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Independent Cable Companies Selling Philo Streaming Alternative to Cord-Cutters

Phillip Dampier July 30, 2018 Competition, Consumer News, Online Video No Comments

The National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) has reached an agreement allowing its 750 independent cable, video, and broadband providers the opportunity of selling Philo, a streaming cable TV alternative, to customers.

Philo, which offers up to 49 cable channels owned by Discovery, Viacom, AMC, and A&E Networks, normally sells for $16-20 a month, depending on package.

The deal gives independent cable companies affiliated with NCTC another retention tool for cord-cutters looking for an alternative to a traditional cable television package. It also offers a less expensive bundled TV option for customers subscribing to a broadband-only provider. In all, NCTC members offer service to nine million Americans.

“Our partnership with NCTC will expand the available options for millions of TV lovers by giving them access to the unique entertainment-focused package we’ve created,” explained Andrew McCollum, Philo’s CEO. “Philo is a perfect complement to the existing services, particularly high-speed internet, that these companies already offer.”

Subscribers can watch Philo through browsers, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, iPhone App & Android via Chrome, as well as 37 TV Everywhere apps and websites for participating networks.

Also included:

  • The ability to watch on up to three different devices at the same time;
  • An unlimited 30-day DVR, on-demand library, pause any live channel, start programs from the beginning, and watch programs that have aired in the past three days;
  • A streamlined interface, intelligent search, and the ability to easily send your favorite shows to others;
  • Easily share favorite shows with friends and family. For non-Philo users, signing up and watching is as easy as entering a phone number;
  • Subscribers are eligible for a $5 Philo credit for referring friends and family and there’s no limit to number of referral credits an individual can earn.

Philo lacks agreements with popular sports networks, WarnerMedia networks like TNT and CNN, and local over the air stations. It also does not sell premium channels.

Philo 35+ Channels – $16

  • A&E
  • AMC
  • Animal Planet
  • AXS TV
  • BBC America
  • BBC World News
  • BET
  • Cheddar
  • CMT
  • Comedy Central
  • Discovery Channel
  • DIY
  • Food Network
  • FYI
  • GSN
  • HGTV
  • History
  • IFC
  • Investigation Discovery (ID)
  • Lifetime
  • Lifetime Movies
  • MTV
  • MTV2
  • Nickelodeon
  • Nick Jr.
  • OWN
  • Paramount Network
  • Science
  • Sundance Channel
  • Tastemade
  • TeenNick
  • TLC
  • Travel Channel
  • TV Land
  • Velocity
  • VH1
  • Viceland
  • We TV

9 channels add-on pack – $4

  • American Heroes Channel
  • BET Her
  • Cooking Channel
  • Destination America
  • Discovery Family
  • Discovery Life
  • Logo
  • MTV Live
  • Nicktoons

NCTC also has agreements to sell two other streaming providers: Sony’s PlayStation Vue and sports-oriented fuboTV.

The Consumer’s Guide to Spectrum’s Possible Demise in New York State

Moving on out?

New York’s Public Service Commission on Friday set the stage for ‘an orderly transition’ ending Spectrum’s brief life in New York, to be replaced with a ‘to be announced’ new cable operator to serve the needs of New York subscribers.

Or so the New York Public Service Commission hopes.

Although Friday’s 4-0 unanimous decision to revoke Charter’s merger deal in New York is a public relations and legal nightmare for the country’s second largest cable operator, we suspect top executives are getting a good night’s sleep tonight, not too concerned about the immediate consequences of today’s stunning vote.

Losing New York is what Wall Street would call “a materially adverse event” for any cable operator. New York City is the country’s largest media market. Billions of dollars worth of cable infrastructure, subscriber and advertising revenue, and prestige are at stake. Despite the ‘vote to revoke,’ Charter’s attorneys have signaled for weeks they intend to preserve and protect the cable company’s legal rights, and it is almost certain the PSC’s merger revocation order will meet a court-ordered injunction as soon as next week.

