22 worldwide cities by bundled services, download and upload speeds, and price. What the survey found was that high speed internet customers in the United States get a fraction of the speeds for the prices they pay; for example, Hong Kong residents get upload and download speeds of up to 500 Mbps for the equivalent of $37 dollars a month, while residents of Washington, DC get only 25 Mbps downloads and only 2 Mbps uploads for the same cost.

There are a number of reasons that US residents get a lot less for their money from internet service providers. Even leaders like Charter Communications, offering 30 Mbps for $30, are well behind their competitors in other countries, especially smaller countries where the infrastructure is not as spread out, and countries where the government heavily subsidizes the development of broadband networks, such as South Korea, considered the leading country when it comes to broadband internet services for its citizens.

Another reason for the lack of higher speeds being offered for lower prices is that it is theorized that phone and cable companies really do not want to compete with one another, and maintain their own particular service areas where they can be seen as monopolies while respecting each other’s territories. The lack of competition means that prices do not need to go down and speeds do not go up; customers are left with only one option and if they want high speed internet must go with the major cable or phone provider in their particular area.

South Korea Passes 100% High Speed Internet Access Penetration

South Korea has long been known for having some of the fastest high speed internet connections in the world, with the technology very advanced for the size of the country and its population. Now, high speed internet technologies in South Korea have passed 100% domestic penetration. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released data showing that the rate of high-speed internet access versus population in South Korea is now 100.6 percent, up from 89.8 percent a year previous.

Now this does not mean that South Korea has more internet users than people, as that is impossible; instead, access to broadband internet services, third- and fourth-generation mobile networks, and WiFi are all included, so that a person who accesses the internet via two or more of these technologies may be counted twice. Mobile is key; smart phones are owned by more than half of the population, and LTE is also booming.

Both private industry and governmental groups have led to this increase, which makes Korea a world leader in internet broadband technology. In contrast, most users in the United States are served by high speed internet companies like Charter, AT&T and Time Warner, who are also phone and cable providers as well. Because these private companies do not want competition from public entities, they often oppose high speed internet development in rural areas and other areas not served by these broadband service providers, leading to lower numbers in market penetration in the United States.

If the US wants to keep up with countries like Korea and Singapore, who are becoming worldwide leaders in the development of this technology and the use of the technology by its people, local, state and federal governments must work with the private companies to bring the technology to more people, especially in areas not served or underserved by high speed internet providers. We’re coming into a world where everyone needs high speed internet access to be able to search for jobs and stay connected to the larger world.

Viacom Channels Back on DIRECTV

As reported by the Washington Times, DIRECTV and Viacom have ended their battle and agreed to a long term deal after 10 days of channel blackout. 20 million DIRECTV customers now again have MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and the other Viacom channels on TV, and the channels will be available to subscribers on computers and mobile devices within a couple of months.

Both DIRECTV and Viacom gave in a little bit, creating a compromise to push the deal through. DIRECTV will pay about 20 percent more to carry Viacom channels on their satellite TV lineups, which is about $600 million in the first year of a seven year deal, with annual single digit percentage increases in the subsequent six years of the deal. DIRECTV saved itself $500 million overall by not taking the premium channel EPIX. Investors see the deal not as one in which either side won, but that it has shown the fair value for Viacom channels in a real marketplace negotiation.

For those who have not been following, this and other disputes between satellite TV carriers and media companies are often caused by the bundling of channels. This allows media companies to attach their less popular and newer channels to favorites that cable subscribers are looking for. ESPN mastered this by bundling ESPN, which is seen as essential to any successful cable or satellite provider, to less popular channels like ESPNU and ESPN Classic, while charging for all of the channels. Attempts to fight this have generally failed, though it is predicted in the future customers may be able to add channels in an a la carte basis.

DIRECTV customers, though, are generally not thinking about that; they just wanted their favorite channels back. MTV, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon are among the most watched networks on cable. Fans on Twitter expressed relief about the deal.

