Charter adds 7 DOCSIS 3.1 gigabit markets

December 20, 2017

Charter Communications has launched its Spectrum Internet Gig in seven additional markets, using DOCSIS 3.1 technology to provide 1 Gbps Internet services. The company is also doubling its minimum Internet speeds in those markets to 200 Mbps at no additional cost to new and existing Spectrum Internet customers.

Priced at $104.99 a month for new customers, Spectrum Internet Gig is now available to more than 8.8 million consumers in Austin, TX; Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, NC; Cincinnati; Honolulu; Kansas City, MO; New York City; and San Antonio. Charter plans to launch the service in additional markets next year. The company first deployed DOCSIS 3.1-based gigabit service on Oahu earlier this month.

"Charter's state-of-the-art, fiber-rich network is superior in its ability to deliver fast and reliable Internet to millions of consumers across the country," said Tom Rutledge, Charter chairman and CEO. "As technology continues to evolve, the products and services of tomorrow will increasingly rely on faster broadband connections. Charter's world-class network is best-positioned to deliver the bandwidth and capacity needed to meet these growing demands."

Spectrum Internet Gig is offered with no data caps or contracts, includes a modem and free in-home WiFi, and is backed by a 30-day money back guarantee.

Automotive Industry Updates its Guiding Principles to Enhance Sustainability in the Supply Chain

The Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) and Drive Sustainability today announced an updated version of the “Automotive Industry Guiding Principles to Enhance Sustainability Performance in the Supply Chain.” This collaboration between AIAG, Drive Sustainability and key automotive organizations provides guidance to our valued supplier partners concerning the latest industry expectations. Additionally, a supplementary reference document was created to provide further explanation and examples for the updated principles.

Along with AIAG and Drive Sustainability, BMW Group, Daimler, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Group, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Scania, Toyota, Volkswagen Group, Volvo Cars, and Volvo Group, all participated in this revision of the 2014 document, and in creating the additional explanatory resource. This extraordinary alignment between automakers came out of a need to address issues relevant to the automotive industry today, and to speak with a unified voice on the importance of a sustainable, ethical supply chain.  

With these goals in mind, Steve Kiefer, senior vice president, General Motors Global Purchasing and Supply Chain, says, “GM views the pursuit of positive environmental and social impact throughout the supply chain as a global priority.” Kiefer goes on to explain, “GM is focused on efficient business with our global partners, and AIAG’s guiding principles ensure that the entire auto industry is working together to use our scale and resources for good.” 

The amended text augments previously stated positions, and is more inclusive of principles that reflect current industry concerns pertaining to business ethics, human rights, working conditions, and environmental leadership. As Tanya Bolden, director of corporate responsibility, products & services, AIAG, explains: “We are pleased that the effort initiated a decade ago by the North American automakers has grown in scope and global acceptance. Due to the degree of complexity in today’s automotive supply chain, it is more important than ever that we all work together, and communicate these vitally important issues in a clear and unified voice.”

Updates to the Principles include a number of new expectations, as well as a brief description of each point. In one example, Business Ethics, new guidelines state that companies are expected to responsibly source raw materials and to work to minimize the risk of counterfeit or diverted parts and materials in their products. The importance of transparency in accurate quality reports, financial reports, and filings is also emphasized, as well as the need for companies to disclose both financial and non-financial information, according to regulations and industry practices. A final bullet point explains that companies need to establish processes so that employee concerns can be raised anonymously, without fear of retaliation.

Certain areas have also been reworked and expanded upon in the Environment section. Additions include a statement on air quality, which stipulates that companies must work to monitor and eliminate (as much as possible) emissions contributing to air pollution, as well as a note on managing chemicals responsibly to minimize or eliminate restricted substances.  

As Tom Lake, vice president, Honda North America Purchasing, notes: “Automakers have a responsibility to work together and offer guidance concerning the expectations we have as an industry, and to highlight the importance of strong governance structures to safeguard business ethics. These updated Guiding Principles and Practical Guidance documents are a great resource for our supplier partners to reference as they make important decisions that impact their business and ours.”

To further elaborate upon the guidelines outlined in the Principles, the supplementary text, “Global Automotive Sustainability Practical Guidance,” addresses the practicalities and legalities of meeting industry expectations. For instance, to create a safe and healthy working environment—one of the fundamental values noted in the Principles—companies should educate their employees on emergency and evacuation procedures. They should also offer personal protective equipment when required, as well as focus on training for machine safety. Other examples offered include the need to maintain legally required permits and licenses, and verify that fire detection, alarm, and suppression systems are in place and in working order at all times. 

“The new release of the Guiding Principles and Practical Guidance is part of Drive Sustainability’s enhanced commitment to sustainability,” Stefan Crets, executive director, CSR Europe, and facilitator of Drive Sustainability explains. “Drive Sustainability is a partnership of automotive companies that made a pledge to move to the next level of sustainability and supply chain management. We are happy to collaborate with AIAG and its members to put the basis of a global automotive strategy on supply chain sustainability. This is the foundation to strengthen Drive Sustainability activities like local supplier capability networks (in China & Turkey), and raw materials actions.”

