cable en Cox Plans to Offer All Residential Customers 1Gbps Service by 2016 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/cox_cable.jpg" alt="Cox Cable" title="Cox Cable" width="228" height="164" style="float: right;" />Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Omaha will be the first to receive 1Gbps service from Cox</h3> <p>Maybe by the end of the decade we'll all be rocking 1Gbps Internet connections. There seems to be an increased interest on the part of broadband Internet providers to keep pace with Google and its Google Fiber service, so it's not a matter of "if" but "when" we'll see gigabit speeds. <strong>If you're a Cox Communications customers, expect to see 1Gbps broadband Internet service available by the end of 2016</strong>.</p> <p>Cox is planning to roll out gigabit service across all of its markets within the next couple of years, starting with Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Omaha.</p> <p>"We are excited about our road map to offer gigabit speeds to all of our residential customers," said Cox Communications President Pat Esser. "Starting today, we will begin deploying new technology and infrastructure that will give customers the choice of gigabit speeds in all markets we serve."</p> <p>As gigabit service is being rolled out to new areas, Cox said it will double the speeds on its most popular tiers from 25Mbps to 50Mbps. Meanwhile, Cox High Speed Internet Premier will jump from 50Mbps to 100Mbps. Between the two, they represent 70 percent of Cox's high-speed customers.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> 1Gbps broadband cable cox Internet News Fri, 23 May 2014 15:42:11 +0000 Paul Lilly 27866 at Netflix and Cable Companies May Find Common Ground <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/netflix.jpg" alt="Netflix" title="Netflix" width="228" height="151" style="float: right;" />The modern day odd couple</h3> <p>Cable companies have been at odds with <a href=""><strong>Netflix</strong></a> and similar services that may be stealing customers away, but all that could change in short order. Apparently Netflix is in discussions in with at least two pay television providers about a deal that would make the streaming service available as an app integrated into set-top boxes. Netflix isn't going anywhere, so perhaps it's in everyone's best interest if the two sides bury the hatchet.</p> <p>According to <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Wall Street Journal</em></a>, Netflix is currently in discussions with Comcast and Suddenlink Communications. If the talks go anywhere, it would be the first time Netflix and cable companies have together in a deal in the U.S., though the streaming service did strike a similar agreement in the U.K. with Virgin Media.</p> <p>One of the negotiating points holding up a deal is that Netflix wants the cable companies to take on its streaming technology to improve the delivery of streaming video. Up to this point, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon have all refused to adopt the technology for fear of other online services asking for special treatment.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> cable movies NetFlix streaming tv shows News Mon, 14 Oct 2013 19:08:42 +0000 Paul Lilly 26498 at The Future of Broadband Internet <!--paging_filter--><h3>Honoring 20 years of the World Wide Web by looking forward at the future of broadband Internet</h3> <p>The World Wide Web has been around for <a title="world wide web 20 years" href="" target="_blank">20 years</a>&nbsp;as of today and <strong>broadband internet</strong> has evolved considerably over the latter half of that timespan in the US. Whereas just a few years ago, large parts of the country were relegated to pokey 56K dial-up connections over standard phone lines, now multi-megabit broadband connections are commonplace and speed increases are being introduced regularly. In fact, in some test markets, broadband at gigabit speeds is on the way. And yes, that’s gigabits with a “G,” as in roughly 17,800x more bandwidth than 56K dial-up.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/broadband.jpg" alt="broadband internet" title="broadband internet" width="620" height="545" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Looking at the future of broadband Internet</strong></p> <p>We also have many more choices today. Connecting to the Internet used to mean firing up <a title="aol" href="" target="_blank">AOL</a> for millions of users. Now, though, most consumers can choose between multiple service providers, which offer cable, DSL, or even wireless broadband connections with plenty of bandwidth for all but the most demanding users. Broadband may not be universally available here in the states just yet, but availability is far better than it was, and it’s consistently improving.</p> <p>Despite myriad advances made to the county’s broadband infrastructure, the story is not all good. According to a few recent studies, the United States still trails some other nations in multiple broadband-related categories, including average connection speed and penetration. For example, South Korea’s average connection speed is more than double that of the United States—16.7Mbps vs. 6.1Mbps—and the United States ranks 36th in overall connectivity.</p> <p>There’s more to broadband than just bandwidth and penetration, however, and we hope to fill you in on the details here. Our goal is to help you to better understand the various technologies available now and outline some of the advances coming in the future. We’ve also got some practical tips for changing ISPs and optimizing your current broadband connection on tap, as well.</p> <h4>Pick Your Platform</h4> <p><strong>Get connected over copper, fiber, wireless, or satellite</strong></p> <p>There are a number of different ways consumers in the United States have access to high-speed broadband Internet connections. Some, like <a title="DSL wikipedia" href="" target="_blank">DSL</a>, leverage existing telephone network infrastructures, while others, like satellite or <a title="LTE wikipedia" href="" target="_blank">LTE</a> wireless, use relatively new technologies. Although broadband isn’t accessible to everyone in the country, there are multiple options available for most consumers and the choices that are available continue to mature and evolve.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>The most common broadband connection types in the United States include digital subscriber line (or DSL), <a title="cable internet" href="" target="_blank">cable</a>, <a title="fiber optics" href="" target="_blank">fiber optic</a>– to-home solutions, wireless, and to a lesser extent satellite. Wireline solutions like cable and fiber-to-home will typically offer the highest-bandwidth, lowest-latency connections, and DSL is usually the most affordable, but all of the connection types mentioned here have multi-megabit plans available from numerous Internet service providers (ISPs) in many parts of the country. Before we dig in, also note that all of the broadband connection technologies we discuss here are sometimes referred to as “last mile” or “network edge” connections. What that means is that they’re the connection types used by Internet service providers to make the link between end users and the core backbones of the Internet.</p> <h4>xDSL</h4> <h3><span style="font-size:11.0pt;line-height:115%; font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-fareast-font-family: Calibri;mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi; mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA"><br /></span></h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/dsl-modem_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/dsl-modem_small.jpg" alt="DSL modems like the D-Link DSL-520B connect through standard copper phone lines to provide broadband Internet access." title="DSL modems like the D-Link DSL-520B connect through standard copper phone lines to provide broadband Internet access." width="620" height="310" /></a></strong></p> <p><em><strong>DSL modems like the D-Link DSL-520B connect through standard copper phone lines to provide broadband Internet access.</strong></em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">According to the most recent data available on the <a title="Broadband Map" href="" target="_blank">National Broadband Map</a>, DSL is the second most accessible broadband technology in the United States, behind only the various wireless technologies. In the locations where high-speed broadband is available, one form of DSL or another is offered to 88.9 percent of those customers.</p> <p>Although “DSL” is a term thrown around freely, it actually encompasses an entire family of technologies, which includes asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL), symmetric digital subscriber line (SDSL), integrated services digital network (ISDN), rate-adaptive digital subscriber line (RADSL), and high bit-rate digital subscriber line (HDSL), among a few others. DSL leverages the copper cabling used throughout the telephone network to transmit digital data, and as such, the bandwidth offered by the various technologies will vary based on a few factors, like the quality of the physical connection and distance from the exchange, sometimes called the “central office.”