Broadband Direct News Summary - May 09, 2007
Roberts' demos DOCSIS 3.0 at NCTA; execs envision business migration
By Gary Arlen; Special to CED
LAS VEGAS - Comcast Chairman/CEO Brian Roberts , in a flashy introductory segment for the "State of the Industry" session Tuesday morning, unveiled what he called "the first public demonstration of a wideband cable modem." He downloaded an entire encyclopedia, including photos and a visual dictionary, in barely four minutes - a two-week task via dial-up modem, Roberts said.
"With wideband, we're going to unleash a whole new era of video," Roberts predicted, as Arris Chairman and CEO Robert J. Stanzione, seen onscreen from a remote location, transmitted hefty visual and multimedia files at 150 Mbps, using DOCSIS 3.0 technology, onto screens on stage at the Mandalay Bay Conference Center ballroom, where about 4,000 attendees witnessed the demonstration.
There is no current schedule for DOCSIS 3.0 deployment, Roberts said after the conference session. But he emphasized that "the best part that it is incremental and backward compatible" so it will be "quite easy" to implement.
After the wideband demonstration, Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons echoed the view that "the prospects for cable have been "enhanced exponentially" by broadband. He said that broadband technology helps all of his company's businesses, including distribution and production.
Parsons also noted that "scale" is an inevitable part of the industry's future, suggesting that more consolidation and vertical integration are on the horizon.
News Corp. President/CEO Peter Chernin agreed: "This is a world where the big get bigger," and that more acquisitions are likely.
Philippe Dauman, president/CEO of Viacom Inc. in response to a question from session moderator William Kennard (managing director of the Carlyle Group and former FCC Chairman) about bypassing cable delivery and going directly to consumers, said that "we want to [reach] consumers wherever they are."
Earlier, NCTA President Kyle McSlarrow opened the session with a rebuttal to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's Monday remarks.
"We appreciate his offer to engage in a dialogue," McSlarrow said, adding that he had welcomed Martin's acknowledgement that cable is bringing broadband to rural areas of America.
The NCTA chief executive's remarks focused on the convention theme of "competition," pointing out that, "When the government encourages growth and regulates with a light touch, consumers win." McSlarrow emphasized that competition enabled telephone companies to break into video service.
"It is puzzling that Chairman Martin does not take the same approach to open [an] open marketplace," McSlarrow concluded.
SupportSoft adds P&T as a customer
By Traci Patterson, CED
P&TLuxembourg has purchased SupportSoft ServiceGateway to remotely configure customers' xDSL CPE devices for the proper service level ordered, SupportSoft said.
With ServiceGateway, digital service providers (DSPs) can configure, manage and support high-speed data and triple play devices such as residential gateways, VoIP analogue terminal adapters and IPTV set-top boxes.
SupportSoft ServiceGateway provides "zero-touch configurations" of DSL CPE devices that conform to the DSL Forum's TR-069 spec, allowing P&TLuxembourg to automate and speed the installation of a CPE device after a broadband subscriber receives a DSL modem, SupportSoft said. It also allows P&TLuxembourg to provide firmware updates to its high-speed data subs.
AT&T to extend WildBlue broadband to Bellsouth's markets
By Brian Santo, CED
AT&T is adding satellite-based broadband to its bundle for rural and otherwise remote customers in the nine states that had been service by Bellsouth.
The bundle will be the same as the one already available in the former SBC territories, with voice provided by AT&T, DBS video from either DirecTV or EchoStar's Dish Network, and satellite-based broadband service from WildBlue.
The service is marketed under the name AT&T Yahoo! Broadband via Satellite. The expansion directly supports the company's effort to deliver broadband service to millions of customers in rural and remote areas, where DSL and cable-modem service are typically not available today, AT&T said.
AT&T Yahoo! Broadband via Satellite (provided by WildBlue) customers can select from three service packages, starting as low as $54.95 a month, and broadband speed options of up to 1.5 Mbps downstream and up to 256 Kbps upstream.
DirecTV improves bottom line with higher ARPU, accounting change
By Brian Santo, CED
The DirecTV Group added a net of 235,000 new subscribers in its first quarter, to reach a total of 16.18 million. A year ago, the company added 255,000 subs and ended Q1 of 2006 with 15.3 million customers.
First quarter revenue increased 15 percent to $3.91 billion and profit improved to $336 million, up from $235 million a year ago.
The company said that demand for the service is still being driven by newer products, including HD and DVR, which contributed to a 5 percent rise in ARPU to $73.40. Subscriptions to both services nearly doubled compared to a year ago, the company said.
Also improving performance was the company's switch to a leasing plan for equipment, rather than writing it off immediately as an expense.
Chase Carey, president and CEO of The DirecTV Group, said "It's very exciting to see the strong demand for HD services, particularly considering the fact that we plan to greatly expand our HD programming later this year. With the successful launch of DIRECTV 10-currently targeted to lift-off in late June-we remain on schedule to offer up to 100 HD channels by the end of this year. With this added capacity, we expect to offer significantly more HD channels than most of our competitors, providing DIRECTV with an important advantage in this rapidly growing market."
Orb, Amino provide bridge from PC to TV
By Brian Santo, CED
The combination allows users to take the media they currently can view on their PCs, (including videos, movies, music, and Internet websites) and bring it to their TV screens.
The Orb application integrated with the AmiNET110 allows consumers access to personal media on the PC, as well as streamed media delivered over the open Internet.
The MyCasting service is also now available with the AmiNET125, Amino's second generation multi-codec STB. This allows MPEG-2/4 and VC1/WM9 content to be streamed in native format from the PC to the TV, enabling even older PCs with less horsepower to benefit from the Orb MyCasting application.
Broadband Briefs for 5/09/07
• On2 Technologies Inc. will showcase its Flix Publisher Live video publishing SDK-for live video encoding and streaming of On2 VP6 with Adobe Flash-at the Streaming Media East show, May 15-16 in New York City. Flix Publisher Live is designed to give user-generated sites, social networking sites and broadband video publishers the ability to deploy live video services easily through integrating live publishing capabilities directly into their web pages, the company said.
• Ikanos Communications Inc. will name Michael A. Ricci as president and CEO, effective June 4. Ricci comes to from JDSU Corp., where he was a senior VP and general manager of the Optical Communications Group. He previously served as a VP and general manager at Intel Corp.'s Communications Group. Ricci will succeed Daniel K. Atler, who has served as interim CEO since October and was previously Ikanos' CFO. Atler will continue as an officer for Ikanos.
• Vonage has named Jamie Haenggi Chief Marketing Officer. In this newly-created position, Haenggi will be responsible for spearheading a more unified marketing approach for the struggling company. Haenggi joined Vonage in November VP of Customer Life from ADT Security Services, where she was VP of Worldwide Marketing. Prior to that, she served as head of marketing and acquisition integration at Holmes Protection.
• DirecTV will be the first to launch The History Channel HD, a new 24-hour HDTV network scheduled to debut in September. A&E HD, which debuted last year, will also launch on DirecTV in September. The announcement was made by David Zagin, executive VP of distribution at AETN.
• SureWest has double-digit RGU growth in quarter
SureWest Communications' consolidated revenues from continuing operations increased 3 percent in Q1 to $51 million, due largely to an 18 percent increase in broadband segment revenues. Consolidated net income was $60.2 million.
Access lines remained flat, but video and data RGUs rose 20 percent and 18 percent, respectively. Wireless pre-paid subs declined, resulting in a 2 percent loss of total wireless subs.