Perhaps a bad economy is to blame, or maybe consumers are more concerned with getting outside this summer than going online. But whatever the reason, broadband operators are struggling to sign up new customers. Twenty of the largest cable operators and phone companies in the U.S. managed to snag just 887,000 new subscribers in Q2 '08, and according to Leichtman Research Group, the comparatively anemic numbers mark the lowest level of growth seen in the past seven years.
That's good news for consumers, as the lower than expected growth might have sparked a broadband price war. Verizon has said it offer six months of free DSL service to new customers who agree to a one year commitment and also grab a landline package. By taking advantage of the promotion, consumers can pay as little as $45 per month for high-speed DSL and phone service, compared to $65 per month.
But Verizon isn't the only one looking to entice new customers, and AT&T has kicked off a new promotion that guarantees customers its current pricing for two years. Prices range from $20 to $55.
As the broadband market continues to saturate, cable companies could feel the pinch too. Comcast added 278,000 high-speed internet subscribers in Q2, which represents 18 percent fewer customers than the company signed one year ago.
Two researchers, Alex Pilosov and Anton Kapela, have concocted a technique to exploit the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) – internet’s core routing protocol. They demonstrated their technique at the DefCon hacker conference in Las Vegas. The threat emanates from the innate credulity of the routing protocol: the BGP apparently is designed to trust all nodes and can be exploited to redirect insane volumes of internet traffic to malevolent networks.
It can be used for spying at a truly unprecedented scale. No, we are not talking about stalking someone on Facebook but nation-state espionage. Millions of users can be exposed within moments of such an attack. A few solutions have already been propounded, but ISPs seem to be watching quietly from the sidelines.
Windows Live Hotmail’s 260 million users worldwide can look forward to a multitude of new features that were recently unveiled by Microsoft. Hotmail wave 3 promises a speed boost of over 70% during sign in, and will enable dynamic storage that will grow at a rate of 250 MB per month. Microsoft is also reportedly working to address the user interface problems which have plagued the service since the roll out of wave 2. Hotmail users currently have the option of picking between the well loved “classic” or the “full” user interface which reportedly suffers from a low adoption rate. This low adoption rate has kept the classic version alive, and made it difficult for Microsoft to roll out new features. Hotmail wave 3 looks to merge the layout of the “classic” with the functionality of the “full”, an approach they are hoping will finally please everyone. This is something that is desperately needed to help attract and retain users currently considering competing services such as Gmail or Yahoo. Improved integration of Live contacts, calendar, and instant messaging help to round out the initial batch of leaked features. The press release doesn’t make any mention of the long rumored POP support or any Skydrive integration, but hopefully these features are still in the works. No public beta has been announced yet, but the “coming soon” headline suggests it probably isn’t that far off.
Are you a former or current Hotmail user? Will these new features keep you with the service or send you running back? Hit the jump and let us know what you think.
Microsoft’s quest for online dominance it would seem, will take more than just cash to realize. The aborted Yahoo deal was but a small part of a multifaceted approach towards capturing long term search engine market share, the most lucrative of which involves e-commerce. For those who can’t remember back that far,
on May 31st 2008
Microsoft announced plans to offer consumers cash back for transactions with select e-retailers which were found using the Live search engine. The comScore US market share results show a slight increase after the first month which represents a boost of about 0.7%. But July’s results saw the search engine give back 0.3% to its competitors. Even though the promotion has only been running for about two months, tech critics seem to think the idea is already running out of steam and express doubt that it will have any meaningful long term gains. It remains to be seen if Microsoft will continue the program as it may see any gain in market share to be a success. This seems even more likely when you consider how slowly search engine market share moves these days. To put it in perspective, during the same two month period Google’s market share rose only 0.1% to 61.8% and Yahoo dropped, but only by 0.1% to 20.5%. According to eMarketer Inc., U.S. online retail sales are projected to grow to about $335 billion by the year 2012. Even today, 68 percent of all online transactions began through a search engine.
Do you think Microsoft can make a comeback with cash back? Click the jump and let us know.
Comcast made it official today by announcing it will introduce bandwidth caps to all residential customers starting on October 1, 2008. The ISP describes the 250GB per month cap as "an extremely large amount of data," noting that a large majority of customers will never cross it. Or will they?
Comcast says that the 250GB cap is enough to send about 50 million emails, download 62,500 songs, download 125 standard-definition movies, or upload 25,000 hi-resolution digital photos. Put into that kind of perspective, 250GB seems plenty for all but the most bandwidth hungry users, who tend to be up to no good anyway. The ISP also notes that the bandwidth cap represents the same policy that has already been in place, except with more explicit numbers outlining what is and isn't allowed.
"As part of our preexisting policy, we will continue to contact the top users of hour high-speed internet service and ask them to curb their usage," the company told ArsTechnica. "If a customer uses more than 250GB and is one of the top users of our service, he or she may be contacted by Comcast to notify them of excessive use."
