We’ve Got Cable… Sorta

att-u-verse-logo-600x400We spent a good part of the afternoon with Federico from AT&T U-verse. He came to install our cable TV and high speed Internet access packages. Our house came nicely wired, but it still takes time.

I think we have TV, but I can’t be sure. As of this evening our Connecticut stuff, including TVs, was just passing through St. Louis–not quite halfway here. We have no monitor to check with, but all outward signs say we’re OK.

I am surprised and a little disappointed AT&T’s Internet speed is only 16 mbps. Considering I’m on my own piece of fiber all the way to the central office, I could have a lot more bandwidth for nearly no additional cost to AT&T.

I knew this was the speed going in. No complaint.

What I didn’t realize was my upload speed is only 1.5 mbps. That’s crazily slow. There truly is no excuse for this speed in an all fiber install.

With vastly superior hardware AT&T is offering an inferior product. Why? Is there still a DSL/dial-up attitude within the phone company?

AT&T could easily blow Cox (the incumbent cable company) out of the water, but they don’t. They’re leaving cash on the table.

Home   AT T U verseMaxing out at these speeds when there’s fiber all the way to my house is ridiculous. If someone wants to turn up my speed, I won’t tell.

One of our cable boxes is wireless. That was a major selling point for me. I look forward to bringing a TV out into the California room and watching outside.

U-verse does provide some live programming on our PCs for the TVless Foxes, though CNN’s live feed shows only the little spinning icon. No video!

Most of U-verse’s streaming shows are provided through Hulu. I attempted to watch Family Guy and was ready for trouble when the synopsis was in German!

I clicked and was told I couldn’t watch, because it’s only available in the United States!

Family Guy   AT T U verse

It’s early, but some of AT&T’s infrastructure lacks polish and seems unfinished. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, both Helaine and I have our laptops out here in the family room. That’s a huge advance over yesterday.

Was I Watching TV?


What is TV? That’s a tough question to answer nowadays. TV used to be the programs broadcast by local stations, but that’s changed. We added cable/satellite channels to the mix. Now some TV comes via the Internet.

If you follow this blog you know I prefer to compute with two screens. More real estate. More multitasking. More satisfying.

When I watched Harvard thump New Mexico last night on my computer’s second screen, was I watching TV?

Look at it from the NCAA’s perspective. If this works they might some day jettison the local TV affiliates and cable networks. They could just deliver games straight to you. Fewer middlemen. They pocket the savings! At the very least this is a good chip for the next contract negotiation.

Of course this is very scary to local stations. Though network programs are not the profit center they once were, big budget network shows draw viewers some of whom stick around for the news or other local originations. It’s tough for a local station to be strong without a strong network.


The NCAA’s presentation is well put together.

With a single click it’s possible to watch the game fullscreen. I choose to watch instead with ‘enhanced content.’ As the screengrab above shows, there’s a lot of info on the screen and more available.

An interested feature is the ability to look at Twitter activity levels, then click on a peak to see the play that caused the spike!

We have already seen the death of regional store chains (G.Fox., Caldor, Ames, Rickle, Bernies, Zayres, etc.). Is the regional power of local TV stations the next to go? Do the networks or program producers like the NCAA need them anymore?

That would be sad, but the bigger fish want the money the little fish now get. Technology marches forward.

Cord Cutters Beware

Cord cutting scares the cable and satellite companies. You are eliminating the middle man–them!

I am not a “cord cutter.” That’s the term for folks who’ve ditched cable/satellite and now watch TV over-the-air or via the Internet. If you’ve taken a look at your cable/satellite bill recently you probably understand what makes cord cutting attractive.

TV stations, like FoxCT where I work, still transmit everything over the air. We’re digital. As long as you receive our signal it will be absolutely perfect! Ghosting, flickering and fading are no longer concerns.

Most, not all, shows on local stations or cable channels are also available online, usually via Hulu or Netflix.

The big loss for cord cutters is sports! There’s no Yes, SNY, NESN, or ESPN. If you’re a sports fan that’s a deal breaker.

Like I said, I’m not a cord cutter, but I’m certainly taking on some cord cutting characteristics. Helaine and I watched the first season of Newsroom online. We watch the Phillies games online too&#185.

We have a Roku in the family room. It’s, a tiny WiFi equipped computer which fetches shows from the Internet and plays them on our big TV (often, not always) in HD. There are hundreds of shows available via the Roku I can’t get any other way… and would never miss. Most are low budget, low quality and easily forgotten.

Cord cutting scares the cable and satellite companies. You are eliminating the middle man–them!

Comcast, my cable provider, has been toying with data caps for a few years. Limiting how much data you can ingest makes cord cutting less attractive.

Back in May Comcast announced a 300Gb cap for home users. They also announced it won’t be enforced yet. There is controversy over an exemption Comcast granted to itself!

300Gb seems like a lot of data. It is! However, when looking at streaming video it goes quickly.

My home router logs all my traffic. I’ve attached my usage graph for August above. I swallowed 145+Gb of data last month. That’s around half Comcast’s proposed cap, but I’m nowhere near a fulltime cord cutter. If most of my TV viewing was done via streaming downloads I’d easily pass 500Gb per month.

You can see from the graph the effect of our quick trip to Milwaukee. More revealing is the period when the Phillies were playing the Mets. Those tiny stubs of data are what we normally use. Video is the bandwidth hog!

Without real competition in data providers (Comcast is the only company which offers high speed Internet to my house) the incumbents will do everything in their power, like data caps and sports exclusivity, to protect their business. It’s in their best interest, not mine.

Until looking tonight I figured 300Gb was a far off number I’d have trouble ever reaching. I was wrong.

&#185 – Baseball can be viewed online only when it’s out-of-market. You can’t watch the Yankees, Red Sox, or Mets broadcasts (or their opponents broadcast) online if you’re in Connecticut.

Why Channels?

I don’t know about your business, but mine is changing quickly. Media has been blown away by technology reshaping production, consumption and distribution.

I was just watching Jon Stewart. His interview was with Tea Party leader Dick Armey. Stewart readily advised as the show began the interview would not be finished in the alloted time slot and would be continued on the net.

Good use I think&#185.

A show becomes more special when its constraints are only artistic and not technical or process driven. Time is a luxury when you’re on-the-air.

It does make you wonder. Could a show like Stewart’s exist without a cable channel? Could it exist solely on the net? What is the purpose of a channel anymore anyway?

There’s an app on my iPhone from NPR. I can listen choosing from a list of either stations or shows. I choose shows. Content rules.

I don’t know about your business, but mine is changing quickly. Media has been blown away by technology reshaping production, consumption and distribution.

More changes to come. It’s scary. It’s exciting. It’s scary.

&#185 – It is almost 1:00 AM and Stewart’s website advises to “Check back later tonight or tomorrow.” That’s bad.