Comcast Won't Cap Xbox 360 Streaming

Welcome to Monday's cable news snapshot.

  • Video-on-demand (VoD) content streamed to the Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Xbox 360 won't count against Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s monthly 250GB broadband usage caps, the MSO revealed in new FAQ. It is getting ready to launch its Xfinity TV app on the popular gaming console in the next week or so, according to Engadget. Comcast's reasoning: The MSO is piping VoD to the console using its private IP network and not the public Internet. The MSO's XfinityTV.com site and Xfinity TV app for devices such as the iPad are streamed via the public Internet, so usage for those does count toward the bandwidth cap. (See Comcast, Verizon Connect With the Xbox 360 and Comcast Draws the Line at 250GB.)

  • To be eligible for the Xbox 360 app, Comcast customers must subscribe to the MSO's Internet and digital video service, take Microsoft's Xbox Gold Live package and have a cable box or CableCARD-enabled retail device connected to at least one TV in the house. Comcast won't let customers access Xfinity TV on the Xbox 360 from another Internet provider, but says it's working on a way to allow that. Comcast's FAQ adds that it "will evaluate" whether to add linear channels and transactional VoD titles (Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), for example, offers a subset of live channels via the Xbox 360).

  • TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) is cutting $5 from its Premiere DVR monthly service plan and is chopping prices on high-end box models as the company tries to lure consumers away from generic DVRs offered by MSOs, reports Multichannel News. TiVo is trying to undercut MSO DVR pricing even as it continues to partner up with pay-TV providers in box-leasing scenarios as well as retail partnerships that allow TiVo DVRs to support a cable operator's VoD service. (See Comcast Trial Fuses TiVo With VoD.)

  • Buckeye CableSystem is applying more pressure on AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) U-verse with the launch of a 110Mbit/s (downstream) Docsis 3.0 tier in some of the MSO's Ohio systems and in pockets of southeast Michigan, says CED. The tier, which is matched with a 5Mbit/s upstream, costs $179.99 per month when bundled with the MSO's video or phone service, or $10 more as a stand-alone. The launch gives Buckeye the fastest downstream D3 tier in the U.S., outpacing Suddenlink Communications 's 107Mbit/s offering. Buckeye currently markets seven speed plans. (See Suddenlink Widens 107-Meg Reach and Buckeye Fights U-verse With IP-Fueled Gateways .)

  • Hillcrest Labs is bringing its gesture-based Freespace motion control software to smartphones and tablets that run Android and Windows 8, marking its expansion beyond fixed devices such as smart TVs, Roku Inc. boxes and PCs. (See Hillcrest CEO: Cable Should Dump Old Set-Tops.)

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

  • Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:38:19 PM
    re: Comcast Won't Cap Xbox 360 Streaming

    And just to clarify, only VoD content from Comcast's Xfinity TV app won't be subject to the MSO's broadband cap... Usage of Netflix, since its on-demand service is  shipped to the console via the public Intertubes, would apply to the Comcast caps. JB

    Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:38:15 PM
    re: Comcast Won't Cap Xbox 360 Streaming

    I'll need to obtain more info on how this service will stay off the public Intertubes (does it stay on  Comcast's CDN? Is Comcast peering with the Xbox servers?), but anyone willing to guess how long before somebody goes ape (Free Press: I'm looking at you) and tries to make this into a network neutrality issue? JB

    Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:38:05 PM
    re: Comcast Won't Cap Xbox 360 Streaming

    Well, I was off on this one. Public Knowledge, not Free Press, was the first to bring up network neutrality concerns, issuing this statement from CEO Gigi Sohn:

     "The reports that Comcast is offering a video product through the Xbox 360 without the data counting toward the customer's data cap raises questions not only of the justification for the caps but, more importantly, of the survival of an Open Internet.
    "This type of arrangement is exactly the type of situation the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) rules on the Open Internet were designed to prevent -- that an Internet Service Provider juggles the rules to give itself an advantage over a competitor.
    "The Xbox 360 provides a number of video services to compete for customer dollars, yet only one service is not counted against the data cap -- the one provided by Comcast.
    This is nothing less than a wake-up call to the Commission to show it is serious about protecting the Open Internet.  It also shows, once again, that the Commission should take the first steps toward understanding data caps."


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