Comcast getting lots of press today

09Jan08

There is the negative press about the FCC looking into whether the blocking of torrent traffic was reasonable network management or just trying to block content. I’m guessing it is the latter, and Comcast is going to get whacked.

Lets look at the positive side though because they had a lot of announcements at CES today:

1. Promise of 100Mbps broadband speeds

100Mbps in my home….sign me up! I can’t really complain because I have an enhanced broadband service currently with Comcast and my download speeds are upwards of 23Mbps every time I test, but can you ever have too much speed? 100Mbps will solve so many issues with online distribution of HD content. How is this possible you may be asking? Well they are planning on using Docsis 3.0, which is an international standard that provides speeds around 160Mbps down and 120Mbps up. Currently I believe Comcast is on Docsis 1.1 (someone please correct me if I am wrong) which is 38Mbps down and 9Mbps up. These speeds are still on a shared network so don’t expect to see 160Mbps to your desktop, but it should provide upwards of a 4x speed bump from where you are today. I’d love to see it!

2. Launch of Fancast.com

Fancast allows users to watch more than 3000 hours of content from NBC (Hulu), Fox, CBS, and MTV on their computers. I have a sweet 50″ 1080p television with a nice audio system sitting in my living room, so watching content on my computer isn’t really a priority for me. However, there are always times when I want to watch something real time and am not home but have computer access, or just forget to record a show and want to see it. It is these times when a service like Fancast would be great. I have a Slingbox, and it serves its purpose, but being able to just go online and select a show, or a movie and start watching it is very cool. The problem I see here is the content offering, which is also what I think kills so many of these services. I don’t want to only have the last 4 episodes of certain shows, I want all shows and all episodes. I want them in high definition format to watch on my 24″ Widescreen monitor or to connect my laptop to my TV and watch from there. I would also like to download the content and watch when I have the time, not stream it. From my quick browsing it looks like Fancast has a lot of current content, but I was having issues with getting anything to view in full screen which I have to imagine is a bug, but it is still beta so I won’t get too worked up yet. So does it have some drawbacks, sure, but it offers a lot of promise. They are also touting that from this site you will be able to control your set top box! So when I am working late and realize I forgot to record the new episode of 24 I can just login and set it. About time!

3. Announcement of Tru2Way — their new Open standards system

Open standard? Cable company? Yep you read that correctly. I never thought the day would come when a cable provider would announce they want to do away with the cable box, but I love it! The idea here is that you will buy a device, lets keep it simple and say a television, that is Tru2Way compliant. You can then just bring that television home, plug it in, and voila….all the same service that you used to get with your cable box is now available. This is a huge step in the right direction as far as I am concerned. I mounted an LCD high def tv on my kitchen wall but did not want a big ugly cable box, and no, it did not support a cablecard. So I had to rig up a solution using HDMI over CAT5. It works great, but would have been so much easier with this Tru2Way standard.

4. AnyPlay portable DVR/DVD player

I’m not to excited about this, because I have a laptop I tote everywhere and would rather have a way to transfer from my DVR to my laptop, but for you non laptop people it is cool. Basically it is a small portable DVR with a DVD drive that docs with your set top box. Plans to be released sometime in 2009.

5. Better customer service — Making the customer King

Of course they are going to say this….doesn’t everyone? I have not had too many bad experiences with Comcast customer service, but I generally don’t give them the opportunity to give me the run around. When I have a problem I troubleshoot it until I find the problem, or at least rule out everything in my home. This makes my calls to them much easier. The technicians I have had out to my house have been great as well. I have heard some horror stories however, that would make me leave Comcast if it happened to me. Hopefully they will stop those scenarios from happening.

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