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News summary for 6/21/07

Thu, 06/21/2007 - 10:00am

CEOs: Make room for more HD
By CED staff

How much more? Fifty HD channels by year-end.

As more programmers make more content available in high definition, MSOs are revising their bandwidth budgets to make more shelf space – to the tune of 100 channels by 2009-2010, in some cases. Pat Esser, CEO of Cox, said during the morning session yesterday that he's already asked his engineers to ready their networks for 50 HD channels by year-end, and 100 the year after that.

"I've asked Chris (Bowick, Cox's CTO) to get our networks ready for that," Esser said.

"His guys are probably back in their rooms right now, figuring out how to get there. Or they're in the bathroom, getting sick."

Reference points: In 2003, about nine channels of HD programming were available.

Today, about 30, said NCTA president and CEO Kyle McSlarrow. "Cable offers HD services to 100 million American households, and carries signals in 206 of the 210 U.S. TV markets,"

McSlarrow said. By comparison, he said, DirecTV offers local HD in only 60 markets, and EchoStar's Dish in just 30.

On the (much) smaller screen, cable's CEOs said they're approaching mobile video as additive to existing, cable delivered services – and not a replacement.

"I don't think taking video with you on the phone is any competition to what we do," said Bob Miron, chairman and CEO of Advance/Newhouse Communications. "Mobility is a great extra, but it's not competition to the base piece."

On the competitive front, Esser said Cox faces AT& T's U-verse and Verizon's FiOS in some markets, and is taking the approach that both companies will eventually resolve any issues they face as they scale up to millions of customers. "A healthier view is to believe that they'll work it out. I'll enjoy it while they struggle, but they'll work it out."

Miron said most MSOs expected AT& T's move to offer DSL at $10/month, because it was promised as part of their merger negotiations with BellSouth. As to whether a pricing death match looms, Miron noted that "customers aren't anxious to leave when they're happy. It's when they're not happy that they start to wonder."

About that February, 2009 analog cutoff date: Watch for increasing consumer confusion about broadcasters going digital, Cox's Esser said. "By 2009, we'll have a new president, but we'll probably have the same broadcasters," he quipped.

Because of that, the onus is on the industry to be the good guy, Esser said.


SCTE gourmands fete Gorman, new chairman, hall of famer
By Traci Patterson

The SCTE Cable-Tec Expo Annual Awards Luncheon began with the transfer of a "very used gavel," as termed by the outgoing chairman of the board of the SCTE, Yvette Kanouff, CSO at SeaChange International.

Kanouff passed the baton to Tom Gorman, the VP of operations engineering at Charter Communications, who was elected to the role on Tuesday. Gorman, who recognized that people are probably getting tired of seeing his face everywhere, was also inducted into the SCTE Hall of Fame.

Ronald Brunt, president of the SCTE's West Virginia Mountaineer Chapter, was named Member of the Year for nearly single-handedly resurrecting the struggling chapter. Brunt is currently a systems engineer with Deployment Technologies Inc.

Kanouff handed Sally Kinsman the Chairman's Award. Kinsman is Aurora Networks' national account director and a nearly 30-year SCTE vet.

Brenda Hunt of Cox Communications was named Chapter Member of the Year or 2006; the Mount Rainier, New England and Cactus chapters received first, second and third place, respectively, for Chapter of the Year; System of the Year went to Cox Communications Orange County; Carolyn Terry of Time Warner Cable was given the Women in Technology award; Steven R. Harris of Comcast University landed the Excellence in Cable Telecommunications Learning and Development award; and Mark Eyer of Sony Electronics snagged the Excellence in Standards award.


CTOs: OTT video lacks economics
By CED staff

The onslaught of services clamoring to ride "over the top" of cable's broadband pipes may require additional network investment – providing there's an economic return. "I'm still trying to figure out how you make money doing that stuff on the Internet," said Mike LaJoie, CTO of Time Warner Cable, at yesterday's CTO panel. "Certainly the technology is there to do it, if the demand occurs."

Plus, LaJoie reiterated, the Internet wasn't designed to carry traffic as bulky as video. "If one were to take one-quarter of today's multichannel, broadcast video and move it over the public Internet, "you'd bring it to its knees."

Terry Cordova, CTO of Suddenlink, said that while network neutrality remains top of mind, operators may ultimately need to consider consumption limits.


