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Bright House Networks to Build Limited 1Gbps Fiber to the Home Network in Tampa

ultrafiDespite the fact cable companies routinely claim customers don’t want or need gigabit broadband speeds, property developers seeking an edge in the real estate market do.

A planned community of 6,000 homes under construction by Metro Development Group (MDG) in Tampa has signed a deal to commit Bright House Networks to install a 1Gbps fiber-to-the-home network within the development. MDG said the first homes wired for the new service will be ready for residents this summer, but the entire project will take three years to finish.

“MDG hopes the fast Internet speeds will attract would-be buyers for the new homes,” said MDG president Greg Singleton.

brighthouse_logoMDG is branding the fiber service as ULTRAFi. It will be accompanied by a gigabit Wi-Fi network accessible throughout the community. In addition to providing fast broadband, the service will include home automation and security services.

The driver for the gigabit broadband project isn’t Bright House Networks, it is the property developer. Even though Bright House has committed to the project, it still denies consumers need super fast Internet speeds offered by providers like Google Fiber.

mdgBright House president Nomi Bergman acknowledged the project is a special deal with MDG and it will be years before average consumers need anything close to gigabit broadband speeds. Bergman said there is insufficient demand to justify upgrading Bright House Networks’ broadband speed offerings to other customers.

MDG obviously disagrees, because it hopes to extend fiber-to-the-home gigabit service to its other new communities. That could mean 20,000 more homes could eventually get gigabit broadband.

“In five or 10 years, I think communities that are not doing this” will be “obsolete,” Singleton said.

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Outbid, Charter Expected to Eye Consolation Prizes: Cox, Bright House, and/or Suddenlink

brighthouse_logoBright House Networks’ long standing relationship with Time Warner Cable — which negotiated programming deals on behalf of the smaller cable operator with operations in the south — may come to an end with an approval of a merger between Comcast and Time Warner. That could make Bright House a prime candidate for a takeover.

Charter Communications is likely to seek consolation prizes now that Comcast has outbid the smaller cable company for Time Warner Cable. Liberty Media’s John Malone and Charter’s CEO Tom Rutledge are meeting with advisers and board members to discuss where Charter will go next to grow its operations.

Malone and Rutledge believe the cable industry must consolidate to better position it against competition from online video, phone companies, and satellite television. Malone would like to see the United States served by just a few cable operators, and feels acquisitions are the best way to accomplish his vision.

suddenlink logoCharter is almost certain to buy at least some of the three million Time Warner Cable customers Comcast intends to cast-off if it wins regulator approval of its buyout deal. But Team Charter has assembled enough financing to go much farther than that.

Among the most likely targets, according to CRT Capital Group and Raymond James Financial are family held Cox Communications, the third largest cable operator in the country with more than four million customers, Bright House Networks, the tenth largest operator with just over two million customers, and Suddenlink Communications and its 1.4 million subscribers.

COX_RES_RGBCox, like Cablevision, has been closely controlled by its founding family for years, so rumors of sales of one or both have never come to fruition. But with the merger announcement of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, Wall Street pressure to consolidate is growing by the day. There is talk that if Comcast succeeds in its buyout effort, even satellite providers like DirecTV and DISH are likely to seek a merger. Even Cablevision, which serves suburban New York City may finally feel enough pressure to sell.

A Cox spokesperson this week continued to insist the company is not for sale, but money often has a way of changing minds, if there is enough of it on the table.

Other small regional operators also likely to be approached about selling include: MidContinent, Mediacom, and Cable ONE.

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Bright House Going All-Digital in Central Florida; Boxes Required for All

Phillip Dampier January 27, 2014 Bright House, Consumer News No Comments

brighthouse_logoBright House Networks is dropping analog service in April in favor of an all-digital lineup that will require customers in Central Florida to have set-top boxes or similar equipment to continue watching.

“Digital is here to stay,” said Bright House spokesman Don Forbes. “Analog is going the way of the dodo bird.”

In a letter being mailed to all affected customers, Bright House notes customers will need a cable box, digital adapter or CableCARD for every television connected to cable.

Bright House will supply each customer with two digital adapters and remote controls at no charge through 2014. But the cable company will bill customers for those devices starting next January.

Sets equipped with QAM tuners alone will not suffice for receiving the entire cable lineup.

Customers are urged to begin requesting any required equipment starting today — either at a Bright House retail store or call toll-free: 1-855-589-8582.

