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Broadband Direct

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

Operational issues for digital have arrived

April 30, 1997 8:00 pm | by Wendell Bailey | Comments

The FCC rules under which this service is to be offered are rather strict. The broadcasters in the top-10 markets must begin providing a digital signal within two years, and there are different, but strict, timetables for those in the second and lower markets. The NCTA has, for several years, had a consistent position on how, and under what circumstances this allotment would take place.

For cable, there are numbers in safety

April 30, 1997 8:00 pm | by Craig Kuhl | Comments

It's probably safe to say that accidents, especially job-related ones, don't just "happen." When they do, the ripple effect is felt far beyond the victims, their families, and co-workers, reaching all the way to the company's bottom line. For the cable industry, getting the job done safely is an attitude with growing pains.

Operators look at back-door telephony service

March 31, 1997 7:00 pm | by Dana Cervenka | Comments

Just when cable engineers thought they were beginning to get the technical issues surrounding the provision of broadband data services under control, up jumps an unexpected opportunity—or distraction? Now that operators are putting their plans to offer fullscale cablephone service on hold, they are starting to take a hard look at what it would take to provide various incarnations of Inter...

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Gaining momentum using two-way coax plant for data

March 31, 1997 7:00 pm | by Alon Carmeli, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Terayon Corp. | Comments

Internet access holds great promise for all levels of cable operators — from large MSOs to small independents. Data services represent a new and potentially significant, fast-growing revenue stream. However, use of first-generation cable modem solutions requires operators to upgrade their cable plants from one-way coaxial plants to hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) networks, thus spending up to $20...

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Real-world data story looks promising

March 31, 1997 7:00 pm | by Roger Brown | Comments

Instead, I paused. Thoughts of 500 channels, digital compression, full service networks, interactive TV, Teletext and other failures or missteps flooded my brain. I've seen a lot of neat technology that never went anywhere, largely for non-technical reasons (interdiction, anyone?). So, call me skeptical.

A role for ATM managing local traffic

March 31, 1997 7:00 pm | by Fred Dawson | Comments

Cable and other competitors to the local exchange carriers are at a crossroads when it comes to choosing how they will interface their networks with the networking world at large. In a nutshell, the question comes down to figuring what role, if any, ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) should play in managing local traffic.

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Supplying too much of the wrong thing?

March 31, 1997 7:00 pm | by Wendell Bailey | Comments

Perhaps that is a little too cruel. Let me try this: the primary goal of groups that seek to promote public technology is to make sure that no one is left out of the benefits that these technologies offer. There, that sounds better. No matter how you say it, it still comes down to this: how do we make sure that the riches of the Internet and cable TV and telephone connectivity reach those who a...

Putting the interactive platform in place

February 28, 1997 7:00 pm | by Dana Cervenka | Comments

Remember the movie "Tron," where ordinary human beings were sucked up into the innards of their computers, becoming strange participants in a hidden, electronic world? While today's consumer of video and data services might not be ready to take that much of a plunge, subscribers are embracing better quality, more realistic pictures (a la DBS), as well as a more compelling, interactive entertain...

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Are Telcos Headed Back to the Future?

February 28, 1997 7:00 pm | by Fred Dawson | Comments

Are the telcos headed back to the future, with fiber-to-the-home turning out to be proving in at about the timeframe originally projected? The answer is yes, says Pacific Bell CEO Dave Dorman. The RBOC chief sees an aggressive fiber-to-the-home strategy taking shape in the telephone industry, with "at least one major telco" planning to deploy all-optical broadband networks in newbuild installat...

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Getting ready for cable's digital era

February 28, 1997 7:00 pm | by Roger Brown | Comments

Pity the poor cable TV set-top box. For at least the past 10 years, everyone from consumers to legislators have been trying to rid the planet of the devices, but "the box" that resides on top of millions of TVs refuses to go away. They have remained ubiquitous simply because of their utility—first as a way for operators to offer more than 13 channels, then as a method to provide volume co...

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The comet is here; Are you ready to see it?

February 28, 1997 7:00 pm | by Jim Farmer | Comments

For the rest of our time on earth Tom Bopp spoke first, of how he discovered the comet on July 22, 1995. An amateur astronomer, he had planned a casual evening of stellar observation with a friend at a remote observing point (remoteness is a hazard of the hobby, because city lights are anathema to astronomers).

More style than substance?

February 28, 1997 7:00 pm | by Roger Brown | Comments

It's every cable operator's nightmare: It's Super Bowl Sunday. Millions of viewers are camped out in front of their TVs. Parties have been organized around what is arguably the premier TV event of the year. Then the cable goes out. A scene like that could cost a cable company dearly in its fight for respectability in the customer service war, undoing several years of efforts to improve network ...

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In wireless world, hearing is believing

February 28, 1997 7:00 pm | by Tom Robinson | Comments

Boldly, I've even scheduled participation in conference calls, knowing I was going to have to take them on the car phone. Such an arrangement, though, has sometimes, put me in significant distress, for just as I'm about to make the critical point that I hope will win the group over to my side, suddenly, the connection gets filled with static, cross-talk, or worse yet, silence (silence is not go...

Looking through rose-colored binoculars

February 28, 1997 7:00 pm | by Roger Brown | Comments

The fact of the matter is, no one really knows how many minutes a year the telephone network doesn't work. Or, if anyone knows, they aren't telling. In the course of preparing this month's cover story, it became abundantly clear to me that network reliability is a slippery concept — there are no established guidelines by which to calculate availability figures.

Arch-rivals work together on telephony standards

February 28, 1997 7:00 pm | by James Careless | Comments

In public, they're arch-rivals, but behind closed doors, Canada's cable and telephone industries are quietly working together, developing standards for local competitive telephone service. The reason they're doing this—in league with other long distance and wireless telephone service providers—is because a regulator has told them to.

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