Molasses in February
The announcement last year of a joint venture among Sprint Nextel and Cox, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Advance/Newhouse was pretty exciting, promising the integration of wireless telephony into the triple play bundle. But now it looks like progress toward integrating wireless into the bundle will be slow at best.
Among the first manifestations of that JV were Comcast's quiet offering of wireless service in Boston and Portland, Me., as of last November, and Cox this week adding wireless phone in Arizona and in San Diego, Calif.
Cox has taken several steps to integrate wireless service with the services in the traditional triple play, including enabling subscribers to access their e-mail through their mobile phones. Cox subs can also receive free text alerts on their wireless phones every time a voice mail is left at their Cox Digital Telephone home numbers.
Cox said it will introduce wireless service in additional markets in 2007, and will also introduce other integrated features throughout the year. But it stopped short of committing to a companywide rollout. Comcast, meanwhile, is moving even more deliberately.
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts is unenthusiastic about wireless "We're trying to partner with Sprint to see if there's a bundle offering." He said Comcast is still looking for a cellphone that would be differentiated in the market, and is still looking for a compelling integration of wireless service and home service (listen to his comments at the Citigroup Entertainment Media and Telecommunications Conference here - near the 23 minute mark).
At the Emerging Technologies conference, Comcast's vice president of wireless engineering Ken Falkenstein was asked about wireless and was just barely ambivalent: "We're trying to partner with Sprint to see if there's a bundle offering," he said, during a recent conference, adding that Comcast is still looking. Falkenstein talked about evaluating business models and features such as the ability to share video content and remote control of home DVRs.
With the Sprint JV, cable operators seem to be keeping their options open. In truth, they all seem to have higher priorities, including the transition to DOCSIS 3.0, HD, PVRs, and pursuing the commercial market. The quadruple play is certainly on its way, but don't expect to see it in too many places in 2007.
Ericsson buys GPON position with purchase of Entrisphere
Angling for a chunk of the North American IPTV market, Ericsson has purchased PON specialist Entrisphere, in a deal estimated to be worth anywhere between $250 million and $300 million. In North America, the IPTV account everyone is chasing is, of course, AT&T.
The two companies have been working together, but by buying Entrisphere, Ericsson gets to bring in-house its junior partner's portfolio of fiber and IP based broadband access products, including new gigabit PON (GPON) technology. Among Entrisphere's few announced customers are Telephone & Data Systems and Grande Communications.
Annual shipments of IPTV boxes to hit 19M in 2010
Demand for IP set top boxes is growing, and will reach 19 million units in 2010, up from 4.3 million in 2006, according to In-Stat. Compare and contrast those numbers with research from Strategy Analytics which found just under 6 million homes worldwide at the end of 2006 tuning in to an IPTV service, and also projected a total exceeding 80 million by 2011 (story here).
Etex basing IPTV on Occam Networks gear
Etex Telephone Cooperative, a carrier operating in northeast Texas, has purchased multiple components of Occam Network's Broadband Loop Carrier (BLC) system to provide its customers with IPTV, along with voice and data. Etex is deploying several of Occam's ADSL2+ blades inside an Occam BLC 6012 chassis. One blade can provide up to 48 ports of ADSL2+ with Lifeline POTS on the same physical interface to deliver voice, data and video services.
Qualcomm cell network chipset to deliver 28 Mbps
CDMA technology specialist Qualcomm announced it will include the HSPA+ refinement of CDMA in its product roadmap, and will introduce its first HSPA+ chips by the end of this year. The intent of HSPA+ is to deliver broadband to cell phones and related devices at data rates of up to 28 Mbps downstream and 11 Mbps upstream - more than enough to support multimedia applications. The chipsets will support frequency bands now in use, as well as in the 2.5 GHz IMT-2000 Extension band. Cingular (now AT&T) said it expects to upgrade its networks with HSPA+ technology.
Verizon gets another TV franchise in Mass.
The Board of Selectmen in Westwood, Mass., granted a cable franchise to Verizon. There are approximately 4,200 households in the town. The board's vote brings to 39 the total number of Massachusetts communities where Verizon's FiOS TV is or will soon be available. Those franchises cover more than 200,000 households. The Westwood franchise agreement contains provisions for the network's future growth; financial support and capacity for educational and government access channels; cable service to government buildings; and other benefits to the town, including insurance, indemnification and enforcement protections.
MetroCast goes exclusively with Cedar Point
MetroCast Cablevision will use Cedar Point equipment exclusively for its voice-over-IP switching. MetroCast serves about 145,000 subscribers in over 135 communities in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Connecticut and Maine. It will deploy Cedar Point's Safari C³ Multimedia Switching System across its footprint.
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Qwest HSD, DirecTV subs contribute to Q4 profit
Qwest Communications added 165,000 Internet subscribers in its fourth quarter, compared with 140,000 a year earlier. Qwest now tallies a total of 2.14 million high-speed data customers. The company said it benefited from strong demand for its "Price for Life" promotion, which offers new Qwest Choice DSL Deluxe (1.5 Mbps) and Qwest Choice DSL Premium (3-5 Mbps) customers, who sign a two-year term commitment, a fixed price for life.
Qwest also added 78,000 net DirecTV subscribers in the quarter for a total of 366,000. The company posted a fourth quarter profit of $194 million, compared with a net loss of $528 million in Q4 2005.Revenue was essentially flat at $3.49 billion, up from $3.48 billion a year ago.
Plugfest indicates maturing of mobile WiMAX
The second public mobile WiMAX Forum PlugFest is now in full swing. This event, another in a series of Plugfests, is an interoperability showcase for the mobile WiMAX standard, which has yet to be officially ratified. Concurrent with the event, Navini announced EMAX in Lima, Peru, is using its pre-mobile WiMAX products.
This Plugfest anticipates the first certification wave of mobile WiMAX products, which is scheduled to begin in mid 2007. The WiMAX Forum expects with market availability of WiMAX Forum Certified mobile products beginning in late 2007. Systems in this cert wave will be based on the 2.3GHz profile.
Muni wireless market may hit $10B by 2011
The North American market for muni wireless could reach a value of $10 billion by 2011, according to ON World. Public Internet access may be the most widely discussed element of the municipal wireless broadband market, but the real meat in muni wireless is in new services opportunities such as mobile VoIP, public safety, transportation, and utility networks. Those elements should represent more than two-thirds of that $10 billion total.