Spectrum’s cheaper bundle, Comcast’s cheaper internet

This week on TechHive: Spectrum’s skinnier bundle

Charter has launched a new Spectrum TV bundle that’s a little less bloated than what it usually offers.

The new package, called Spectrum TV Stream, costs $40 per month for Spectrum internet customers. It offers more than 90 channels, including cable news from CNN and Fox News along with entertainment channels such as A&E, AMC, Discovery, FX, and HGTV. What’s missing is equally notable, as the package does not include any local or sports channels. (Here’s the full channel list.)

I don’t expect Spectrum TV Stream to be wildly popular, and I don’t think Charter does either. Like Spectrum’s previous skinny TV packages, it’s merely a way to recapture a small fraction of the folks who’ve ditched pay TV service but still have Spectrum internet.

Still, the makeup of this particular streaming TV package is unlike most other cord-cutting options, and it’s another sign that the TV bundle as we know it is breaking down.

Read the full column on TechHive →

Weekly rewind

T-Mobile home internet throttling: T-Mobile has started warning home internet users that their connections may degrade if the network is busy and they’ve used more than 1.2 TB of data in a month. The company added this policy for new customers back in January, but is now expanding it to everyone and has started emailing customers about it.

I understand that wireless internet has inherent bandwidth constraints. But T-Mobile hooked customers in with the promise of unlimited data, and now it’s changing the rules in somewhat sneaky fashion. T-Mobile’s sign-up page doesn’t even mention any potential throttling, nor does the new “Broadband Facts” label that the FCC now requires for major internet providers. The label just promises “unlimited” data without restrictions, when in fact there’s a big one.

Comcast’s cheaper internet: On the upside, the rise of wireless home internet has at least spooked incumbent ISPs into competing on price. This week, Comcast started rolling out prepaid home internet under the “Now” brand, priced at $30 per month for 100 Mbps download speeds, or $45 per month for 200 Mbps. Unlike Xfinity Internet proper, neither plan has data caps.

While Comcast has offered prepaid home internet before, the 100 Mbps tier is new, as is the Now Internet branding and the overt positioning against wireless providers such as T-Mobile. Despite what some customer support reps may tell you, 100 Mbps is plenty for streaming if you have a decent Wi-Fi router. The new plans are available now in the Hartford, New Haven, Houston, and Miami markets, and should hit the rest of Comcast’s footprint in the “coming weeks.”

Comcast also announced a “Now TV” bundle that includes a smattering of non-sports, non-local channels along with Peacock for $20 per month. It seems less compelling to me than the internet service alone.

Roku hacking: Roku says that hackers broke into nearly 600,000 users’ accounts and made unauthorized device and subscription purchases on their behalf. Instead of actually breaking into Roku’s systems, the attackers merely gathered up some previously-stolen passwords from other sites, then logged into the accounts of folks who were using the same passwords for Roku.

Roku still shares some of the blame here, as it clearly didn’t do enough to defend against large-scale suspicious login attempts. (The company now says it’s turning on two-factor authentication for all accounts.) But if you needed another reminder not to use the same password everywhere, this is it.

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Save more money

Peacock’s usual promo deal is back after a brief hiatus. New and returning subscribers can use the code PF50 at checkout to get one year for $30 with ads, or $90 without. (As before, you can also sneak into a free Peacock trial instead.)

Other notes on the deal front:

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Correction on the MLB TV deal from GOVX I mentioned last week: It’s for military and veterans only, not first responders or law enforcement. Apologies for the error.

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