The courts are likely to make the final decision about whether Spectrum can stay or has to go. That aforementioned injunction will stop the clock on any ‘rash action’ and start what could be years of litigation, filled with discovery, endless hearings, stall tactics, blizzards of motions, appeals, more appeals, and then more lawsuits over whatever final exit plan is eventually filed, if one is required by the courts. A judge could also order the cable company and the state to work it out in a court-approved settlement, something the PSC seems loathe to do in its two orders published today which make it clear the regulator is done talking only to feel strung along by the cable company.

For the near term, Spectrum customers won’t notice a thing. Even if the PSC was not taken to court, Charter has 60 days to file a six month transition plan, making the earliest date to waive Spectrum goodbye is sometime in early 2019.

To help readers out, we’ve prepared a short FAQ to address any concerns:

Q. Will I lose my cable and internet service?

A. No. Regardless of what happens, the PSC has ordered a transition plan designed to provide a seamless switch between Spectrum and a future provider. For most customers, it will resemble Charter’s own transition from Time Warner Cable to Spectrum.

Q. Who will replace Spectrum?

Not again.

A. The cable industry often resembles a cartel, whose members go to great lengths to protect each other. Historically, no large cable operator will entertain requests for proposals from cities or states requesting a replacement of a cable company already providing service. In short, if a city is fed up with Comcast and wants to shop around for another provider, it is highly unlikely Charter/Spectrum, Cox, Altice/Cablevision, Mediacom, or other providers will submit a bid to replace Comcast. If they did, Comcast could theoretically retaliate in their service areas. Should the Public Service Commission itself solicit bids to replace Spectrum, it is unlikely any operator will send a proposal unless/until Charter indicates it wants to leave the state. This kind of informal protectionism has proven highly effective limiting the power of towns and cities to play companies off each other to get a better deal for their residents.

Q. If Charter loses its court challenge and has to leave, what happens then?

A. If Charter exhausts its appeals and realizes it can no longer do business in New York, it will seek a private sale or system swap with another provider. Comcast would be the most likely contender, having shown prior interest in serving New York and having contiguous cable operations in adjoining states, especially in northern New England, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Comcast could agree to trade its cable systems in states like Texas, Florida, or California in return for its New York State’s Spectrum systems, which cover cities across the state. But that is likely years away.

Q. Isn’t Comcast worse than what we have now with Spectrum?

A. Consumer satisfaction surveys suggest the answer is yes. Comcast is routinely rock bottom in customer satisfaction, customer service, pricing, and service options. Its 1 TB data cap on internet service has not yet reached many of its northeastern customers, but most observers expect it eventually will. In contrast, Charter has agreed not to impose data caps for up to seven years after its 2016 merger. But Comcast has delivered more frequent broadband speed upgrades and has more advanced set-top boxes and infrastructure.

Stop the Cap! would vociferously oppose Comcast’s entry in New York, however, just as we did a few years ago when we participated in the successful fight to stop Comcast’s merger attempt with Time Warner Cable.

Q, What other providers might be interested?

A. Altice, which does business as Cablevision or Optimum, is New York’s other big cable operator, providing service exclusively downstate. Altice had aggressive plans to become a big player in the U.S. cable business, but its acquisition dreams were halted by shareholders, concerned about the European company’s already staggering debt, run up acquiring other companies. Altice is currently scrapping Cablevision’s existing Hybrid Fiber Coax infrastructure and replacing it with direct fiber to the home service, which offers improved service. But the company charges a lot for its advanced set-top box, has bloated modem rental fees, and is notorious for vicious cost-cutting, which stalled service improvements at its mobile and cable companies in France and raised a lot of controversy among employees.

Cox could be another contender, but would have to find a few billion to acquire Spectrum’s statewide system. Wild card players include AT&T and Verizon. Verizon would face extreme regulatory challenges, however, because it is the local phone company for most residents in the state. AT&T sold its U-verse system in Connecticut to Frontier Communications and seems increasingly focused on content, not on the systems that deliver content. A hedge fund or private equity firm could also be contenders, but perhaps not considering the high cost to acquire the systems and New York’s reputation for fierce customer protection. Remember, New York insists that a cable company ownership transfer must meet public interest tests, not simply enrich hedge fund participants.

