News summary for 7/17/07

Tue, 07/17/2007 - 9:15am

NCTA: CEA overreaching in STB waiver comments
By Mike Robuck

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association took umbrage to recent comments made by the Consumer Electronics Association to the FCC about cable’s downloadable security, and fired off a quick response on Monday.

The NCTA’s comments came on the heels of  CEA’s criticism of cable’s downloadable security solution (DCAS) that CEA included in comments filed on one of the pending set-top box waiver requests. Colo Telephone Company and other petitioners had sought a waiver on the FCC’s integration ban, and while the NCTA said in its comments that it would take no position on the waiver requests, it did take issue with some of the material raised in the CEA comments.

The CEA comments “appear to raise new demands concerning all forms of downloadable security demands which are not relevant to the requested waivers and have no place in this proceeding,” according to the NCTA comments document.

The NCTA contends that the CEA is misguided in claiming that one solution and one interface for downloadable security are critical to fully develop a retail market for navigation devices. The NCTA pointed out that the FCC’s Media Bureau has indicated that IP, ATM, and IP/QAM networks should develop their own downloadable security solutions and not use a single, government-mandated approach.

DirecTV, Dish Network, Verizon and other service providers use a variety of security solutions to distribute programming, but while the CEA suggests that “proprietary” downloadable security technologies can’t meet the law’s requirements” it isn’t lobbying against the proprietary technologies used by the above companies.

The NCTA also wrote that the CEA’s concerns, aside from not being appropriate for the waiver petition, have already been addressed in cable’s downloadable conditional access (DCAS) initiative, which has been developed with several key consumer electronics vendors.

But the CEA tried to raise the bar again on DCAS by requesting for “updates to the host end of the interface via firmware.” The NCTA argued that those types of updates “have nothing to do with the DCAS license.”

Verizon rolls into Indiana; close to agreements in Pennsylvania
By Mike Robuck

Verizon launched its FiOS TV service to 122,000 households in Indiana, including Fort Wayne, New Haven and Huntertown.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the new statewide franchising law in March of last year that led to Verizon gaining a TV franchise from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission in December. Verizon’s fiber-to-the-home video service is now available in certain areas of 12 states. 

Last month, Verizon announced that it had nearly half a million FiOS TV subscribers and one million FiOS Internet subscribers. At the end of the first quarter, the company offered TV service to more than three million households.

Verizon also announced today that it was close to having franchise agreements in 19 southwestern Pennsylvania cities and towns pending each municipality’s vote on approving the franchise agreements. Verizon is expecting to roll out its TV service in Pittsburg later this year, as it competes with Comcast for subscribers.

NGB system enables self-activation of data/voice bundles
By Brian Santo

Next Generation Broadband (NGB) has introduced a software product that automates the service activation process and customer management tasks involved in adding both voice and high-speed data customers.

This combines the capabilities inherent in previous NGB products, one dedicated to managing the activation of data customers, and another for VoIP customers (story here).

NGB’s Bundled Install System plugs into an operator’s existing network through NGB’s SmartBridge technology, and runs in parallel, as a companion system to an operator’s existing voice management hardware and software. NGB’s patent-pending SmartBridge technology allows all new voice customers to be directed to the Bundled Install system rather than the general broadband ISP system.

The Bundled Install system automatically recognizes a new eMTA on the network, allowing customers to select their service plan and features.

In addition to enabling customer activation of services, the new system includes a technician login, insuring standardization and quality control of tech installs, as well as onsite network diagnostics and service verification tools for technicians.

By automating these processes, NGB claims operators can achieve a reduction in their overall capital costs on voice and high-speed data services. Installation costs are lowered as much as 80 percent through fewer truck rolls and greater efficiencies which are needed due to the automated installation process.

Autobahn Accelerator speeds delivery of MySpaceTV videos
By Brian Santo

Startup Swarmcast has introduced a free product called Autobahn Accelerator which the company claims boosts download speeds for online videos and music embedded on MySpace pages.

The company said its multi-source streaming approach uses bandwidth from multiple servers and aggregates packets of information from each of them in real-time. Autobahn loads fast, ensures reliable streaming, and minimizes rebuffering, even over a wireless network, the company said.

The first version of Autobahn Accelerator was designed for Apple’s iTunes. The latest version is now available for MySpaceTV. While MySpaceTV does not require users to have a MySpace account to watch videos, videos hosted on MySpaceTV and embedded throughout MySpace will also be accelerated.

Oberon Media to snap up PixelPlay
By Mike Robuck

Oberon Media announced today it intends to acquire PixelPlay in order to round out its interactive TV portfolio.

PixelPlay gives Oberon another piece of the puzzle that it needs to offer multi-platform casual games across the three screens of TV, cell phones and computers. Oberon also recently purchased I-play as part of its three-screen gaming strategy. The Oberon gaming platform for cable and satellite operators will allow advertisers to launch interactive games across all three screens while allowing game developers and licensors to increase their presence across multiple platforms by working with one company.

“This acquisition advances Oberon Media’s triple-play strategy and positions us to reach players across three platforms, thereby increasing game service stickiness and subscriber retention,” said Ofer Leidner, co-founder and head of business development, in a prepared statement.  “This increases the appeal of Oberon’s white-label services to all our partners, from cable and satellite operators to telcos and game developers.”

Oberon’s online providers include Microsoft, Comcast, BskyB, Sprint, AT&T, Yahoo Games, and Verizon. The financial terms of the PixelPlay buy-out were not available.

Broadband Briefs for 7/17/07

* Everstream broadens sales coverage with new hires
Everstream beefed up its sales staff with the addition of Judy Donovan and Joe Thomas. Donovan has been appointed as VP of sales, while Thomas is the Western regional sales manager. Prior to Everstream, Donovan was VP of sales at OpVista, while Thomas was director of applications engineering for Tropic Networks.

* Collet joins Synacor as VP for information technology
On Monday Synacor named Dallas Collet as its vice president of information technology. Prior to Synacor, Collet served in a number of management IT roles for Hewlett-Packard and completed his tenure at HP directing a Global IT Architecture group.

*Aspen Networks, BroadSoft VoIP products interoperable
Interoperability testing and validation has been successfully completed between Aspen Network's 365-VoIP multi-link WAN switch and SIP ALG and BroadSoft's BroadWorks VoIP application platform. Aspen Networks is now part of the BroadSoft Access Partner program.

* J:COM reaches 2.7M subscribers
Jupiter Telecommunications Co. (J:COM) said total subscribing households as of June 30, 2007 reached 2.69 million, up 476,800, or 21.5 percent since June 30, 2006. The company attributed the growth to the subscribing households in existing service areas and the addition of newly consolidated franchises.

Combined revenue generating units (RGUs) for cable television, high-speed Internet access and telephony services were 4.69 million, up 819,300 or 21.2 percent since June 30, 2006.



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