Latvia Beats US on Broadband Speeds

Welcome to the broadband and cable news roundup, T.G.I.F. edition.

  • Average global broadband speeds reached 2.6Mbit/s in the first quarter, a 25 percent rise versus the year-ago quarter, and up from 2.3Mbit/s in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to Akamai Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: AKAM)'s latest State Of The Internet report. South Korea maintained the top spot with an average speed of 15.7Mbit/s. The U.S. lagged at No. 12, but made up significant ground with average speeds of 6.7Mbit/s, up 29 percent from the year-ago quarter and 17 percent from the previous quarter. Hong Kong was tops in average peak connection speeds, with 49.3Mbit/s, up 25 percent year-on-year, while the U.S. hit 28.7Mbit/s, good for eighth place. Here's a snapshot of Akamai's rankings in these two categories:

  • As Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) gets a step closer to launching super-fast broadband and subscription video services in the Kansas Cities, it's of obvious concern for area incumbent providers -- Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), SureWest Communications (Nasdaq: SURW) and, to a small degree, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK). But should others be quaking in their boots, too? "Operators everywhere should be very, very afraid," is the conclusion of SNL Kagan analyst Deborah Yao in this report. Even if Google Fiber doesn't expand beyond the Kansas Cities, the project offers some advantages that could put pressure on how other operators price and package their services. Among them, she points out that Google is keeping things simple by offering just three plans, including that "free" 5Mbit/s tier, uncapped data plans, and eliminating extra charges for set-top boxes. But she also points out some weaknesses, notably content, as Google Fiber (for now) lacks some popular channels like AMC and ESPN. But the report notes that there are some serious doubts that even the mighty Google, which has already spent $500 million on this project, has enough cash to scale this nationally. (See Google Fiber Bundles TV, Shuns Data Caps.)

  • Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is beefing up its customer retention and acquisition efforts with the launch of Movers Edge, a program that helps consumers who are relocating get their video, voice and high-speed Internet services up and running quickly. The program features a "concierge-like" hotline, and a range of self-install kits and a professional installation option that promises a two-hour appointment window.

  • Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) has appointed Matt Lake, the former principal of Brooklyn Brothers, to SVP of branding and creative, where he'll initially focus on the MSO's line of Optimum-branded products and services, AdWeek reports. The hire comes after Cablevision President and CEO Jim Dolan noted on the company's second-quarter call that it would soon boot up a rebranding effort as it launches new products and features, including a cloud-based navigation system for set-tops. (See Cablevision Packs More Video Into the Cloud.)

  • The next generation of the Xbox could be about 18 months away, according to a Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) job listing that briefly appeared mentioning upcoming plans for the gaming console, reports Computerworld. Microsoft has since taken down the listing, noting it was only in reference to a software update for the company's current gaming console.

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

  • derac 12/5/2012 | 5:24:06 PM
    re: Latvia Beats US on Broadband Speeds

    The KC exercise in supplying fiber access and simple, fast Internet access was just that.. an exercise.   Who knows how much it cost them or if/when they intend to make any money on the service(s).   My question is where do they go next ?  VZ with its FiOS network has cherry picked the NE locations and Comcast has a huge footprint as does ATT with U-Verse.   The major metropolitan areas and their outying areas are already served.   Does Google intend to overbuild these areas ?  Maybe I missed it but where do they go after KC ?

    ethertype 12/5/2012 | 5:24:05 PM
    re: Latvia Beats US on Broadband Speeds

    IMHO, the KC exercise is first and foremost a tool with which to jab incumbent providers in public and make them look fat, dumb and greedy.  They want to show the world what it should be demanding from providers and policy makers -- faster, cheaper, content-neutral broadband access.

    shygye75 12/5/2012 | 5:24:05 PM
    re: Latvia Beats US on Broadband Speeds

    Good for Latvia. On the other side of the lats, at last check Latvia ranked only 42nd worldwide in Internet penetration rates. But that kind of mucks up a good story.

    Cooper10 12/5/2012 | 5:24:03 PM
    re: Latvia Beats US on Broadband Speeds

    Just like Google provides content-neutral search results?  Oh wait, those aren't content neutral search results....

    Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:24:02 PM
    re: Latvia Beats US on Broadband Speeds

    Re: "IMHO, the KC exercise is first and foremost a tool with which to jab incumbent providers in public and make them look fat, dumb and greedy"

    Short of any expansion beyond the Kansas Cities, which seems doubtful right now, that's probably the reason why the service providers should be most fearful (ie. why can't you be like Google Fiber?). They are already facing  that sort of perception/attitude, but Google's project will certainly amplify it. JB

    shygye75 12/5/2012 | 5:24:02 PM
    re: Latvia Beats US on Broadband Speeds

    Jeff -- What would be the point of Google's showing up network operators? I don't think that would spark fear as much as further antagonism. And is there much of a difference between "fat, dumb and greedy" and "fat, smart and greedy"?

    ethertype 12/5/2012 | 5:23:59 PM
    re: Latvia Beats US on Broadband Speeds

    One point is to keep the pressure on network operators not to use cost as an excuse for introducing more pay-to-play barriers, i.e. favoring content that they get paid to deliver.   If the public and regulators know that the fundamental cost of providing very fast access on a non-discriminatory basis is actually pretty low, network operators will have a harder time arguing that they're the victim of voracious users and OTT players, and therefore they must be allowed to charge for OTT content in order to make any more investments in increasing access speed & capacity.

    As for the "dumb" part, I think Google will leave it to the judgment of the public at large.  Their KC network will provide the proof of principle, i.e. that fast access can be done cheaply.  After that, network operators who don't follow the example will have to be labeled either "dumb" (because they can't figure out how to do it themselves) or "greedy" (because they'd rather charge more for less service).  Which label do you prefer?

    shygye75 12/5/2012 | 5:23:58 PM
    re: Latvia Beats US on Broadband Speeds

    All companies are greedy in that all are in business to make as much money as they can -- which is as it should be. There is a fundamental reason that Google is unlikely to get into the broadband service provider business in a major way: They can see that it's probably more trouble than it's worth. Hence, fat, smart and greedy.

    Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:23:57 PM
    re: Latvia Beats US on Broadband Speeds

    True, it may spark more antagonism than fear.  Not sure how this factors into Google's intentions, but the attractive price of their 1-gig service could put some $$ pressure on some of the high-end Docsis 3.0 tiers that sell for a lot more. JB


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