Q. What happens to Charter’s pre-existing deal conditions on rural broadband and speed increases?

A. Officially, the PSC has ordered Charter to continue abiding by the 2016 Merger Order and its deal commitments. The state will likely continue to fine Charter if it keeps missing rural broadband rollout targets until a court stops them or the company leaves. Charter will probably continue rural broadband expansion to show good faith. Charter has met its merger obligations related to speed increases, so it is not currently out of compliance. But a legal challenge offers the opportunity for a third-party judge to suspend or modify existing deal commitments, at least temporarily. It is unlikely Charter will want to invest large sums in its cable systems if it believes it will lose its case in court. The timetable for an upgrade to 200 Mbps Standard speed will likely now occur on a regional basis. The northeast division will still likely activate these speeds across multiple cities in the region sometime this summer, especially in places where it faces competitive pressure. The 300 Mbps upgrade in 2019 is more likely to be impacted by any forthcoming legal action.

Q. Is this political or about the union striking Charter? It is an election year.

A. All things are political to some degree in an election year in New York. That said, the New York Public Service Commission has the nation’s best track record of protecting consumers from bad actor telecom and energy companies. They take their responsibilities very seriously, and have shown consistent independence from the governor’s office, especially in recent years. The Commission was by far the most responsive of any state, including California, in taking our concerns about the Charter/Time Warner Cable merger seriously, and incorporated several of our suggestions into the final Merger Order. We warned the PSC cable companies have routinely reneged or slipped through deal conditions. We even predicted Charter would attempt to count new buildouts in non-rural areas and business office parks towards any commitment to expand their service areas. The PSC smartly conditioned its Merger Order by defining the goal of Charter’s broadband expansion — serving the unserved and underserved. That is why the company is not getting away with counting New York City buildouts towards this commitment.

Cynthia Nixon and Andrew Cuomo, both running for New York governor, neither fans of Charter Spectrum.

Few voters are likely to tie a PSC decision to the governor’s race, although Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly taken credit and praised the PSC for not tolerating bad behavior from Spectrum. If it was a purely political play, it would originate in the governor’s office. Gov. Cuomo’s Broadband for All program depends on achieving near-100% broadband penetration, something it may not manage if Charter fails its rural buildout commitments. That would be a PR mess. There is ample evidence that Charter’s own conduct was sufficient to trigger this kind of response, with or without an election looming.

New York is also a union-friendly state, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 3 has held out for over a year in the New York City area striking to preserve important job benefits Charter wants to discontinue. New revelations from the PSC outlining Charter’s increasingly bad safety record has strengthened the union’s case that Charter would rather bring in unqualified replacement workers and put safety at risk than settling with a union that essentially built the cable system serving New York City. There is no credible evidence that the union is involved in the PSC’s decision to revoke the merger agreement, although we suspect most affected members will fully support the decision.

Q. Is the PSC being too harsh? Can’t they work it out with Charter?

A. For New York to revoke a merger and effectively boot the company out of business in the state is remarkable. Utility companies that irresponsibly lack a credible disaster plan or do not comply with industry standards to maintain tree trimming and infrastructure repairs that result in plunging parts of upstate into darkness for up to two weeks after wind storms in two consecutive years were fined, but not ordered to leave. The ongoing scandal of competing private ESCO electric companies that have almost all scandalously overcharged New Yorkers with electric bills higher than their incumbent utility have been threatened with de-certification and fines, but are still conducting business, even though much of their marketing material was misleading.

Is it too late to work it out?

