Europe Actually Provides Most Reliable Cable Internet Download Speeds

Cable internet providers often actually provide download speeds far short of what are promised. If a high speed internet provider is advertising download speeds of 30 Mbps, it’s likely you’ll be getting download speeds far slower than that, especially during busy times of the day. But while European internet providers are chided for only providing 74% of the speeds promised, that is much higher than other parts of the world.

More from Multichannel News:

In a study of fixed broadband performance released Wednesday, the Commission said European consumers receive, on average, 74% of the “advertised headline speed” they’re paying with respect to the downstream. And DSL apparently shoulder much of the blame for not doing better.

Cable, at 91.4%, was the most reliable, followed by FTTx services (84.4%) and xDSL-based services (63%), the Commission said. The average download speeds across all countries and all fixed broadband technologies was 19.47 Mbps during peak hours. FTTx was the fastest, at 41.02 Mbps, trailed by cable (33.1 Mbps), and DSL (7.2 Mbps).

All ISPs did better with the upstream, with 88% hitting their advertised speeds. The average upload speed was 6.20 Mbps, with FTTx well out in front (19.8 Mbps), followed by cable’s modest 3.68 Mbps and DSL’s paltry 0.69 Mbps.

The European Commission based its findings on data from SamKnows, a broadband performance testing specialist that has conducted similar studies in the U.K. and the U.S. Results for the European study were taken in March 2012 from a panel of 9,104 participants. A total of 3,065,341,850 measurements were taken across 75,978,173 unique tests, according to the Commission.

The European Commission said the study was its first to show the difference between advertised and actual broadband speeds from all European Union member states. “There are significant differences in the European national markets, most likely due to advertising practices,” European Commission VP Neelie Kroes said, in a statement. “Consumers need more of this sort of data to help make informed choices, so we will repeat the exercise. And we take these first results as further proof of the need for a real connected single market.”

All this goes to show: when doing your research, don’t take the advertiser’s word for it.

Cable TV Ratings Boosted by DVR

Now that ratings can be measured for programming viewed later on DVR, cable TV ratings are getting a boost. Original programming on cable TV has for quite a while been picking up its share of the critical claim and end-of-season awards, but now we’re able to see how they’re picking up in the ratings as well.

Since the advent of the DVR, programming that does not require live viewing (news and live sports, mostly) has not been accurately tracked as far as who watches it. Now we have that view and cable TV is the winner.

More from USA Today:

Nielsen data for this year shows even bigger ratings gains between the day a show first airs and the accumulated audience up to a week afterward, now that nearly half of U.S. homes have digital video recorders. AMC’s top-rated The Walking Dead racked up an average of 15 million zombie lovers for its winter season, adding 31% to its already huge same-day turnout of 11.4 million. A&E’s Duck Dynasty added 4 million, a bigger boost than The Following, Revolution or Elementary. And the audience for USA’s Suits jumped 2.2 million when 7-day viewing was factored in, a 65% increase.

The upticks vary widely, and as with broadcast series, news and sports are almost never recorded for later viewing, while 18-to-49-year-olds — the sweet spot for advertisers — tend to record shows more frequently than older viewers. And younger ones, too: Kids are far less likely to record shows for later viewing, as SpongeBob SquarePants added just 4% for original episodes and Disney’s Austin & Ally rose 16%.

Also in the less-likely-to-record column were History miniseries The Bible, which had the same initial audience as Walking Dead (11.4 million) but added only 1.8 million viewers within a week, a 16% increase, compared to Dead’s31%.

But cable series, which air frequent repeats throughout the week and are increasingly available on demand, often depend on the premiere telecast for a fraction of their total audience. New FX series The Americans averaged 1.9 million viewers, but that accounted for just 30% of its overall viewership; DVR usage alone nearly doubled that total to 3.4 million, while other viewing adds still more.

Keep those DVRs running, everybody.

