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News summary for 6/22/07

Fri, 06/22/2007 - 8:00am

Seidenberg tweaks cable; will Cisco retire "Scientific Atlanta"?
By Gary Arlen, Special to CED

Telephone companies' ravenous video and triple play appetites were clearly visible at the NXTcomm trade show, starting with the daily keynotes which offered checklists of what's on the telco menu.

Verizon Chairman/CEO Ivan Seidenberg was especially insistent, as he noted that his company's FiOS TV service has reached 500,000 subscribers and that its churn rate is significantly lower than cable's.

Then turning to Verizon's high-speed data services, Seidenberg noted, "By the end of the decade - when our cable competitors say they'll be transitioning to DOCSIS 3.0 - we'll be preparing for the next generation of electronics that will take the home consumer to the next level of broadband."

He said that within three years, Verizon residential users will have access to "speeds that rival what we deliver over our most advanced business networks today."

The Verizon chief noted that in a handful of communities,FiOS tests are now offering 100 Mbps service over the existing BPON architecture, and starting in fall, Verizon will use GPON technology in all FiOS deployments, which will increase downstream speeds four-fold and upstream delivery by a factor of eight.

In response to a CED query during a follow-up press conference, Seidenberg said, "We have our hands full competing with satellite and cable.  "In broadband band our goal is to focus on cable."

(video of Seidenberg's NXTcomm presentation is available here)

Earlier, new AT&T Chairman/CEO Randall Stephenson reaffirmed that "IPTV to the TV set is our goal" and he predicted that by year end, AT&T will be adding 10,000 uVerse customers per week.  He expects to reach 8 million users by the end of 2007 and 18 million by the end of next year.

"We're moving as fast as we can," he said, but acknowledged that "out-of-date franchise requirements" can affect the pace.  Nonetheless, on the day of his speech, the Illinois legislature voted to open the telco TV doors a bit wider.

The telco chiefs, along with their counterparts at major vendors - Motorola CEO Ed Zander and Cisco CEO John Chambers - offered similar visions of connected, seamless technologies, enabling customers to move  from wired to wireless and carrying their voice and data as well as video services with them.

Chambers in particular focused on "collaboration" - the true value of Web 2.0, he said.   He emphasized that business processes can use Web techniques for collaborative decision-making, noting that such capability drove Cisco's ability to acquire Scientific-Atlanta so quickly.

"I would never have (bought) LinkSys if I didn't plan to acquire S-A," he said.   As for his plans for S-A, in response to a CED query, Chambers acknowledged that the brand "means something to cable," but it is not guaranteed to last.

"LinkSys is a more recognized name [in consumer electronics] than Cisco," he said.  "We'll move over time to a single brand," he added, without indicating which name will survive.

Chambers also affirmed his belief that "too much competition" is as bad as too little."

"For competition to be effective, you need fixed line, cable and wireless services," he said.


Pacesetter Award winners honored at Cable-Tec
By Brian Santo, CED

CED announced the winners of our Fourth Annual Pacesetter Awards last night at a reception at Cable-Tec Expo. The Pacesetters recognize individuals at cable and other broadband service providers who have taken leading positions or innovative first steps with advanced services, applications and technologies.

The 2007 Pacesetters are being awarded in five categories: Business Services, Telephony: Commercial SIP/VoIP, Digital Video, On-Demand Advertising and Broadband Teamwork.

The recipient of the Pacesetter Award for Business Services is Ed Francois of Cox Business Services, Cox New Orleans. Francois is being recognized for the extraordinary efforts he and his colleagues have made in providing business services in a city that is still reeling from Hurricane Katrina nearly two years after it hit.

When Katrina hit, most other communications systems failed entirely, and were not restored for months. In many areas, cable service either never went out or was quickly resumed. In an area where the vast majority of businesses are small or medium-sized, Francois and his team literally went door to door in business districts selling T1 services.

The reputation for reliability Cox Business Services established in the aftermath of the disaster has helped the company succeed not only with local businesses, but also with local and state government offices.

The Pacesetter Business Services Award is sponsored by Vyyo.

There are two winners of the Pacesetter Award for Telephony-Commercial SIP/VoIP. Scott Weber, senior vice president Engineering & Network Management at Cablevision Systems Corp., and his colleague Robert Covell, senior vice president, Broadband Internet Services and Application Development have been instrumental in devising and implementing Cablevision's innovative solution for the delivery of commercial VoIP service.