That should tell you the PSC’s move today was a final straw. The two parties have negotiated and debated Spectrum’s performance lapses for nearly a year. Tension was clearly rising by the spring after the PSC uncovered evidence Charter was intentionally counting areas it knew were outside of the spirit and language of the merger order’s rural broadband deal commitments. Charter’s brazen behavior achieved a new low when it questioned the PSC’s authority to oversee the merger agreement Charter signed. At one point, it unilaterally announced it would only honor the deal commitments found in one appendix of the Merger Order, conveniently ignoring the section describing and defining the rural broadband commitment Charter agreed to. The company also continued to air what the PSC declared to be false advertising, promoting Charter’s claimed accomplishments in rural broadband expansion. Charter repeatedly ignored warnings to suspend and remove those ads. In fact, the PSC issued strongly worded warnings to Charter at least twice, specifically outlining the possibility of canceling the merger agreement and forcing Spectrum out of the state. In response, Charter began staking out its legal arguments in filings, obviously preparing for litigation.

The PSC would probably argue it is impossible to work things out with a company that repeatedly breaks its own commitments. The PSC also openly worried what message it would send to other regulated utilities if it did not react strongly to Charter’s behavior. If the company had a corporate agenda to cheat New York out of important rural broadband expansion, negotiating, fining, and sanctioning a company is unlikely to change its behavior at the top.

Stop the Cap! had earlier recommended the PSC adopt new sanctions to force Charter to comply with its commitments, and expand them to bring service to many New Yorkers who were left behind by Gov. Cuomo’s Broadband for All program, suddenly saddled with satellite internet service. A large percentage of those affected are frustratingly close to nearby Spectrum service areas and although it would cost Charter a significant sum to reach them, it would deliver a financial sting for their bad behavior while also bringing much-needed internet access to the leftovers left-behind by the governor’s broadband expansion program. Such a settlement would require the company to actually comply with their commitments, something the PSC had been unable to achieve through no fault of their own. Perhaps a judge might have better luck should a negotiated settlement come up in litigation.

Data Cap Vendor Shows Off “Revenue Accelerator,” Helping Cable Companies Monetize Usage

Phillip Dampier July 24, 2018 Consumer News, Data Caps, Net Neutrality No Comments

OpenVault’s technology can automatically slow down “abusers” who use too much internet service.

Cable companies looking for ways to raise prices for their broadband services without spending money on network upgrades may be interested in OpenVault’s “Revenue Accelerator” — a cloud based internet usage measurement system that can help push subscribers into higher priced tiers or warn them when they are about to face punitive overlimit fees for exceeding their monthly usage allowance.

OpenVault’s goal is to monetize customers’ internet usage, making cable operators certain each customer is paying as much as possible for internet service without facing customer-displeasing overlimit fees from exceeding their monthly usage allowance.

“All these solutions are designed really to do of a couple things,” said OpenVault CEO and founder Mark Trudeau, in an interview with FierceTelecom. “One is to drive incremental revenues, and two is to drive costs [for cable operators] down, all with the idea of increasing profit for cable operators.”

OpenVault will collect customers’ usage behaviors, reporting back every 15 minutes how much bandwidth each customer is using, as well as enforcing cable company policies to automatically slow down “abusers” who are sending and receiving more than their fair share of data. Enforced network management, built into the platform, can automatically punish customers based on violations of the ISP’s Acceptable Use Policies. Usage violators are then reported to the cable operator, targeted for future marketing campaigns to upgrade their service to a more expensive tier to avoid further time-outs on the internet slow lane.

The technology is cheap to deploy, relying on a set of command lines inserted into cable modem termination systems that collect Internet Protocol Detail Record data and send it on to OpenVault.

“We measure all that for the operators and then what our Revenue Accelerator product does is it helps them micro-target their upgrade candidates,” Trudeau said. “This can have just really massive impacts on their revenues, to be able to truly not just micro-target the upgrade candidates, but also provide their reps with the ammunition they need and the visibility they need into their customer’s behavior and into their homes so they can intelligently talk to a subscriber.”

OpenVault claims the implementation of usage based billing and data caps are immediate money-makers for operators, both from current customers forced to upgrade to avoid the cap and from overall usage billing that delivers an immediate payday to cable operators without having to invest in expensive upgrades or service improvements.