</p> <p>DSL is typically more affordable than other solutions because it’s cheaper to implement over the existing telephone network, versus deploying new, high-bandwidth fiber cables over the same expanse. Though sometimes cheaper, many DSL solutions can still offer significant bandwidth to end users. <a title="" href="" target="_blank"></a>, for example, is one of the best-regarded DSL providers in the nation, with plans that offer download speeds of up to 20Mbps. It’s able to offer DSL speeds so far above the national average of about 4Mbps by using VDSL2 bonding technology that essentially links dual copper pairs into single connections. Other DSL providers also leverage bonding technology to increase the effective amount of available bandwidth to end users, but the fastest ISPs are typically concentrated in the more densely populated areas of the country, like California and the Northeast.</p> <p>A typical DSL setup in a home consists of little more than a filter (or filters) that are used to separate voice and data signals between telephones and a DSL modem. The technology hasn’t changed much in recent years, so massive speed increases haven’t been offered by many DSL providers, but the technology is mature and reliable, and should suit the needs of mainstream consumers. In the future, however, large bandwidth gains are still possible with DSL. <a title="alcatel-lucent" href="" target="_blank">Alcatel-Lucent</a>, for example, announced that through a technology advanced by <a title="Bell Labs" href="" target="_blank">Bell Labs</a>, it has achieved 300Mbps over two DSL lines (through bonding) at a distance of 400 meters. The technology works by leverage bonding, something called Phantom mode, and vectoring. Phantom mode creates a third, virtual pair on top of the existing two pairs used in the DSL lines. And then vectoring technology filters out interference and crosstalk among them all. The bandwidth of the two physical and the virtual pairs are then combined into a single, ultra-high-bandwidth pipe.</p> <h4>Cable Internet</h4> <h4><a class="thickbox" title="cable modem" href="/files/u152332/cable-modem.jpg"></a></h4> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" title="Motorola SB6120 " href="/files/u152332/cable-modem_1.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/cable-modem_0.jpg" alt="The Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification, or DOCSIS, is used by many cable television operators to provide broadband Internet access over their existing network using a cable modem, like the Motorola SB6120 pictured here." title="DOCSIS" width="620" height="764" /></a></p> <p><em><strong>The Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification, or DOCSIS, is used by many cable television operators to provide broadband Internet access over their existing network using a cable modem, like the Motorola SB6120 pictured here.</strong></em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">On some level, cable Internet access is similar to DSL. However, instead of using the telephone network, cable Internet leverages the cable television infrastructure to provide a broadband Internet connection. Also like DSL, cable Internet is relatively pervasive and is the next most common wireline broadband connection technology in the United States. In areas where broadband is available, cable Internet access is an option for 85.2 percent of consumers.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Many of the technologies employed by cable Internet access providers are determined by the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification, or DOCSIS. DOCSIS was initially developed by CableLabs, a not-for-profit research and development consortium founded by a number of cable television providers, along with a host of additional contributors, including the likes of <a title="broadcom" href="" target="_blank">Broadcom</a>, <a title="cisco" href="" target="_blank">Cisco</a>, <a title="conexant" href="" target="_blank">Conexant</a>, <a title="Intel" href="" target="_blank">Intel</a>, <a title="Motorola" href="" target="_blank">Motorola</a>, <a title="netgear" href="" target="_blank">Netgear</a>, <a title="Texas Instruments" href="" target="_blank">Texas Instruments</a>, and a handful of other companies.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Cable Internet is also one of the more mature broadband technologies offered in the United States and bandwidth available to end users is relatively high. If we disregard some fledgling fiber-to-home solutions, cable Internet is among the fastest in the nation. It is not uncommon for cable service providers to offer premium plans in the 50Mbps to 100Mbps (download) range, at prices below $100 month. It is also common to see cable Internet included in “triple play”–type packages that bundle Internet, television, and phone services on a single bill.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Although fast and relatively affordable, one of the disadvantages of cable Internet is that bandwidth is shared not only on the provider’s core network, but among smaller nodes, or groups of residents, as well, which can lead to slowdowns during peak usage times. If there aren’t numerous users concurrently consuming large amounts of bandwidth, the slowdowns may be imperceptible, but on more congested networks the slowdowns can be significant.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Though already fairly mature, bandwidth gains are still likely as providers improve their networks and implement more features of the DOCSIS 3.0 specification. For example, DOCSIS 3.0 allows for bonding of multiple upstream and downsteam channels to increase total available bandwidth. The specification calls for hardware to support a minimum of four upstream/downstream channels, which can each offer a maximum of 42.88Mbps, but there is no maximum number of channels defined. An eight-channel bonded configuration could theoretically offer a connection speed of up to 343Mbps.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><em>Click the next page to read more about Fiber internet speeds.</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h4 style="text-align: left;">Fiber</h4> <h4 style="text-align: left;"><a class="thickbox" title="fiber" href="/files/u152332/fiber.jpg"></a></h4> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/fiber_2.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/fiber_0.jpg" alt="Fiber-optic cables can carry more data, over much longer distances, than copper wire." title="fiber" width="620" height="337" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>Fiber-optic cables can carry more data, over much longer distances, than copper wire.</strong></em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Some of the more recent, ultra-high-speed broadband services being offered to US consumers consist of newer fiber-to-the-home deployments. Although fiber-to-the-home, or FTTH, is the most common term end users are likely to hear, there are numerous types of fiber deployments currently in flight across the country. Fiber-to-the-neighborhood (FTTN), fiber-to-the-building (FTTB), fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP), and fiber-to-the-desk (FTTD) are all terms you may hear bandied about. They’re all fairly self-explanatory; the significance of each deployment type is the peak performance that can be achieved by each architecture.</p> <p>To put it simply, the closer the optical fiber cable is brought to end users, the faster the broadband connection can be. Whereas DSL providers typically offer 10Mbps–20Mbps and cable providers up to 100Mbps or so, fiber-to-home providers can offer hundreds of megabits or even full gigabit connections. <a title="Verizon FIos" href="" target="_blank">Verizon’s FiOS</a> service, for example, offers a 300Mbps plan in some parts of the country. <a title="Google Fiber" href="" target="_blank">Google Fiber</a>, which is currently being built out in <a title="Google Fiber Kansas" href="" target="_blank">Kansas City</a>, will offer speeds up to 1Gbps, and offers fiber services in parts of California where users can choose up to 1Gbps services, as well.</p> <p>Prices for these exotic broadband services vary significantly from more than $200 a month for FiOS’s 300Mbps plan, to only $69 a month for’s offering. These services, however, are available to only a small fraction of Americans at this time, so competition among the various providers is essentially nonexistent. When asked about current fiber-to-home offerings, CEO Dane Jasper said, “None of these competitive efforts have any substantial national market share at this time, and I don't believe they have much influence on the incumbents except in very small regional pockets.” He also said, “Telcos will push fiber closer to the home (or, in the case of Verizon, all of the way),” however, which means some very good things are on the horizon. Because fiber-optic cables offer much more bandwidth than copper wire, over longer distances, it is the most future-proof of the broadband technologies we mention here. Rest assured, it will continually be brought closer and closer to end users, and more bandwidth will be available as a result.