Sandvine acquires CableMatrix, will acquire Simplicita
By Traci Patterson

Sandvine Corp. has completed its acquisition of CableMatrix Technologies Inc. and has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Simplicita Software Inc.. 

The combined purchase price includes $4.5 million in cash, 900,000 Sandvine common shares, and 600,000 shares if certain sales targets and business metrics are met by 2008, the company said.

CableMatrix's products complement Sandvine's VoIP, IPTV, VOD and bandwidth on-demand solutions.

Simplicita provides network policy solutions with Sandvine's platforms, service provider data and third party sources. The agreement with Simplicita is subject to typical closing conditions and is expected to close by the end of this month.


ADB releasing new digs
By Traci Patterson

Advanced Digital Broadcast (ADB) is releasing the ADB-7820C-DEV set-top box (STB), designed to support OCAP developers and MSOs that are introducing HD OCAP to their networks.

Building on the ADB-3200C-DEV platform, the ADB-7820C-DEV is an OpenCable-compliant DOCSIS/DSG STB with a Host 2.0 CableCARD interface. It assists with the development and testing of OCAP applications in a real-world environment, enabling the uptake and rollout of OCAP. The STB will launch in early Q3.

The company will also release an HD advanced video coding hardware and software development kit next month, and the company expects to have multiple OpenCable products available for shipment by the year's end.

ADB recently entered into a distribution agreement with Border States Electric (BSE) to target telcos with its ADB-3800W STB. The company has also launched HD AVC hybrid satellite/IPTV STBs with Island Media.

ADB is already an established player in Europe with its digital TV systems and software solutions, but the company is trying to break into the expanding cable, IPTV and business satellite markets here in the U.S.


McSlarrow bans OCAP acronym
By CED staff

Kyle McSlarrow, president and CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, put the big kibosh on one of the industry's more awkward acronyms: OCAP, for OpenCable Applications Platform. "This is really a case where the acronym completely hides the ball," McSlarrow said. For that reason, "I have, tongue in cheek, banned the use of 'OCAP' at the NCTA." The replacement term: Open Cable Platform.


Alcatel-Lucent's FTTU solution going twice, sold
By Traci Patterson

Alcatel-Lucent's 7342 ISAM fiber-to-the-user (FTTU) solution has been chosen by two service providers. The solution uses gigabit passive optical networking (GPON) to enable the delivery of broadband services over a single optical fiber.

Momentum has named Alcatel-Lucent its exclusive provider to support its fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) infrastructure. The Birmingham, Ala.-based service provider offers a comprehensive digital community platform (CDCP), with fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP), for planned communities.

Connexion Technologies has selected Alcatel-Lucent's solution for its high-speed broadband triple play service offering in 20 planned communities.


AT&T allows mobile video feeds during calls
By Traci Patterson

AT&T Inc. has launched Video Share, which enables one-way, live streaming feeds between wireless devices while users are on a two-way voice call.

"Users now have the ability to show others exactly what they see, when they're seeing it, and to share that experience across town or across the country," said Randall Stephenson, AT&T's chairman and CEO.

The service is initially available in Atlanta, Dallas and San Antonio. In late July, the service will expand in AT&T's 3G wireless network footprint, where the service works exclusively.

A Video Share-capable handset is required, and two service packages will be available for $4.99 per month for 25 minutes of usage and $9.99 per month for 60 minutes of usage, or users can pay as they go for 35 cents a minute.


Cedar Point's Safari C³ goes international
By Traci Patterson

Cedar Point Communications' Safari C³ multimedia switching system has been selected by two international MSOs, for the operators' delivery of VoIP services.

Cablemas, Mexico's second-largest cable operator, initially deployed the Safari C³ for its triple play offering in Cuernavaca. The MSO received voice concession licenses for 22 Mexican cities earlier this year, and it expects to offer voice services in the cities beginning this year.

Last week, Mexican cable operator Grupo Hevi chose the Safari C³ for its VoIP deployment.

And Cablenet Communication Systems, Cyprus' leading cable operator, has selected Cedar Point's product for its launch of VoIP services. This marks Cedar Point's third customer in the EMEA market.