Cable TV Advertising Up

Total US spending on television advertisement is basically flat from last year, but there is good news for the cable TV sector—as spending has declined for network television, it has actually grown for cable television and for Hispanic television.

More from CNBC:

Network TV spending declined 5.2 percent thanks in part to weaker ratings and a shift in the calendar which moved certain NCAA game ad dollars out of the quarter. It’s no surprise that newspapers continue to suffer: local newspaper revenue dropped 3.3 percent and national newspapers really suffered, down over 9 percent. Another big loser: network radio, down 15.2 percent.

The big winners were media targeting the growing Hispanic market. Spanish language TV saw a 13.5 percent increase in ad spending. Hispanic magazine bucked the downward trend in the magazine business, growing 12 percent. That bodes well for privately-held Univision and Telemundo, which is owned by CNBC’s parent, Comcast.

Cable TV also continues to thrive as advertisers shift their dollars to follow ratings and more niche audiences, with spending up 5.2 percent. Winners here include the likes of Discovery (DISCA), Food Network’s parent Scripps, plus the larger cable-heavy companies like Viacom and Time Warner.

Total spending may be flat, but the top ten largest advertisers spent nearly 6 percent more than a year ago. Procter & Gamble spent more than any other advertiser and 9 percent more than last year. The next two biggest spenders, AT&T and L’Oreal, also spent more than 25 percent more than the year-earlier quarter.

Which companies pulled back their spending? Comcast’s spending declined more than 17 percent largely because its movie studio released fewer films. While automotive was the top-spending category, total spending declined fractionally, with General Motors spending 2.6 percent less though Ford spent nearly 13 percent more.

With cable television advertising thriving due to sports programming and more original programming, it shows that the cable TV industry is not going away anytime soon.

DIRECTV Unveils Wimbledon Experience

Tennis fans who subscribe to satellite TV provider DIRECTV are in luck, as the nation’s leading satellite TV provider, from now until July 7 when the tournament concludes, is giving its subscribers the true Wimbledon Experience.

While ESPN is covering the early rounds of the tournament, they can’t broadcast all of the matches—that’s where DIRECTV comes in. Channels 701-707 broadcast in HD multiple matches on the same channel, exclusive early round and outer court matches, and the ability to call up live scores and stats on screen.

The DIRECTV Wimbledon Experience gives viewers real-time updates at the press of a button. Simply press the red button on the DIRECTV remote while watching any of the Wimbledon Experience channels and you’ll get:

  • Match Guide: Showing who’s playing, on what channel, what matches are coming up, and current scores.
  • Recent Results: Scores for recently completed matches.
  • Men’s and Women’s Draws: See how the tournament is progressing through each round.

With this sort of inclusive coverage of the most historic Grand Slam tournament, DIRECTV truly is the best option for tennis fans across the United States. And when the US Open comes around, there’ll be something just as comprehensive.

To get started with DIRECTV, contact your local satellite TV provider.

Another Kansas City Suburb to Get Google Fiber

The Google Fiber pilot program in Kansas City, Missouri has been a success so far, with many of the neighborhoods the company sought to reach signing up enough customers ahead of time for Google to build the infrastructure necessary to bring the super high speed internet to the people there. Another Kansas City suburb, further out this time, will be joining the fray, with Lee’s Summit, Missouri the next town on the Google Fiber schedule.

More from the Southeast Missourian:

Lee’s Summit is the ninth Kansas City area city to reach an agreement with Google Fiber since the service was first introduced to the area in 2012. Google Fiber plans to construct a high-speed broadband network that can transmit up to one gigabit of data per second, which is almost 100 times faster than conventional home broadband.

The Kansas City Star reported the Lee’s Summit City Council on Thursday approved three agreements that cover installation and operation of the fiber optic network in the city.

There is so far no indication when the service will be available to Lee’s Summit residents.

Other Kansas City suburbs to the East of Downtown have yet to get access to the Google Fiber network. There customers depend upon pre-existing services for high speed internet.