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Staking the Heart of the Power-Sucking Vampire Cable Box

vampire-power-1-10964134Two years after energy conservation groups revealed many television set-top boxes use almost as much electricity as a typical refrigerator, a voluntary agreement has been reached to cut the energy use of the devices 10-45 percent by 2017.

The Department of Energy, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, the Consumer Electronics Association, and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association agreed to new energy efficiency standards for cable boxes expected to save more than $1 billion in electricity annually, once the new equipment is widely deployed in American homes. That represents enough energy to power 700,000 homes and cut five million tons of CO2 emissions each year.

“These energy efficiency standards reflect a collaborative approach among the Energy Department, the pay-TV industry and energy efficiency groups – building on more than three decades of common-sense efficiency standards that are saving American families and businesses hundreds of billions of dollars,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “The set-top box efficiency standards will save families money by saving energy, while delivering high quality appliances for consumers that keep pace with technological innovation.”

DVR boxes are the biggest culprits. American DVRs typically use up to 50W regardless of whether someone is watching the TV or not. Most contain hard drives that are either powered on continuously or are shifted into an idle state that does more to protect the life of the drive than cut a consumer’s energy bill. A combination of a DVR and an extra HD set-top box together consume more electricity than an ENERGY STAR-qualified refrigerator-freezer, even when using the remote control to switch the boxes off.

NRDC Set-Top Boxes  Other Appliances-thumb-500x548-3135

Manufacturers were never pressed to produce more energy-efficient equipment by the cable and satellite television industry. Current generation boxes often require lengthy start-up cycles to configure channel lineups, load channel listings, receive authorization data and update software. As a result, any overnight power-down would inconvenience customers the following morning — waiting up to five or more minutes to begin watching television as equipment was switched back on. As a compromise, many cable operators instruct their DVR boxes to power down internal hard drives when not recording or playing back programming, minimizing subscriber inconvenience, but also the possible power savings.

In Europe, many set-top boxes are configured with three levels of power consumption — 22.5W while in use, 13.2W while in standby, and 0.65W when in “Deep Sleep” mode. More data is stored in non-volatile memory within the box, meaning channel data, program listings, and authorization information need not be re-downloaded each time the box is powered on, resulting in much faster recovery from power-saving modes.

The new agreement, which runs through 2017, covers all types of set-top boxes from pay-TV providers, including cable, satellite and telephone companies. The agreement also requires the pay-TV industry to publicly report model-specific set-top box energy use and requires an annual audit of service providers by an independent auditor to make sure boxes are performing at the efficiency levels specified in the agreement. The Energy Department also retains its authority to test set-top boxes under the ENERGY STAR verification program, which provides another verification tool to measure the efficiency of set-top boxes.

Comcast, DirecTV, DISH Network, Time Warner Cable, AT&T, Verizon, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Cablevision, Bright House Networks and CenturyLink will begin deploying new energy-efficient equipment during service calls. Some customers may be able to eventually swap equipment earlier, depending on the company.

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/WCCO Minneapolis Check Your Cable Box 6-27-11.mp4

WCCO in Minneapolis reported in 2011 cable operators like Comcast may make subscribers wait 30 minutes or more for set-top box features to become fully available for use after plugging the box in. (1:50)

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Time Warner Cable/Bright House: ¡Se Habla Español!; New Univision Contract Loads Up Cable TV Dial

UnivisionA new agreement between Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, and Univision Communications will add at least three new Latino-oriented cable networks to the television lineup beginning as early as next month.

The two cable companies have agreed to extend a carriage agreement with Univision TV as well as bring several new Univision networks to Time Warner Cable viewers. The complete lineup:

  • UnivisionHD: The Univision broadcast network (Spanish)
  • UniMás: The “second program” of Univision’s broadcast network (Spanish)
  • Galavisión: A cable entertainment channel (Spanish)
  • Univision tlNovelas: All telenovelas (soap operas), all the time (Spanish)
  • FOROtv: The Mexico City-based 24 hour news channel (Spanish)
  • El Rey Channel: A joint project of filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and FactoryMade Ventures, launching to cater to second/third-generation young adult Latinos (English)

Many Univision shows are now subtitled in English, especially during prime time hours, to expand the potential viewing audience.

“Time Warner Cable is delighted to be able to work out our early renewal and expand our business relationship with Univision,” said Melinda Witmer, chief video and content officer for TWC. “Our comprehensive agreement expands the number of ways our Hispanic subscribers can enjoy their favorite entertainment, news, sports and telenovelas.”

