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News summary for 6/25/07

Mon, 06/25/2007 - 8:58am

Intel to put OpenCable on silicon; Comcast STB to use the chip
By Brian Santo

Intel, trying to find an avenue into the consumer television market, has signed an OpenCable Platform Agreement, with the intention of integrating support for the OpenCable Platform in future system-on-a-chip (SoC) products, according to CableLabsComcast has committed to build at least one set-top box based on Intel’s SoC.

Intel expects to sell the SoCs for incorporation in digital televisions, set-top boxes, digital media recorders and other networked consumer electronics devices which, with OpenCable integrated, will be able to run standard applications and services delivered by cable operators, as well as by consumer electronics companies, program networks, and other software developers.

“Comcast is committed to working with Intel to bring one or more Intel SoC-based digital set-top boxes (DSTBs) to market in the next two years,” said Tony Werner, Comcast executive vice president and CTO.

“The OpenCable Platform is Comcast’s software base for the future,” he added. “Comcast is looking forward to Intel’s support of the OpenCable Platform through upcoming products and the inherent advantage that the design technique brings to quickly integrate cable and Internet content into a single device.”

Future Intel platforms will include OpenCable Platform technologies certified by CableLabs for interactive applications. Interactive digital cable-ready products can access interactive program guides delivered by cable operators, as well as premium services ordered on-screen, such as video-on-demand (VOD). The devices will also include support for the CableCARD removable security module.

In April, Intel said it planned to deliver Intel Architecture (IA) SoC products for a new generation of Internet-compatible consumer electronics devices. By incorporating many features and standards into Intel’s silicon products, these SoCs will help manufacturers accelerate product delivery and deliver more cost-effective designs that provide strong processing performance and flexibility. Intel's first CE-optimized IA-based SoC is scheduled for 2008, pairing a powerful IA processor with leading-edge A/V processing, graphics and more to help deliver greater performing, Internet-compatible devices.

RCN to acquire Neon Communications
By Traci Patterson

RCN Corp. will acquire Neon Communications Group Inc. for up to $5.25 per share of NGI common stock, in cash, for an expected total of up to $260 million.

Neon provides network transport services to carrier and enterprise customers in the 12-state New England and mid-Atlantic regions, which fits in nicely with RCN’s Northeast, mid-Atlantic and Chicago markets. Also, Neon’s complementary network comes with a customer base that is in line with RCN’s Business Solutions’ growth strategy, the company said.

Neon’s fiber optic network extends approximately 4,800 route miles and contains more than 200 points of presence from Maine to Virginia. The telecom services provider has approximately 120 carrier and enterprise customers.

RCN expects to fund the purchase with $250 million of debt financing. Both companies’ boards have approved the transaction, and it is expected to close during Q4. The deal is subject to regulatory approvals and the approval of Neon's stockholders, as well as other closing conditions.

EarthLink names new CEO, prez
By Traci Patterson

EarthLink Inc.’s board of directors has named Rolla P. Huff as the company's new president and CEO.

Huff previously served as the chairman and CEO at Mpower Communications, a facilities-based provider of voice and data services. Prior to Mpower, he served as president and COO, and earlier as CFO, of Frontier Corp. until its acquisition in 1999. Huff has also held roles at NCRAT&T and AT&T Wireless.

EarthLink has also appointed Huff to its board of directors, which now comprises eight members. Additionally, Huff will serve as a representative for Helio’s board. Helio is a joint venture between EarthLink and SK Telecom Co. 

SCTE rolls out IP certification, increases Expo attendance
By Traci Patterson

The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) rolled out a new certification program at Cable-Tec Expo last week - Internet Protocol Engineering Professional (IPEP).

The new credential certifies a candidate’s knowledge of the engineering aspects of IP networks, as deployed in the cable and telecommunications industries, and the scope includes theory, design, performance analysis, testing, integration, troubleshooting, deployment and operation of IP networks.

IPEP is the second in a new line of SCTE engineering-level certification programs, following the debut of the Digital Video Engineering Professional (DVEP) program at last year’s Cable-Tec Expo.

About 10,700 people attended this year’s event, a six percent increase compared with last year’s Expo in Denver.

The winner of the show’s coveted International Cable-Tec Games was Scott Snody of Comcast Corp. Snody represented the SCTE’s Great Lakes Chapter. Ken Verducci and Ron Poole, both of Comcast and the SCTE’s Golden Gate Chapter, placed second and third overall, respectively.

Meanwhile, SCTE already has set its sights on next year’s Expo, to be conducted June 24–27, 2008, in Philadelphia.

Marwan Fawaz, CTO and executive vice president of Charter Communications, has agreed to serve as chair of the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2008 Program Subcommittee.

AT&T U-verse expanding in Ohio
By Brian Santo

AT&T U-verse continues to propagate, most recently expanding into a number of neighborhoods in the Cleveland and Akron markets.

AT&T U-verse services are initially available in parts of the Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor metropolitan statistical area (MSA), including Bay Village, Berea, Broadview Heights, Brooklyn, Euclid, Fairview Park, Lakewood, Lyndhurst, Mayfield Heights, Mentor, North Royalton, Orange, Solon, South Euclid, Warrensville Heights, Westlake, Willoughby Hills and Willowick.

In and near Akron, U-verse is available in parts of Cuyahoga Falls, Fairlawn, Kent, Munroe Falls, Silver Lake, and Stow.

AT&T reasserted its claims that it is the only national provider to offer a 100 percent Internet Protocol (IP)-based television service, which it says makes U-verse TV "cooler than cable."

Verizon extends FiOS in N.Y., broadband in Ohio
By CED staff

Verizon is extending its FiOS triple play into a number of new areas in New York State, and has also rolled out the network for voice and data services in parts of Ohio.

Verizon said FiOS TV is now available in parts of Bayville, the Town of North Hempstead, New Hyde Park, Sands Point, the Town of Haverstraw, West Haverstraw, Chestnut Ridge and the Town of North Castle, including the unincorporated hamlets within each of the eight towns.

Verizon said it has also has been granted franchises by Mount Pleasant and Old Field and will launch FiOS TV in those communities soon.

Meanwhile, the company has extended its DSL footprint to cover about 6,400 additional potential customers in Ashland, Bellevue, Bowling Green, Brunswick, Bryan, Celina, Cheshire Center, Delaware, Englewood, Lodi, Logan, Marion, Montrose, North Baltimore, Norwalk, Oberlin, Sylvania, Wadsworth and Waverly, all in Ohio.

The fastest plan in those areas will be 3 Mbps service, for $19.99 a month for the first six months and $29.99 a month thereafter, with a one-year commitment.

Broadband Briefs for 6/25/07

* IEEE names teaching award recipient
The IEEE has named Clayton R. Paul as the recipient of its 2007 Undergraduate Teaching Award, recognizing his excellence in the teaching of undergraduate engineering students.

Paul is the Sam Nunn Professor of Aerospace Systems Engineering and a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the Mercer University School of Engineering in Macon, Ga., where he promotes the greater understanding of electromagnetic compatibility. The IEEE is a professional association for the advancement of technology.

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