It wasn’t Easter eggs the kids were rolling across the grass, but putts, and Brian Roberts — Comcast chairman and CEO, and golf fan — was there to help them on their hunt for a top golfing prize.
Roberts, who himself plays the game “quite well,” according to no less an authority than Golf Channel co-founder and Masters legend Arnold Palmer, spent his Easter Sunday morning escorting Drive, Chip and Putt contestants from the 18th green at Augusta National Golf Club, home to last week’s Masters tournament.
Roberts is a member of the exclusive club, and was identified only as “an Augusta National member” in Golf Channel’s coverage of the event, rather than as the executive who heads the company that owns the network.
Roberts shook hands — or, occasionally, high-fived — each of the 7-to-15-year-olds following their completion of the putting portion of the competition, the last in the rotation and the one that determined the overall winners in each of four age categories. Roberts then walked them back to their always proud, and sometimes consoling, parents.
The Comcast chief was both a lone greeter/escort and part of a team. He paired up with last year’s Masters champion, Bubba Watson, and former Secretary of State and Augusta member Condoleeza Rice.
Roberts provided no comment on his participation. Augusta members are notoriously mum about their membership and the club.
— John Eggerton
Xfinity ‘Prepaid’ Gets Faster, but Still Shy of Broadband
Comcast has quietly raised the downstream speed of a prepaid Internet product it has been testing for more than two years, but don’t go calling the service “broadband” yet. It still doesn’t come close to qualifying for that label, at least when it’s viewed through the lens of the Federal Communications Commission.
As a website dedicated to Comcast’s prepaid product shows, the latest version delivers up to 5 Megabits per second downstream, up from the original 4 Mbps. The upstream capabilities of the prepaid offering haven’t changed — it continues to max out at 768 Kilobits per second.
The FCC, meanwhile, used to define broadband at 4 Mbps down by 1 Mbps up, but recently voted to raise that to a lofty 25 Mbps/3 Mbps.
Comcast started to test Xfinity Prepaid Internet in the fall of 2012, targeting the low-risk offering to people without bank accounts and other consumers who don’t qualify for its postpaid high-speed Internet products. It doesn’t say how many customers are taking the service, which is being backed by a toll-free number and some retail outlets in parts of Arkansas, Tennessee, Philadelphia, Delaware, New Jersey and Florida to handle the orders. But it’s apparently adding enough to make the ongoing trial worthwhile.
While the shift into prepaid, a model that has done wonders for the mobile industry, required Comcast to develop some new billing and back-office systems, the speed limits and other barebones capabilities of the service have likely ensured that it won’t cannibalize Comcast’s postpaid base of almost 22 million.
The no-frills starter kit runs $69.95 and comes with a DOCSIS 3.0 modem, required cabling and 30 days of service. Customers can refill by buying seven more days of access for $15, or $45 for an additional 30 days.
— Jeff Baumgartner
CTAM Rolls Out INTX Red Carpet For TV Scribes
The Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing is lending a hand to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association to help boost press coverage of the upcoming INTX in Chicago. CTAM last week sent out a letter to more than 200 members of the Television Critics Association inviting them to attend the former Cable Show free of charge.
The complimentary registration includes access to all VIP events, including the Chairmen’s Reception, as well as entry into all the show’s “INTX Talks” panel sessions and presentations. TCA members also get discounted hotel accommodations for the conference, which takes place May 5-7.
It was not clear at press time how many TCA members have actually signed up through the offer by CTAM, which oversees the three- to four-day cable portion of the biannual TCA Press Tour in Southern California.
— R. Thomas Umstead