“In real-number terms, evidence shows an immediate return as some OpenVault customers have enjoyed as much as seven percent of subscribers upgrading their service within 90 days of usage based billing deployment,” the company wrote on its blog. “For some operators, this translates into increased ARPU (average revenue per unit) of over $5 per subscriber per month. OpenVault customers that have deployed usage based billing have experienced increased ARPU ranging from $1.50 up to $12 per subscriber per month.”

Misleading Antenna Scams Are Back

Phillip Dampier July 10, 2018 Consumer News No Comments

A typical flat/mud flap style antenna.

Proliferating in online ads, newspapers, and sometimes on television, “revolutionary” new antennas are being advertised claiming to replace cable television while getting most (if not all) of the same channels over the air for free.

These misleading scams have been around for several years. We covered one well-funded ad campaign for “Clear Cast” back in 2011. That particular over-the-air antenna was sold through newspaper ads designed to mimic a newspaper story, with bold headlines like “New Invention … Gets Rid of Cable and Satellite TV Bills.” Those who spent upwards of $50 received a slightly dressed-up bow-tie antenna barely suitable to receive UHF TV stations and worked about as well as a similar antenna selling for $1.49.

With the first wave of misleading ads well behind us, marketers have had to work overtime to reinvent the wheel and convince people to spend $40-50 for what usually cost the company under $5 to manufacture.

Now, instead of the “Clear Cast” antenna, there is the “ClearView HDTV Antenna,” marketed by a company named True Signal. It’s hardly alone. The Octa Air, The Fox, and many others are nearly-identical “mud flap”-style antennas, with a tiny “antenna” embedded inside. The concept marginally works when the owner attaches it to a window, which gives it more signal to work with than an antenna placed in the corner of a room.

The ad copy on the manufacturer’s website is usually over the top but is nothing compared to some of the advertiser-sponsored editorials — “advertorials” published by bloggers, third party advertisers, and fly-by-night websites that exist primarily to cash in on sales commissions. More than a few of those stretch marketing claims into the stratosphere.

Goodsavingstips.com is designed to look like an online combination of a high-tech website and Consumer Reports. In fact, it is a website that reviews products, but has a financial incentive to write glowing reviews to encourage you to buy whatever they write about.

Goodsavingstips stretches the truth about the ClearView antenna more than a salt water taffy machine on the Atlantic City Boardwalk:

If you could stop paying for cable or satellite TV and still get all of your favorite TV channels in HD for FREE, would you do it? Millions of Americans are doing just that, thanks to a brand new rule in 2018 that allows certain regions access to free TV.

Thankfully, if you live in an area where this new rule went into effect, you no longer need to give your hard earned money away to the big cable companies. As a result, Americans are now cutting the cord on their cable companies in record numbers, saving them thousands of dollars.

Up until 2018, cable companies were allowed to “scramble” their channels so that the general public could not access them without paying for their service. However, that all changed starting in 2018, with the government ruling that TV signals are public property and “belong to the people”. Ever since this rule went into effect, the big cable companies are panicing [sic] because many Americans will no longer need to pay for cable or satellite tv to get their favorite channels in HD. As long as you live in a publicly broadcasted [sic] area, it is now possible to watch all of your favorite channels for free with a TV antenna.

Boastful claims about the TrueSignal antenna.

Several antenna companies market their antennas using similar language. There is, in fact, no 2018 “new rule” suddenly mandating your access to free TV. You have been able to watch free TV for decades. Notice the ad copy does not directly state you can receive cable and satellite channels over the air. It only states you can watch “all your favorite channels,” which in this case better be local TV stations and not networks like USA, TNT, CNN, etc. Consumers did not need a new rule to cut the cable TV cord. They just needed competition.

A map invites consumers to see if “free TV” is available in their state. Unsurprisingly, it is in all 50 states.

The rules regarding scrambling have only toughened against consumers over the last few years, not improved. Cable operators are now permitted to encrypt their entire TV lineup, even those channels customers used to watch using a built-in QAM tuner. The encryption allows cable companies to disconnect service from the office instead of dispatching a truck to physically disconnect the line going to your home or apartment.