The deal also allows Time Warner Cable to carry Univision content on streaming video and on-demand platforms.

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America’s Worst Rated Companies: Charter, Time Warner, Cox, Cablevision, Verizon, Comcast…

charter downNine of the ten lowest ranked firms in America are cable and telephone companies, according to a new report from research firm Temkin Group.

A poll ranking customer service at 235 U.S. companies across 19 industries found cable companies dead last, quickly followed by Internet Service Providers (often those same cable operators).

Participants were asked to rate their satisfaction with different companies on a scale of “1″ (very dissatisfied) to “7″ (completely satisfied). Not very many participants gave high marks to their telecommunications service provider. Temkin’s resulting net satisfaction score found familiar names in the cable and telephone business scraping the bottom.

America’s worst provider? Charter Communications, which managed an embarrassing dead last 22 percent satisfaction score for television service. Time Warner Cable managed second worst for television at 25%, followed by Cox and Cablevision’s Optimum service (both 28%). Bottom rated Internet service came from Qwest (now CenturyLink), Verizon (presumably DSL), and Charter — all scoring just 31%.

Oddly, Temkin’s survey participants gave top marks to the long-irrelevant AOL for Internet service, which may mean those dial-up customers don’t know any better. Highest marks in television service went to Bright House Communications, which ironically depends on Time Warner Cable for most of its programming negotiations.

temkin bottom rated

Most suspect the ratings show long-term customer dissatisfaction with endless rate increases, poor customer service and reliability, and lack of choice in an increasingly expensive television lineup.

The Temkin Group gathered its data from an online survey of 10,000 consumers in the U.S. during January 2013, all asked to rate their experiences with companies over the past 60 days.

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Time Warner Cable/Bright House Add Two New Expensive Sports Networks to Your Lineup

fox sports 1 Concern about programming costs only goes so far. While Time Warner Cable and Bright House customers continue to go without Showtime and access to CBS programming online (in addition to local station blackouts in New York, Texas and California), the two cable companies have found room in the budget to add two new expensive sports networks to their lineups.

Fox Sports 1 and 2 replaced the much-less-expensive Speed and Fuel Networks Aug. 17 on both cable systems. Fox had been getting 23¢ per subscriber each month for Speed and about 20¢ monthly for Fuel. Fox expects both cable operators to pay a monthly fee of 80¢ per subscriber for Fox Sports 1, rising quickly to $1.50 within a few years, according to Sports Business Daily. The cost of Fox Sports 2 is unknown.

Fox wants the two networks to gradually rival the most expensive network in your cable television package – ESPN. To manage that, Fox will need to engage in a bidding war with its Walt Disney-owned rival to grab the most-watched sporting events. Sports franchises love that, because they will profit handsomely from the proceeds. But both Fox and Walt Disney are bidding with cable subscribers’ money. The more sports programming costs, the higher cable bills will rise. ESPN already charges at least $5 a month per subscriber. To rival ESPN, Fox Sports may eventually have to charge as much, boosting cable bills an extra $4-5 a month for the competing sports networks.

fox sports 2“It’s going to be a popular channel,” said Joe Durkin, Bright House senior director of corporate communications. “It’ll be rich with sports, and we’re happy to bring it to our customers.”

Fox Sports negotiated access to more than 90 million U.S. homes through agreements with most large cable, telephone, and satellite TV distributors. Attracting them: at least 5,000 annual hours of live events and original programming including college basketball and football, joined by Major League Baseball next year. The network will also feature NASCAR, international soccer and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) competitions.

Fox Sports 2 will feature mixed martial arts at the outset, with more programming coming as the network develops.

Besides the two national sports networks, Fox also owns almost two dozen regional sports channels including Prime Ticket and Fox Sports West. It also acquired a 49% stake in New York’s YES, the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network, with an option to buy it outright later. It also recently acquired a sports channel in Cleveland.

fxxFox also plans to launch another entertainment cable network Sep. 2 with the debut of a companion to the FX network Fox is calling FXX.

FXX is being programmed for… you guessed it, young adults aged 18-34 — the most coveted demographic for advertisers. It will feature reruns and original programming, including Parks and Recreation, Arrested Development, How I Met Your Mother, Freaks and Geeks, Sports Night, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The League and Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell.

