Redbox Instant by Verizon, the online video and kiosk DVD rental partnership announced by the two companies last year, appears to have finally gotten off the ground after a series of delays. Long anticipated as a competitor to Netflix, the venture allows customers to stream videos over landline or 4G broadband connections, in addition to renting 4 DVDs or games a month at Redbox kiosks. Subscriptions cost $8.00 per month. Blu-Ray rentals at kiosks are available for an extra dollar per month.
In what could be a key differentiator, Redbox Instant allows non-subscribers to rent or buy titles on an a la carte basis, although only selected titles can be viewed in this manner. Customers renting a title online can delay starting it for up to 30 days. Once started, the title can be viewed multiple times over the next 48 hours. Customers that purchase a title can view it at any time.
Streaming works on many devices like computers, most tablets and smartphones, some Samsung TVs and Blu-Ray players, and the Xbox360 gaming console. However, it does not yet appear to work with other consoles or devices such as Roku or Boxee. Also, the options for viewing titles are subject to considerable variations. Some content can only be rented at kiosks, some is not available in high definition, and some can be rented but not purchased. Even so, the joint venture claims to be working towards adding more titles, options and devices as quickly as possible. While the list of available titles is not as expansive as that offered by Netflix, the kiosk, a la carte, and purchase options may be very attractive to many consumers.
The promise of electronic medical records (EMRs) management has been a widely discussed yet largely unfilled for a number of years. Politicians and health care providers have long touted the idea that EMRs would make doctors and hospitals more efficient, thereby reducing costs and ultimately revolutionizing the delivery of health care. EMRs have also been billed as way to prevent medical errors and to give patients faster delivery of information from their medical providers.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the stimulus) included provisions to award health care providers that make greater use of medical records with payments, intended to remove what was largely thought to be the primary barrier to EMRs — cost. With this carrot came a stick, in the form of a penalty for medical providers that do not adopt EMRs, specifically, a decrease in reimbursements for Medicare and Medicaid covered services.
So, while health care providers already had a huge incentive to finally fulfill the promise of EMRs, a number of barriers remain. These include the inability and reluctance of hospitals to create EMR systems that communicate with each other. This stems from fears of running afoul of privacy laws and the inability to send via data connections large files, like X-rays for example. Read more
The two dominant wireless players are keeping spectrum in the family. Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc. announced that AT&T has agreed to acquire 39 lower 700 MHz B-block licenses from Verizon for $1.9 billion.
The transaction also includes the transfer of AWS licenses in five western U.S. markets from AT&T to Verizon Wireless. The 700 MHz spectrum being acquired by AT&T covers 42 million people in 18 states. Read more
I’ll be the first to admit that l like trolling the news for oddball stories. Like this one from CNET, which catalogues the Tweeted complaints of disgruntled children who were disappointed with their holiday gifts (example: “I’m really not getting an iPhone for Christmas…… #heartbreaking #depressing #WHYmom”). But this one from Bob Bentz in imedia ups the ante by blending news, social commentary, and a perspective on the development of the telecom economy when it reports that Verizon is bowing out of 1-900 number billing.
Surely you remember 1-900 calls, stomping grounds of Dionne Warwick and the Psychic Friends Network, as well as adult chat lines (parodied brilliantly by The Simpsons (Season 3, episode 8F05)). Much maligned but highly lucrative, the high-rate calls emerged in the late 1980s and quickly earned the scrutiny of the FCC and FTC as users reeled from unexpected exorbitant fees. But even under the watchful eyes of Federal regulators, 1-900 services managed to deliver revenue streams to their operators (except the adult lines, which quickly earned the disdain of many carriers soon after their introduction). Read more
Coming on the heels of an agreement to sell spectrum to smaller carriers earlier this month, Verizon Wireless announced last week that it is selling a larger chunk of its lower 700 MHz B-block licenses to Clear Talk. Clear Talk is purchasing 10 licenses covering small markets in Texas, Maryland, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico.
Clear Talk currently offers mobile phone and broadband service with devices that also create mobile hotspots. It is anticipated that Clear Talk will use the acquired spectrum to expand its fixed wireless broadband connectivity product offered under the ClearBurst name.
Verizon Wireless agreed to sell numerous unused lower 700 MHz licenses in order to obtain approval of its purchase of AWS spectrum from cable operators. No announcements have been made regarding the sale of Verizon’s 700 MHz licenses in metro areas, including Los Angeles and Chicago; however, there is industry speculation that the spectrum-hungry AT&T would be the logical purchaser.
Verizon and AT&T continue to grow and dominate the market. Smaller carriers have had difficulty using the lower 700 MHz spectrum for mobile services. The lack interoperability requirements across spectrum bands, and the fact that smaller carriers lack purchasing power to drive manufacturer decisions means that only the largest carriers who own most of the 700 MHz spectrum are able to obtain handsets. Across all spectrum bands, the market dominance of the two largest wireless providers means that smaller providers have difficulty obtaining fair roaming agreements and find themselves unable to compete for subscribers.
Verizon Wireless announced the sale of 700 MHz spectrum in rural areas. Panhandle Telecommunications Systems and Nortex Communications are the first to ink deals with the telecommunications behemoth.
Panhandle signed an agreement to purchase the RSA 2-Hansford 700 MHz lower B-block license, covering 12 counties in northwestern Texas. Nortex is purchasing the Texas RSA 6-Jack 700 MHz lower B-block license, which covers a four-county area northwest of Dallas. Both deals require FCC approval
The agreements are the first two to be announced as a result of Verizon Wireless’ agreement with the FCC to sell unused spectrum in exchange for regulatory approval to acquire spectrum from cable operators. Verizon states that it “is committed to being a good steward of the spectrum it owns.” According to the announcement, the company has sold or has agreed to sell 26 of its lower 700 MHz spectrum licenses to nine different telecommunications companies operating in 13 states.
Former President Bill Clinton’s William J. Clinton Foundation has announced a new initiative designed to improve the overall and availability of healthcare to all socioeconomic and racial groups.
The Clinton Health Matters Initiative is a partnership with General Electric, Tenet Healthcare and Verizon Communications. The companies, in collaboration with the Clinton Foundation, will work with communities, corporations, not-for-profit organizations and individuals, to promote healthy lifestyles. Read more