NCTA briefs FCC on OCAP progress
By Brian Santo, CED
The NCTA advised the FCC that the cable industry is now making preparations to support OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP) technology and that several large consumer electronics companies are set to commercialize OCAP-compliant products.
The NCTA also advised the FCC on progress on multi-stream CableCARDs, switched digital video, digital cable-ready PCs, two-way digital cable-ready PCs, and a two-way OpenCable IT solution (a chip-based means of making PCs cable-ready), according to an NCTA summary of a meeting filed with the FCC.
In a December letter, the NCTA argued strongly, point by point, against accusations by the Consumer Electronics Association that cable is skirting the law, and against proposals by the CEA that the FCC should force the cable industry to provide means of accessing cable services without a set-top box, which nearly everyone seems to agree will cost consumers more.
Six months later, the FCC has remained adamant that the cable industry start providing set-tops with separate security cards on July 1. That argument is lost.
But the cable industry still has a case to make in favor of OCAP, and the NCTA outlined for the FCC the demonstrable progress on OCAP made in the last six months.
CableLabs publishes RFI for PacketCable 2.0 products
By Brian Santo, CED
CableLabs has issued a request for information (RFI), soliciting data from equipment vendors about their PacketCable 2.0 product roadmaps. The RFI also seeks information regarding any IMS-based applications suppliers that are developing for the cable industry.
Issuance of the RFI reflects progress toward the next stage in the PacketCable 2.0 project, as the initiative moves beyond conceptualization and specification to interoperability testing, certification, trials, and deployment.
Ed Miller, CableLabs’ vice president, advanced network systems, said, “With the basic PacketCable 2.0 specifications essentially complete, the project is now highly focused on equipment availability, equipment interoperability, and application innovation,” he added.
PacketCable 2.0 defines an application-agnostic architecture that can be used to rapidly develop and deploy a wide range of new IP-based services, such as fixed-mobile convergence, business communications, video communications, and cross-platform capabilities that connect cable’s existing voice, broadband, and video services in new and innovative ways.
Applications described in the RFI responses will be considered by CableLabs for inclusion in an upcoming interoperability testing and demonstration event being planned for the PacketCable Applications Lab. The lab, which was launched in April 2007 at CableLabs, will promote multi-vendor interoperability and will showcase new applications being developed for the industry.
The PacketCable 2.0 RFI is available on the CableLabs Web site at http://www.packetcable.com/downloads/PacketCable_2.0_RFI.pdf and the Product Information Tables matrix referenced in the RFI is located at http://www.packetcable.com/downloads/Product_Information_Tables.xls. The deadline for responses to be delivered to CableLabs is July 13, 2007.
BigBand’s BMR astounds
By Traci Patterson, CED
BigBand Networks Inc.’s Broadband Multimedia-Service Router (BMR) has been deployed by Astound Broadband to add video processing and digital ad insertion capabilities in the company’s Concord and Walnut Creek, Calif., systems.
BigBand’s digital simulcast application allows Astound to transport analog content in digital format, and to consolidate digital ad insertion for both analog and digital programs, the company said.
The deployment also includes BigBand’s Digital TV Management functionality, for the handling of digital programming and ad insertion on enhanced programs, and RateShaping bit-rate adaptation, designed to maintain video quality while containing cumulative bandwidth utilized within capacity constraints.
CommuniGate unveils user interface Pronto!
By Traci Patterson, CED
CommuniGate Systems, which develops carrier-class Internet communications software, has released Pronto!, a user interface based on Adobe Flash and Adobe Flex 2 technologies.
Pronto! unifies Internet communications, including e-mail, IM, chat, rich media and groupware, and providers can add services such as blogging and IPTV through the client framework without replacing or expanding their existing infrastructure. The interface also scales to support any deployment size.
The integrated Pronto! interface allows e-mail and stored data access outside of the office, and users can access it from any Web browser. A Pronto! Flash movie demo can be found here.
Cable Center spruces up board
Willner, who co-founded Insight in 1985, is now the company’s vice chairman and CEO. He has served two consecutive terms as chairman of the NCTA, where he currently sits on the executive committee. He is also on the executive committee at CableLabs, and on the board of directors at C-SPAN and the Walter Kaitz Foundation.
The Cable Center has also named the following to its board of directors: John Bickham of Cablevision, David Cohen of Comcast, Italia Commisso Weinand of Mediacom, Jerry Kent of Cequel III, Bob Miron of Advance/Newhouse Communications (who will also serve on the board’s executive committee), Peter Stern of Time Warner Cable, Debora Wilson of The Weather Channel and Barbara York of the NCTA.
Broadband Briefs for 6/06/07
* RCN markets to small, medium-sized businesses
RCN Corp. has started a new program, aimed at the small to medium-sized business market, that includes new product offerings and rate plans.
RCN has re-priced its unlimited local and unlimited local/regional/long distance plans, to $21 per month and $38 per month, respectively. The company has also launched a 5 Mbps downstream/800 Kbps upstream cable modem and has upgraded its legacy 10 Mbps cable modem with an upstream speed boost, from 800 Kbps to 2 Mbps. Additional product enhancements and launches are anticipated, the company said.
* Cox, Sinclair extend retransmission agreement
Cox Communications Inc. and Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. have reached a four-year retransmission consent agreement, which includes HD programming. The agreement allows Cox cable systems in six markets to carry nine TV stations owned by Sinclair, servicing approximately 1.25 million subs.
* Corning to supply Alcatel-Lucent with GPON connectors
Corning Cable Systems and Alcatel-Lucent have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) under which the former will supply its OptiTap Connector and Adapter for use in the latter’s gigabit passive optical network (GPON) system.