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News summary for 11/26/07

Mon, 11/26/2007 - 8:10am
CED staff

Cable industry will serve up SDV adapter for use with DVRs 
By Mike Robuck

The cable industry has tackled the concern of switched digital video (SDV) not working with third-party consumer electronics devices, such as DVRs, by developing a new adapter.

CableLabs said the adapter will extend the functionality of some unidirectional digital-ready cable products (UDCPs) that use CableCards to access SDV channels that were previously unavailable to such devices. The external adapter will be available early next year.

SDV sends only the linear video channels that are requested in a service group or node, thereby freeing up bandwidth for more HD channels or other services. SDV requires two-way communication, but some consumer electronics devices are only unidirectional.

After some legislators expressed their concerns, the NCTA started working on a way to solve the problem of sending SDV signals to one-way DVRs and other devices earlier this year. With the adapter, TiVo’s DVRs will be able to access all of the SDV channels without a set-top box (STB).

"Today's announcement is a major breakthrough resulting from marketplace discussions that provides benefits for consumers and cable operators," NCTA president and CEO Kyle McSlarrow said. "We very much appreciate TiVo's willingness to work on a marketplace solution that will enable TiVo users to enjoy innovative switched digital services without the need for a set-top box."

The new external adapter will attach to TiVo Series 3 HD DVRs and TiVo HD DVRs to ensure that the devices can directly access all digital channels, including switched digital cable channels. CableLabs and the NCTA said the adapter will work on any UDCP that has a USB connector and the necessary firmware.

"We are gratified that the cable industry has agreed to work quickly to develop a solution that will enable existing TiVo CableCard DVRs to directly access switched digital cable channels and ensure the adapter is part of an easy installation process for cable subscribers," said TiVo CEO Tom Rogers.

The adapter and accompanying specifications were developed by cable operators, CableLabs, TiVo, MotorolaScientific AtlantaBigBand Networks, and C-Cor

SCTE names candidates for next year’s board election
By Traci Patterson

The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) has announced the slate of candidates who are vying for the 10 seats on the 17-member board of directors that are up for election next year:

* Region 3 (representing AK, ID, MT, OR, WA)

Tim Alverson, Cable One
Randy Love, Comcast Cable Communications
Frank Park, Bresnan Communications

* Region 4 (representing OK, TX)

Daniel Karnish, Cox Communications
Bob Macioch, Time Warner Cable (incumbent)
Raymond Mills, Suddenlink Communications

* Region 5 (representing IA, IL, KS, MO, NE)

Andy Parrott, Suddenlink Communications
Rick Sullivan, Times Fiber Amphenol
Tim Templeton, Sunflower Broadband

* Region 7 (representing IN, MI, OH)

Marc Broadnax, Comcast Cable Communications (incumbent)
Michael L. Smith, Time Warner Cable
John Zappetillo, CommScope

* Region 8 (representing AL, AR, LA, MS, TN)

Wayne Callihan, Systems Services Broadband Inc.
Tommy Hill, Mediacom LLC (incumbent)
Harold Kinnel, Ritter Communications

* Region 10 (representing DC, KY, NC, VA, WV)

Mark Alrutz, CommScope
Jim Kersnowski, Time Warner Cable
Bob Legg, Suddenlink Communications

* Region 12 (representing CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, RI, VT)

Andrew Ferraro, Aurora Networks
Bob Foote, Arris
Jim Morse, Cox Communications

* Director-At-Large Canada (representing SCTE’s Canadian members)

Eric Goulden, Telonix Communications
Mario Massi, Cogeco Cable Inc.
Dermot O’Carroll, Rogers Cable Communications (incumbent)

* Director-At-Large (representing all SCTE members, two to be elected)

Dick Amell, Time Warner Cable
Nomi Bergman, Advance/Newhouse Communications
Terry Cordova, Suddenlink Communications (incumbent)
John Dahlquist, Aurora Networks
Steve Windle, Trilithic

SCTE members will vote in January, and the election results will be announced by April 15. Newly elected directors will begin their two-year terms at the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2008, which will be held June 24–27 in Philadelphia.

FCC votes on cable regulation scheme tomorrow
By Brian Santo

The FCC is scheduled to decide tomorrow whether to pursue Chairman Kevin Martin’s plan to expand the Commission’s authority to regulate the cable industry. The attempt relies on a legal provision that gives the FCC greater regulatory authority should the cable industry pass 70 percent of all U.S. households, and then sign up 70 percent of those as customers.

Martin’s two fellow Republican appointees on the commission have reservations about the plan and want to gather more information on the subject. Martin was relying on the two Democratic appointees to back the plan, but the New York Times (registration required) reports that one of them, Jonathan Adelstein, feels that Martin is rushing the decision and is also seeking more information.

Craig Moffett, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein, provided Adelstein an analysis that appears to undercut Martin’s position: There are 116 million households in the U.S. and 63 million cable subscribers, which means cable has nowhere near a 70 percent penetration rate.

Macrovision licensing Connected Platform to STB maker
By Traci Patterson

Macrovision Corp. has entered into a license agreement with a leading set-top box manufacturer that will allow the unnamed manufacturer to utilize Macrovision’s Connected Platform in its digital STBs in the North American cable market.

Cable operators and manufacturers are adopting technologies that bridge the gap between the PC and STBs.

Macrovision's Connected Platform enables hardware providers to create wired and wireless digital home products that allow users to discover, browse, search and enjoy personal content on their TV.

The platform enables users to connect between the two silos of digital entertainment and gives next-gen STBs the capability to acquire streamed music, photos and video from PCs and networked storage devices.

Broadband Briefs for 11/26/07

* TiVo’s DVRs now available in Canada
By Mike Robuck

TiVo announced today that its DVRs will be available in Canadian retail stores in time for the holiday shopping season. The TiVo Series2 DT DVR will be available in early December at major Canadian retailers including Best Buy, The Brick, London Drug and Future Shop. TiVo’s DVRs will not be available in Quebec immediately.

* Ascent Media upgrades 6 Discovery networks to HD
By Brian Santo

Ascent Media Systems & Technology Services said it has completed the transition and upgrade of six Discovery TV networks to high-definition (HD).

Content on the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC and The Science Channel is now available in HD. With pay TV companies competing on the number of HD channels available, Ascent and Discovery made the conversion on an accelerated schedule.

* Conexant approves new anti-piracy tech
By Brian Santo

Conexant Systems said it has certified Dwight Cavendish Systems' (DCS) analog copy protection technology on its CX2427X and CX2450X MPEG video decoder families.

DCS develops technology that protects against unauthorized copying of content through the analog outputs of consumer equipment. The technology works for a variety of pay TV applications, including VOD.

Conexant’s decoders are used in PVRs and other set-top boxes.

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