Cablevision was among the first cable VoIP providers, and typically executed well. The company has attracted over 1.3 million voice customers out of 4.5 million homes passed, for a 28 percent penetration rate. Cablevision credits VoIP with accelerating the adoption of its video and data services.

The Pacesetter Award for Telephony-Commercial SIP/VoIP is sponsored by Camiant.

The 2007 Pacesetter Award for Digital Video was bestowed on Kristin Gulasy, VP of Digital Services, also from Cablevision. Gulasy rose through the ranks to become one of the key people helping to launch both the Sony and Scientific Atlanta Digital Systems, in charge of Cablevision's set-top box operations.

She is credited with directing the launch of the SA digital system past 1.1M homes in only about 60 days and overseeing the astonishing growth of Cablevision's digital penetration rates from about 6 percent five years ago to over 80 percent today.

The Pacesetter Award for Digital Video is sponsored by Scientific Atlanta A Cisco Company

Patrick Knorr, resident, Sunflower Broadband is the winner of this year's Pacesetter Award for On-Demand Advertising.

Knorr and Sunflower are no strangers to trailblazing; the operator "on the small end of mid-sized," was also among the first to deploy pre-DOCSIS and DOCSIS cable modems back in 1998.

Under Knorr's leadership, Sunflower again broke new ground in cable advertising in 2006 with the debut of its dynamic VOD advertising business.

Lacking national programmers willing to take advantage of the system, Sunflower is nonetheless prospering by selling targeted ads to enthusiastic local advertisers during the 15 or so hours per week of local advertising that Sunflower runs. Inventory has already been sold out through 2008 in categories of local VOD programming including news and special interests, including cooking.

Ad avails in all VOD programs are sold out 60-90 days in advance of run time. Overall, Sunflower has grown its ad client base by 10 percent as a result of its new capabilities.

Knorr says the company is able to charge about 10 times the rate of regular ads, and targeted advertising is already representing 5 percent of all ad revenues.

The Pacesetter Award for On-Demand Advertising is sponsored by SeaChange International.

The operations group - both engineers and marketers - led by Marwan Fawaz, CTO at Charter Communications, collected the 2007 Pacesetter Award for Broadband Teamwork.

The team includes Matt Bell, Doug Ike, Bob Blackburn, John Roy, Kelly Ross, Keith Hayes, James Pierce, Cathy Fogler, and Maria Rothschild - some originally from Charter, some that accompanied Fawaz from his previous job at Adelphia.

The team works as such, Fawaz said, for a number of reasons. The goals are corporate, not departmental. Everyone talks to each other, and consults with each other. The contribution of ideas is encouraged. Once a decision is made, everyone jumps on board. And everyone just happens to like each other.

The Pacesetter Award for Broadband Teamwork is sponsored by Scientific Atlanta, A Cisco Company.


Cablevision adds15 Voom HD channels
By Brian Santo, CED

Cablevision Systems will add 15 new high-definition channels from Voom HD Networks beginning June 26. The additions will bring Cablevision's iO digital cable customers a total of 40 HD channels.

The company also announced that by the end of this year it will have the capability to carry more than 500 channels of HD programming on its advanced fiber optic network.

The channels cover news, travel, and several film categories. Cablevision gives iO customers HD channels without charging an additional fee. It says it is still the only source of HD VOD within its service area. The channels will be located with Cablevision's other high-definition programming starting on channel 700.


Broadband Briefs for 06/22/07

• mPhase subsidiary to create targeted ads
mPhase Technologies formed a new subsidiary that will provide targeted advertising services for IPTV providers. The new company, Granita Media, will offer ads matched to the demographics of the viewers using technology developed by mPhase.

• TiVo losing CFO
TiVo Inc.'s (http://www.tivo.com) CFO, Steve Sordello, has announced his resignation. Until he becomes the CFO at an undisclosed, "well-known, late-stage, venture-funded company" in Silicon Valley, he will assist in the transition of duties at TiVo while the company searches for a replacement.

• SCTE Foundation campaign kick starting
The SCTE Foundation's Founding Donor Campaign will commence July 1 and continue through the end of the year.

It will seek both corporate and individual founding donors, with three designated levels: benefactor ($50,000 corporate/$1,000 individual), supporter ($25,000 corporate/$250 individual) and contributor ($10,000 corporate/$100 individual).

• Deep links 
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Cincinnati Bell considered buying Insight Communications, but found the asking price too high.

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