Additional resources like the tools, trainings, and workshops AIAG offers, also help companies of all sizes meet sustainability performance expectations. Free online courses and assessments such as the Supply Chain Sustainability eLearning and the Supply Chain Sustainability Knowledge Assessment (Practitioner Level), along with additional options for AIAG members, all support the same industry goals regarding the social and environmental performance of the supply chain.

View the Automotive Industry Guiding Principles to Enhance Sustainability Performance in the Supply Chain

About AIAG

The Automotive Industry Action Group is a unique not-for-profit organization where automakers, suppliers, service providers, government entities, and individuals in academia have worked collaboratively for 35 years to drive down costs and complexity within the supply chain. AIAG membership includes preeminent manufacturers and many of their parts suppliers and service providers. 

About Drive Sustainability

Drive Sustainability is a partnership of 11 leading automotive companies that work together to improve sustainability in the supply chain. Starting with 2012 the companies have assessed over 20,000 suppliers in more than 100 countries and engaged over 1500 suppliers in capacity building initiatives. Over 40 training sessions have been conducted in 10 countries. Drive Sustainability operates under strict anti-trust policies. Drive Sustainability is facilitated by CSR Europe.

About CSR Europe
CSR Europe is the leading European business network for Corporate Social Responsibility. Through its network of around 45 corporate members and 41 National CSR organisations, it gathers over 10,000 companies, and acts as a platform for those businesses looking to enhance sustainable growth and positively contribute to society. In its mission to bring the CSR agenda forward, CSR Europe goes beyond European borders and cooperates with CSR organisations in other regions across the world.


Source: AIAG CR Team

Tesla reveals a new Roadster, due in 2020

At Tesla's Semi event, the automaker dropped its new Roadster. It'll have a 620-mile range via a 200kWh battery pack."You'll be able to travel from LA to San Francisco and back without recharging," CEO Elon Musk said. The new Tesla Roadster will do zero to 60 in 1.9 seconds, and it'll blast through a quarter mile in 8.9 seconds, before reaching a top speed of over 250 MPH.

Oh, and it's a four-seater.

Musk called it, "a hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars." The car is due in 2020 so start saving up all your nickels and dimes now -- the cost is $200,000, with a $50,000 reservation to get in line for a base model. Of course, there are also 1,000 "Founders Edition" Roadsters also available, provided you're willing to pony up for the full $250k price right away.

A limited number of folks that attended tonight's event and put down a $50,000 deposit on the Roadster will get a ride in the car.

Sprint, Altice Aim to Solve MVNO Puzzle

November 14, 2017
Sprint (NYSE:S) has been pretty busy in November, announcing the demise of its attempt to merge with fellow wireless provider T-Mobile and the initiation of a multi-year strategic agreement with Altice USA (NYSE:ATUS).

Under the terms, Altice will be able to use Sprint's network, under an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) model, to provide mobile voice and data services. In return, Sprint will densify its network using the Altice broadband network.

In a conference call last week, Tarek Robbiati, CFO of Sprint, called the deal "unique" in terms of an MVNO arrangement.

"It is not a simple resale of capacity," Robbiati said. "There is from the Altice standpoint, but the infrastructure swap is what makes the deal the first of its kind."

Sprint plans to deploy several thousand small cells in the Altice footprint in order to densify its network to bolster the future of 5G. Robbiati noted that the deal is part of Sprint's overall strategy and referred to a joint venture parent company SoftBank announced in October with Australian-based Lendlease Group. Each company has committed $200 million in equity to acquire and restructure 8,000 existing telecom sites, including rooftops, across the United States.

Under the terms of its agreement with Sprint, Altice can only sell wireless within its footprint. However, as it expands this footprint, it has the right to sell wireless in the new areas. Likewise, Sprint may piggyback on expansion of the Altice infrastructure. Robbiati said he is "comfortable" with the investment of tower companies and partnerships with the likes of Altice.

"I think we have a compelling proposition in the near term," Robbiati said, noting that Sprint's priority is to begin upgrading its existing footprint in terms of towers and also in parallel to densify.

Robbiati said the agreement with Altice was not contingent on the failure of the T-Mobile deal.

"(Altice) would have taken place anyway," he said. "(Densification) is a critical part of our strategy. We started with trials with Altice six months ago. We spoke about the trials in prior earnings announcements."

The Sprint/Altice deal is not exclusive, meaning that Spring is free to make similar agreements with other players as well. The mobile operator also is free to deploy fixed wireless offerings; there aren't any restrictions in the terms.

There is monetary compensation involved on top of the infrastructure sharing, but Robbiati wouldn't share specifics with regards to the volume rate card for gigabytes or voice minutes. He also wouldn't provide detail about the performance measurements saying only that Sprint feels "good" about the fact that Sprint's performance hurdles are the right ones.

"We intend as true partners that we deliver those," Robbiati said.


