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Monthly Archives: July 2015

Internet Traffic Up 35% As Windows 10 is Downloaded

Yesterday, July 29, was the day Windows 10 became available for download not only for Windows Insiders but for any customer who might want it. Many worried the internet might not be able to handle so many simultaneous downloads, but there were no adverse reactions across the World Wide Web as millions of people in offices, homes, and other locations downloaded 3.5 GB worth of data on their high-speed internet connections.

More from ZDNet:

Some people had feared that the Internet, or at least Microsoft’s servers, might crack under the strain. After all, the Brazilian 2014 World Cup,Apple’s iOS 8 release, and the first episode of the Game of Thrones all faltered under user demand.

That’s not happening with Windows 10. I sought in vain on Reddit, Twitter, and other social networks for anyone having real trouble downloading Microsoft’s latest operating system. I couldn’t find a soul facing a major Internet traffic jam. Of course, if you have, say, a 4MBps DSL connection, it’s still going to take you just under two hours to download it.

Some people feared that Windows 10 download traffic could break the Internet with traffic peaks of up to 40 Terabits per second (TBps). That doesn’t seem to be happening.

It could be that not as many people are downloading Windows 10 as expected. It could also be that high-speed internet from major carriers is improving its infrastructure, as more and more companies get into the game and focus their attentions on that rather than landline phone company service or cable television. Either way, it’s working. For now.

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NBC Sports Network Achieves Highest Ratings Ever with Brickyard 400

NBC Sports Network, formerly Versus and before that, the Outdoor Life Network (OLN) has long been positioning itself as an alternative to ESPN and its family of networks when it comes to sports coverage on cable television. NBCSN has taken over broadcast rights to some full game programming that once aired on ESPN, including the National Hockey League (broadcasting way more live games than ESPN ever did) and NASCAR Sprint Cup racing. The latter has brought NBCSN a big victory, with Sunday’s Brickyard 400 race bringing the highest ratings in the cable network’s history.

More from their press release:

NBCSN NASCAR Sprint Cup viewership highlights include:

With 4.7 million average viewers and a 3.0 national HH rating, Sunday’s Brickyard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race stands as NBCSN’s most-watched and highest-rated telecast ever.

Viewership peaked from 6:30 – 6:45 p.m. ET with 5.6 million viewers

Yesterday’s Sprint Cup race ranks as the most-watched NASCAR event on cable since last year’s season-ending championship race from Homestead (5.2 million on ESPN).

The Brickyard event marks consecutive weeks of growth for Sprint Cup racing on NBCSN. With 4.7 million average viewers, the Brickyard 400 is up +27% from New Hampshire (3.7 million) and up +47% from Kentucky (3.2 million).

While this is big news for NBCSN and NBC Sports in general, NASCAR may not feel the same way, as the ratings for this race are lower than past years when it has aired on other channels. The NASCAR-ESPN partnership was a big one, with both sides help each other gain legitimacy, viewers and fans. Still, more channels showing more sports, especially live broadcasts is never a bad thing.

FCC Director Recommends AT&T-DIRECTV Cable-Satellite TV Merger

AT&T is attempting to purchase DIRECTV, the largest satellite TV provider in the United States, for a sum around $48.5 billion dollars. AT&T, which already provides services in competition with DIRECTV with its AT&T U-Verse cable television service, would then become the largest cable or satellite TV provider in the nation, dwarfing competition like Charter Communications, Comcast, and others. The head of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recommended allowing the deal to go through.

More from Fox Business:

The company would have 26.4 million TV subscribers in the U.S., topping Comcast as well as a possible new giant, Charter, which wants to buy Time Warner Cable. It would also include AT&T’s nationwide network of tens of millions of wireless customers, its Internet and landline phone services and DirecTV’s millions of customers in Latin America, where AT&T wants to grow.

Consolidation has swept the industry as people increasingly turn to the Internet for video and content costs rise for cable and satellite TV companies.

What does this mean for the consumer? It probably means speeding up the push to cut the cord and move away from satellite or cable TV, as less competition means higher prices. AT&T could be winning the battle in the short term but losing the war. But it remains to be seen how this will all play out—four commissioners still have to vote on whether or not to approve the sale.

Bill Simmons Back on Cable TV with HBO

Sports media mogul Bill Simmons, only a couple of months since being let go by ESPN where he had written, produced documentaries, and appeared on cable television basketball broadcasts, has inked a deal with HBO to work with the pay cable family of networks. His current ESPN contract runs through September, so he has been unable to publish since being removed as the editor of Grantland, the website he helped to create for HBO earlier in the decade. His contract with HBO will begin when the ESPN contract expires in October.

More from the New York Times:

In a statement announcing his decision to join HBO, Mr. Simmons said, “It’s no secret that HBO is the single best place for creative people in the entire media landscape.” He added that after talking with the network, “it was hard to imagine being anywhere else.”