How Your DIRECTV Installation Works

One of the staples of industry leader DIRECTV is professional standard installation, free of charge. Once you order DIRECTV service, either online or on the phone, you’ll schedule a time for a DIRECTV technician to come and install your dish, hook up all your wiring, and make sure everything is up and running to your satisfaction before the job is complete. Here’s how it works:

  1. Schedule your installation: If you order over the phone, you will schedule your installation at the time of your call. If you order online, you will receive an email prompting you to call in and schedule an appointment at your convenience. The installer will call when he or she is on the way.
  2. When the installer arrives, you will show the installer which room(s) your DIRECTV service will be installed in. From there, the installer will form a plan for how to properly wire the service. If you are installing in multiple rooms, you will choose a main DIRECTV room where your DVR is hooked up.
  3. The installer goes to the roof, balcony, or other area with a clear view of the southern sky to install your DIRECTV satellite dish. There’s nothing you need to do; the installer will find the proper location for the dish and point it toward the DIRECTV satellite.
  4. The installer will drill to bring the wiring inside to hook up within your home. All holes drilled by DIRECTV installers are unobtrusive and necessary to connect your DVR and receivers to the DIRECTV dish.
  5. Once the wiring is all hooked up, the installer will test the reception to make sure the dish is properly pointed and receiving all of your channels, including all of your HD channels and local channels.
  6. The DIRECTV installer will configure your remotes to work with both your TVs and your DIRECTV receivers/DVRs.
  7. The DIRECTV installer will test all of your equipment and channels after going through the setup process as the service is downloaded through the satellite.
  8. The DIRECTV installer can show you how to work your remote, locate your guide, menu and recordings, and more. Once you feel you’re ready to go, you’re all done.

Satellite TV is 50 Years Old

On July 10, 1962, a beach ball-sized satellite called Telstar launched into space. Two days later, that satellite beamed the first television satellite signal, carrying images of the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty through satellite bases in Andover, Maine and Pleumeur-Bodou, France. A few days later, on July 23, it carried a portion of the press conference held by then President John F. Kennedy, in which he called the satellite “yet another indication of the extraordinary world in which we live.” The satellite weighed around 200 pounds and few at low orbit; the signal could only be picked up during the 20 minutes or so that it was over either of the base areas.

Now, of course, companies like DIRECTV and DISH Network beam hundreds of channels 24 hours a day, many in high-definition picture that could not have been imagined in 1962. But everything began here, with this one satellite built by Bell Telephone Laboratories for use by AT&T, on the first privately sponsored space mission. The satellite could carry one television channel and many telephone lines; it carried more than 400 telephone, telegraph, facsimile and television transmissions before its mission came to an end, when, a few months after its launch, the Telstar’s onboard electronics failed due to radiation from high-altitude US and Soviet nuclear and radioactive testing.

It’s strange to think now just how much of our communication goes through satellites. Now that most people have cellular phones, terrestrial phone lines are slowly becoming obsolete, with calls bouncing from towers to satellites and back down. Fifty years ago, there was one telecommunications satellite in the sky. Now, there’s no telling how many there are. This is one area where we have made progress; now it is possible to communicate with nearly anyone, anywhere, around the world; this was part of JFK’s dream when the satellite was launched.

“This satellite must be high enough to carry messages from both sides of the world, which is, of course, an essential requirement for peace,” he said at the time. Truer words have rarely been spoken.

‘Breaking Bad’ Season 5 Premiere is the Cable TV Show’s Most Watched Episode Yet

Despite not airing on DISH Network due to the satellite TV provider’s dispute with AMC, Breaking Bad set records for its own ratings, with 2.9 million total viewers and a 1.5 rating among the crucial 18-49 adult demographic. Viewers on other cable providers and satellite TV providers like DIRECTV made the Season Five Premiere the drama’s most-watched episode ever on its 10pm Sunday airing.

Breaking Bad is the story of Walter White, a chemistry teacher diagnosed with terminal cancer who began cooking a highly-pure form of methamphetamine in order to be able to provide for his family after his death. While that was the original premise of the show, it has grown from there to encompass many characters along the spectrum of good and evil and a complex, suspenseful narrative laden with dark humor. It is the epitome of a cult favorite; while it does not have the largest audience on TV, or even on its home channel of AMC, its fans are fiercely loyal and the show has gained more and more traction on DVD and on streaming services like Netflix. It is obvious that in the time since last season’s finale that the audience has continued to grow even in the show’s absence due to these new ways of catching up with shows either online or on DVD.

The episode was good, but not one of the show’s best. It got viewers caught up with everything that had happened in the season finale and set the table for the action this season, beginning with one of the show’s trademark flash-forwards in order to foreshadow bad things to come. The series will end after fifteen more episodes aired over the course of two eight-episode seasons.

Breaking Bad airs Sundays at 10pm Eastern on AMC.