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News summary for 12/05/07

Wed, 12/05/2007 - 7:07am
CED staff

Comcast cuts revenue target, expects to lose more basic video subs 
By Mike Robuck

Following up on yesterday’s announcement in regards to lower revenue targets and higher expenses, Comcast said today that it also expects to lose more basic video subscribers.

Comcast cited poor economic conditions and increased competition from Verizon and AT&T as the reasons for an expected drop in basic video subscribers this quarter and into next year.

Comcast’s stock shares dropped after its announcement yesterday that its revenue growth is expected to decrease by 11 percent, from the prior forecast of 12 percent. The company’s shares fell 8.4 percent, to $19, in early trading today on the NASDAQ, after dropping as much as 12 percent in pre-market trading. In the past year, Comcast’s shares have ranged from $18.83 to $30.18.

Comcast also said in the statement issued late Tuesday that its expenses will be $6 billion in 2007 – 5 percent more than previously planned. Investors closely watch that posting on the balance sheet since the cable sector can require massive infrastructure expenses to lay cable or manufacture set-top boxes.

On Monday, Comcast, along with Time Warner Cable, said it would not bid on the upcoming auction of 700 MHz wireless spectrum.

DirecTV out of spectrum auction; EchoStar an unknown
By Brian Santo

DirecTV said it will not bid on 700 MHz spectrum licenses in the FCC’s upcoming auction.

EchoStar, meanwhile, has not made a definitive statement about whether or not it has registered to bid, but investors who worried that it will bid drove down the price of EchoStar stock.

That EchoStar may have filed to bid confused analysts. Many of them believe AT&T is preparing to buy EchoStar, but the rules of the auction would compel the two companies to suspend merger discussions (assuming there are merger discussions) in order to avoid the appearance of colluding on license bidding.

Other companies who have registered to bid include Cox CommunicationsGoogle,  and Frontline Wireless

Separately, DirecTV signed a contract to continue using conditional access technology from NDS.

TiVo sings a new tune with Music Choice deal
By Mike Robuck

TiVo announced today that it has added Music Choice’s multi-platform music network to its broadband-connected DVRs.

Terms of the deal revolve around Music Choice delivering its original programming to TV sets through the TiVoCast service. At launch, nearly a thousand video titles are available, with more content on the way within the next few weeks.

"Be it music, movies or memories, our broadband strategy continues to focus on delivering consumers what they want, when they want it," said Tara Maitra, VP and GM of content services for TiVo. "By bringing TiVo users Music Choice, we're giving our subscribers access to the most extensive music offering available, delivering thousands of music videos straight to the TV. We think this service will be extremely popular among the TiVo audience."

TiVo subscribers will be able to browse through a variety of music genres, using TiVo's search interface, in categories such as rock, pop, hip-hop, R&B, country and Latino. Users will also be able to access kids' videos and daily entertainment news clips.

All of the content on TiVoCast, including Music Choice, is offered at no additional charge as part of the existing TiVo service subscription fee.

Copyright protection product proposed for TV shows on Web
By Brian Santo

The Nielsen Company and Digimarc announced a new service, called Nielsen Digital Media Manager, for monitoring and managing the distribution of media content across the Internet. The initial focus will be on the distribution of TV programming, but it can be expanded to other data types.

The tools, based on Digimarc’s watermarking technology, are designed to help content owners monitor and protect copyrighted material. Nielsen said it already uses digital watermarking to encode 95 percent of national TV programming for its ratings service.

The companies expect the new solution to be available in mid-2008. They said their plan is to convince content providers to digitally watermark DVDs, movies, music, video games and other content in subsequent phases of the rollout of the new media identification and management services.

"We believe these services will stimulate the growth of online video distribution to the benefit of consumers, content providers and distributors," said David Calhoun, chairman and CEO of Nielsen.

"Until now, the lack of an independent, industry-accepted identification and tracking service has limited the transactions that allow the delivery of media content over the Internet. Now with our new media identification and management services’ unique ability to identify content throughout the Internet, both content providers and distributors can protect and monetize the value of online media."

