In a puzzling move, Comcast announced today that they are going to be rebranding their broadband services under a new moniker: Xfinity. Seriously. Starting next week, Xfinity TV, Xfinity Internet, and Xfinity Voice will be rolled out to current Comcast customers in 11 markets, those being: Boston, Philly, Baltimore, DC, Chicago, Portland, Seattle, Hartford, Augusta, and Chatanooga, along with parts of the Bay area. Don’t expect any changes in the actual services you receive, this is just a name change, similar to when CableVision rebranded their services under the Optimum banner.
Expect a marketing blitz in the markets named above to start next Friday, including TV ads during the Olympics, print, and radio spots.
Read More | Comcast Voices
This morning we got word that Verizon was bolstering their FiOS packages, with the big news (from where we sit) being that the company is now offering a new symmetrical 35/35 Mbps Internet package as part of their “Best” bundle, which also brings an expansion of offerings in their FiOS TV HD package. For those who just want the blazing Internet goodness without the HD, they are also offering a 25/25 Mbps service, and they still offer the 50/20 Mbps service as well, which is a bit odd. They seem to have updated all of their Internet packages, and now the highest tier has the slowest upload speed out of them all. Hopefully that’ll change fairly quickly, because things appear to be a bit off-balance there. Nevertheless, FiOS is now in a position where they don’t have any competitor in the US that matches their upload speed, regardless of cost.
It’s not all fun and games, though. There is also a higher early-termination fee that comes alongside the new services. Formerly, it would cost $179 to terminate the two-year contract, but now it’s up to as much as $360. Again, that’s only if you cancel, and we think that once you get a look at the uncompressed HD and feel for the speedy Internet, you’ll decide that you’re in for the long haul.
This morning AT&T announced that they’ve done a “substantial upgrade” of its 3G coverage in the Seattle area, having deployed additional wireless spectrum using the 850 MHz band. According to AT&T, the upgrade should mean that customers in Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Renton, Auburn, and King County should all have better 3G connectivity, performance, and the signal should be much stronger when indoors as well. The move should also increase overall network capacity, which AT&T is hoping will support subscriber growth.
Since Gear Live HQ is located smack-dab in the middle of the enhanced coverage area, we’ll be giving things a try, and we will let you know if the use of 850 MHz spectrum truly helps the dire situation that is AT&T coverage. Seattle iPhone 3GS and 3G users, give it your best!
Read More | AT&T News Room
Data Robotics, the peeps behind the Drobo and DroboPro, have put up a video answering some common questions about the DroboPro’s iSCSI interface. If you’ve been considering a DroboPro, and were wondering about this spec (which, by all accounts, is fantastic,) check out the video above.
Newegg‘s got a deal on the Linksys WRT54GL 802.11b/g router for $49.95, selling it for $30 less than retail from now through June 15. This is a router that is a dream for DIYers, as it works great with a lot of different custom firmware packages, making it easy to set up your own VPN, Samba, and FTP servers. It can also boost existing wireless signals, act as a Radius server, and more. Take a look at the Linksys WRT54GL on Newegg, and use promo code ROUTER685 to get the savings.
As always, you can find all sorts of Newegg promo codes and deals on our forums.
Read More | Newegg: Linksys WRT54GL
As most of you know, we are big fans of Verizon FiOS here at Gear Live. The actual Internet and television services are stellar, and it’s pretty hard to find fault with things, especially since downtime is almost nonexistent. Sure, we’ve had our issues, but those are all fixed, and at this point it is pretty much smooth sailing.
Today we were inviting to a media briefing at the main hub in Everett, WA, to get a look at some of the current and upcoming features of the Verizon FiOS TV service. We were able to sit down with Eric Rabe, Senior VP of Media Relations for Verizon to get the full scoop. Of course, being who we are, we had to make sure we got questions answered about FiOS Internet and phone services as well, just to be thorough. We will just go through these in no particular order - some of this you already know, while other parts are definitely new:
HD Content: FiOS TV is completely uncompressed through Verizon. They get the signal, and pass it straight through to the subscribers box the way they received it from one of two providers (depending on where you are located.) Every market has a minimum of 100 dedicated HD channels. The caveat here (and it’s a small one) is that the cable box does not have a mode that simply passes through the content to your receiver or television the way it comes in. This means you have to set the FiOS TV cable box to display either 1080i or 720p, and it will either up-convert or down-convert depending on what you choose. I let them know it would be nice to have boxes that just passed through the resolution without any conversion taking place. Of course, if you have a TiVo Series3 or TiVo HD with a FiOS CableCARD, you don’t have this issue.
I also asked about 1080p content, since satellite is currently offering HD content in 1080p. Unfortunately, their answer is that they are a couple of software revisions away from being able to offer that, so no timeline there.
After users loudly complained both online and off, Time Warner Cable has announced it will stop their proposed metered broadband services. Interestingly enough, even Twitter, the site of few words, was used to argue the case. There were so many complaints that Congressman Eric Massa tried to push for legislature to ban “unfair pricing structures.” We suspect that this will not be the end of it, but its about time the little people won one.
Read More | Consumer Affairs
Sprint’s Simply Everything $99.99 deal has grown to + Mobile Broadband plan. For $149.99 a month, the company includes EV-DO service as well as the previously offered unlimited text, picture and video messaging, GPS, email and surfing with 5 GB of Internet access. If you switch over there is no contract extension but if you are a newbie you will need a two-year agreement per line. Jump at the deal now and you also get a free Sierra Wireless 598U USB modem. Find more details on their “no wires” site.
Read More | Sprint No Wires
The first cellular network was launched in Japan in 1979 by NTT. Twenty three years later the planet passed its 4th billion mobile connection. Mobile broadband accounts for about a quarter of that figure. Other connections in such countries as China, India, Indonesia and Pakistan added to unconnected devices gives us an estimate that by 2013, this figure will hit 6 billion. Considering there only 6.7 billion humans on the planet now, this definitely proves it’s a mobile world out there.
Read More | Gizmag
VIZIO is launching a new platform that they’re calling “Conneced HDTV,” and with it comes confirmation of the second Netflix direct-to-TV partnership. VIZIO’s Connected HDTV platform is designed to compliment traditional television viewing. You just connect the television to your home network, and if there’s nothing good on, you can go into Netflix, and I am sure there will be other services (YouTube? Hulu?) that you’ll be able to pull up as well. This is a trend we are definitely liking, let’s eliminate set-top boxes while providing more viewing options for the consumer.
EDIT: Okay, we just got more details on this. Aside from Netflix, the VIZIO Connected HDTV platform also brings Amazon Video on Demand, Pandora, Flickr, Blockbuster OnDemand, Rhapsody, Adobe Flash content, games from Accedo Broadband, and the Yahoo! widget engine. Very, very interesting!
Read More | MarketWatch
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