Michael Lombardo, HBO’s president for programming, said in a statement: “We have been fans of Bill Simmons and his work for a very long time. His intelligence, talent and insights are without precedent in the areas he covers. We could not be more thrilled for him to bring those talents to HBO and to become a signature voice at the network, spanning the sports and pop culture landscapes.”

It is unclear if Mr. Simmons’s new deal will leave him an outlet for the kind of written sports journalism that brought him to prominence, and led ESPN to build Grantland around him.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Simmons revitalized and helped to change the world of sportswriting with his “regular guy” take on sports columns online presaging the blog-heavy movement that lives on to this day. Many began to feel he lost touch with his original writing personality the more famous he got, but even those who did not enjoy his writing have to respect that he was the major creative force behind ESPN’s amazing documentary series 30 for 30. In addition to a talk show that will begin in 2016, one has to imagine he will bring similar programming to the table with HBO. We look forward to seeing how that turns out.

High-Speed Internet Aid Aims to Close Digital Divide

On top of setting a goal for all schools in the United States to have broadband high-speed internet access by 2017, President Barack Obama has also put forth a new initiative to close the digital divide for less-fortunate students and families with a pilot program called ConnectHome. ConnectHome will bring digital devices and high-speed internet to more families at a lower price, beginning in 27 cities across the United States and within the Choctaw Native American Nation, located inside Oklahoma.

More from the Boston Herald:

The White House said Obama’s school-based Internet program, ConnectEd, is on track to connect 99 percent of K-12 students to high-speed Internet in their classrooms and libraries by 2017. The new program aims to help less privileged students, as well as their families, access the Internet and continue learning at home.

Housing Secretary Julian Castro said Wednesday less than half of the poorest households have a home Internet subscription, but that most college applications are now submitted online and more than 80 percent of job openings at Fortune 500 companies are posted on the Web.

He said families cannot thrive without 21st century tools.

The 27 cities the Department of Housing and Urban Development selected for ConnectHome are: Albany, Georgia; Atlanta; Baltimore; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Boston; Camden, New Jersey; Cleveland; Denver; Durham, North Carolina; Fresno, California; Kansas City, Missouri; Little Rock, Arkansas; Los Angeles; Macon, Georgia; Memphis, Tennessee; Meriden, Connecticut; Nashville, Tennessee; New Orleans; New York; Newark, New Jersey; Philadelphia; Rockford, Illinois; San Antonio; Seattle; Springfield, Massachusetts; Tampa, Florida; and the District of Columbia.

Lessening the digital divide is essential for giving students a more level playing field when it comes to education. With many school districts turning to online syllabi and homework assignments, those without a home internet connection or mobile device are already at a disadvantage. Even textbooks are going away, replaced by documents on iPads and other tablets. Here’s hoping this initiative is successful and takes hold beyond the pilot cities.

Stay tuned to the TV, Internet and Phone blog for updates as this project develops.

Comcast Launches Service for Cable TV Cord Cutters

Cable companies are falling all over themselves to offer alternatives to the traditional, bundle-based cable television service. Comcast is the latest to enter the fray, launching an internet-based streaming service called, not-so-creatively, Stream. Stream will debut in a few markets for beta testing, then launch in Boston toward the end of the summer, with other markets like Seattle and Chicago to follow. If the service is successful, it will then roll out to anywhere Comcast delivers high-speed internet service alongside cable TV.

More from Techcrunch:

Stream works without the need for cable tv equipment or additional devices in customers’ homes. Instead, subscribers can use their PCs, tablets, or smartphones to watch live television from “about a dozen networks,” notes Comcast in its announcement. This includes all the major broadcast networks as well as HBO – which now extends HBO’s over-the-top reach to yet another pay TV provider. HBO NOW, the network’s newer standalone streaming service, is currently being resold by Cablevision to its internet customers. And HBO can also be tacked on to Dish’s Sling TV, which is something of a competitor with Comcast Stream.

Like Sling TV, Stream is largely focused making live television more appealing to a new generation of TV customers who prefer to watch on a variety of devices without paying for pricier cable TV subscriptions. While live TV may not be as interesting to Generation Netflix, Comcast also notes that it will offer “thousands of on demand movies and shows” which can be watched at home or away, and it will offer “TV Everywhere” as a part of this package. That means Stream users should be able to authenticate with networks’ mobile apps which ask pay TV subscribers to sign in using their account info in order to unlock full episodes and expanded content.

One weakness of this service is that it does not allow for direct streaming to the television, so Stream users will have to connect using another device to watch on television. Likely, another piece of equipment will be made available, at the consumer’s cost, of course.

Cable TV Action for Basketball Withdrawal

The NBA season ended, and the draft has passed, and now free agency is mostly over with, the big names finally settled with the teams they’ll play for next year and some smaller names also figuring out the roles they’ll play on teams that are rebuilding, as well as contending, in the 2015-16 NBA season.