</p> <p>Unfortunately, as of the most recent data available on the National Broadband Map, direct fiber Internet services are only available to 17.8 percent of potential broadband subscribers in the United States. For fiber Internet service to have a more meaningful impact on the broadband market, it’s going to have to reach a much larger audience. That should happen in time, though.</p> <h4>Wireless Broadband</h4> <h4><a class="thickbox" title="Wireless Broadband" href="/files/u152332/lte-map_0.jpg"></a></h4> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/lte-map_1.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/lte-map.jpg" alt="A few years ago, LTE wireless networks didn’t exist. Now they cover more than 75 percent of the nation." title="lte-map" width="620" height="410" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>A few years ago, LTE wireless networks didn’t exist. Now they cover more than 75 percent of the nation.</strong></em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Wireless broadband encompasses a handful of technologies, including Wi-Fi, WiMax, and the various cellular networks, among a few others. By far, the most pervasive of these technologies as a service is the cellular network, which thanks to recent LTE build-outs, can offer relatively high peak bandwidth under certain conditions, at affordable rates.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">We’re all familiar with Wi-Fi, which is designed to cover relatively small areas and not really sold as a service, except for temporary hot-spot applications. WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) is a longer-range technology designed to deliver last-mile wireless broadband access to end users at multi-megabit speeds, as an alternative to wireline technologies like DSL or cable. WiMAX is available from providers in about 80 US markets, and a large number of additional markets around the world, but it isn’t very popular as a residential solution. The <a title="3g internet" href="" target="_blank">3G</a> and <a title="4g internet" href="" target="_blank">4G</a> cellular networks, however, account for a huge portion of Internet traffic, mostly due to the popularity of smartphones and other mobile devices. 4G LTE networks in particular have been rapidly expanding in recent years and offer relatively high bandwidth. In real-world situations, in markets like New York, San Francisco, and Austin, Texas, 4G LTE broadband can offer upwards of 35Mbps down and 15Mbps up, with much higher theoretical numbers possible.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Taken as a whole, broadband wireless Internet access is the most widely available connection type in the country. According to the National Broadband Map, wireless internet is an option for 98.7 percent of consumers living in areas where broadband connections are available.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">As useful as wireless Internet can be, it has some major drawbacks. For one, it is relatively expensive. Wireless data plans typically fall in the $20–$100-a-month range and offer limited amounts of data usage. For example, Verizon Wireless offers a 4GB-per-month shared data plan for $30 and a 12GB plan for $70. Exceed those limits, and you’ll have to pay additional fees and/or contend with data throttling. Wireless Internet is also more susceptible to interference than other connection types, and network performance varies wildly depending on a number of factors, including distance from the tower and network congestion. As such, wireless services are best suited to mobile devices, as a backup to wireline solutions, or for casual users that aren’t likely to hit the imposed data limits.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">What comes after 4G LTE is still up in the air. A 5G standard has yet to be finalized and the 4G build-out is still far from complete. We can reasonably expect lower latency and more bandwidth at longer ranges, but we won’t know for sure until a spec is finalized.</p> <h4 style="text-align: left;">Satellite Internet</h4> <h4 style="text-align: left;"><a class="thickbox" title="SatelliteInternet" href="/files/u152332/satt_0.jpg"></a></h4> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/fiber_1.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/satt.jpg" alt="In areas where wired broadband is unavailable, satellite Internet may do the trick. It doesn’t offer anywhere near the bandwidth of traditional wireline solutions, however." title="SatelliteInternet" width="620" height="486" /></a></p> <p><strong>In areas where wired broadband is unavailable, satellite Internet may do the trick. It doesn’t offer anywhere near the bandwidth of traditional wireline solutions, however.</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Satellite Internet is more of a last resort than a viable solution for most consumers in need of broadband. The technology is a godsend for people who live in rural or remote areas where wireline broadband solutions are not available, but residential satellite broadband speeds simply can’t match those of xDSL or cable and costs are usually higher, too.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Typical satellite Internet speeds hover in the 1Mbps to 2Mbps (download) range, through some of the latest technology from providers like <a title="hughesnet" href="" target="_blank">HughesNet</a> offer up to 15Mbps down and 2Mbps up. There are monthly bandwidth caps in the 20GB–40GB-per-month range, however, and costs for even the more entry-level plans are somewhat higher than more common wired solutions.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Advancements in satellite Internet will come as compression and bandwidth-sharing technologies are improved, but the most significant gains can only come as newer, more advanced satellite, with higher total capacities, are put into orbit.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><em>Click the next page to read about the broadband of the future.</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h4>Broadband of the Future</h4> <p>To get a read on broadband’s future in the United States, we talked to a couple folks well versed on the subject: <a title="Patrick Moorhead twitter" href="" target="_blank">Patrick Moorhead</a>, founder and principal analyst at <a title="Moor Insight and Strategy" href="" target="_blank">Moor Insight and Strategy</a>, and <a title="Dane Jasper" href="" target="_blank">Dane Jasper</a>, CEO of When asked about which of the broadband technologies available in the United States will be the most pervasive moving forward, Moorhead said, “Wireless broadband will be the most pervasive in the future, given that it touches so many people in so many places. Wi-Fi wireless in particular will be expanded significantly as service providers attempt to string networks together to take some of the traffic off of congested 3G, 4G, and LTE networks.” He continued, “Cable is the winner in terms of the price-to-speed equation, in that most of the investment is a sunk cost. Fiber, as in Google Fiber, is the fastest, but also the costliest to install. Satellite will continue to play a niche role, serving hard-to-reach and rural areas. Its asymmetry and line-of-site requirements outweigh any kind of downlink speed advantage.” Dane Jasper mostly agreed, stating, “Domestically, you will see a continued slow march of the incumbent duopoly; cable will gradually upgrade to higher DOCSIS versions as they become available and feasible, and will split nodes in the meanwhile to avoid congestion—at least to the point of avoiding customer churn. Meanwhile, telcos will push fiber closer to the home—or, in the case of Verizon, all of the way—while rolling out faster xDSL technologies: ADSL2+ and VDSL2 today, with bonding and then vectoring.” Jasper added, “Wireless is also a factor to consider. With LTE's very-high-speed capabilities, and consumers’ interest in tablets and other portable devices, these services are a potential alternative to wireline products.”</p> <p>We also asked what they thought pervasive, ultra-high-speed broadband could mean for consumers, and Moorhead proclaimed, “New usage models will emerge with the advent of fast, reliable broadband. With faster broadband, most of our computing can be done in the cloud, meaning more consistent, reliable, and less expensive experiences. Low-priced displays able to run any app will be all over the house, so literally, every room will enable access to every app and piece of content, anytime.” Sounds good to us, though we don’t want to downplay the need for fast local storage, as well.