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Also: Netflix dodges a bullet; TiVo flips on Flingo; Intel tests its OTT TV service; will DirecTV's new sports fees bring back Sir Charge?

Comcast Preps a Docsis Speed Bump

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
2/15/2013
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Welcome to the broadband and cable news roundup, T.G.I.F. edition.

  • Comcast Corp. is preparing to boost some cable modem speeds across the board through May that have already been implemented in its Northeast U.S. systems, writes DSL Reports. At the top, Comcast's Extreme tier will jump to 105Mbit/s down by 20Mbit/s upstream from 50/10, while Blast rises to 50/10 from 25/4. The lower-end Performance tier, meanwhile, is reportedly set to go to 25/4 from 12/2. Comcast wouldn't comment on the purported speed hikes, but, if they are implemented, they would be entering play as the operator phases out PowerBoost, a feature that automatically gives cable modems a speed kick when there's extra capacity available on the network. A spokesman acknowledged last week that PowerBoost "is no longer a significant enhancement" as the operator continues to upgrade provisioned speeds for broadband customers. (See Comcast to Shelve PowerBoost.)
  • Netflix Inc. dodged a bullet this week when a district court dismissed a shareholder suit claiming the company inflated its share price by hiding rising costs, even as execs such as CEO Reed Hastings pocketed millions of dollars, reports Reuters. Much of the ire is directed at a period in which Netflix lost subscribers and its stock price plummeted due to a backlash tied to price hikes and a temporary decision to split off its DVD business. The court ruled that Netflix did not materially mislead shareholders, but did give the plaintiffs 30 days to amend their complaint.
  • TiVo Inc. is beefing up its over-the-top video capabilities by integrating Flingo's LaunchPad on the Premiere HD-DVR. The addition (only for TiVo's retail Premieres, not the devices distributed and leased out by cable operators) will add more than 70 streaming video apps from networks such as A&E and Showtime.
  • Intel Corp.'s over-the-top TV service will launch sometime in 2013, but its debut may be closer than some might think. The still-unnamed service is already being tested by several hundred employees, which explains why details have been leaking into the public domain, Intel Media's Erik Huggers told NewTeeVee. (See Intel Preps Its Internet TV Service.)
  • Guess what? Sports programming costs are out of control. That's causing DirecTV Group Inc. to expand a policy that hits customers with a $3 monthly surcharge for regional sports networks (RSNs) in markets that have multiple RSNs. DirecTV started the policy in August but limited it to new customers. It will extend that to existing customers in those markets this spring, company CEO Mike White said on Thursday's fourth-quarter earnings call, noting that the surcharges will cover only a portion of DirecTV's RSN carriage costs. Verizon Communications Inc. FiOS TV has implemented a similar policy in some states. So long as cable operators don't follow suit, some MSOs might be tempted to recalibrate an ad campaign that Time Warner Cable Inc. used against Verizon over phone bill surcharges:

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable



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