ATS announced as new Mediacom Communications repair facility

September 2017

Advanced Technical Services announced that they have been added as a new cable distribution equipment repair facility for Mediacom Communications.

When asked about the addition, ATS Company President, Dave Vikartofsky, said that “being an authorized repair facility for Mediacom Communications will allow us to expand our repair offerings to a new customer base allowing us to continue to grow our support services within the cable industry”.

For more information about ATS product and service offerings please visit the company’s website or

ATS Supporting Play Network with Equipment Repair Services

August 2017

Advanced Technical Services announced today that that they have added Play Network to the list of Entertainment Industry customers they are now supporting.

When asked about the addition, ATS Company President, Dave Vikartofsky, said that “we are excited about the opportunity to help support Play Network with their equipment repair needs.”

The addition of Play Network allows us to expand the breadth of our repair offerings within this industry, and to deepen our existing relationships with the existing customers we already support”.

For more information about ATS product and service offerings please visit the company’s website or

ATS Successfully Completes Automotive Quality Audit

July 2017

Advanced Technical Services announced today that is has successfully completed an automotive quality audit for a major automotive OEM.

The successful completion of this audit verifies that the Quality Management System implemented and maintained by ATS meets the standards and requirements set by this automotive OEM.

Company President Dave Vikartofsky said, as an approved quality supplier to this customer, we can now participate in any relevant electronic remanufacturing RFQs that may become available in the future.

ATS adds this successful quality audit completion to the list of other automotive and non-automotive quality certifications already in place.

Comcast partners with SunRun to market residential solar

solar panels
Under terms of the deal, Comcast will need to commit to spending $10 million on sales and marketing to receive a cut of consumer sales.

ATS Successfully Completes Annual ISO Audit

Advanced Technical Services has successfully completed a re-certification audit by NSF in June of 2017.

The certification verifies that the Quality Management System implemented and maintained by ATS meets the requirements of the ISO 9001-2008 standard for our repair processes.

ATS has been ISO certified since 2007 and is proud of the ongoing commitment from our entire team.  We have begun the transition to the ISO 9001-2015 version, with an expected completion date of summer of 2018.

Charter surges as Japan’s SoftBank considers bid

(Reuters) - Charter Communications Inc's shares surged to a record high on Monday after a source said Japan's SoftBank Group Corp was considering an acquisition offer, even as Charter shot down the possibility of it being the acquirer in any merger with SoftBank's U.S. wireless carrier, Sprint Corp.

A source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Sunday that SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son is considering making a bid for Charter as soon as the end of August, in what would be by far the Japanese telecommunications conglomerate's biggest ever deal.

Charter has a market capitalization of more than $100 billion and another $60 billion in debt.

The bid would be at least 50 percent in cash and the rest in stock, the source said.

SoftBank is working with JPMorgan Chase & Co, Deutsche Bank AG and Mizuho Financial Group Inc on raising debt financing for its bid, sources close to the matter said. It may enlist more banks in the future, the sources added.

The prospect of a Sprint-Charter tie-up comes at a time when the telecom industry is preparing for a wave of deal activity. Regulators lifted a ban on merger discussions among telecom companies following the conclusion of an auction of broadcaster airwaves for wireless use in April.

Analysts and investors have said that tie-ups between cable companies and wireless carriers increasingly make sense as the distinction between broadband and wireless connectivity blurs, and consumers demand seamless connections for their devices.

Cable companies have the infrastructure that wireless carriers need for the growing amounts of mobile data customers are using. Cable companies could benefit from ownership of cellular networks as they launch their own mobile services.

Charter is currently planning to launch its own wireless service on Verizon Communications Inc's network next year, and analysts have said that renting a network from a wireless carrier will be more costly long term than owning one.

Sprint, which is in the middle of a turnaround plan, has been looking to boost its financial status and better compete amid a fiercely competitive and saturated market for wireless service. The company has been exploring deal options with T-Mobile US Inc but faces the hurdle of reaching an agreement on price as well as getting the deal approved by regulators. Both companies have said they are open to other partners.

Charter's shares closed at $391.91, up 5.8 percent, after hitting a record high of $399.95. Sprint shares closed down 2.9 percent to $7.98.

A Charter spokesman declined to comment on Monday on whether the company would sell to the wireless carrier.

A deal between the two could be complex and disruptive, analysts said, noting financing issues, complicated ownerships and the possibility of upending existing partnerships.

Investors said a deal with Sprint would be negative for Charter bondholders as it would likely increase leverage significantly.

JPMorgan analyst Philip Cusick wrote in a research note that a base case scenario would assume a $500-a-share bid for Charter, paid for with $20 billion of new cash from SoftBank and $40 billion of new debt. The deal could drive $2 billion in annual synergies, but he noted that SoftBank could lever Charter up significantly. A deal could also nullify part or all of Charter's network resale agreement with Verizon.

It would also require the blessing of cable provider Comcast Corp. Comcast and Charter announced a wireless partnership in May aimed at finding cost savings as both companies enter the wireless market with their own mobile services. That agreement bars either company from tying up with a wireless carrier for a year without the other company's consent.