</p> <p>As for why the United States tends to lag behind many other developed nations and what we could do to improve the situation, Dane Jasper put most of the blame on misguided government policies and regulation. He said, “Reversing the course selection of a multi-modal competitive model, which the Republican FCC charted for us in the early 2000s, is the quickest way to resolve the domestic broadband issue. Europe and Asia followed our regulatory course from the 1996 Telecom Act, and stuck with it—while in the United States we faltered, fostering instead a duopoly. While incumbent cable and telcos have made substantial upgrades—DOCSIS 3.0, FiOS, U-verse—we continue to over-pay for under-delivery of speed, generally with consumption caps.” Patrick Moorhead’s view was somewhat different. Moorhead said, “Countries leapfrog each other as it relates to broadband. The United States was viewed as the mobile laggard during the EDGE days, but now has one of the top spots in LTE. Countries like Korea and Japan will continue to dominate with speeds, unless the US government would subsidize fiber rollout. Given the US budget challenges, I don’t see that happening, meaning the United States does not gain leadership footing in broadband.”</p> <h3>The Need for Speed</h3> <p><strong>What is super-high-speed Internet good for, anyway?</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><a class="thickbox" title="xbox" href="/files/u152332/xbox_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/xbox.jpg" alt="Game consoles like the Xbox 360, smart TVs and appliances, Internet radios, and all of the other connected devices in your home, consume bandwidth." title="xbox" width="620" height="759" /></a><br /></strong></p> <p><em><strong>Game consoles like the Xbox 360, smart TVs and appliances, Internet radios, and all of the other connected devices in your home, consume bandwidth. Rumor has it that the next Xbox will <a title="Xbox always on internet" href="" target="_blank">require an always-on Internet connection</a>.</strong></em></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><a title="netflix" href="/files/u152332/netflix_0.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u152332/netflix.jpg" alt=" Netflix recommends 5Mb/s broadband connections for the highest quality movie streams, which can use approximate 2.3GB and hour" title="netflix" width="620" height="349" /></a></p> <p><em><strong>Netflix recommends 5Mb/s broadband connections for the highest quality movie streams, which can use approximate 2.3GB and hour</strong></em></p> <p style="text-align: left;">In many circumstances, the benefits of an ultra-fast broadband connection may not be immediately apparent. There are other factors besides peak bandwidth that ultimately affect a user’s experience online and if you’re not using the bandwidth you already have available, upgrading to a faster plan isn’t going to make much difference. However, as our needs for more bandwidth increase, the benefits of some of the more advanced broadband technologies become clear.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">As we start saving more data in the cloud, streaming more HD content, and increasing the number of connected devices in our homes, our bandwidth needs grow. Just a few years ago, having one or two PCs connected in a home was typical. Today, though, it’s not uncommon to find a dozen or more connected devices, when you account for smart appliances and televisions, mobile devices, game consoles, desktop systems, and laptops.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">How much bandwidth you’ll require will obviously vary based on the usage habits of those in your household, but we can give you some rough guidelines and expectations. For example, let’s say you’ve got three users in your home. One is playing a game online, while the other two are streaming HD movies or television from a service like <a title="netflix" href="" target="_blank">Netflix</a>. For their highest-quality streams, Netflix recommends a 5Mbps connection; a typical stream can consume about 2.3GB an hour. The gamer will use a minimal amount of bandwidth, but the two users streaming video will likely saturate a 10Mbps connection.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">The speed differences between mainstream and high-end broadband plans are not trivial and neither is the cost. Actual differences will vary from provider to provider, but we’ll use Verizon FiOS as an example. A basic plan that offers 15Mbps down and 5Mbps up will run about $70 a month. Its flagship plan offers 300Mbps down and 65Mbps up, 20x and 13x increases in bandwidth, respectively, for $209 a month. If you can use that kind of bandwidth, the cost per megabit is much better with the high-end plan. To give an example of how those bandwidth ratings affect download speed, the 15Mbps plan can download a 5GB file in about 44 minutes. The 300Mbps plan can do it in 2.2 minutes.</p> <h4 style="text-align: left;">Bandwidth Caps</h4> <p>In an attempt to curb massive bandwidth consumption, some providers—especially wireless providers—have implemented bandwidth caps that kick in when consumption ticks past a certain level. For wireless providers, that number is usually in the 2GB–4GB-per-month range, while wireline providers like Comcast are in the 300GB-per-month range.</p> <p>Some would argue that these caps are simply a tool to gouge consumers, while others claim it’s a means to ease network congestion. CEO Dane Jasper said this when asked about bandwidth caps, “I don't see caps as being related to network capacity concerns. To put it simply, the heaviest users, when capped, will still use their service during peak/prime time, and network capacity must be built to accommodate the peak load. The sustained use that the heavy users would make is spread around the clock, and doesn't have any substantial impact on capacity planning.” Whatever the case, if bandwidth caps become the norm, consumers could be in for significant cost increases in the future as our bandwidth needs increase.</p> <p><em>Click the next page for tips on switching ISPs.</em></p> <h3> <hr /></h3> <h3>High-Speed for the Masses</h3> <p><strong>Where is it?</strong></p> <p>As we’ve mentioned, broadband isn’t universally available across the entire United States just yet. According to a recent study by <a title="Akamai" href="" target="_blank">Akamai Technologies</a>, 81 percent of the country has access to broadband with speeds greater than 2Mbps. That may not sound too bad, but with availability in only 81 percent of the nation, the United States ranks 36th among the countries included in the study. The global average is only 66 percent, which means the United States is decidedly ahead of the curve, but in countries like Germany, the Netherlands, and even Bulgaria, broadband connectivity is in the 94–96 percent range. As compared to the previous year, the United States increased its average by 8.6 percent, which puts the country among the fastest growers, but there is obviously still much work to be done if we’re going to catch the leaders.</p> <p>If you ask those in the know why the United States trails many other nations in broadband availability and speed, you’ll likely hear three possible reasons: burdensome government regulations, high corporate tax rates, and the relative high cost of bandwidth in the country. Solving these problems is going to take significant action on the part of the government and some initiative and cooperation from the private sector, but it appears we are on the path to success, especially as younger, more tech-savvy legislators are elected. The FCC’s <a title="" href="" target="_blank"></a> website has details on the <a title="Broadband Action Agenda" href="" target="_blank">Broadband Action Agenda</a> and lists more than 60 initiatives the FCC intends to undertake over the next few years to implement the recommendations in the National Broadband Plan, which was introduced in March 2010. One of the goals of the National Broadband Plan is to provide 100 million American households with access to 100Mbps broadband connections by 2020.</p> <h3>Tips for Switching ISPs</h3> <p><strong>It’s easier than you think</strong></p> <p>Switching ISPs is a major concern for some users, but it need not be. Unless you’re locked into a contract with a wretched provider or are married to an email address provided by your ISP, switching to a new provider should be painless. We suppose some users may also be forced to use a particular ISP due to specific work-at-home requirements implemented by their employer, but even then a call to the company’s IT-support department should yield results.</p> <p>If you’re locked into a contract, perhaps due to a triple-play-type bundle that links phone, TV, and Internet service, there are still things you can do to switch. Although most ISPs don’t make specific uptime guarantees, there is still an implied level of reliability that needs to be met. If service is subpar, start by logging every outage or problem and contacting your ISP’s support team. Run regular speed tests too, and log every result that falls below your expected performance level. At some point after reporting continued issues, it won’t be cost effective to provide support any longer. Call your ISP, ask for a service manager to hear your case, and you’ll eventually be let out of your contract.