Radiant showcases ASI multiplexer
By Traci Patterson

Radiant Communications has unveiled its VL4149 ASI Multiplexer, which enables cable operators to convert multiple ASI streams into a single transport stream.

Operators can then leverage Radiant's VB155 to send the ASI stream over fiber, or the VL4119 by using an IP network connection, the company said.

The multiplexer, which fits into a single rack unit, can transport signals within a headend, between headends and from a headend to various hubs. Both four channel and eight channel units are available, the company said.


SA's USRM software optimizes SDV
By Brian Santo

Scientific Atlanta said its Universal Session and Resource Manager (USRM), a previously announced standalone product, is now available as a software download for the Cisco Content Delivery System (CDS) or SA Switched Digital Video (SDV) servers.

The USRM extends and distributes management of the video and data network control plane all the way to the edge. It now has the ability to integrate modules such as video-on-demand (VOD) and SDV, delivering more efficient quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) sharing, policy-based bandwidth assignment across services, and improved addressable advertising. The USRM will continue to be modular and will support all standard interfaces.


Aurora upgrades CWDM solution
By Traci Patterson

Aurora Networks has debuted its improved CWDM Ethernet transport solution with Smart Media Converter technology, which allows cable operators to deliver Ethernet over a shared optical access network at speeds up to 1,000 Mbps.

The new FastE and GigE service modules (MC2701B and MC2710B) fit into the current two-rack unit (2RU) Smart Media Converter chassis and the new patent-pending CPE enclosure chassis, the CH1202B.

Aurora's portfolio supports up to 10 CWDM wavelengths and 40 DWDM wavelengths over 250 kilometers, and it allows up to 320 dedicated TDM FastE channels to be carried over a single fiber, the company said. In addition to FastE and GigE transport, the WDM transport supports OC-3, OC-12 and OC-48 data rates.


Broadband Briefs for 6/21/07

• Cox widens VOD with Harmonic's eQAM
Cox Communications has expanded its VOD service in Kansas and Arkansas with Harmonic Inc.'s NSG Edge QAM. Harmonic's eQAMs—which provide IP to QAM RF conversion, multiplexing, program filtering and routing, and scrambling—power more than 250,000 QAMs, representing more than two million video streams, the company said.

• MetaSwitch, Arris complete interoperability testing
MetaSwitch has completed interoperability testing with Arris for the delivery of SIP-based business services and PacketCable 1.0 signaling with dynamic quality of service (DQoS).

The combo offers MSOs an end-to-end voice solution for the residential and business voice services markets. Bresnan Communications, BroadRiver Communication Corp., Graceba Total Communications, Penasco Valley Telecommunications and Big River Telephone have already deployed MetaSwitch-based voice services with Arris' Touchstone E-MTAs.

• AT&T's Homezone adds HD channels
AT&T Inc.'s Homezone customers now receive more than 30 national HD channels—including news, sports and movie programming—and additional local HD channels for their market. Homezone integrates AT&T and Dish Network and the features of AT&T's Yahoo! high-speed Internet. The service is available in the company's 13-state broadband footprint.

• Sprint's EV-DO Rev. A passes 203M mark
Sprint said it now reaches more than 203 million people nationwide with its EV-DO Rev. A high-speed wireless Internet service. The service provides users with an average upload speed between 350 and 500 kbps and download speed between 600 kbps and 1.4 Mbps; peak download data rates increase to 3.1 Mbps and peak upload data rates increase to 1.8 Mbps, the company said.

• TOA Tech integrates with Google maps
TOA Technologies released the latest update of its Customer Appointment Management (CAM) product, which service companies use to manage mobile workforces. The ETAdirect 3.3 Mobility Solution includes enhanced routing and mapping functions through integration with Google Maps and GPS support. ETAdirect 3.3's integration with Google Maps provides advanced dispatch functionality from within the Google Maps window using AJAX technology. Improved routing functions help reduce technician travel times via efficient management of appointment scheduling.

• Bentley to incorporate Vyyo Ultraband specs
Bentley Systems is incorporating a library of specifications based on Vyyo's UltraBand platform into its Bentley Communications/Bentley Coax Geospatial Information System (GIS) solution for RF design. The aim is to simplify the ability of cable system operators to design spectrum overlay solutions for the delivery of residential and business services by providing increased visibility into performance and cost data with no change in GIS software.

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