Welcome to the broadband and cable news roundup, Hump Day edition.
Verizon Communications Inc. is giving existing FiOS Internet subs a way to upgrade to the company's entry-level Quantum tier (50Mbit/s down by 25Mbit/s upstream) for an additional $10 per month … without having to change their bundles or sign up to a new TV package. That will, of course, improve ARPU on the product and set subs on a possible path toward the company's higher-speed Quantum tiers (150/65 and 200/65), which launched last June). And Verizon is giving subs ways to upgrade without a truck roll. For example, FiOS TV customers can opt in after tuning to channel 500, via the company's customer Web portal, and through the MyFiOS app.
Following a recent heads-up from the ZatzNotFunny blog, Suddenlink Communications has brought forth more detail about its rollout of the TiVo Inc. Mini, an IP HD client box that feeds off the primary TiVo Premiere box and gives customers access to a whole-home DVR set-up. Suddenlink, the first MSO to offer the TiVo Mini (the device isn't even offered at retail yet), has made it available in more than 100 communities in seven states, including Jonesboro, Ark.; Branson and St. Joseph, Mo.; and Bryan-College Station and Tyler, Texas. A Suddenlink spokesman says the operator is charging a lease fee in the range of $6 to $7 per month for the new device. The launch follows Suddenlink's debut of the TiVo Stream, a transcoding device that delivers live and recorded video to tablets and smartphones. (See Suddenlink Activates TiVo Stream.)
Rogers Communications Inc. is giving cable modem customers a chance, albeit temporarily, to move off a metered broadband plan and go unlimited, so long as they don't mind paying a little extra, reports DSL Reports, noting that the offer is set to expire on March 31. Triple-play customers can get unlimited data for an extra $10 fee, or $30 if they subscribe to one or two Rogers services.
The weekend appears to be prime time for a new feature from Comcast Corp. that lets customers download shows and movies to iPads and other portable devices. The feature, offered on the Xfinity TV Player app, is seeing the most usage on Saturdays and Sundays, "the same days customers are using the record function most" on the new app, company SVP of Product Design and Development, Technology & Product Development Charlie Herrin notes on the Comcast blog. On most days, usage of the app "tops out" at about 10 p.m., he says. Comcast added the download capability to the app in December 2012. (See To Xfinity & Beyond!)
Penthera Partners, a vendor believed to be playing a behind-the-scenes role in Comcast portable video efforts, has hired former Insight Communications SVP of Programming and Video Product Melani Griffith to EVP of business development, a move that reunites her with Michael Willner, the former CEO of Insight and the current president and CEO of Penthera. (See Who's Behind Comcast's Video Downloader? )
Netflix Inc.'s decision to spend more energy and money on original programming has been a shrewd move early on. Its House of Cards gambit is making customers more loyal, with 86 percent saying they're less likely to cancel because of it, according to a survey from Cowen and Co. But Deadline.com notes that the results are working off a small sample -- just 346 of the 1,229 of U.S. consumers surveyed were Netflix customers, while another 223 were non-subs who somehow had access to the streaming service. Still, 10 percent of that combined group viewed at least one episode of the series in the first 12 days after its debut, the survey showed.