</p> <p>Should your ISP-linked email address be associated with numerous logins online, start by setting up a new account with a free service like Gmail and systematically change all of your login credentials. Also, give yourself some lead time and set up an auto-forward to send emails coming into your ISP-linked account to the new account. And check in with your ISP; many will allow access to the email account via webmail, even after you’ve moved on to another provider.</p> <p>When or if you do make the switch, assuming you’ve got a router in your home network, connecting the new modem to your router is usually all that is necessary. Worst-case scenario, you’ve got to reconfigure your wireless settings in a new router, and maybe a few IP addresses and forwarding rules, but that’s about it.</p> <h3>Three Steps to a Better Broadband Connection</h3> <p><strong>Even your existing broadband service can be made faster with a few simple tweaks</strong></p> <p>Signing up for a fast broadband connection is an obvious first step to ensuring high speeds while surfing the web. Even with a speedy connection in place though, there are a number of things that can be done to ensure optimal performance and reliability. The routers thrown in when you sign up for service aren’t always of the best quality, and many service providers also have wimpy DNS (Domain Name Service) servers, which are easily bogged down under load and introduce tons of latency. These things can be easily averted, however, and performance and reliability can be increased with just a few tweaks and a bit of reconfiguration.</p> <h4>1) Use a quality router:</h4> <p>The routers bundled with many broadband service plans tend be low-end, dumbed-down products that provide sub-par wireless coverage and are ill-equipped for numerous connections. If you’ve invested in a fast broadband connection, spend a few extra bucks on a high-quality router, as well. A good router will be outfitted with a faster processor, more RAM, and a better network switch. It will likely offer better wireless coverage, too, and provide faster, more reliable service, even if there are multiple devices attached, all sucking down gobs of data.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/asus5-6-585a_small.jpg" alt="Asus RT-N66U" title="Asus RT-N66U" width="620" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>The Asus RT-N66U is a powerful wireless broadband router, with an integrated gigabit switch, that will outperform most of the routers bundled with residential broadband service.</strong><span style="font-weight: bold;">&nbsp;</span></p> <h4>2) Position your modem and router properly:</h4> <p>For the best possible connection, your broadband modem should be located as close to the incoming feed as possible. For example, if you’ve got a cable modem, and the cable line coming into your home has been split numerous times before the modem is attached, the signal quality to the modem will be degraded. For the best performance, the cleanest signal should be fed to your modem, which means connecting it to the main line, as close to the initial split as possible.</p> <p>Router positioning is also important if you have devices that connect wirelessly. If your router has omnidirectional antennas (and odds are that if you haven’t replaced the stock antennas, it does), it is best to position the router as close to the center of the area you’d like covered as possible. &nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" style="font-weight: bold; text-align: center;" href="/files/u152332/3c51p4e6pfgahr1wfwfdni-rewrnnnvjaypmp9b96bi_0.jpg"></a><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/3c51p4e6pfgahr1wfwfdni-rewrnnnvjaypmp9b96bi_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/3c51p4e6pfgahr1wfwfdni-rewrnnnvjaypmp9b96bi.jpg" alt="The omni-directional antennas included with most routers transmit (and receive) signals in all directions. For the best performance, that signal should be centrally located between devices." width="50" height="169" /></a></p> <p><strong><strong>The omni-directional antennas included with most routers transmit (and receive) signals in all directions. For the best performance, that signal should be centrally located between devices.</strong></strong></p> <h4>3) Switch DNS servers:</h4> <p>Every time you type a URL into your web browser, a request is sent to a DNS server to obtain the corresponding website’s IP address. If that server is bogged down or just plain sluggish, it can be slow to resolve addresses and introduce unwanted latency. Try running the DNS Bench utility available at <a href=""></a> to ascertain the fastest DNS servers in your area, and use those in lieu of your ISP’s. You can designate which DNS servers to use in your TCP/IPv4 properties in Windows on each machine, or enter them into the requisite fields in the WAN section of your broadband router’s setup utility.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/snapshot_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/snapshot.jpg" alt="Using the fastest DNS servers available in your area can significantly speed up web browsing." width="430" height="479" /></a></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><strong>Using the fastest DNS servers available in your area can significantly speed up web browsing.</strong></strong></p> <p>Are you happy with your current Internet setup? Or are you still waiting for 4G LTE coverage and fiber optics to hit your neck of the woods? Let us know in the comments below!</p> February 2013 2013 broadband cable dsl Fiber high speed Internet maximum pc modem Router WiFi wireless News Networking From the Magazine Features Tue, 30 Apr 2013 21:05:30 +0000 Marco Chiappetta 25407 at Intel to Invade Cable TV Space in 2013 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/intel_tv_0.jpg" alt="Intel TV graphic" title="Intel TV" width="228" height="159" style="float: right;" />Your next cable TV provider might be Intel.</h3> <p>Apparently the mobile market isn't the only non-desktop/server space <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Intel</strong></a> is interested in encroaching; the world's largest semiconductor player also wants to dip its toes into the cable TV sector, as has been <a href="">previously rumored</a>. Word on the web is that Intel has grown frustrated with smart TV manufacturers who have bungled the whole Google TV initiative, so it's taking matters into its own hands and plans to launch its own hardware.</p> <p>An un-named source "directly familiar with Intel's plans and content dealings" told <a href="" target="_blank"><em>TechCrunch</em></a> that Intel is planning to create a set-top box and subscription TV service. Intel's target audience includes TV viewers who are interested in streaming TV access, but don't want to cut the cord completely and lose certain content, particular sports programming.</p> <p>The Santa Clara chip maker will launch its service on a city-by-city basis, which would allow the company time to negotiate with media content providers by offering them test markets to experiment with. Other details are fairly light at the moment, but more could be revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next month when Intel is said to be unveiling the first version of its set-top box.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> cable dvr intel maximum tech set-top box television tv News Mon, 31 Dec 2012 12:00:00 +0000 Paul Lilly 24749 at Cable Companies Want to Kick Consoles Out of the Living Room with Streaming Games <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u69/controller_remote.jpg" alt="Controller and Remote" title="Xbox 360 Controller and Remote" width="228" height="180" style="float: right;" />The Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii might not be the best of friends, but together, the trio own the living room when it comes to gaming. The question is, for how long? Devices like <a href="">Ouya</a>, a $99 Android console, threaten to whittle away at the big three's userbase, though perhaps the biggest threat will come from cable companies. AT&amp;T, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable are all reportedly getting ready to roll out cloud-based gaming service.</p> <p>According to <a href=""><em>Bloomberg</em></a>, all three are on pace to test gaming services later this year, with widespread deployment to follow in early 2013. That could pose a problem for Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, all three of which haven't had to worry too much about streaming competition up to this point.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u69/xbox_live.jpg" alt="Xbox Live Dashboard" title="Xbox Live" width="450" height="253" /></p> <p>If you ask us, however, the more likely scenario is that cable companies will have some success in dishing up casual games, like Angry Birds and the like, but they're unlikely to pose a serious threat to hardcore -- or even medium-core -- gaming. The other challenge for cable companies is dealing with data caps, though they could get around that restriction by allowing subscribers to play streaming games without it counting against their monthly quota.