Tag: Time-Warner Cable

Google puts the wind up Comcast and Time Warner Cable


Comcast, Time Warner boost net speeds in Google Fiber city – COINCIDENCE? | The Register

My Comments

US Flag By Dbenbenn, Zscout370, Jacobolus, Indolences, Technion. [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsRegular readers will have noticed my comments about the lack of real competition in the US fixed broadband market thank you to very cosy deals arranged by incumbent cable-TV and telecommunications companies and various governments on a state and federal level.

Google have just rolled out their Google Fiber FTTP broadband service, known for offering headline data-transfer speeds of a gigabit each way, into Kansas City. Now Comcast and Time Warner Cable, for fear of hemorrhaging cable-broadband customers to Google, have upped their cable Internet service’s headline data-transfer speeds without charging their customers a single penny extra for the upgrade.

Issues have been raised about the pricing and customer-service behavior of cable-TV companies when they are faced with real competition beyond the DSL service offered by the incumbent telco. This has come in to play during discussions concerning the proposed merger between Comcast and Time-Warner Cable, as well as the issue of Net Neutrality.

As well, I would see the Google Fiber rollout as a boost for local government in Kansas City because the properties in the area that have Google Fiber past their doors become increasingly valuable to live in or do business there. It is a similar situation that has happened in various UK neighbourhoods where houses are assessed by prospective buyers on whether next-generation broadband is passing their doors or the property is connected to a next-generation broadband service.

Who knows what this means for other US cities who are pushing Google for their fibre-optic service?

Time Warner Cable to be the first US cable company to move away from the traditional cable box to an IP-based setup


Time Warner Cable will let you junk your set-top box next year | Internet & Media – CNET News

My Comments

Since the late 1980s, the American cable-TV industry had relied on the provision of a set-top box that they lease to customers as a way to control the business relationship. This was even though since the start of that decade, most “brown-goods” companies sold TVs and video-recorders with “cable-ready” tuners that can be directly connected to a cable-TV service.

The consumer-electronics industry and related press had been crying foul that the cable companies were effectively controlling their customers and these customers couldn’t gain access to desireable functions that the devices offered like picture-in-picture or improved remote controls. As well, the cable companies have required that customers use these set-top boxes for advanced services like pay-per-view TV and have supplied set-top boxes which are PVRs. Even the CableCARD technology which was to put more power in the customers’ hands has been met with frustration such as requiring a truck-roll for the installation of this equipment even though it could be supplied as a self-install kit.

A trend that is breaking through and affecting pay-TV is to use the home network to distribute the content to the display device. The need to bring this about was driven by the popularity of the Apple iPad and other tablet computers being used to personally view video content and these devices had effectively become an alternative to the old portable TV with the 12”-14” screen. The cable industry was also facing the reality of American households “cutting the cord” i.e. abandoning cable TV service and watching their video content either from free-to-air TV or online video services like Netflix and Hulu.

This has been aggravated through the availability of devices like multimedia-capable games consoles, Blu-Ray players and network video players that work as front-ends for the online video services.

In Australia, Foxtel woke up by providing IP-hosted pay-TV under the Foxtel Play / Foxtel Go banners where people just used particular games consoles, smart TVs, regular computers or mobile devices to watch Foxtel pay TV via the Internet.

Now Time Warner Cable have allowed a person who signs up to a “double-play” package of Internet and cable-TV with them to dispense with their set-top box if they use a Roku or XBox 360 to watch the TV content. This is starting to appear also as a trend amongst other US pay-TV firms and is overcoming various hurdles and requirements like closed-captioning, emergency alerts and “delay-to-the-gate” blackouts for sports broadcasts.

Here, these services may be offered as the “value option” for households who don’t need the PVR-capable set-top box whereas the PVR is offered for the packages with “all the fruit”. These packages would also integrate the IP-based functionality with, perhaps, support for network viewing of PVR-hosted content.

Personally, I would also see this evolve to other common platforms like the PlayStation 3 and the smart-TV / Blu-Ray-player platforms that the likes of Samsung, Sony and Panasonic are building up. It could end up as a chance for the cable industry to construct packages tariff charts and service options that exploit the capabilities of these IP-based setups.

Guest Post: Basic Security for Your Home Wireless Network

Netgear DG834G ADSL2 wireless router

Netgear DG834G ADSL2 wireless router

So, you’re ready to set up that nice and convenient home wireless network.  You’ve got the router out of the box and you’re ready to plug everything in, but there’s just one problem.  You’re concerned, or maybe you’re even a little bit paranoid.  You’re wondering who out there might be able to pick up the signal.  Setting up a wireless network in your home can be very simple, but it can also pose a few risks if you get lazy or you’re using older wireless router technology.  Once you’ve set up the router, yes, other people with wireless devices may be able to detect the signal you’re broadcasting, but depending on the precautions you’ve taken, you can determine what happens when they see that signal.

 Whether you live in an apartment complex, a tightly-packed subdivision, or on some rural street, there will always be opportunity for someone to detect your wireless signal.  All they have to do is look for it.  Does it mean they’ll try to connect to it?  No.  There isn’t any reason to panic about who might be able to see it.  It doesn’t matter.  What matters are your security and the preventative measures you’ve put in place to block unwanted access when that stray individual does decide to try to connect to your network and attempts to access your internet or your computer.

 Securing your internet connection and your personal network is a relatively simple thing to do.  Many newer routers or modem/ router combos will take you through a setup wizard that should walk you through activating security protocols, such as WEP or WPA and changing the SSID (network name).  Setup wizards aren’t necessarily the best option when setting up your wireless network’s security, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, it can work.  Just remember to change the SSID and avoid using WEP security.

 Why?  Not changing you router’s default SSID can be a sign to outsiders that the user who set up the network has no idea what they’re doing.  It can make that wireless signal a potential target.  You can change it to whatever you want.  As for WEP, it’s useless and simple to break through.  A tech savvy 8-year-old could break through WEP security in minutes.  If you’re in the market for a wireless router (or already purchased one) and one of the device’s selling points is WEP security, stay far away.  Instead, look for devices offering WPA security, or better yet, WPA2 security.

Then set an encryption key password that isn’t your dog’s name, your street address, the town where you grew up, or something equally lame and easy to crack.  Make it tough.  Make it long.   Don’t make it what you think is tough, make it genuinely tough.  Try a password creation exercise.  Write out strings of numbers and letters or a piece of paper.  Or write out a series of words that have no apparent or logical connection to one another.  Or make up words that aren’t in any dictionary.  Be creative and don’t worry if you can’t remember it or not.

Since we’re talking about a home network, it isn’t a big deal if you write down your insane password and store it somewhere, preferably in a place you will remember.  That way, when you have additional devices you want to grant internet access to, whip it out, you’re ready to go, and no paranoia.

Editor’s note:

Most recently-issued ISP-supplied or retail wireless routers are implementing a “secure by default” strategy which makes the process of creating a secure wireless network simple for most of us.

This includes strategies like WPS easy-setup routines with a random passphrase, and an increasing number of routers provided by the ISPs or telcos as customer-premises equipment use SSIDs that typically have a service marketing name followed by three or four random digits such as “BIGPOND1223 or OPTUS4345. These strategies relate the experience of a secure home network to that of installing or using a typical door lock, something most of us identify with regularly.

Guest post by Jack Pike Television lover and guru of all things Cable, spends his time blogging with Time Warner Cable when not enjoying the tube.