Here is a recap of some of the cable and ISP news around the country this week:
Electronic Entertainment Expo 2017 Plays Out In Los Angeles
Almost 70,000 video game fans converged on LA for the 2017 Electronic Entertainment Expo, the biggest computer and video game event in the world this week. Mostly it was about games and the release of the new Xbox console called Xbox One X, upcoming in November. The new console, formerly called Scorpio, boasts true 4K resolution. Many of the older Xbox games are being updated with 4K compatibility for free.
There were a lot of trailers for games coming out in the not too distant future. Some of them will be out in time for Christmas and some of them next year. Games talked about included Assassin’s Creed: Origins, Destiny2, Minecraft, Spiderman, Call of Duty: World War II, Pokeman, Monster Hunter, Final Fantasy XV and Super Mario Odyssey. Many were remakes or continuations of a series.
New at the event this year was the inclusion of 15,000 gamers who could pay $249.00 for admission to the show.
Jeff and the Bean Sprouts - Internet Giant To Grow Even Bigger
Internet retail store Amazon announced that they would be buying Whole Foods Market this year for $13.7 billion. Nothing much will change at the natural food market initially, with plans to remain headquartered in Austin Texas and keep co-founder John Mackey as CEO. Amazon was already the 8th largest employer in the US and the largest Internet company in the world by revenue. Amazon had been looking into expanding into the brick and mortar side of retail. Whole Foods can trace its roots back to SaferWay, a natural foods store opened in 1978. SaferWay became Whole Foods Market after merging with another natural foods store in 1980. Currently Whole Foods has over 400 locations across the US, Canada and the United Kingdom. Many traditional grocers immediately took a hit on the market as a result of the announcement.
Telecom Lobbying Group to Louisville “We Won’t Build it But You Can’t Either.”
The so-called Taxpayers Protection Alliance and AT&T are doing all they can to keep others from providing what they seem to be unwilling to provide themselves. The national organization funded by the multi-billionaire Koch brothers is lobbying to keep Louisville from voting on adding 97 miles of fiber optic cable to the budget to better served under served neighborhoods in west Louisville. When Google announced that they intended to provide Google Fiber to Louisville AT&T sued to keep them from moving utility lines to hasten their fiber roll out. AT&T wanted to delay Google several months until AT&T got around to moving the lines. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance is a Koch brothers front group which promotes itself as protecting taxpayers, which I suppose is true when you consider that AT&T and Verizon and other multi national mega corporations might actually pay taxes sometimes.
AT&Ts Forced Arbitration Clause Drawing Fire From Congress
Five Democratic US Senators have written a letter to AT&T asking them to get rid of the forced arbitration clause in DirecTVs contracts saying the clause acts to “erode Americans' ability to seek justice in the courts.” The arbitration clause prohibits class action lawsuits and jury trials. The letter was written by Al Franken, Minn., Richard Blumenthal, Conn., Ron Wyden, Ore., Patrick Leahy, Vt., and Edward Markey, Mass., after a report by CBS news reporting that of 150 million customers, only 18 had sought remedy through the forced mediation clause although there had been thousands of complaints about DirecTV overcharging its customers. AT&T maintains that its restrictive forced arbitration “agreement” which limits consumer recourse and prohibits them from a class action suit is “one of the most consumer-friendly arbitration policies in the country.”
Google Wants to Have Your Conversation For You
In another roll out that could make humans obsolete, Google has announced an upgrade to its smart keyboard, Gboard, that will start suggesting phrases into its autocomplete function that is designed to make your typing faster. Google has already announced that it will learn from what you have previously texted to intuitively suggest options for you to choose. It learns what you might want to say. Google also will let you draw an emoji and will try to figure out which one you mean. Start drawing a cat and it will give you choices of all its cat emojis.
Code PaLOUsa Brings Coders Together in Louisville
Recently there have been major conferences sponsored by the likes of Microsoft, Apple, Google and Facebook as well as events built around topics like the Internet of Things and the E3 gaming event. In Louisville, Kentucky last week’s Code PaLOUsa was designed to include all aspects of coding. It was probably over the head of most consumers throwing about coding languages like Ruby on the Rails, Python and ASP.NET.