However, not all TV antenna’s will work. In an attempt to block the public from picking up their TV signals, the cable companies are broadcasting their signals at very low frequencies since most antenna’s will not be able to pick them up. The trick is to get an antenna that can reliably pick up these low frequency signals, and up until now, there hasn’t been an antenna advanced enough to pick these signals up reliably. (There are other antenna’s out on the market, but they fail miserably in comparison to this one).

This is plainly false. Cable companies do not “broadcast” signals over the air. They send them through cables, hence the name “cable” television. Most cable systems also encrypt their digital lineups and no television antenna alone will decrypt them. If we were charitable, we could hazard a guess the reviewer is trying to suggest there are low-power television stations out there which need a better antenna to receive clearly, but these stations are independent of cable operators, don’t transmit on “very low frequencies,” and have been around for years.

Developed by a NASA engineer using military technology, the ClearView HDTV Antenna was just released this year so that it could specifically pick up these signals reliably and has been hailed as the only “super” HDTV antenna. It uses a discrete mud flap modern design which makes it the most reliable and technologically advanced antenna to hit the market today. It can pick up signals out to 60 miles with no problem (as well as the low frequency signals) to enable you to receive free crystal-clear HD channels.

Phillip Dampier: Debunking mode.

Misleading. In fact, the original design for the so-called “mud flap” antenna came from a Raleigh, N.C. based company Mohu. The company began as a small military contractor and the original intent of the antenna was not to receive free cable television. Mohu’s founder, David Buff, was working under a military contract to research new ways to counteract improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that were used against our armed forces in Iraq and parts of Afghanistan. He devised a low/no-profile antenna that closely resembled a mud flap attached to armored military vehicles that would jam the remote wireless signals used by insurgents to detonate roadside bombs. The military chose a different approach. So if the people selling these antennas were honest, they would have to say, “Developed by a military contractor but rejected by the military itself….”

Buff would later expand Mohu as a consumer antenna company, but suggests his proprietary design isn’t the result of the ‘space age’ antenna, but rather the signal amplifier attached to it. But that is hardly groundbreaking if an antenna cannot receive enough signal to amplify.

The “reviewer” promoting the ClearView antenna (who will earn a percentage from every sale that results from a click on his website) was amazed with the results:

What happened next was astonishing…

We turned the TV on and found ourselves staring back at an incredibly clear channel in HD. We kept flipping through channels and to our amazement, every channel was crystal clear. Best of all, we received almost all of the most popular channels you would get with cable.

All in all, we were able to access 68 channels in 1080 HD. It was as if we were getting free cable or satellite TV.

Now, before you cancel your cable or satellite subscription, it is important to note that there were a few channels that we could not get with the antenna. But in the end, we were able to receive about 85% of the same channels and more importantly, they were the most popular channels that people actually watch.

The verdict:If you want to save thousands of dollars and stop paying for cable or satellite tv, and don’t mind losing out on a few random channels you probably won’t even watch….

Up and coming technology: A wireless over the air antenna that receives signals from the best place in the house and then sends channels over an in-home Wi-Fi network.

We were not surprised it was deemed astonishing, considering the companies selling these antennas routinely buy sponsored space to promote their products on independent websites or compensate reviewers with a substantial commission if their reviews result in product sales. (Stop the Cap! does not accept sponsored posts or commissions to peddle products.)

The ClearView antenna did not do well for Amazon customers.

What the reviewer experienced was… over the air television, received through an antenna. Because most television stations now broadcast a digital signal, it is not surprising every channel would appear “crystal clear” because the alternative is typically no signal at all. The article continues to mislead readers, however, when it suggests buyers would “receive almost all of the most popular channels you would get with cable.” In fact, antenna users will only receive free, over the air local stations. Getting 68 over the air digital TV channels (and subchannels) is common only in the largest cities with multitudes of over the air stations. Many of those channels target ethnic minorities with foreign language programming, religious programming or home shopping. In most medium and smaller cities, expect 20-25 channels.