You may not have asked for the new network, but chances are you are getting it anyway. Fox has signed carriage agreements with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter, Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse, and both satellite services.

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CBS Online Video Yanked from Time Warner Cable/Bright House/Earthlink Customers

cbsCBS has blocked Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks’ broadband customers from watching CBS online video in a retaliatory move against Time Warner Cable’s decision to pull CBS-owned programming off the lineup because of a contract dispute.

Broadband customers of both cable companies (Bright House relies on Time Warner Cable to negotiate its programming carriage agreements) started losing access to CBS streamed content late Friday, now replaced with a message blaming Time Warner Cable for the loss. Earthlink customers using either cable operator are collateral damage — Earthlink is effectively reselling the others’ cable broadband services.

“If Time Warner Cable is a customer’s Internet Service Provider, then their access to CBS full episode content via online and mobile platforms has been suspended as a result of Time Warner Cable’s decision to drop CBS and Showtime,” said a CBS spokesperson. “As soon as CBS is restored on cable systems in affected markets, that content will be accessible again.”

In place of the programming, cable customers get to see a brief attack ad criticizing Time Warner for yanking CBS-owned channels and networks, despite the fact CBS authorized the companies to keep the channels up and running until the dispute can be worked out.

Time Warner Cable shot back with their own rebuttal.

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/CBS Blackout -- We Dont Want a War 8-4-13.flv

Time Warner Cable claims it does not want a war over programming costs in its latest ad regarding the blackout of CBS programming, which now also affects the cable company’s broadband customers. (1 minute)

dont want a war“CBS has shown utter lack of regard for consumers by blocking Time Warner Cable’s customers, including our high-speed data only customers, from accessing their shows on their free website,” the company said in a statement. “CBS enjoys the privilege of using public owned airwaves to deliver their programming – they should not be allowed to abuse that privilege.”

Customers well outside New York, Dallas, and Los Angeles discovered several CBS-owned cable channels were missing, even though they are not served by a CBS-owned local affiliate. The most obvious — Showtime/The Movie Channel came during the middle of the latest season of Dexter.

New York City residents can sat least keep watching WCBS by signing up for Aereo, which streams local stations over the Internet. A 30-day free trial is available. Getting programming in other cities is going to be much tougher. Some predict hardcore viewers will just look for pirated copies of their favorite shows.

CBS said no further negotiation took place over the weekend. Some industry analysts predict the impasse could run for weeks, even potentially until the start of football season — considered a line of PR destruction neither company is willing to cross.

Golf is not as critical, apparently. The PGA Championship taking place in Rochester, N.Y., this weekend is likely going to get a smaller viewing audience because of the blocked programming.

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Bloomberg CBS Blackout Enters Third Day 8-5-13.flv

The blackout of CBS programming by Time Warner Cable enters its third day with no light at the end of the tunnel, suggests this Bloomberg News report. (3 minutes)

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Bloomberg Day Three of CBS Blackout Angers Audiences 8-5-13.flv

This is not the first time broadcasters and cable operators have cut viewers off, sometimes for more than a week. Bloomberg News reports the soft deadline for Time Warner and CBS to sort out their differences is the start of the fall football season. Sources say Time Warner now pays $1 a month for CBS, but the network now wants $2 a month. (3 minutes)

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Senior IT Manager at Bright House Networks Arrested for Kiddie Porn

brighthouse_logoA senior IT manager at Bright House Networks used his broadband account to download kiddie porn, authorities allege.

James E. Cooper, 49, of Pinellas County, Fla., faces three counts of child pornography, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Authorities confiscated numerous computers and hard drive storage units from Cooper’s home under a search warrant. Authorities from the St. Petersburg Police, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, and the Department of Homeland Security coordinated in the investigation and subsequent arrest of Cooper.

Cooper was being held at the Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $15,000 bail. The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office is expected to prosecute the case in criminal court.

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Verizon FiOS Introduces 500/100Mbps Service; $294.99 With 2-Yr Contract

Verizon is “redefining the power of the Internet” in select FiOS areas with the introduction of a new 500/100Mbps speed tier that blows away Time Warner Cable and leaves Cablevision and other competitors woefully behind.

Just weeks after Cablevision boosted upload speeds, Verizon has responded with service offerings up to a half gigabit in speed, telling customers FiOS Quantum 150/65Mbps, 300/65Mbps, and 500/100Mbps plans will “radically change everything you do online right now – and in the future.” It is ten times faster than the fastest service available from Time Warner Cable in the northeast: 50/5Mbps.

