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Say Hello to Sports-Free Philo TV for Less Than $20/Month

Phillip Dampier September 13, 2017 Competition, Consumer News, Online Video, Philo TV 1 Comment

A group of cable networks are teaming up to offer the first over-the-top online streaming cable TV package for sports haters.

Philo TV, expected to soft launch within a few weeks, is a sports-free television package of popular cable networks expected to sell for under $20/month.

Instead of ESPN and Fox Sports, Philo TV will concentrate on dramas, documentaries, kids shows, reality television, and original productions aired on cable networks owned by the venture’s partners — Discovery Communications, Viacom, AMC Networks, A+E Networks and Scripps Networks Interactive.

That guarantees networks like Food TV, HGTV, Discovery, AMC, Comedy Central, A&E, Nickelodeon, and other popular general interest cable networks will be on the lineup.

The partners elected to work with Philo TV, an existing venture supplying skinny bundles of cable programming on college campuses around the country. Based on Philo’s college TV lineups, it is not a stretch to assume the new streaming service will also include networks like The Weather Channel, CNN, FOX News, tru-TV, Animal Planet, National Geographic, MSNBC, History Channel, BBC America, Game Show Network, Hallmark, Spike TV, USA, Cartoon Network, Lifetime, Syfy, and perhaps even the Disney Channel.

The service is not expected to include over-the-air stations, but the exclusion of sports means plenty of savings for sports-loathing viewers. Sports programming fees are by far the highest of any network costs for cable and satellite providers. Eliminating costly networks like ESPN saves the average cable company at least $6 a month for that network alone.

The “Philo” venture is named after Philo Farnsworth, the American inventor of an all-electronic television system still partly in use today, which quickly dispensed with the earlier electro-mechanical television systems that preceded it.

Philo isn’t necessarily going to be limited to online streaming. The company is exploring cutting deals with existing phone and cable companies to distribute the package as a competing alternative to today’s bloated cable television packages.

Those interested in being notified about the venture’s imminent launch can register their email address or mobile number on Philo’s website.

Nearly 190,000 Without Internet, Phone Service in Southeastern Texas, Louisiana

Evacuations continue in Houston.

Nearly 190,000 cable and telephone customers in southeastern Texas and Louisiana remain without service as a result of the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, which is still meandering offshore in the Gulf of Mexico near the Louisiana/Texas border. Service outages are continuing to increase in number, primarily as a result of severe flooding.

As of this morning, according to the Federal Communications Commission, 364 cell sites are out of service, 4.7% of the total number of cell sites in the affected area, up from 4.1% yesterday. The counties with greater than 50% of cell sites out are Aransas (94.7%), Calhoun (74.1%), and Refugio (84.6%) in Texas. Plaquemines is the only county in Louisiana reporting any cell sites out.

To assist customers, wireless companies are offering freebies for the duration of the storm and flooding (thanks to DSL Reports for gathering the data):

  • AT&T: Offering unspecified bill credits until Sept. 1 for AT&T prepaid and postpaid customers in impacted areas for any voice, texting, or data overages.
  • Sprint: Free texting, phone calls to southeastern Texas, southwestern Louisiana until Sept. 1.
  • T-Mobile: Free texting, phone calls to southeastern Texas, southwestern Louisiana until Sept. 1.
  • Verizon Wireless: An additional free 3GB of data for customers in “qualified Texas counties” until Sept. 8.

At least 189,487 Comcast and AT&T customers are out of service, up from at least 148,565 yesterday. Landline central offices are also increasingly failing. As of today, there are 19 offices out of service (up from 11 yesterday) and 22 (up from 21) switching offices now operating on backup power. Because of the outages, Comcast has opened its XFINITY Wi-Fi network for free access to everyone in affected storm areas.

There are nine area radio stations off the air, the same number as yesterday. KJOJ-FM went back on the air, but KMKS failed in the last 24 hours. The other affected stations — all in Texas — are:

KKTX, KUNO, KPRC, KKWV, KAYK, KZFM, KKBA and KEYS.

911 services are being restored in some areas, but have gone down or are degraded in others. As of today, here is the current list:

  • 911 Service Down: Calhoun County Sheriff, Tex.
  • Rerouted 911 Without Automatic Location of Caller Information: Aransas County SO, Tex.; Bee PD, Tex.; Beeville PD, Tex.; Harris Country Neutral SO, Tex.; Jackson County SO, Tex.; Kemah PD, Tex.; Kingsville PD, Tex.; Kleberg County SO, Tex.; Mathis PD, Tex.; Port Aransas PD, Tex.; and Robstown PD, Tex.
  • Rerouted 911: Aransas Pass PD, Tex.; Gonzales County SO, Tex.; Port Lavaca, Tex.; Robstown PD, Tex.; Victoria PD, Tex.; and Wilson County SO, Tex.