We’ll keep updating as more towns are added to the Google Fiber experiment here at the TV, Internet and Phone Blog. It’s important for this program to be a success, so that other companies will begin to offer ultra high speed internet for their customers as well. Competition in this sphere breeds improvement to the technology available to consumers.

ESPN Preparing for 4K TV

After shuttering ESPN3D, the cable TV sports giant is looking ahead to the next potential development in television broadcasting, 4K TV, also known as Ultra HD.

ESPN’s top tech exec, Chuck Pagano (not to be confused with the Indianapolis Colts head coach of the same name) said the company is preparing for developments in 4K TV, but after the failure of the 3D experiment, they are not going to hurry without fully taking into account how many customers will actually be using it.

More from Multichannel News:

He said many components that will make up the underlying 4K production system, including switchers and graphics engines, are still in development. Vendors are telling Pagano not to expect many of those pieces to be available in desired quantifies until 2015.

“Right now I have too many cogs between the two ends of this ecosystem. I’ve got a camera and I’ve got a TV set,” he said. “There’s still a lot of things to figure out before we can say we’re going to be playing in this space or not yet. We’re actively looking [at 4K], but I can’t tell you I have a date in mind.”

Pagano, who was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame last year, is likewise not convinced that consumers will notice or appreciate the difference between 4K and regular HDTV unless they’re viewing it on massive displays. He and his colleagues have studied HDTV and 4K images side-by-side on a 55-inch screen and “scratched their heads,” because there’s not a huge difference. If consumers can afford a 100-inch screen and squeeze it into their houses, then that’s something else.

“But we’re just getting our fingers a little with dirty with trying to understand the mechanics,” he said.

And it’s not just about screen size. Those TVs will also need to support higher frame rates to get a fuller experience. Most TVs use an HDMI 1.4b-complaint interface that supports up to 24 frames per second. While that works fine for film, live television will likely need to support a minimum of 60 frames per second – a function that should be supported in the emerging 2.0 version of HDMI.

“It’s still confusing on where that’s going to go,” Pagano said. Likewise, he said H.265/High Efficiency Video Coding [HEVC],  a codec that is 50% more efficient than H.264/MPEG-4 will be a “key ingredient if we decide at some point to go with 4K.”

One thing is for sure: for 4K to work with a broader group, ESPN will need to embrace it. If the sports giant does not, or goes with another technology, 4K will be dead in the water.

Raven Industries Collaborates with Google on High Speed Internet Project

There is a new possible solution for high speed internet access in remote, rural, and underserved areas of the United States and the world as a whole. You’ll be surprised when you hear what it is: balloons.

That’s right; Raven Industries, Inc. is collaborating with Google to provide high speed wireless internet accessibility by utilizing high-tech balloons. The pilot project is called Project Loon; the companies will share technologies in the project.

More from Nasdaq:

Search engine giant Google will use the 60 feet tall high-tech balloons designed by Raven as well as its flight control system. The system along with the software developed by Google will direct the path of the balloons. These high altitude balloons carried by the wind will be able to move in the right direction providing high-speed Internet access.

Over the years, Internet has gradually become a necessity. However, a fast and easily accessible Internet connection is still out of reach in the developing nations and rural areas. With the help of this high altitude balloon engineering, people can get improved Internet access.

This improved technology has the potential to change millions of lives through improved medical care, access to knowledge and enriched agriculture. However, the Aerostar segment will continue to face government uncertainty and sluggish demand. This innovation is in line with its attempt to offset government uncertainty by enhancing proprietary technology revenues, including the sale of advanced radar systems, high-altitude research balloons and aerostats in international markets.

You’ve got to hand it to Google for going out there and trying new things, but we at the TV, Internet and Phone Blog can’t help but thinking this will go the way of the Hindenburg once more local governments become amenable to laying high speed fiber in their jurisdictions, and begin to see internet as a necessity rather than a luxury.