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Clearing out the cobwebs in the attic

Fri, 01/31/1997 - 7:00pm
Roger Brown
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With the bloom off the residential telephony rose, cable engineers are back to pondering the merits of powered drops, power-passing taps and cable telephony systems.

Not having to run power down the drop avoids a lot of headaches today, but where does that leave the industry in its quest to offer new services in the future? Should network planners do it anyway?

Oddly, the tepid market for cablephone systems hasn't affected company stocks; just take a look at Tellabs and ADC Telecommunications. Those are two companies that have poured millions into such hardware, and to date, have little to show for it.

I can't help but wonder if Cablevision Systems woke a sleeping giant with its very public anti-SNET campaign up in Connecticut (see story, page 12). After charging the telco with safety violations, sloppy construction practices and poor grounding and bonding, I hope the cable company has its own house in order. From Cablevision's perspective, it has nothing to lose by delaying SNET's entrance into the video market, which is, demographically, one of the best. Let's just hope the rock throwers don't show SNET and the state regulators their glass houses.

Last month, the SCTE had to do some last-minute jockeying after the NCTA unexpectedly moved its 1998 convention site (Chicago) and date (June) to within a week of the SCTE's. Frantic phone calls by the SCTE probably saved the day by moving the Expo to a date in May, but it's not the first time the smaller organization has had to adjust its schedule because Big Brother stepped on its toes. The NCTA even offered to let the SCTE have its show in conjunction with them. Maybe they're on to something we could lump all the industry's trade shows together and only have to set up booths once.

General Instrument is attempting to change its image on Wall Street and pump up its stock price by renaming the company and restructuring its reporting lines, but the fact of the matter is that the employees are still considered "Jerrold guys" and will be for a long while. Kudos to Frank Drendel, who bought his company back (yet again) at a discount (yet again). Wall Street apparently hasn't bought in yet, judging by the lack of movement in stock prices. Of course, the Jerrold guys will tell you it's a long-term play anyway, right? One question: do they know something about the telcos' purchasing plans that no one else knows?

Apparently, I wasn't the only one suggesting TCI needed to put up or shut up when it comes to deploying new services when I wrote my commentary last month. According to recent press reports on TCI, company President and CEO John Malone said even his father asked him why they didn't just stop mouthing off and get back to work.

That's all for now. Here come the slings and arrows.

Contact Roger Brown at: RBrowner@aol.com

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