Charter Spectrum Announces Mid-Year Rate Hikes; Privacy Changes

Phillip Dampier July 27, 2017 Charter Spectrum, Consumer News 4 Comments

Spectrum customers will be paying more for their cable TV and broadband service starting in August, according to notifications now starting to appear on customers’ bills around the country.

Important Billing Update. At Spectrum, we continue to enhance our services, offer more of the best entertainment choices and deliver the best value. We are committed to offering you products and services we are sure you will enjoy.

Effective with your next billing statement, pricing will be adjusted for:

  • Broadcast TV Surcharge from [generally between $4-6] to $7.50. This reflects costs incurred from local Broadcast TV stations.

  • Spectrum Receivers from $4.99 to $5.99 (per receiver).

  • Internet Services from $53.99 to $54.99 (for standard 60 or 100Mbps service, depending on area, per modem and bundled with cable TV).

The average customer will see a rate hike of about $4-5 a month as a result. Customers on promotional Spectrum plans may not see a rate change immediately, but all cable TV customers will be subject to the Broadcast TV surcharge, because it is not a part of a promotional package.

Charter traditionally reviews its rates twice a year.

Charter Communications has also updated its Privacy Policy, which takes effect on Aug. 1, 2017. Customers can opt out of targeted emails, targeted marketing campaigns, and targeted TV ad inserts sent to your cable boxes.

Updated: Arrest Made But Charges Dropped; Vandals Cut Charter’s Fiber Cables in Queens Again

A second fiber cut in two weeks left 30,000 Queens residents with no cable service for hours. (Image: CBS New York)

A second major cable outage in two weeks left 30,000 Queens customers of Charter Communications without phone, TV and internet service Tuesday, after vandals severed the company’s fiber optic cables.

A Long Island man was arrested Wednesday night at his Long Island home for allegedly causing the first outage, which wiped out service in the same area for almost 16 hours on June 26.

The NYPD issued a press release stating Michael Tolve (48) of Wantagh, N.Y. was charged with criminal mischief and is alleged to have cut fiber cables and removed a digital memory card from a nearby surveillance camera to avoid being detected. He was later identified from other surveillance camera footage.

Charter Communications claims Tolve is a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 3, one of the unions that has been involved in a strike against Charter for several months. He worked as a fiber technician for both Charter Communications and its predecessor Time Warner Cable for 14 years. The cable company puts the damage estimate for the first cable cut in June at $67,000. Charter claims it has experienced 106 malicious cable cuts in its New York-area network since unionized cable technicians went on strike on March 28. The company has filed police reports on all of them.

“It’s disappointing that one of our employees would unlawfully sabotage the infrastructure we all work so hard to maintain and inconvenience our customers in this way,” Charter spokesman John Bonomo said in an email. “We intend to support the prosecution of these crimes to the fullest extent of the law, as they put our customers’ well-being in jeopardy, cause local businesses to suffer, and are a general inconvenience for all.”

Both fiber cuts strategically affected the largest possible number of customers with the least amount of effort. Charter officials said they detected the fiber cuts and dispatched repair crews immediately, but restoring service was “a gradual process” that took several hours.

Update (7/17): The Queens district attorney’s office has declined to press charges against Tolve, and all charges against him have been dropped pending an additional investigation.

 

Tennessee Electric Co-Op Threatens to Rip Comcast’s Wires Off Its Poles Next Week

If Comcast doesn’t send a check for $176,000 to cover the last three years of pole attachment fees owed to the Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation (STEMC), the electric co-op is prepared to rip Comcast’s lines right off its poles.

Comcast, under a license agreement with the utility, pays a small fee to the utility to place its infrastructure on its utility poles. Comcast has not paid since June 2014, and if the cable giant doesn’t send a check by June 28, STEMC will remove Comcast’s attachments from their poles, knocking out cable service for thousands of customers.

“We’ve been going back and forth with them for going on three years now trying to get payment out of them,” said STEMC chief financial officer Scott Sims.

A notice on STEMC’s website explains Comcast’s foot-dragging isn’t fair to the cooperative:

We regret that some customers may lose their Comcast service.  However, the full cost and maintenance of these utility poles are borne by all members of STEMC, and we cannot allow STEMC members to subsidize Comcast’s services.  We are hopeful that Comcast will make payment prior to the deadline and avoid the need to remove their cable attachments.

Many residents are taking the side of the utility, pointing out Comcast would have shut off their cable service long before Comcast’s three years of non-payment.

A Comcast representative told WREG-TV that STEMC started billing Comcast double what they used to, claiming to have discovered previously unbilled pole attachments. Comcast wanted evidence of these attachments from STEMC, despite the fact they were capable of counting their own cable subscribers in the area, and refused to make a payment until this information was provided. Comcast claims it finally got evidence this month.

“Since receiving that information, we have completed our own audit and are taking the appropriate next steps to arrange for payment in the correct amount,” Comcast said in a released statement. “We look forward to working with STEMC to resolve this issue quickly and ensure that our mutual customers’ services are not disrupted.”

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