The keynote speaker, Sara Chipps, talked about the need to get more females into coding, a fact driven home by the fact that of the presenters at the event, about 85% were men. Sara Chipps is the CEO of JewelBot, a programmable smart bracelet that lets users communicate with friends and also learn the basics of how to code. Chipps also co-founded Girl Develop It, a non-profit created to help more women become software developers.
Verizon and Yahoo Seal the Deal to Create Oath
Verizon’s delayed purchase of Yahoo just closed with now former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer walking away with almost $260 million. Mayer was Google employee number 20 before moving to Yahoo in 2012. Verizon will combine Yahoo with AOL, which it purchased in 2015. Former AOL CEO Tim Armstrong will be taking the reins of the newly formed Oath, comprised of the properties of AOL and Yahoo. The new company is expected to cut about 2000 jobs. So far, creating Oath has cost Verizon about $9 billion. Oath will contain AOL, Yahoo, Engadget, Tumblr, Huffington Post, Tech Crunch, Flickr, AutoBlog, MovieFone and more.
“Facts Just Twist The Truth Around”
The NCTA, which somehow stands for “The Internet and Television Association,” just posted on their website an article titled “America’s Internet Speeds Continue to Soar.” The post was referencing the “State of the Internet Report” released recently by Akamai. The lobby felt the increased speed, constant innovation and quadrupling if Internet speeds in the last five years despite maintaining that the current Network Neutrality rules inhibit broadband investment and stifle competition. How could Internet speeds be soaring if they were being inhibited by Net Neutrality? It seems the NCTA feels that facts can mean what they want them to mean. In the May 15th Internet and Cable Service News Rewind I pointed out that the NCTA did the same creative fact manipulation with their own survey on consumer attitudes of Net Neutrality.
Altice USA Files For Initial Public Offering
Altice NV, a Netherlands based telecom and majority owner of Altice USA has filed to with the Securities and Exchange Commission to raise as much as $1.4 billion in an IPO. A possible use for some of the money raised would be an attempt to purchase another cable company, like Cox Communications, Mediacom or Wide Open West (WOW!) which just had its own IPO last month. Altice USA has acquired Suddenlink and Cablevision in the last couple of years and attempted to purchase Time Warner Cable before Charter succeeded.
Cox Communications Releases New Panoramic WiFi Modems and Extenders
Cox has just released a new Panoramic WiFi Modem that uses extenders to bring high speed Internet to every room in your house. With Cox’s professional installation, Cox promises no dead zones, and offers an app so you can use your iPhone or Android device to manage security settings, network name and passwords and view signal strength and what devices are connected to the WiFi. You can even reboot your modem from the app. There is a charge for the new modem, starting at $9.99 a month.
June Is Tech Month at the White House
The Trump Administration will be meeting with representatives from the top technology companies in the country to discuss the Internet of Things, drones, autonomous cars and other tech topics this month. Executives from Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Intel and others will be coming to Washington DC for the event. There has been tension between Trump and many of the tech company leaders recently over Trump’s decision for the US to leave the Global warming accord earlier this month. Tesla CEO Elon Musk resigned from Trump’s advisory council after Trump announced leaving the accord. Some of the tech executives expected to visit with Trump this month are Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google/Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt, and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty.
More White House News – FCC Nominations
President Trump has re-nominated former FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel who served from 2012 to 2016 to return as a Democratic member of the Commission. She was re-nominated for the position by President Obama but Trump withdrew the nomination after becoming President. It is unclear if she is meant to replace current Democratic FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn or to be the second Democratic Commissioner. Clyburn’s term expires at the end of this month (June). Rosenworcel has spent the majority of her career working for the FCC or the US Senate as an attorney. No more than three members of the FCC can be of the same party and there needs to be a quorum of three to convene a vote. Rumors are circulating that the President might finally fill the open Republican seat that has remained open since he assumed the White House in January with Brendan Carr. Carr is currently FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s Wireless, Public Safety, and International Legal Advisor. Ajit Pai’s term expired last year but commissioners are allowed to stay in office for a year and a half after their term expires. He has been renominated by Trump.