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News summary for 8/16/07

Thu, 08/16/2007 - 10:03am

Thomson details chip for HD PVR set-tops
By Brian Santo

Thomson is preparing a high-end video decoder chip optimized for set-top boxes (STBs) with personal video recording (PVR) capability. The chip can be used in cable, satellite, or IP boxes.

The chip, designated the 4230, will provide HD decoding for H.264, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, and DivX codecs, as well as standard definition (SD) streams. The company said the 4230 is able to output HD and SD video simultaneously.

The Thomson 4230 supports multiple security formats, as well as dual USB 2.0 and Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) interfaces that support PVR and digital video recording (DVR) applications with or without a hard disk drive connection.

"With the ability to implement a secure video processor (SVP) for the satellite, cable pay-per-view and broadcast markets, we expect the Thomson 4230 to lead the market," said Marc Crosnier, worldwide sales manager of Thomson Silicon Components.

Allen considers taking Charter private
By CED staff

Paul G. Allen, who already controls the stock of Charter Communications, is considering a number of options for Charter, including reducing the company’s debt, recapitalizing the company, and taking it private, according to a document filed with the SEC. Allen controls the company with his majority holding of class B stock.

Telcos add more broadband subs in Q2, cable ops still lead market
 
By Traci Patterson

In the second quarter, the 19 largest U.S. cable and telco providers, which account for nearly 95 percent of the overall market, added more than 1.7 million net high-speed Internet subscribers, according to Leichtman Research Group Inc. 

The telcos added about 925,000 subscribers, representing about 54 percent of the net additions, but the cable operators have a 54 percent share of the overall broadband market, with about a 5.1 million subscriber advantage over the telcos. The top broadband providers now account for nearly 58 million subscribers, with cable companies serving 31.5 million and telcos serving about 26.4 million.

The broadband additions were the lowest since the Q2 2004, though, and were about 400,000 fewer additions than in the year-ago quarter. Charter Communications was the only provider to record significantly more net broadband additions than a year ago. All of the top telcos had fewer net broadband additions in the second quarter than in last year’s second quarter.

Of the cable ops, Comcast added the most Internet customers in the quarter - 330,000 - for a total of about 12.4 million. Time Warner Cable came in second, adding 188,000 for a total of nearly 7.2 million. Charter’s 60,300 additions pushed its total past 2.5 million, and Cox Communications added 60,000 to total about 3.6 million. Cablevision added 50,000 for a grand total of about 2.2 million.

As for the telcos, AT&T led the pack with 398,000 additions, giving the company about 13.3 million total broadband subscribers. Verizon added 288,000 for a total of nearly 7.7 million, and Qwest added 100,000, pushing the company past 2.4 million Internet subscribers.

“While net broadband additions may be beginning to wane slightly, tens of millions of consumers will add high-speed Internet over the next few years,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman. “In a somewhat tighter market, broadband providers will need to be increasingly prudent in the subscribers that they acquire in order to help minimize churn.”

GigaBeam teams with NextPhase, with focus in L.A. area 
By Brian Santo

GigaBeam and NextPhase Wireless have agreed to work together. Perhaps separately, Gigabeam reported an order for four WiFiber links from a new strategic partner that the company would not identify.

NextPhase Wireless and GigaBeam will integrate the latter’s WiFiber wireless technologies into the former’s solutions platform.

Gigabeam’s wireless system operates in the 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz radio spectrum bands that the FCC recently began to license and which Gigabeam claims are uniquely suited to avoid atmospheric interference for last-mile connectivity.

NextPhase CEO Robert Ford said, " NextPhase is uniquely empowered to quickly and efficiently enable these wireless connectivity services for the more than 135,000 businesses within our existing wireless footprint."

This is apparently a reference to the areas where NextPhase recently shifted its wireless backbone to new licensed spectrum bands (see NextPhase upgrades wireless net). The areas in question are Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the three counties to the south and east of Los Angeles.

Ford added, “We look forward to partnering with GigaBeam to pursue and win several large deployment projects currently being pursued."

As for the new order reported by Gigabeam, the new, unidentified partner is said to be establishing a Metro Ethernet network in the City of Los Angeles.

OpenTV powers interactive game show in Israel 
By Mike Robuck

OpenTV will be one of the components under the hood for a synchronized mobile interactive service by Israeli broadcaster Reshet.

OpenTV’s Participate platform will be used by Reshet to power live, synchronized mobile interactive services for the game show “1 vs. 100.” By using OpenTV’s Participate system, viewers with mobile phones will be able to actively participate in the game show by answering questions.

“We are very excited to partner with Reshet on our new mobile interactive solution. It offers unprecedented flexibility for broadcasters and producers alike, as well as an exciting and unique interactive experience for viewers," said Alan Guggenheim, President and CEO of OpenTV, in a prepared statement. "The power of OpenTV Participate is that it fully embraces the idea that viewers can participate and transact via multiple platforms."

During the show, a graphical interface, developed by the Vario Group, a Tel Aviv-based Internet and mobile solutions provider, displays synchronized content that enables viewers to select their answers to the questions presented on the TV show. The mobile application, which works on both Brew and Java enabled phones, has already been developed and ported by Vario to the majority of mobile handsets in Israel.

Extreme Networks passes test for IPv6 functionality
By Mike Robuck

Extreme Networks said it has successfully demonstrated key IPv6 functionality with its ExtremeXOS-based portfolio of Ethernet switches.

Tests performed by the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) demonstrated that Extreme Networks’ core to edge network solutions, consisting of the BlackDiamond and Summit switches, supported full featured IPv6 networking that was compliant with the requirements of the IPv6 Forum's Phase 2 IPv6 Ready program.

Extreme Networks’ Summit X250 and X450 fixed switches, and BlackDiamond 8800, 10808 and 12800 modular switches, can provide wire-speed IPv4 and IPv6 Access Control Lists, traffic filtering, wire-speed Layer 2 and Layer 3 IPv4 and IPv6 forwarding and hardware-based IPv6 tunneling through IPv4 networks.

Broadband Briefs for 8/16/07

* Covad Wireless announces 2 Mbps service 
By Brian Santo

The Covad Wireless subsidiary of Covad Communications Group now has a 2 Mbps service, aimed at small and medium businesses. Covad Wireless is pricing its Super-T service to compete with traditional T1 lines, which are defined at 1.544 Mbps.

Pricing for the Super-T 2.0 starts at $399 for a three-year contract term and goes up to $429 for a one-year contract. Covad Wireless offers several speed tiers ranging from 768 kbps to 6.0 Mbps, as well as high-capacity services up to 100 Mbps.

* Vyyo promotes Fryling
By Mike Robuck

Vyyo announced today that Jeff Fryling has been promoted to senior vice president, business development. Fryling will be responsible for working with strategic and technical partners, customers and internal Vyyo resources to create solutions that speed deployment of Vyyo’s UltraBand spectrum overlay platform. 

It’s been a busy year for Vyyo on the personnel front. Earlier this month, former Charter employee David Feldman joined the company as CTO, while Wayne Davis, previously the CTO of Charter Communications, was named CEO. Vyyo has also added to its sales staff this year as part of the company’s shift from research and development to deployments of its products.

* DOJ requests more info about CommScope-Andrew deal
By Traci Patterson

CommScope Inc. and Andrew Corp., for the second time, have received requests for additional information from the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice regarding CommScope's pending acquisition of Andrew.

The information requests were issued under the notification requirements of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (HSR Act). The companies said they intend to fully cooperate with the Department of Justice and that they expect the deal to close before the end of the year.

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