FiOS Speeds

Verizon’s fastest broadband does not come cheap, however. The 500Mbps package starts at $294.99 a month for new customers with a two-year contract. Verizon Voice service is required to get the promotional price and a $165 early termination fee applies (reduced by $7.50 for each month a customer maintains service). A $59.99 activation and other fees, taxes, charges, and terms apply. Customers must also pass a credit check to avoid a deposit. Skip the contract and other requirements and the rate is only slightly more: $304.99 a month.

Verizon is charging nearly four times more than what Google charges for its twice as fast gigabit service. But analysts believe that Google will never venture into Verizon FiOS territory so price competition is unlikely in the near term. Cable operators that compete with Verizon would have to dedicate a considerable amount of bandwidth to best Verizon’s download speeds, and matching upstream speeds will be even more problematic unless and until cable operators transition their systems to all digital video to free up bandwidth.

But Verizon’s fastest Internet speeds are not available in all FiOS areas. The company warns “500/100Mbps service availability may be limited in your area based on network qualification requirements.”

fios quantum

Verizon’s competitors, which don’t have the benefit of an all-fiber network, continue to stress consumers simply don’t need any speeds faster than what they now offer. Frontier Communications believes most consumers do just fine with 6Mbps DSL. Verizon’s larger cable competitors range from Time Warner Cable, which does not even try to match its competitor’s fiber speeds, to Bright House, which competes with Verizon FiOS in Florida, to Comcast, which offers faster Internet service but regularly threatens to cap how much customers can use each month. Verizon FiOS has, in practical terms, no usage caps.

“For some, the discussion about the broadband Internet seems to begin and end on the issue of ‘gigabit’ access. The issue with such speed is really more about demand than supply. Most websites can’t deliver content as fast as current networks move, and most U.S. homes have routers that can’t support the speed already available.” — David Cohen, chief lobbyist, Comcast Corp., May 2013

“Residential customers, at this time, do not need the bandwidth offered with dedicated fiber – however, Bright House has led the industry in comprehensively deploying next-generation bandwidth services (DOCSIS 3.0) to its entire footprint in Florida – current speeds offered are 50Mbps with the ability to offer much higher. We provision our network according to our customers’ needs.” – Don Forbes, Bright House Networks, February 2011

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Verizon FiOS Introduces 500Mbps 7-22-13.mp4

Verizon FiOS introduces faster broadband speeds to help customers accomplish more of what they want to do online. Verizon’s Fowler Abercrombie says ‘it’s only the beginning’ as Verizon continues to innovate on its fiber to the home network. (2 minutes)

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  • JoeinIllinois: At some point, won't the cable companies press ESPN , the Regional Sports Networks, NHL network, NBA network, MLB network, NBC Sports Net, regional NC...
  • Paul Houle: The big issue with Fiber is that it has high costs to set up, not so much because the hardware is expensive, but because you have to either dig up t...
  • Scott: Perfectly example of why I still don't subscribe to cable or satellite. The only channel I *might* watch out of that entire lineup is Comedy Central....
  • James Cieloha: CableOne, Service Electric, GCI, Buckeye and other NCTC members are being forced by Viacom to add the Epix movie channels in order to carry the cable ...
  • Dave Hancock: I don't know where AP lives, but in MOST areas of the country MOST people do not have any choice for High Speed Internet (15mbps or above) - it is the...
  • tacitus: That doesn't sound right. Are you in some sort of contract? Where in the country is this?...
  • AP: Good luck cutting cable if you live in an area that has one cable, internet, and phone company like I do. If you want internet or phone with the cable...
  • Dave Hancock: Soon the rest of the cable companies will follow Verizon's lead and start limiting the input bandwidth to their systems (ex: Netflix) to discourage su...
  • Milan in Austin: Cable TV is an obsolete product! I suggest everyone seriously consider dropping cable television. I cut the cord in August of 2013, and don't miss ca...
  • gsuburban: I have to agree that Verizon is not interested in providing its customers with a "clear pipe" due to the politics of peer-to-peer data sharing or what...
  • Scott: Not good, that takes away all your leverage in the situation. If you're holding the money you can work through the BBB or try and negotiate with the ...
  • Hudson Mohawk Press: We knew it couldn't last forever. Starting this month Time Warner Cable of NYC is charging Earthlink Internet customers a $5.99 modem lease fee. The w...

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