</p> <p>What do you think -- do cable companies pose any real threat to console makers?</p> at&t cable Consoles games maximum tech Time Warner Cable Verizon video games Videogames News Tue, 25 Sep 2012 17:49:54 +0000 Paul Lilly 24221 at Department of Justice Tweaks Verizon's $3.6 Billion Spectrum Deal <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u69/verizon_guy.jpg" width="228" height="180" style="float: right;" />The U.S. Department of Justice said it would approve a $3.6 spectrum deal between Verizon and four cable companies -- Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, and Cox Communications -- if certain changes are made to a series of agreements that it deemed anti-competitive. As originally constructed, the DoJ feared the deal would ultimately harm competition and lead to higher prices and lower quality service for consumers.</p> <p>Verizon struck agreements with the four largest cable companies in the U.S. last year to purchase spectrum that it intends to use to flesh out its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network. As part of the deal, cable companies would be able to bundle Verizon 4G plans in with their own offerings.</p> <p>"By limiting the scope and duration of the commercial agreements among Verizon and the cable companies while at the same time allowing Verizon and T-Mobile to proceed with their spectrum acquisitions, the department has provided the right remedy for competition and consumers," <a href="">said Joseph Wayland</a>, Acting Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division. "The Antitrust Division’s enforcement action ensures that robust competition between Verizon and the cable companies continues now and in the future as technological change alters the telecommunications landscape."</p> <p>As approved by the DoJ, the companies in the deal will be subject to a review every four years and must submit regular reports in the meantime. In addition, in areas where Verizon's FiOS service isn't offered, Verizon must sell the local cable company's Internet and service bundles.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="">Facebook</a></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> 4g lte cable department of justic doj maximum tech Verizon News Fri, 17 Aug 2012 13:21:45 +0000 Paul Lilly 23997 at Report: DOJ Investigating Whether Cable Companies Are Purposefully Keeping Streaming Media Down <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u138055/netflix_1.jpg" width="228" height="165" style="float: right;" />Netflix honcho Reed Hastings became mighty upset when it was revealed that Comcast's Xfinity TV app for Xbox 360 doesn't count against subscribers' Internet bandwidth cap, and he took to the Net to voice his displeasure with a barrage of Tweets, comments, and diatribes. Apparently, someone listened to his ranting: a new report claims that the Justice Department is quizzing streaming media companies and cable providers alike to determine if the cable companies, who also control Internet access for many, are "acting improperly" to reduce the threat of Netflix and co. <br /><a href=""><br />The Wall Street Journal's sources</a> say that the DoJ has already spoken with Hulu, Netflix, Comcast and Time Warner about data caps imposed by cable providers. According to the sources, the DoJ is also asking whether or not requiring a user to be a paid cable subscriber in order to access streaming content -- such as the Xbox's ESPN app or Fox's streaming show delay -- is an acceptable practice, or an artificial, inappropriate barrier being put up by cable companies and content providers to bolster the lagging television business. </p> <p>Apparently, several channels have "Most favored nation" clauses in their contracts with cable providers, which basically ensure they'll always be paid as much as the top-dollar contract in the industry. If another channel signs a bigger deal, channels with a MFN clause receive a similar pay bump. The Justice Department is said to be looking into these types of deals, as well; remember, MFN clauses are what landed Apple and the U.S. book publishers in legal hot waters a few months back. </p> <p>Comcast itself is also reportedly under a direct microscope, as the DoJ is said to be pondering whether the company's no-limit Xfinity TV app is a violation of the agreement it made when merging with NBC Universal. As part of that deal, Comcast agreed not to give its Net traffic any special priority over other companies' traffic. For its part, Comcast says the Xfinity TV App traffic never touches the public web and instead travels solely on Comcast's private pipes.</p> <p>For better or worse, it looks like the Justice Department is getting sick of old media flexing its muscle to keep new media down. Do you think cable ISPs are up to no-good, or is this much ado about nothing?</p> cable Comcast cord cutting department of justice doj Internet NetFlix news rumors streaming video News Wed, 13 Jun 2012 17:03:21 +0000 Brad Chacos 23574 at U.S. Cable Companies Team Up Like Avengers, Envision Wi-Fi Hotspots for All <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u69/lemonade_wi-fi.jpg" width="228" height="192" style="float: right;" />To answer Rodney King's question, yes, we can all get along, even U.S. cable companies, a handful of which formed a super alliance of sorts to give subscribers access to tens of thousands of hotspots. Bright House Networks, Cablevision, Comcast, Cox Communications, and Time Warner Cable are the five stateside cable companies working together to expand what's known as 'CableWiFi' into more areas other than New York City and central Florida, where the hotspot service has already launched.</p> <p>Each of the five above mentioned cable outfits will integrate CableWiFi into their own Wi-Fit hotspot areas, creating a massive wireless network for subscribers to use, no matter which of the participating cable companies they're signed up with.</p> <p>"This effort adds great value to our high speed Internet customers by providing free wireless Internet access on all of their Wi-Fi enabled devices in our markets and additional areas across the country," <a href="">said Nomi Bergman</a>, President of Bright House Networks.</p> <p>Collectively, the five cable operators participating in the CableWiFi initiative offer more than 50,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in New York City and the surrounding Tri-State area, Los Angeles, Tampa, Orlando, and Philadelphia, both indoor and outdoor. Subscribers can find the nearest Wi-Fi hotspots by visiting <a href=";;esheet=50284271&amp;lan=en-US&amp;;index=1&amp;md5=3ffe0d4e524ccbe0508f8f3410eeb482"></a>.</p> <p>This is the largest and most inclusive Wi-Fi sharing initiative to date, the participating cable companies said in a joint press release.</p> <p><em>Image Credit: Bright House Networks</em></p> cable cablewifi hotspot Internet wi-fi wireless News Mon, 21 May 2012 13:00:01 +0000 Paul Lilly 23358 at Report: Netflix, Cable Companies In Talks To Join Forces In Your Cable Box <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u138055/netflix-logo.jpg" width="228" height="228" style="float: right;" />Netflix is killing cable. <a href="">How many times have you heard that</a>? (Admittedly, you probably heard it a lot more before Netflix's price hike and the whole Quikster thing.) But after years of painting streaming services as the devil, a new report says that the cable companies may be considering a Faustian deal: signing a pact with Netflix and offering it as an optional service straight from your cable box.</p> <p>Netflix honcho <a href="">Reed Hastings has recently met with major cable representatives</a>, Reuters claims. Specific names aren't named, but the publication says that talks were held with "some of the largest U.S. cable companies." While several sources stepped forward to say Netflix could be added to cable company set-top boxes-- presumably similar to the apps found in Smart TVs -- one said that the deals could involve cable companies directly selling Netflix to their customers, with a Netflix charge appearing on customer cable bills.</p> <p>Several major hurdles could halt the rumored deals, however: Netflix may need to revisit their existing streaming contracts, and, well, Netflix and the cable companies don't exactly hold a lot of love for each other in their hearts.</p> <p>Last week, Hastings told investors that moving to cable is "not in the short term, but it's in the natural direction for us in the long term." If a deal was struck, cable companies could come out looking user-friendly and Netflix could become available to a more mainstream user base that doesn't necessarily have Rokus, Smart TVs or gaming consoles. </p> <p>Is this another in a long line of questionable actions by Netflix, or a genuinely good move? What do you think?