Tech wrap: ITC joins Apple-Samsung spat

The International Trade Commission agreed to investigate Apple’s complaint that mobile phones and tablets made by rival Samsung violate its technology intellectual property. The intensifying patent dispute threatens to strain a lucrative supply relationship: Apple in 2010 was Samsung’s second-largest customer, accounting for $5.7 billion of sales tied mainly to semiconductors, according to the Asian consumer electronics company’s annual report.

Google faces a total of nine antitrust complaints which EU regulators are now investigating, two sources said. Up to now, The European Commission has only confirmed four cases against Google. The increased number of complaints underscores Google’s dominant position but does not necessarily mean bad news for the company, said Simon Holmes, head of EU and competition law at law firm SJ Berwin.

“Google’s strong position means there are lots of interests involved. But there is nothing wrong per se in having a strong position,” he said.

Broadband speeds on average are within 80 percent of what major Internet service providers advertise, a big improvement from two years ago, according to an FCC study. I suggest that the study, while attempting to arm consumers with a comparison tool in order to make more informed choices, masks regional disparities in broadband speeds that were brought to light last week.

For an extra $25 per year, fans of Electronic Arts sports titles will be able to download video games three days before they hit stores, a move that should boost EA’s digital sales. EA’s new program called “Season Ticket” will let consumers get access to five sports games–its soccer, golf, hockey, pro-football and college football titles. Users will be able to download the games over the Internet on Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony Corp PlayStation systems three days before they are out in stores.

from Ask...:

How fast is your broadband?

The FCC report released today on advertised broadband speeds praises Internet Service Providers like Verizon that are bridging the gap between how fast your Internet connection can be and what they actually deliver.

Fiber-to-home services scored top marks for averaging 114 percent of advertised download speeds during peak hours of congestion. Cable services met 93 percent of advertised speeds during the same hours, while DSL met 82 percent.

But the aggregate data in the FCC study on broadband speeds masks regional disparities.

Telcos are winning the cable TV battle but are they losing the broadband war?

War scene

The latest quarterly numbers from AT&T and Verizon Communications points to steady addition of TV customers which they are very likely winning from the cable companies as well as satellite players. AT&T said it posted its first ever billion-dollar revenue quarter for its U-Verse services (which includes Internet).  It added 209,000 U-Verse TV subscribers and now has 2.5 million in total. Meanwhile Verizon said it added 174,000 FiOS TV subscribers and now has 3.2 million in total.

Together the telcos, wh0 only launched their competing services less than five years ago now have a more than 5 percent share of U.S. pay-TV homes.

So well done to the telcos! Or is that the whole story? Analysts at Bernstein Research point out that both phone companies lost a combined 65,000 Internet access subscribers (after netting out additions from U-verse/FiOS and losses of DSL customers).

from The Great Debate UK:

Digital Britain stuck in the Dark Ages

Ted Higase
-Ted Higase is managing director Europe, Middle East and Asia at Global Crossing. The opinions expressed are his own.-

The government-proposed Digital Britain initiative is living in the dark ages, especially if its authors expect UK businesses to believe that a transmission of two megabits per second is "superfast".

Having adequate underlying infrastructure is critical to the success of Digital Britain and that requires investment and commitment to ongoing innovation. Internet foundations must be robust enough to deal with demand for business use in particular, but a successful Digital Britain needs to be about gigabits not megabits.

Digital Britain vision lacks political roadmap

The UK government’s grand reworking of digital policy, due out Tuesday, has something for every one to chatter about — from funding for a further broadband buildout to reworking television licensing fees to how the country faces up to the issue of media piracy.

But final publication of the Digital Britain report on Tuesday follows the marked deterioration of the economic environment as well as the collapse of the political muscle needed to marshall the report’ more ambitious changes through Parliament.

Stephen Carter, the former U.K. cable executive, named as U.K.’s Minister for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting only nine months ago, plans to leave the government soon after releasing the report.

Comcast super-fast Internet: More speed, less cash?

Comcast is cutting the price of its super fast 50 megabits Internet access service to $116.95 a month in most markets, less than year after launching the service at $139.95.

In fact, now that Comcast has started bundling the service with its phone and video services, subscribers will be able to get the so-called ‘Wideband’ even cheaper that $116.95. Wideband will effectively be priced at $99.95 if it is bought with one of those other services from the largest U.S. cable operator.

The new pricing strategy kicks off nationally on June 15.

Comcast has been aggressively rolling out its version of the wideband cable technology and says it now reaches around a third of the homes its systems pass in the United States.

from Summit Notebook:

AT&T: Netbooks key to expansion beyond cellphones?

AT&T says it sees a lot of promise for the netbook and the connection fees that come with the devices as a growing source of revenue as consumers look to take broadband connectivity on the road. But will consumers be as enthusiatic to sign another contract for the service? Click below to hear AT&T's President of Mobile & Consumer Markets talk about what he sees as the future of the netbook.

AT&T: Netbook popularity on the rise from Reuters TV on Vimeo.

US media gets a new guardian at FCC

After much speculation and guess-work, President-elect Barack Obama has chosen his former Harvard Law classmate Julian Genachoswski as nominee for chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

Genachowski, who has been Obama’s technology advisor, had been on most people’s guess-list for a new “chief technology officer” post with the incoming administration — though some outlets had called it last week on his FCC appointment.

So who is Genachowski? Well, most outlets believe he should understand the future of media as he’s held several posts at Barry Diller’s Internet media business IACI and he’s previously been a chief counsel for former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, the chairman under former President Bill Clinton.

Comcast FCC decision: the reactions

kevinmartinfcc.jpgThe U.S. Federal Communications Commission today ordered the largest U.S. cable TV operator Comcast Corp to change how it manages its broadband network. The regulator concluded that some of Comcast’s tactics unreasonably restrict Internet users who share movies and other material.

The 3 to 2 decision supported by two Democrat commissioners and the Republican chairman,  is precedent-setting. It could kick-start a long-simmering ‘net neutrality’ debate between advocates, who believe Internet access should always be open without interference, and some Internet service providers, who believe they should be allowed to manage Internet delivery in order to provide the best service to all users. The FCC seemed to support the former group.

“Subscribers should be able to go where they want, when they want, and generally use the Internet in any legal means,” FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said in a statement.

Uncle Walt bends FCC chairman over his knee

Walt_MossbergKevin_MartinWalt Mossberg, the world’s most powerful technology product reviewer, opened the final session of the D: All Things Digital conference with an angry tirade against the s-s-s-low state of broadband in the United States.

“WE ARE VERY SLOW,” Mossberg complained of U.S. Internet access speeds.

The target of 61-year-old Uncle Walt’s wrath was Kevin Martin, 42, the boyish-looking chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, who was punished on-stage before an audience of high-tech industry insiders.