Comcast's Fastest Broadband Starts Cap-Free

Welcome to Wednesday's roundup of all the broadband and cable news that's fit for digitization.

  • A new 305Mbit/s (downstream) residential broadband tier from Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) that's available in most of the operator's northeast markets won't be saddled with soft usage caps and overage charge policies that Comcast is testing in Nashville, Tenn.; and Tucson, Ariz. -- at least not yet. The new tier is "being offered as unlimited," and Comcast has "[n]o further plans to announce at this time," a company spokesman said.

    Starting next month, Comcast will test out a new broadband usage plan in Tucson that will begin to scale customer monthly data allowances with the speeds offered by individual Internet service tiers. For example, customers who take Comcast's fastest tier in that market (105Mbit/s downstream) will have 600GB of wiggle room per month before they're subjected to possible overage charges, while customers of most of Comcast's other tiers in Tucson will be fitted with 300GB caps. Comcast has yet to apply any of its new usage-based policies in markets that currently offer the recently launched 305-Meg tier. (See Comcast to Try On 600GB Data Cap and Comcast to Raise Caps, Test Overage Fees .)

  • Bright House Networks will beef up its metro network and continue its evolution toward a more packet-centric infrastructure after selecting Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. 's 100G Flashwave 9500 Packet Optical Networking Platform. In addition to expanding the capacity of its metro networks, Bright House also hopes to lower the cost per bit of optical transport by tapping the platform's ability to deliver 100 Gbit/s on each of 88 channels. Bright House serves about 2.5 million business and residential customers in five states.

  • BendBroadband President and CEO Amy Tykeson urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to allow cable operators to encrypt their basic TV tiers posthaste, but asked the Commission not to impose some conditions on smaller MSOs that are being proposed by the nation's six largest incumbent cable operators. Among the proposals being pitched by the Big Six includes the use of an operator-supplied adapter, such as a digital transport adapter (DTA), with home-networking capability that can decrypt basic TV signals and pass them along to IP-connected video devices, such as a Boxee box, that are sold at retail. According to this FCC filing, she argued that such conditions would be prohibitively expensive for tier 2/3 MSOs, and that "small operators do not have the clout, resources, or scale enjoyed by the largest operators to influence manufacturers in the design of new models of DTAs…" (See Cable Tries to Break Video Encryption Stalemate and Comcast & Boxee Connect on Video Security .)

  • Public Knowledge is sticking its nose in the lawsuit between Fox Broadcasting Co. 's and Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) over the satellite giant's AutoHop feature by filing an amicus brief arguing that Fox's claim that the Dish ad-zapper is a direct copyright violation comes up short because the broadcaster doesn't have the right to control how viewers watch TV. "For almost 30 years, consumers have been able to 'time-shift' programming -- there is no reason for this to change now," PK added on its blog, citing the 1984 Sony Betamax case holding that recording programs at home is a "fair use" of copyrighted content. (See Dish, Broadcasters Go to War Over Ad-Zapper and Dish Sticks It to the Broadcasters .)

  • Invidi Technologies Corp. has scored a patent that explains how to generate addressable (i.e. targeted) advertising via the use of keywords. The patent (No. 8,272,009) is titled "System and Method for Inserting Media Based on Keyword Search," and describes how those keywords, when used in an electronic program guide, for example, can be monitored and used to target an ad to a set-top box. In the cable context, Invidi's software lives in the box and selects an ad from a group of them being streamed to the set-top or from a batch of ads that are stored locally on a DVR.

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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