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Up Front - August 2011

Sun, 07/31/2011 - 9:00pm

Alpha's photovoltaic arrayCommScope, Alpha, SCTE create backup power system

The SCTE, Alpha Technologies and CommScope have collaborated on a prototype powering system designed to help cable operators provide business customers with guaranteed power continuity.

The system will enable MSOs to sign service-level agreements (SLAs) with enterprise customers, such as banks and other financial institutions, that dictate the availability of backup power should primary power sources experience outages.

The system leverages environmentally friendly technologies, including hydrogen fuel cells and photovoltaics (PV), together managed for continued availability during lengthy power interruptions. The SCTE’s own 19-kilowatt green power system turns out to have been something of a pilot project for the system.

CommScope's hydrogen fuel cellAlpha is the lead on the PV and battery elements, while CommScope is providing the fuel cell technology. The former contributed a 2.8 kW grid interactive solar array and 20-hour runtime storage batteries. The latter contributed a fuel cell power system that provides 8 kW, expandable to 16 kW.

Intelligent controls from Alpha and OutBack Power, an Alpha Technologies company, optimize the generation and storage capabilities of all sources when public utility power is unavailable.

Batteries will last for at least eight hours on their own, SCTE CEO Mark Dzuban explained, but the system will opt to consume PV power first. If it gets too dark for PV input, the system will fall back on battery power and the fuel cell will kick in, making sure the battery doesn’t fall below a preset, say about 70 percent of total charge.

“We believe it’s good for five days, maybe even seven,” Dzuban told CED. “And it’s all green. It burns H2, and the byproduct is water.”

“While cable has increased its share of the Tier 2 and Tier 3 business markets, the greatest growth potential exists with Tier 1 business services customers,” said Jim Hughes, senior vice president of broadband sales at CommScope. “Working together with SCTE and Alpha, we’re creating deployment models that will help operators deliver the high-performance, high-reliability services that large corporations, particularly those with multiple locations, demand.”

Cable operators could of course also use the system for their own purposes.


SCTE making progress on ‘green’ standards

The SCTE will have drafts of proposed standards on cable system energy management it has been working on for the past year ready by mid-September.

The organization’s Sustainability Management Subcommittee (SMS) plans to unveil drafts of its first two standards at its meeting on Sept. 15 in Dallas.

SMS 001 is proposed as the standard for “Recommended Energy Conservation, Sustainability and Efficiency Practices for Critical Systems,” and SMS 002 is for “Product Environmental Requirements for Cable Telecommunications Facilities.” The latter proposal addresses such considerations as temperature, humidity, electromagnetic interference and environmental design.

To be held immediately following the SCTE’s Sept. 14 semi-annual Smart Energy Management Initiative (SEMI) Forum, the SMS meeting will enable subcommittee members to play active roles in shaping standards that will help to reduce the cost and environmental impact of cable network operations and service delivery.

In addition, attendees are expected to address the creation of standards for power availability of hardware that comes to market in 2013 and beyond.


Report: Internet-Connected TV Sales to Surpass Game Console Sales

A new report from Informa Telecoms & Media predicted that the worldwide sales of Internet-connected TVs this year would outstrip game consoles for the first time.

Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo are slated to sell 37 million game consoles this year, but consumers will buy 52 million connected TVs from companies such as Samsung, Sony and LG.

“The market for connected devices – connected TVs, connected Blu-ray players, game consoles, media-streaming devices and hybrid set-top boxes – is continuing to grow globally as consumers seek to access services such as Netflix and iPlayer via their televisions,” said Andrew Ladbrook, an analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media. “In 2016, 1.8 billion inhome video devices – including tablets – will be sold, an increase of almost 800 percent from today. And by this time, 70 percent of all in-home video devices sold will be able to connect to the Internet.”

The report said the largest consumer electronics manufacturers stood to make the biggest gains, in particular the big three: Samsung, LG and Sony. But TV manufacturers will be faced with a conflict of interest. On the one hand, they must build and support a platform that works across both the latest and legacy devices – effectively reducing the differences between the two – and, on the other, they must persuade users that the latest iteration is a superior device and worth purchasing.

But Sony, Samsung and LG will face market pressure from emerging companies.

“Just as Sony was toppled by the emergence of Samsung and LG, so these established companies should be wary of Chinese manufacturers such as Hisense and TCL. These manufacturers are following the high-volume, low-price model laid down by Samsung and are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries of connected TVs as the Chinese market burgeons to sales of over 47 million in 2016,” said Ladbrook.

The report said the main losers would be media-streaming devices, which Informa does not believe will move far beyond the niche status they currently occupy.


Pew: One-third of U.S. adults own a smartphone

One-third of all adults in the United States own a smartphone, according to new research from the Pew Internet Project. The Pew survey found that 33 percent of respondents with cell phones said they owned a smartphone, with 39 percent reporting their phone ran on an operating system such as Android, iOS or BlackBerry.

Android accounted for 35 percent of all smartphone owners, while iPhone and BlackBerry tied at 24 percent each. Another 4 percent of smartphone owners reported they owned a Windows phone, and 6 percent described their phone as a Palm device.

The survey also found a growing dependence on smartphones as the main way of getting online. One-quarter of smartphone owners surveyed said they used their device as the primary means of accessing the Internet, despite having other means of online access at home. Of those who mostly used their smartphones to get online, roughly onethird lacked a high-speed broadband connection at home.

Smartphone owners describe their phones

IDC: Tablet sales down 28% in Q1

The tablet market took a hit in the first quarter after weak demand and a worse-than-expected seasonal decline after the holiday season caused an unexpected decline in shipments, according to a new report from International Data Corp. (IDC).

The research firm reports that global tablet shipments fell 28 percent quarter-over-quarter in the first three months of the year to 7.2 million units.

“We expect the rest of the year to be much stronger, but we believe vendors that continue to focus on the telco channel for distribution will face serious challenges,” said Bob O’Donnell, IDC’s vice president of clients and displays, in the report.

Despite the grim numbers, IDC raised its 2011 shipment forecast for tablets to 53.5 million units from its previous projection of 50.4 million units.

WW Media Tablets


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