Previous speculation of Comcast's impending bandwidth cap pointed towards a $15 fee for every 10GB customers go over the limit, but a cursory glance at the company's FAQ page doesn't appear to make mention of overage penalties.
What are your thoughts on Comcast's decision to cap bandwidth?
According to speculation, the ban came after a popular pro-Tibetan album, Songs for Peace, went on sale on iTunes on August 8. On Friday, Apple acknowledged the sudden unavailability of iTunes in China and said that it was investigating the matter. However, it is not known whether or not access to iTunes has been resumed there.
There was always a disconcerting political undertone to the Beijing Olympic Games besides a few controversies in the middle. Nevertheless, it was a great show with some scintillating performances by some of the world’s best sportspersons. I choose to be apolitical but you are free to voice your unbridled opinions in the comments section.
How connected to the internet do we need to be? I already tote my laptop everywhere in the house with me. Often it is quicker to email me as opposed to calling me. As it is, my wife gets mad at me if I bring the laptop in to watch a chick flick on TV with her. It is as if I mitigating my affection for her by not suffering through Sex and the City with her.
As if my internet addiction isn’t bad enough, Chrysler is making a roving hot spot option available on it’s mini-van’s. I now have to convince my wife that she needs a mini-van. Then maybe I can get the dealer to slip in the UConnect Web option on the sly. I can then play dumb when she asks why I have an internet connection so often when she is diving down the road. “Oh a lot of open hot spots in this neighborhood, honey.” Do you think she’ll buy it? Me either.
From a technical aspect the UConnect Webis way cool. It is however also pretty disturbing too. I cringe when I think of all the people I see driving in rush hour traffic shaving, applying makeup, reading the paper, or working their Crack- uh, I mean BlackBerries. I can just imagine adding a laptop to the mix. It’s bound to create a lot more combination vehicles like a “Chevroler”, or a “Forlet”. Of course, vehicles combined due to driver inattention just lose all of their value.
With around 40,000 traffic fatalities a year in the US now, do we really need to get our hit off the net in the car too? We don’t need to add fatalities beyond Fatal1ty to the information super highway. Chrysler’s intention is for the service to be used by the kids in the back seat, but do they really believe that is where it will stay? This article from the NY Times says no, but do you agree?
Kevin Martin, chairman of Federal Communications Commission, is doing his best to sell his free, porn-free internet dream. The plan is – if you were on an intergalactic voyage all this while - to auction AWS-3 spectrum to a company willing to provide nationwide wireless broadband internet for free and sans pornographic content. “More and more people expect and demand to have access to the Internet and new wireless technologies,” Martin apprised USA Today about the increasingly insatiable thirst for broadband.
He rests his case on the absolute necessity of broadband and compares it to copper lines as the most prominent means of communication. His plan hasn’t gone down well with T-Mobile which believes that wireless services in the AWS-3 spectrum will interfere with its own services in the AWS-1 range. But Martin tried to allay such fears by telling USA Today that engineers are busy finding a solution.
There is certainly a case for free wireless broadband if one considers the abject rate of broadband penetration in the U.S with only 38% of rural America enjoying broadband, according to a report by Communications Workers of America. Furthermore, the percentage of broadband homes is only 25% amongst households with annual incomes of $20,000 or below.
What the MPC Readers Are Saying: But T-Mobile is not the only one frowning. Many people, including a few MPC readers, don’t like the porn-free part of the proposal. “I would rather see nationwide free internet fail completely than to see our government actively "filtering" the net. Leave net censorship to the Chinese,” wrote a charged up MPC reader; and “porn drives innovation,” according to another.
We don't know what it is about the year 2012 that has the technological world gunning for it, but we've heard predictions ranging from Linux losing it's command line, to mini-notebooks exploding onto the market with 50 million units expected to ship. There's even talk of being able to book 3-night getaways in outer space, and humans turning into robots! But if we had to pick one prediction most likely to come true, it would be that mobile broadband will hit 100Mbps by 2012, beating fixed line broadband to the punch.
According to the GSM Association (GSMA), demand for faster data speeds in Asian markets is pushing Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology that could deliver speeds up to 186Mbps in the not too distant future.
"The places we expect to see it first are Japan and South Korea in early 2010 and [former Vodafone chief] Arun Sarin said he expects to see the technology in the European market by 2012," said Dan Warren, GMSA director of technology.
Despite the strides being made, Warren doesn't see mobile networks completely replacing fixed lines anytime soon. Of course, none of this will matter if the other predictions come true and we all become half-human, half-robots living in outer space by 2012.
Intel unveiled the Intel Media Processor CE 3100, a System on Chip (SoC) for consumer electronics based on Intel Architecture (IA), at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. This particular SoC has been designed keeping in mind internet-enabled consumer electronics products like optical media players, connected CE devices, advanced cable set top boxes and digital TVs. Intel hopes that the CE 3100 will make it easier for people to stay connected to the internet on their favorite CE devices without feeling any vexing technical constraints.