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News summary for 9/12/07

Wed, 09/12/2007 - 8:42am
CED staff

FCC rules on dual-carriage
By Brian Santo

The Federal Communications Commission yesterday issued rules that direct cable operators to provide a viewable signal for every must-carry channel after the digital transition for their own analog customers; and extended for another five years the ban of exclusive contracts between vertically integrated programmers and cable operators.

The must-carry decision gives operators a choice "to either: (1) carry the digital signal in analog format, or (2) carry the signal only in digital format, provided that all subscribers have the necessary equipment to view the broadcast content."

As a practical matter, cable operators can either transmit at least two versions (analog and digital) of every must-carry channel, incurring expense and consuming precious bandwidth, or buy a converter or new set-top for each and every one of their analog customers, also incurring expense.

Approximately 35 percent of all television homes, or approximately 40 million households, are analog-only cable subscribers.

The new rules conform to a proposal made by the NCTA, whose members acceded to dual-carriage for three years after the transition.

Smaller operators – and only those with plants of 522 MHz or less – have the option to apply for a waiver, but The American Cable Association reiterated that its members still will be hard hit: “The new carriage obligations now make it more difficult for operators of small systems to stay in business… Some very small systems will have no choice but to shut down because their small subscriber bases cannot support the costly equipment mandated by this order.”

The Commission remains open to ways to minimize any economic impact on small cable operators while still complying with the statutory requirements for carriage of local TV stations.

The second order, the FCC said, is meant to ensure competitive multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) continue to have access to essential programming by extending the ban of exclusive deals between programmers and MSOs. This keeps a company such as Comcast or Time Warner from denying access to channels they own to rival service providers.

The FCC said it will continue to review the related issue of program “tying” – when a programmer “ties” a popular network channel to a set of others, forcing the operator to broadcast additional channels the operator – and its subscribers – might not want.

Wave7’s solution chosen for Parisian municipal network
By Traci Patterson

Wave7 Optics and SPIE Communications said that the Trident Optical Access Platform has been chosen for Sequantic - a municipal network in France that is slated to begin service next month. The network will mark the first public-based fiber-to-the-user (FTTU) open-access network dedicated to business in the Paris region.
 
The point-to-multipoint network is a project initiated by the Sipperec public consortium, which represents the electricity and telecom interests of about 1.7 million residential, commercial and industrial customers located in 86 municipalities around Paris. Sequantic will reach at least one business area in each municipality within the Sipperec members’ territory and provide high-speed external and internal connectivity.
 
Id-Reso will manage the network and will deploy Wave7’s Trident7 OLT solution configured for the IEEE 802.3ah Ethernet in the First Mile (EFM) EPON standard. The Trident7 is a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) platform that delivers standards-based EPON and GPON technologies simultaneously from a single chassis. SPIE will provide delivery, implementation, support and maintenance services for the Trident7 solution.

A typical Sequantic business service package will offer symmetric data services of up to 1 Gbps with the Trident7 platform.
 
“PON networks are flexible and open and respect the criteria for transparency established by European directives,” said Jacques Poulet, president of Sipperec and mayor of Villetaneuse. “With a low entry cost, the Trident7 PON solution will enable local service providers to offer new services and innovative applications.”

Vixs rolls out HD AVC system-on-a-chip

By Mike Robuck

Vixs Systems recently introduced its MPEG-4 system-on-a-chip for transcoding, decoding and encoding.

Vixs said its XCode 3290 is designed to give set-top box and consumer electronics manufacturers the ability to build AVC home video-related products that are cost- effective.

The XCode 3290 can be integrated into home video products such as HD set-top boxes, personal video recorders (PVRs), digital TVs, Blu-Ray/HD DVD recorders, media servers and network attached storage (NAS) products.  Its multi-core processors allow for multiple or advanced applications such as PVR, DLNA and networking without the aid of an external CPU.

The XCode 3290’s dual HD transcoding, encoding and dense peripheral integration can help CE manufacturers build next-generation home video products that have storage, networking and content protection needs. Consumers can extend their recording times up to six times longer by using Vixs’ transcoding technology that takes MPEG-2 or AVC streams and squeezes them into lower bitrates, resolutions and video formats.

It also supports various conditional access formats including intergraded CableCARDs and Smart Card interfaces.

“XCode 3290, with its powerful video processor unit, will pave the way for OEMs to build a new class of products that will give consumers unprecedented use case scenarios for managing their multimedia content," said Sally Daub, president and CEO of Vixs Systems, in a prepared statement.

Broadband Briefs for 9/12/07

* Polatis beefs up sales team with new hires
By Mike Robuck

Polatis, a manufacturer of optical switches, announced the hiring of three executives to its sales team. Stuart Santoro, formerly vice president of sales at Opvista, joins Polatis as director of telco sales, North America, while Sean Gordon was hired as director of sales, video broadcast worldwide. Philip Benguhe was also hired as director of sales, defense and federal division.

* Shaw Communications’ lineup changing
By Traci Patterson

Shaw Communications’ channel lineup will change next week - in the markets of Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario - such as the addition of NHL Centre Ice. Shaw offers broadband, cable TV, high-speed Internet, satellite DTH, and digital phone and telecom services to about 3.2 million subscribers in Canada.

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