News summary for 8/20/07

Mon, 08/20/2007 - 8:36am
CED staff

MSOs hook up with RHI Entertainment for VOD movie premieres
By Mike Robuck

RHI Entertainment is giving several top cable operators access to never-before-seen movies by allowing the original movies to premiere on the MSOs’ on-demand tiers.

RHI Entertainment signed early distribution agreements with Time Warner CableBright House NetworksCablevision and Cox Communications for movies that include action, thriller and horror genres.

While cable operators have long wanted to offer movies on-demand the same day they’re released to movie theaters, Hollywood has resisted to date. The deal with RHI, a large producer of made-for-TV movies, bolsters cable operators’ VOD lineups. The movies include stars such as Gary Busey, Judd Nelson, Marilu Henner and Kevin Sorbo.

A total of 24 original world premiere movies are being offered in the first year, with two new movies premiering each month. Cable TV customers will be able to choose from six RHI movies available for a fee at any given time. RHI also laid claim to being the first company to produce and offer movies in both high definition and standard definition for premiere on VOD.

“RHI Entertainment has been producing first-rate movies, miniseries and series for television for many years,” said Robert Halmi Jr., president and CEO of RHI Entertainment, in a prepared statement. “We’re looking forward to expanding our products on these new platforms and growing relationships with our distribution partners.”

A part of the overall package, RHI is also offering many of its classic movies from its “Free on Demand” service.

After the movies premiere on the VOD platforms, they’ll become available for downloads on iTunes before cable networks such as SCI FI, Spike TV and Lifetime will telecast the original movies in their premiere broadcast/cable windows. Genius Entertainment will release the movies on home video.

Verizon’s FiOS services hit N.Y.
By Traci Patterson

Verizon’s FiOS Internet offering is now available in parts of Brooklyn, N.Y. The service is already up and running in other New York City boroughs, as well as throughout the state.

The Internet service will reach parts of Brooklyn’s Canarsie, Mill Basin, Georgetown and Bergen Beach communities. As of the end of Q2, Verizon had 1.1 million FiOS Internet subscribers.
And residents of Garden City, N.Y. - a Long Island community - now have access to Verizon’s FiOS TV service. As of the end of Q2, Verizon had 515,000 FiOS TV subscribers.

Also, Verizon introduced FiOS TV’s interactive media guide to its customers in Maryland and Virginia. The guide - available to FiOS TV subscribers in parts of Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island - allows users to navigate through TV listings, VOD catalogues and DVR libraries, as well as personal music and photos. Future versions of the guide will add Internet radio, videos, podcasts and games to the FiOS TV multimedia platform, the company said.

Broadcom intros chip for D-to-A digital transition boxes
By Brian Santo

Broadcom announced a digital television receiver chip for digital-to-analog converter boxes that consumers can use to continue to receive over-the-air TV signals after the digital transition in February 2009.

Broadcom’s new receiver (the BCM3543) is designed to convert all ATSC standard and high definition inputs to 480i output formats for display on analog TVs. Features include Channel 3 or 4 radio frequency modulated output, EIA/CEA-909 smart antenna support, and keypad and remote control support.

Compatible with an ATSC antenna design available exclusively from Broadcom, the BCM3543's antenna provides a high performance indoor solution that requires a single cable interface, which means outdoor installations would not be necessary, the company said.

The antenna control is integrated into the BCM3543's user interface, eliminating the need for consumers to have to manually adjust the antenna position in order to receive optimal signal reception.

The chip is characterized by an integrated 8/16-VSB digital terrestrial receiver; an EIA/CEA 909-compliant smart antenna controller; an ATSC-compliant, all-format MPEG-2 high definition video decoder; a Channel 3-4 modulator; a Dolby Digital and MPEG audio decoder; high-quality video scaling; a picture enhancement processor; a 200 MHz MIPS32 CPU; and a 32-bit 200 MHz DDR-DRAM controller.

Broadcom is now providing samples to early access customers. Pricing is available upon request. Broadcom is providing OEMs an extensive hardware and software reference design to build boxes around the chip.

Availability of the boxes is specified by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The NTIA will provide two $40 discount coupons per household that consumers can redeem directly from retailers for these NTIA-qualified digital converter boxes. There is a total of 33.5 million coupons budgeted for the program, which begins January 1, 2008 and concludes on March 31, 2009, which means boxes ought to start becoming available in four months.

Sonus dials in local calling features, enhanced security 
By Mike Robuck

Sonus Networks, a supplier of VoIP infrastructure products, rolled out a new version of its enterprise and residential voice services software platform today.

The new platform, which is called Access 7.0, adds an array of traditional voice features that will enable the delivery of enterprise and residential IP-voice services to customers regardless of the last mile connection. Sonus’ new IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) network architecture entails the real-time delivery of advanced voice and multimedia services, while optimizing the network to provide required safety and traditional call features, according to the company.

Sonus’ Access Software is a platform that leverages Sonus’ IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) architecture to deliver voice telephony via IP. Access 7.0 incorporates IMS/TISPAN-compliant access technologies and integrates with third-party or traditional last-mile connections. 

Broadband Briefs for 8/20/07

* AT&T launches U-Verse in Sacramento
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AT&T has announced the launch of U-Verse, the FTTN-based IP TV and broadband service, in parts of Sacramento, Stockton and Modesto in California. The service provides 320 channels with 26 high definition channels, DVR functionality with mobile remote access and broadband up to 6.0 Mbps (downstream).

This builds on the Californian footprint for the service which includes San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside, Ventura County, San Jose and the Bay area. U-Verse deployment was beset by problems with the IP TV system design, and has been slower off the mark than the FTTH FiOS service from Verizon, which has higher broadband speeds from the all-fibre connection and uses the tried and tested QAM architecture for cable TV.

AT&T is quick to point out the advanced features of the IP TV service such as picture-in-picture, remote DVR access and multiple recording streams, while a key selling point for FiOS is super fast broadband at up to 50 Mbps.

* Motorola wraps up purchase of Leapstone Systems
By Mike Robuck

Motorola announced today that it has completed its acquisition of privately-held Leapstone Systems. The deal was first announced on July 10, but the terms of the transaction haven’t been disclosed.

Leapstone, which is now part of Motorola’s Home & Network Mobility business unit, provides a unified platform for creating, managing and delivering converged video, voice and data service bundles across multiple networks and devices. Leapstone’s flagship Communications Convergence Engine (CCE) product suite is a real-time service delivery platform that enables fixed and mobile network operators to expand and evolve their service offerings through its software products.

* WildBlue adds new VP of sales, marketing
By Traci Patterson

WildBlue Communications Inc. has appointed Ed Knudson to VP of sales and marketing. Knudson joins WildBlue from OpenTV, where he was SVP of the company’s advanced advertising unit.

Prior to OpenTV, Knudson served as EVP and co-founder of Intellocity. He was also co-founder and VP of MindWorks Corp., and he has held executive positions with AT&T Broadband and TV Guide Networks.


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