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Broadband Direct

Daily news and top headlines for broadband communications engineering and design professionals

Memory Lane - An instant hit

January 2, 2013 1:23 pm | by Stewart Schley, media and technology writer | Comments

It was only six years ago that Netflix, then known mainly as a mail-order distributor of DVD movies, launched a novel streaming video service it called, blandly enough, the “instant watching” feature – later to be rebranded “Watch Instantly.” The rest is, of course, history.

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Open Mic - Taking fiber deeper into the network

January 2, 2013 1:08 pm | by Johnny Hill, chief operating officer at Clearfield | Comments

Most MSOs deployed 12 fibers to each node in the 1990s, as the cost difference from a two-fiber cable to a larger-count cable was the difference of pennies. This forward-thinking attitude is now paying dividends. There are a multitude of different options for MSOs to leverage their existing assets.

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Engineering-Wise - Some lessons from Sandy

January 2, 2013 12:28 pm | by Derek DiGiacomo, senior director of the information systems and energy management program at the SCTE | Comments

In the weeks after Superstorm Sandy ravaged the Mid-Atlantic region, cable was a whirlwind of activity. Engineering crews worked tirelessly to ensure that critical facilities were up and running and that key telecommunications services would be quickly restored.

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Capital Currents - Emergency information for sight-impaired viewers

January 2, 2013 11:39 am | by Jeffrey Krauss, president of Telecommunications and Technology Policy | Comments

The Federal Communications Commission has begun a new proceeding on delivery of emergency information to blind and sight-impaired viewers. The FCC seems to be aware of the practical problem noted above, but it’s not making much progress in dealing with it.

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Navigation guides yet to take flight

November 21, 2012 10:14 am | by Brian Santo | Comments

TV’s user interface (UI) – combining navigation, search, discovery and more – is as sophisticated a product as the TV industry has. But it doesn’t by a long shot get viewers literally everywhere they might want to go. “Disaster” might be too strong a word for TV’s UI, but whatever the appropriate description is, the difference is a matter only of degree.

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DOCSIS 3.1 takes center stage at Cable-Tec Expo

November 21, 2012 9:56 am | by Brian Santo and Mike Robuck | Comments

There were plenty of buzz-worthy topics during the most recent edition of the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo, but the official debut of the DOCSIS 3.1 specification made the biggest splash in Orlando outside of Sea World. A panel provided some insights on DOCSIS 3.1.

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Telecompetition top concern at TelcoTV

November 20, 2012 7:41 pm | by Brian Santo | Comments

Tier 2 and Tier 3 service providers remain squeezed by circumstances. Some are scraping up the wherewithal to build infrastructure supporting new services. Meanwhile, equipment vendors continue to devise solutions sized and priced appropriately for the market.

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A compelling multi-screen user experience

November 20, 2012 7:37 pm | by Kirk Edwardson, director of marketing at Espial | Comments

Managed service providers, telcos, MSOs and satellite broadcasters alike are facing intense competition from over-the-top service providers such as Netflix and Hulu. These new market entrants are rapidly building their subscriber base by providing premium video and video-on-demand services on any device.

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In Perspective - Faster, pussycat

November 19, 2012 12:58 pm | by Brian Santo | Comments

Every year, we all get treated to a country-by-country breakdown of average broadband speeds. In recent years, several traditional economic powerhouses find themselves somewhere down in the middle of the rankings. This is a group of countries used to being leaders, so lagging in any way tends to chafe.

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Memory Lane - A signal of what would come

November 19, 2012 12:50 pm | by Stewart Schley, media and technology writer | Comments

In cable, the cable modem and the television converter loom large as signatures of technological advancement. But industry historians point to a far less notorious device as the innovation that propelled the industry from its tenuous origins to an echelon reserved for the truly game-changing. It was a signal meter.

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Ciciora's Corner - Patents and you

November 19, 2012 12:43 pm | by Walt S. Ciciora, expert on cable and consumer electronics issues | Comments

Patents are still very much in the news. I discussed a broad review of patents in my last column. This month, I will drill down a bit. I hope you went to Google Patents and downloaded one or more just to see what they look like. Only utility patents will be discussed.

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Open Mic - May the source be with you

November 19, 2012 12:30 pm | by Bob Edwards, vice president of engineering at itaas | Comments

In the “Star Wars” saga, the legendary Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi describes the “Force” as an energy field that “surrounds us; it penetrates us and binds the galaxy together.” In a similar fashion, the move to “open-source” software binds together the many moving parts of the ever-expanding galaxy of software and electronics devices.

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Engineering-Wise - Get your cable networks ready for higher capacity

November 19, 2012 12:06 pm | by Daniel Howard, senior vice president of engineering and CTO of the SCTE | Comments

The race is on to develop the next-generation access signaling schemes for cable operators to keep up with Nielsen’s Law growth in network capacities and speeds delivered to customers. CableLabs and the SCTE have partnered in new and deeper ways to accelerate the deployment of DOCSIS 3.1.

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Capital Currents - The FCC’s attack on Channel 37

November 19, 2012 11:18 am | by Jeffrey Krauss, president of Telecommunications and Technology Policy | Comments

The FCC has a plan to induce broadcasters to give up some of their frequency spectrum assignments so that more spectrum becomes available for mobile communications. But the FCC plan might also bump the radio astronomy scientists out of off-air TV Channel 37.

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IPTV: Coming soon to a town near you

September 30, 2012 12:18 am | by Brian Santo | Comments

With IP-based video technology maturing, there is a growing number of smaller companies able to provide subscribers in their typically exurban-to-rural areas with services and features that include larger packages of top-ranked channels (with more of those channels in HD), multi-room DVR, TV Everywhere-type services and hybrid features like Caller ID on TV.

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