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Comcast to Shelve 'PowerBoost'

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
2/6/2013
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Welcome to the broadband and cable news roundup, Hump Day edition.

  • Comcast Corp. says it in the process of phasing out PowerBoost, a feature introduced by the operator in 2006 that gives cable modem customers automatic speed bursts when there's extra capacity available on the network, confirming a report earlier this week by DSL Reports. "As we continue to increase our customers' provisioned speeds, PowerBoost is no longer a significant enhancement," a Comcast spokesman tells Light Reading Cable. "However, we are evaluating how best to use it going forward." As it shelves Powerboost, Comcast is increasing its Performance Tier from 15Mbit/s down by 2Mbit/s upstream to 20/4 in "select markets." Once alerted about the new speeds, customers will need to reboot their modems to activate the upgrade. It was not immediately clear if all other MSOs that have used PowerBoost (Time Warner Cable Inc., Cox Communications Inc. and Bright House Networks among them) intend to follow suit. Cox, for one, is still using it. Its new 150Mbit/s (downstream) service can max out at about 188Mbit/s with Powerboost, a spokesman says. ( See Cox Gives Wideband a 'Powerboost'.)
  • CBS Corp. said its live stream of Sunday's Super Bowl drew 3 million unique viewers, 10 million live video streams and a total of 114.4 million minutes of video streams. CBS claimed it was a streaming record for a single game sporting event in the U.S., with the unique viewing total beating last year's by 43 percent. To put it all in context, though, the big game drew a total U.S. audience of 108.3 million viewers, so the vast majority watched it on regular TV.
  • As one can tell from his Twitter feed, Sir Richard Branson is quite aglow about the proposed merger of Liberty Global Inc. and Virgin Media Inc. And, why not? He's got hundreds of millions of reasons to be pleased. Branson could reap $316 million from the takeover, Bloomberg reports, noting that the billionaire owns 6.6 million Virgin Media shares. Virgin Media came about in 2006 when Branson's Virgin Mobile U.K. joined forces with NTL: Telewest. (See Liberty Makes $23.3B Play for Virgin Media.)
  • Microsoft Corp.'s Lawrence "Major Nelson" Hryb announced Tuesday that Redbox Instant by Verizon will be coming to the Xbox 360 "in the very near future" and that currently Redbox Instant beta users will be getting a code via email in the coming days. He says Xbox 360 will serve as the exclusive gaming console launch partner for the Verizon Communications Inc./Redbox Automated Retail LLC DVD rental/streaming combo, which will run $8 per month for the DVD version, and $1 extra for the Blu-ray option. The catch for Xbox users is that they'll need to pony up for the Xbox Live Gold subscription. (See Verizon, Redbox Take a Swing at Netflix.)
  • MetroCast Cablevision has tapped Sidera Networks Inc. for a series of backbone upgrades as the MSO shifts from 10Gbit/s to 100Gbit/s. The upgrade involves MetroCast's connections between Rochester, N.H.. and Boston, as well as Ashburn, Va., and Leonardtown, Md.

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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