Here is your recap of cable and Internet service industry news from around the US this week:
Verizon Slows Down Its Unlimited Plans
You would think that buying an unlimited plan would mean you get unlimited data, but apparently, there are limits to unlimited. Especially if we are talking unlimited mobile data. Verizon started limiting their unlimited data last month when they throttled Netflix downloads. Currently, Verizon has three different "unlimited" plans: Go Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited, and Business Unlimited. On each unlimited plan, there are different limits on the streaming quality of what you download so make sure you know the limits of your unlimited plan. Your limits for an unlimited plan on a phone will be different from your limits for an unlimited plan on a tablet.
FCC Fights to Keep Net Neutrality Complaints Secret
After asking consumers for any “evidence of actual harm to consumers,” the FCC is refusing to release the almost 50,000 complaints it received despite requests under the Freedom of Information Act. In light of this, a group of 16 advocacy groups has written a letter to the FCC asking for the data. The groups signing the letter include the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, the ACLU, the Center for Media Justice, Open Media, Common Cause and the United Church of Christ. While FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is quick to point out that there has been only one complaint, that is probably due to the fact that that there is a $225.00 fee to file an official complaint whereas there have been 47,000 informal complaints.
Largest Internet Retailer Stakes Claim to Brick and Mortar
Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods just passed the US Federal Trade Commission’s scrutiny. Amazon made the $13 billion offer in June, sending stock prices for several retail outlets down. Whole Foods’ shareholders approved the purchase earlier. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year. Amazon has been slowly dipping its big toe into fresh food delivery for years and some people are seeing Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods being part of some overall game plan for even more dominance in retail. Whole Foods is expected to lower prices on certain products soon after deal officially closes this week. Amazon Prime members will get extra savings.
By the way, did you know that Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, is currently the world’s second richest man? He also owns the Washington Post newspaper and Blue Origin, a space flight company.
Comcast Adds Solar Panels to its Offerings
The country’s largest cable operator will soon be offering residential solar. Comcast Cable has already added smart home and security tech to its business model; now they will be marketing rooftop solar panels. They have entered into a 40-month partnership with Sunrun Inc, a California based solar panel company. Sunrun is the country’s largest dedicated residential solar company. In addition to being the nation’s largest cable company, Comcast already controls NBC/Universal which owns television stations, film studios, theme parks, and much more.
AT&T Expands G.fast to 8 Big Cities
AT&T will offer G.fast, a new technology that provides fast Internet connection over existing cable and telephone lines to cities outside the current AT&T service area. Chip maker Sckpio announced last year that G.fast can deliver speeds of up to 750 Mbps. That is much faster than most people have right now. It is available in 8 metro areas that are outside of AT&T’s current markets, giving residents in those markets a high-speed Internet option that was not available before. G.fast is now available in New York City, Boston, Denver, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Seattle. Tampa, and Philadelphia with more non-AT&T cities to be connected shortly.
AT&T Charged With Discrimination Against Poor Neighborhoods
In a formal complaint filed with the Federal Communications Commission, AT&T is accused of providing slower connection speeds in low-income neighborhoods. The complaint, filed by three low-income residents of Cleveland, Ohio, refers to a study completed earlier this year that found that AT&T “systematically discriminated against lower-income Cleveland neighborhoods in its deployment of home Internet and video technologies over the past decade.” The complaint also asks for "monetary damages and an injunction prohibiting AT&T from continuing to engage in ‘discriminatory and anticompetitive conduct and practices.’"
Host of Protest Website Ordered to Hand Over Visitors Information
In a blow to online privacy, a Superior Court Judge in Washington DC has ruled that DreamHost, the company that hosted the website Disruptj20.org, must hand over information about visitors to the anti-Trump website. The Justice Department is investigating a riot that occurred on Trump’s Inauguration Day where six police officers were injured and damages went into tens of thousands of dollars. So far nearly 200 people have been indicted. DreamHost has not announced whether or not they will appeal the ruling. The data the government had originally requested included more than a million IP and email addresses but the government dropped that part of the request. The attorney for DreamHost says the search is still too broad and the government isn’t looking for specific data as required by law.
Charter Spectrum Faces the Wrath of the Masses in Lexington, KY
A public meeting was held in Lexington, KY to address the growing dissatisfaction among former Time Warner Cable customers who are now Charter Spectrum customers. Almost 200 people turned out to voice concerns, complaints, and criticism to Charter Spectrum representatives. Charter Spectrum acquired Time Warner Cable last year and many residents are not happy with the transition. Even Lexington’s Mayor Jim Gray was not happy with Charter, saying “We have had very, very poor technical service, very poor customer service and price increases with no notice.” Marva Johnson of Charter said the company is working to improve customer service and “earn our customers’ trust and loyalty.”
Too Many OTT Choices, Not Enough ISP Choices
While Americans are lucky if they have one good high-speed Internet provider, a study by Morning Consult found that Millennials felt there were too many choices among Over The Top video services. With both Disney and CBS announcing that they would be adding their own OTT service to the already crowded market, many of the services are limited to only programming from one studio necessitating subscriptions to several OTT services to have access to the programs viewers want to watch. In fact, 73% of those surveyed wished they could get all of the programming they wanted to watch on one service.