The Orlando Summer League has already concluded, but over the next ten days, NBA fans will be able to have their fill of action with the Las Vegas summer league, featuring 23 NBA teams along with a D-League All Star team filled with players looking to land a roster spot in the Big Show.

Here’s the NBA Las Vegas Summer League schedule for this weekend. All games air on NBATV, available from most cable television providers on the sports tier, as well as Channel 216 on DIRECTV:

All Times listed Eastern

Friday, July 10
Cox Pavilion
6 p.m.: Milwaukee vs. New Orleans (Game 1)
8 p.m.: Atlanta vs. Denver (Game 3)
10 p.m.: D-League Select vs. Houston (Game 5)
Thomas & Mack
6:30 p.m.: Sacramento vs. Toronto (Game 2)
8:30 p.m.: Minnesota vs. L.A. Lakers (Game 4)
10:30 p.m.: Golden State vs. Cleveland (Game 6)

Saturday, July 11 
Cox Pavilion
4 p.m.: New Orleans vs. Dallas (Game 7)
6 p.m.: Washington vs. Phoenix (Game 9)
8 p.m.: Boston vs. Portland (Game 11)
10 p.m.: Brooklyn vs. Cleveland (Game 13)
Thomas & Mack
4:30 p.m.: New York vs. San Antonio (Game 8)
6:30 p.m.: Chicago vs. Minnesota (Game 10)
8:30 p.m.: L.A. Lakers vs. Philadelphia (Game 12)
10:30 p.m.: Miami vs. Utah (Game 14)

Sunday, July 12 
Cox Pavilion
4 p.m.: Washington vs. D-League Select (Game 15)
6 p.m.: Chicago vs. Toronto (Game 17)
8 p.m.: Sacramento vs. Denver (Game 19)
10 p.m.: Portland vs. Dallas (Game 21)
Thomas & Mack
4:30 p.m.: Phoenix vs. Houston (Game 16)
6:30 p.m.: Milwaukee vs. San Antonio (Game 18)
8:30 p.m.: Golden State vs. Atlanta (Game 20)
10:30 p.m.: Philadelphia vs. Boston (Game 22)

Women’s World Cup Final Sets Ratings Record for Soccer in the US

Last Sunday’s soccer match between the United States and Japan, a rematch of the previous Women’s World Cup Final match in which Japan defeated the United States, set a ratings record for broadcast or cable TV for the sport in the United States, bringing a big victory for Fox and its coverage of the sport over the past month. The previous record for viewership for a soccer game in the USA was 18.2 million viewers, for last year’s men’s match in the World Cup between the United States and Portugal. The US Women’s National Team’s victory on Sunday far outpaced that, with more than 25 million English-language viewers.

More from Variety:

Nielsen estimates that Sunday’s game averaged a whopping 26.7 million viewers, with 25.4 million watching the English-language telecast on Fox and another 1.3 million checking out the Spanish-language airing on Telemundo. The total audience is larger than that for every NBA Finals basketball game since 2010 and every World Series baseball game since 2004.

The big tune-in for soccer on Sunday, along with a portion of the USA-Germany women’s soccer game on Tuesday, propelled Fox to an easy demo win for the week of June 29-July 5; the network drew about as many young-adult viewers as its two closest competitors (NBC and CBS) combined. Fox also scored a rare victory in total viewers (6.7 million).

The lesson here is that soccer can be a big moneymaker for broadcast and cable networks in the USA, as long as the US National Team—either men’s or women’s—is involved.

Think About a Landline

Many households these days go without a landline phone, with each member of the household having a cell phone. But in many cases there is no need to ditch the landline, even with a cell phone, as home phone service is more affordable than ever before, and often available in cost-saving bundles with other necessary household services, such as cable television and high-speed internet service.

Take, for example, Charter Spectrum Digital Voice. When bundled with Charter Spectrum TV and Charter Spectrum Internet, it adds no cost to the monthly bill for the first year. With this home phone service, the calling area is beyond that provided by most cell phone plans in the United States, including the entirety of the US (the contiguous 48 states, Hawaii and Alaska), as well as Canada and US territories like Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands. Your talk is unlimited, meaning that your bill is the same each month no matter how many calls you do make in these areas.

Charter’s home phone service also adds a number of calling features that customers can’t live without, including Caller ID, Call Waiting, Call Forwarding, and an easy to use Voicemail service with free storage. Perhaps the most vital service is Anonymous Call Rejection, which means you won’t be getting any calls from blocked numbers and that means way fewer calls from telemarketers!

In addition, when you lose or break your cell phone, it can take days to get a replacement, especially if your phone is insured and you’re waiting for one to come through the mail. Do you want to be out of touch for that long? Think about a landline.