</p> cable cable TV NetFlix news streaming Streaming Media streaming movies News Wed, 07 Mar 2012 18:26:18 +0000 Brad Chacos 22867 at Comcast Loses 17,000 Cable Customers in Q4, Is Rightfully Giddy <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u69/comcast_cable.jpg" width="228" height="152" style="float: right;" />Every quarter it's the same old story for cable companies. Subscriber losses have become the norm as streaming continues to pluck more viewers away from tethered cable, and in the fourth quarter of 2011, Comcast lost 17,000 TV customers. That might have been cause for panic a decade ago, but in today's landscape, Comcast has reason to celebrate.</p> <p>Comcast hasn't lost as few as 17,000 cable subscribers in five years, and compared to 2010, last quarter's losses were a drop in a bucket. In same quarter one year earlier, Comcast reported 135,000 cable subscriber losses, or about eight times as many as Q4 2011.</p> <p>"Last year was a very important year for our company. Cable continued to drive innovation, increase new product introductions and transform the customer experience, and we successfully integrated NBCUniversal," <a href="">said Brian L. Roberts</a>, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Comcast. "We also reported strong financial and operating results in both the fourth quarter and for the full year. Specifically, cable had another terrific quarter of improving customer metrics, demonstrating that our new XFINITY brand and our intensified focus on service and innovation are making a real difference."</p> <p>That's right, Comcast lost 17,000 cable subscribers and still described it as a "terrific quarter" for cable, which underscores the expectations in today's streaming landscape.</p> <p>In terms of overall revenue, Comcast collected over $15 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2011, a 54.7 percent year-on-year increase.</p> cable Comcast maximum tec streaming tv News Wed, 15 Feb 2012 19:17:52 +0000 Paul Lilly 22704 at HDMI is the Bee's Knees, Promoters (and In-Stat) Say <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u69/hdmi.jpg" width="228" height="139" style="float: right;" />If you want to know what's all that and a bag of delicious potato chips (preferably Sea Salt &amp; Vinegar, mmm), look no further than your HDMI cord and compatible electronic devices, of which you should have many. In 2012, market research firm In-Stat expects 1,150 licensed HDMI Adopters to ship more than 800 million HDMI-compliant products, a prediction HDMI Licensing, LLC and the HDMI Forum, Inc. are all too happy to announce.</p> <p>They have reason to be excited. If In-Stat's crystal ball is locked onto a true future timeline, the number of HDMI-compliant product shipments will increase 17 percent over 2011 and translate into an installed base of over 3.1 billion HDMI products worldwide, which itself would be a 34 percent jump over 2011.</p> <p>"During 2011, HDMI technology expanded its reach in the consumer electronics space and started to penetrate new market segments such as automotive and portable handheld devices," said Steve Venuti, president of HDMI Licensing, LLC. "With the launch of the HDMI Forum in October of 2011, we expect to see even stronger demand for HDMI technology in the coming years."</p> <p>The HDMI Forum oversees all new standardization activities, such as the development of future versions of the HDMI spec. It currently consists of <a href="">43 members</a> with a number of technology heavyweights, companies like Apple, AMD, Dolby, Hitachi, Motorola, Nvidia, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, Toshiba, and dozens more.</p> <p>"We are very pleased that in just over 2 months, 43 leading consumer electronics, PC and mobile products companies have joined the HDMI Forum," said Rambod Jacoby, president of the HDMI Forum, Inc. "With broader participation in the development of the HDMI Specification, HDMI will continue to be the leading consumer interface for HD devices."</p> <p>The next version of the HDMI Specification will introduce higher resolutions and address new video timings and other features. It's expected to be ready in the second half of this year.</p> <p>Image Credit: Wikimedia</p> cable HDMI hdmi forum hdmi licesning llc maximum tech News Mon, 09 Jan 2012 13:55:20 +0000 Paul Lilly 22127 at Netflix CEO Predicts Streaming will Jump Ahead of Cable in 3-5 Years <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u69/cable_guy.jpg" width="228" height="182" style="float: right;" />Netflix CEO Reed Hastings told attendees at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York that streaming video will grow to replace cable as the viewing option of choice within 3-5 years. In reality, streaming video could leapfrog ahead of cable even sooner than that, but as Netflix gets ready to renew contracts with Hollywood studios, he might want to keep his cards closer to his chest.</p> <p>Studios still prefer cable, where they have more control over their content. Starz, you might recall, opted not to renew its contract with Netflix, a decision that was <a href="">reportedly</a> made because Netflix refused to charge subscribers a premium for access to Starz content. Studios want the consumer to expect premium channels and content to cost more, and Netflix's all-you-can-consume media buffet threatens that mindset.</p> <p>Regardless, studios will only be able to fight the transition to streaming for so long, and despite some recent bumps in the road, Netflix intends to not only ride the wave, but create them.</p> <p>"We have got to get as big as we can before the rest of the world catches up," Hastings said, according to an <a href="">AP report</a>.</p> <p>Netflix isn't alone, and Hastings identified one competitor in particular that keeps him up at nights.</p> <p>"The competitor we fear the most... is HBO Go," Hastings said. "The two of us will compete for a very long time."</p> <p>Both Netflix and HBO Go are spending billions of dollars on content every year, putting them a league of their own. <a href="">Verizon could emerge</a> as another competitor, but at this early stage, the chatter didn't elicit so much as a casual shout out by Hastings.</p> cable maximum tech NetFlix reed hastings streaming News Wed, 07 Dec 2011 16:44:48 +0000 Paul Lilly 21670 at Verizon Gobbles Up Cable Companies' Wireless Spectrum For $3.6 Billion <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u138055/verizon.jpg" width="228" height="228" style="float: right;" />Wireless spectrum: it’s what powers mobile communications and wireless carriers have an insatiable taste for more, more, MORE of it. The need for more spectrum is the reason <a href="">Sprint keeps bailing Clearwire out of financial hot water</a> and why AT&amp;T is pushing so hard for a merger with T-Mobile. Verizon has pretty much been the only major carrier that hasn’t engaged in major spectrum-related deals this year – until now, that is. Today, Verizon announced it has reached a $3.6 billion deal to gobble up 122 spectrum licenses from three major cable companies.</p> <p>Time Warner, Comcast and Bright House networks each own a portion of SpectrumCo, the company selling Verizon the spectrum licenses. The deal isn’t straight up cash-for-spectrum, either; Verizon Wireless and the cable companies will be able to sell each other’s products, too. In addition, <a href="">CNET reports</a> that both Comcast and Time Warner, who currently offer wireless broadband services that tap into Clearwire’s network, will be cutting ties with that company over the next six months and switching whole-hog over to Verizon’s network.</p> <p>Verizon isn't being coy what it wants the spectrum for, either. "Spectrum is the raw material on which wireless networks are built, and buying the AWS spectrum now solidifies our network leadership into the future, and will enable us to bring even better 4G LTE products and services to our customers," CEO Dan Mead said in the press release.</p> <p>Of course, the sale still has to be approved by the FCC, and if <a>the FCC’s recent slap-down of the AT&amp;T – T-Mobile merger</a> is any indication, that approval may fall under heavy scrutiny by regulators.</p> cable Comcast deal news Time Warner Verizon verizon wireless wireless spectrum News Fri, 02 Dec 2011 18:52:19 +0000 Brad Chacos 21609 at ISPs May Institute Usage Fees To Counteract Streaming Video Surge <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u138055/money.jpg" width="226" height="223" style="float: right;" />If you’ve cut the cable and switched to streaming services like Netflix or Hulu to fill your <em>Sons of Anarchy</em> viewing needs, you might be in for a nasty shock before long: higher prices. No, Netflix isn’t raising its rates again. It’s your Internet connection itself that your wallet should be worried about! Reports say that major U.S. ISPs, including Time Warner Cable, Charter, Cox and AT&amp;T, are experimenting with usage-based Internet fees – not just to quell streaming users’ massive broadband needs, but also to make Netflix less attractive (and traditional cable more attractive) to TV watchers. Most of the largest ISPs sell digital TV services as well, remember?