Right until the end, the reviewer was prepared to mislead his readers. The disclaimer itself fails to be completely forthcoming as well, telling prospective buyers there were only “a few” channels not receivable with the antenna. That could refer to over the air stations too weak to receive, but the surrounding context invites readers to believe those few channels are cable television networks. Telling people they will receive about 85% of the “same channels” (whatever that means) and “most channels that people actually watch” is true only if you exclude all cable television networks from that list.

The worst part of this is after spending $40 on the ClearView HDTV antenna, a whopping 52% of reviewers on Amazon.com gave it just one star. One reviewer compared it with a bent coat hanger serving as an improvised antenna and the coat hanger won. Most claimed it completely failed their expectations.

These antennas are made and marketed to a gullible public that has either forgotten about the basic principles of television antenna design or were too young to have ever used one. Many of the “high-tech” antennas we see sold these days are designed to work with UHF channels only, an important issue if one or more local stations still occupies VHF channels 2-13.

A more traditional RCA set-top antenna style common from the early 1970s – today. They work reasonably well and are inexpensive. The two vertical telescoping antennas are for VHF reception and the loop is tuned to receive UHF channels. You need an antenna capable of receiving both bands if you have stations on channels 2-13.

Indoor antennas are only suitable in you live relatively close to the transmitter. In most cases, residents of a city or inner ring suburb can usually get by with two telescoping rod antennas (“rabbit ears”) and a UHF antenna shaped into a small loop or bow tie design. Traditional set-top antennas often incorporate both. The telescoping antennas can be raised or lowered and rotate in various directions until you find the best reception. A UHF antenna usually can be turned to the right or left until best reception is achieved. These antennas are perfectly suitable and cost $20 or less. There are more modern antenna designs, some flat plastic or rubber sheets, others look like miniature replicas of an outdoor antenna mounted on the roof. In most cases, the design itself is what is “revolutionary.” None of these antennas perform miracles, but many are adequate. The key is finding the right direction to point them in or keeping them as close to a window as possible. You may need to find a different window, or change the height or positioning of the antenna to get the best reception.

If your reception remains poor, you need a roof or attic-mounted antenna, (remotely rotatable preferred over fixed-mounted). These antennas are mounted higher in a home, giving a less obstructed view to the transmitter tower, and capable of collecting weak signals that would be non-existent indoors. The biggest cost involved with these is often not the antenna but the installation. A high quality roof-mounted antenna will outperform any indoor antenna and will likely receive some stations from adjacent cities.

A relatively recent development is the “wireless antenna” which receives signals from an antenna placed in an area of the home which gets the best reception and transmits received TV channels over an in-home Wi-Fi network, making long antenna cable runs unnecessary. Unfortunately, reviews of many of these products are mixed and hint the technology has to undergo further development to make it less frustrating.

For now, cord-cutters with reception challenges may find the best solution is to subscribe to one of the streaming providers like DirecTV Now, YouTube TV, Hulu, etc. Be sure to verify which stations are available to you from each service before subscribing as they vary widely in each market.

If investing in a TV antenna, start small and inexpensive and consider trying out antennas available in local stores like Walmart, which can be more easily returned if they are unsuitable. If buying online, stick with a retailer like Amazon.com where independent reviews can help give you some insight into each antenna. Just be careful about overly glowing reviews. Fake/compensated reviews are a significant problem on online retailer websites, especially for unknown or unusual products or brands trying to break through in the market.

Senate Approves Resolution 52-47 to Nullify Net Neutrality Rollback

Phillip Dampier May 16, 2018 Net Neutrality, Public Policy & Gov't No Comments

The Senate approved a resolution on a largely party line vote Wednesday that sends a symbolic message to the FCC it erred when it voted to repeal net neutrality.

The final vote pitted all 49 Democrats against all but three Senate Republicans to condemn the FCC’s decision to rollback the rules, scheduled to take effect in June. The three Republicans that joined the Democrats in favor of preserving net neutrality were Susan Collins from Maine, Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, and John Kennedy from Louisiana — the latter two a surprise.

“Today is a monumental day,” said Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) during debate over the resolution. “Today we show the American people who sides with them, and who sides with the powerful special interests and corporate donors who are thriving under this administration.”

The measure faces a much tougher fight in the Republican-dominated House, where it may have trouble even coming up for a vote.

Using the Congressional Review Act, a law that permits Congress to revisit — and reject — decisions by federal agencies within 60 “session days” of their approval, Democrats drew a clear line in favor of net neutrality, which may become an issue in the midterm elections if the Republican-controlled House refuses to bring the measure up for a vote. If the measure passes the House, it will require the signature of President Trump to take effect. That may be unlikely, considering the president once claimed net neutrality was a plot by the Obama Administration to gain control of the internet.

Kennedy explained his vote in favor of net neutrality as an issue of trust.

“You either trust your cable company or you don’t,” Kennedy explained. “If you trust your cable company, you won’t like my vote. Under the 2017 order, a cable company can censor, throttle, or employ fast lanes so long as it discloses. The response from the other side of that is, well, just switch cable companies. But 22% of Louisianans and 19% of all Americans have access to only one internet service provider that can provide the minimum FCC mandated speed. So what are they going to do?”

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai reiterated his belief net neutrality protections were not needed and would deter investment by cable and telephone companies in their networks, a claim hotly disputed by consumer groups that point to evidence investment rose even after net neutrality took effect.

The issue of keeping the internet free and open remains bipartisan, with wide percentages of Republicans and Democrats in favor of net neutrality. That may put Senate Republicans who voted against the measure and are up for re-election on the hot seat this fall.


This issue doesn’t cut along clean party lines, said Steven Kull, who runs the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland and has studied public attitudes on net neutrality. The program’s research has found that majorities of Americans support government-mandated net neutrality protections.

“People are on the Internet a lot and it’s a big part of their daily experience and the prospect that it will be changed in some fundamental way is disturbing to quite a lot of them,” Kull said.

Fear is a great motivator for voters. Senate Democrats believe their resolution that put every Democrat on record in support of net neutrality — and most Republicans on record against it — can turn what was once considered a wonk issue, into a wedge issue this November. “People underestimate the passion of Internet voters, at their peril. They are mad, and they want to know what they can do, and this vote will make things crystal clear,” he said.

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  • BestLolita: I have noticed you don't monetize your blog, don't waste your traffic, you can earn additional cash every month. You can use the best adsense alterna...
  • EJ: Josh you are correct as of right now. Without unlimited and/or very high (1TB) caps 4g/5g is nothing more then competition for satellite internet. We ...
  • Dylan: Got that right!...
  • Gayle Conversion: My name is Gayle Anne Wehner-Foglesong.To McAdams! Watch your mouth! You do not blame anyone but yourself. I know everything and I want my money now! ...
  • Michael sherwood: Spectrum charged me an overdue amount and I haven't even been with them for a month...
  • Josh: He’s not wrong, for once. The cell phone stuff keeps blathering s out speeds and how great it is, then can’t actuslly provide unlimited service or an...
  • Dylan: Yeah, Spectrum definitely needs this. I know here in New York, we have National Grid as our electric and gas provider and they definitely tell you abo...
  • FRED HALL: I wish Spectrum had this (and it was accurate). Whenever there's an outage, their tech support is either too stupid or too lazy to let the customer r...
  • Bob61571: TDS Telecom is a sub of Telephone & Data Systems(TDS). US Cellular is also a sub of TDS. TDS Telecom owns a number of smaller small town/rural t...
  • D H: If you want to really feature someone serious for the Governorship. I would suggest Larry Sharpe instead who is actually doing a grassroots campaign....
  • David: Well, I dropped them for earthlink DSL which is slower and buggier but I don't regret it since I don't accept getting pushed around. If earthlink keep...

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