</p> <p><a href="">According to Bloomberg</a>, companies like Time Warner are losing cable customers on quarterly basis, partly because of dish-based alternatives, but mostly due to streaming services. Since streaming services require large amounts of bandwidth, the cable companies (who just so happen to also control your Internet tubes) figure they’ll make the money back by charging heavy users higher Internet usage fees. And if users balk at the higher Internet costs, what do you know? They can always switch back to cable. Win-win for the ISP! According to the article, “Cable companies see usage-based billing as a way to limit the appeal of online services like Netflix and Hulu, and reduce the threat from new entrants like Amazon and Google.” In addition, usage fees are considered by industry insiders as a great way to squeeze out some extra revenue for ISPs, as traditional cable services are losing growth momentum and incurring rising costs.</p> <p>Thoughts?</p> bandwidth broadband cable fees Internet ISP NetFlix news streaming video News Wed, 30 Nov 2011 18:45:59 +0000 Brad Chacos 21564 at Is Your SATA Cable Slowing Down Your Data Transfers? Max PC Investigates <!--paging_filter--><h3>Is your SATA cable slowing you down? Maximum PC investigates</h3> <p>We had a recent incident in our lab where SATA 6Gb/s performance inexplicably dropped going from one motherboard to the next. In theory, both boards should have offered the same performance on the SATA 6Gb/s port as both used the same south bridge chip in the board and the same SSD. When we couldn’t diagnose it as drivers or a mis-configured benchmark run, we decided to swap out the SATA cable for a “real” SATA 6Gb/s cable. Like magic, the performance went back to what we expected.</p> <p>This got us wondering if there is actually a need to run “real” SATA 6GB/s cables with high performance SSDs. The official word from the SATA International Organization is no, not at all. The SATA I/O lays it out in its FAQ: “Question: Does SATA 6Gb/s require different connectors and cables to support the higher transfer speed? Answer: The same cables and connectors used for current SATA 1.5 and SATA 3.0 Gb/s implementations can be used to connect SATA 6Gb/s devices, although SATA-IO recommends quality components be selected to ensure data integrity and robust operation at the faster SATA 6Gb/s transfer rate. Keeping the existing SATA connector form factor enables SATA 6Gb/s to be designed into the same cost-conscious hardware architectures while minimizing infrastructure changes.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u57670/satacable-07.jpg" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p>If you think about it, that’s a pretty amazing feat. SATA 150 on motherboards dates back to at least 2002. It’s almost like asking a cable that you bought for USB in 1997 to handle the throughput of USB 3.0. Hell, even Parallel ATA went through several revisions including those much coveted 80-conductor cables. Over its lifetime.</p> <p>To put SATA to the test, we grabbed a fistful of cables including two that date back to the early days of SATA. How do we know they’re that old? While the cables aren’t dated, we pulled them out of vintage motherboard boxes that have been moldering in our lab. One was an Intel 875P board, the other an nForce 2 board. The rest were culled from the floor, cabinets and various places that SATA cables end up. One cable was an expensive Adaptec SATA cable that came with a RAID card, another a cheapo 36-inch (just short of the maximum length of 3.3 feet while another tested was a tiny pig-tail SATA cable with a run length of about 5-inches.&nbsp; For a final fun test, we decided to use several SATA cable extenders to join several 36-inch SATA cables together—in effect creating a 9-foot SATA cable that we literally stretched across the room.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u57670/satacable-08.jpg" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p>To conduct our test, we used an Asus motherboard with Intel’s latest peripheral controller hub and its blisteringly fast SATA 6Gb/s performance. The drive we tapped was a 240GB OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD. The Mercury Extreme Pro uses a Sandforce 2nd gen controller and is among the fastest SSDs for sale today. To measure the performance we used CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1 and ran the benchmarks’ sequential read and write score three times. All of the cables were plugged into the same SATA port.</p> <h3>The Verdict</h3> <p>Let’s first say that when we started this, we were absolutely sure we’d see a difference. Afterall, moving to an authentic SATA 6Gb/s cable cleared up our problems the first time right? Wrong. As we worked our way through the first few cables, we began to realize that the SATA I/O did its work when it first put together the Serial ATA spec for cables. There is virtually no difference between a brand-new SATA 6Gb/s marked cable made this year and one produced nearly eight years ago as far as performance goes. Expensive cable, cheap cable; long cable, short cable—none of it seemingly made a real difference. If anything, the minor variances in performance can be attributed to variances in the benchmark or the SSD.</p> <p>During our testing, we also tested out a couple of often not recommended practices: bending your SATA cable at right angles. Many motherboard vendors recommend against putting right-angles into the cables during system builds so we took a cable and put about 15 right-angle kinks in it: no difference. We also took a 36-inch cable and tightly wrapped around a hot PSU cable: no difference.</p> <p>What about joining two 36-inch cables end-to-end using male-to-male connectors? That’s about 30-inches outside the SATA spec for cable length: No. Frakking. Difference.&nbsp; The only thing that stopped SATA dead in its tracks was running three 36-inch SATA cables end-to-end using cable No. 3, No. 4 and No 11. That’s nine feet of cables kids. Don’t try this at home!</p> <p><img src="/files/u57670/photo.jpg" width="620" height="463" /></p> <p>Since we didn’t want to just bunch it up on the desk, we stretched it across the lab and then used a remote PSU to run the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro drive. Surprisingly, we saw roughly 250MB/s read speeds but write speeds, where we suspect the controller and protocol are a little more stringent plunged down to 25MB/s. The benchmark ultimately failed due to read and write errors to the device. It didn’t always fail, but we wouldn’t entrust our data to it.</p> <p>So what does this tell us? The SATA cable is an incredibly robust cable. It’s the cockroach or AK of computer cables. That’s not bad and we certainly wish all computer cables performed that way. We’ve certainly had our share of wonky USB support thanks to really borderline USB cables.</p> <p>But what about our original motherboard test where switching cables fixed it? Looking at our data now, we suspect the more likely culprit was a bad cable, a dirty connector or a connector that wasn’t seated. It’s a reminder that a single instance isn’t enough to create a trend. Our hats off to the SATA I/O for a pretty damned robust cable spec.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u57670/satacable-01.jpg" width="620" height="349" /></p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><span class="module-name">Benchmarks</span><br /> <div class="module-content"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 627px; height: 170px;" border="0"> <thead> <tr> <th class="head-empty"></th> <th class="head-light">Read (MB/s)</th> <th class="head-light">Write (MB/s)</th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td>Cable No. 1</td> <td>508</td> <td>224</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Cable No. 2</td> <td>507</td> <td>222</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Cable No. 3</td> <td>508</td> <td>225</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Cable No. 4</td> <td class="item-dark">505</td> <td>230</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Cable No. 5</td> <td>509</td> <td>222</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Cable No. 6</td> <td>506</td> <td>222</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Cable No. 7</td> <td>506</td> <td>224</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Cable No. 8</td> <td>506</td> <td>224</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Cable No. 9</td> <td>505</td> <td>223</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Cable No. 10</td> <td>509</td> <td>233</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Cable No. 11</td> <td>508</td> <td>223</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Cable No. 12</td> <td>509</td> <td>224</td> </tr> <tr> <td>72-inch SATA cable conversion</td> <td>510</td> <td>223</td> </tr> <tr> <td>108-inch SATA cable conversion</td> <td>Fail</td> <td>Fail</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Our tests were performed with a 240GB OWC Mercury Pro SSD on an Intel SATA 6Gb/s controller.<br /></em></p> benchmark Build a PC cable Hardware sata SATA 6Gb/s sata cable Features Tue, 15 Nov 2011 21:04:36 +0000 Gordon Mah Ung 21339 at