Verizon study: Users have false sense of online security
By Mike Robuck

According to a study commissioned by Verizon, more than half of computer users who think that they are protected against online threats such as spyware, viruses and hackers actually have inadequate or no online protection.

"Internet security protection is like a smoke alarm," said Bill Heilig, VP for Verizon broadband services. "As long as it works, it's great. But with a dead battery, it's worse than no smoke alarm at all because it creates a false sense of security. That's the position that most Internet consumers find themselves in today, and what they don't know is definitely hurting them.”
 
Verizon's study, conducted with 545 U.S. Internet subscribers by the independent Internet research firm iTracks, contrasted participants' opinions about their level of online security against results of Verizon Security Advisor scans performed on their computers. While 92 percent of participants thought they were safe, the scans revealed that 59 percent were actually vulnerable to a variety of online dangers. Ninety-four percent of those surveyed said they would find it helpful to be able to diagnose or check their online security status on a regular basis to make sure their PCs were safe.

The study's comparison between the real risk, as determined by the Verizon Security Advisor scan, and the participants' perceived risks showed that people are unknowingly exposing themselves to threats through bad habits, such as relying on expired or old security software.

Verizon used the study results to tout the effectiveness of its free diagnostic software, which it said can evaluate the virus, spyware or personal firewall security software on a computer in less than five seconds so that users can take steps to close any gaps in their online security protection.

Study: Younger viewers more likely to time-shift, watch TV online
By Traci Patterson

Younger adult viewers are two-and-a-half times more likely than older viewers to be technologically proactive in watching TV shows that they missed, according to a new study by The Nielsen Company. Half of the older viewers said they will do nothing or wait for reruns of the shows they missed.

Fifty-six percent of 18- to 34-year-olds use new technologies, such as DVRs, the Internet, VOD and MP3 players to follow their favorite TV programming, compared with 21 percent of viewers over the age of 55.

“Younger viewers have been faster than older generations to adopt new television options, but since technology adoption is increasing within all age groups, this study gives us a glimpse into a future when all viewers will take more initiative to catch up on shows they have missed,” said Steve McGowan, Nielsen’s SVP of client research initiatives. “This will have tremendous implications on how networks schedule and distribute their programming.”

The study was conducted in October with more than 1,500 adult participants.

Adobe’s updated Flash Player gives Hulu HD power
By Traci Patterson

Adobe Systems Inc. has launched its Flash Player 9 Update 3 software, aiding Hulu’s effort to offer a quality HD Internet TV experience.

The new Flash Player 9 includes H.264 standard video support—as is deployed in Blu-Ray and HD-DVD HD video players—and High Efficiency AAC (HE-AAC) audio capabilities. The combination of the player and Adobe’s Flash Media Server 3 (also announced today) enables the delivery of HD-quality video to the broadest online audience.

“Hulu is committed to giving consumers the best online video viewing experience possible, and we are always seeking innovative, new technologies that help us deliver,” said Eric Feng, CTO at Hulu.

“Together with Adobe, we will provide a best-in-class, high-definition video experience.”
Adobe Flash Player content reaches more than 99 percent of Internet-enabled desktops, as well as hundreds of millions of mobile and set-top devices. The player can be used to view live and on-demand media or entertainment on sites such as CBS, NBC, Fox News Digital, PBS, MTV Networks, BBC, YouTube, MySpace and Hulu.

“The inclusion of industry-standard H.264 support in Adobe Flash Player, Adobe AIR, the Adobe Creative Suite product line and Adobe Flash Media Server 3 brings new HD capabilities to millions of Flash developers and a new generation of viewers who are turning to the Web as the place to find their favorite shows and video content,” said Kevin Lynch, SVP and chief software architect for Adobe.

Broadband Briefs for 12/05/07

* Former Motorola exec joins Cisco as CTO
By Mike Robuck

Cisco announced yesterday that Padmasree Warrior was named as the company’s CTO. Prior to joining Cisco, Warrior was at Motorola, where she was EVP and CTO.

"Padmasree's new role as CTO will help to develop and promote Cisco's future technology leadership," said Cisco chairman and CEO John Chambers. "Over her distinguished career, Padmasree has demonstrated the key characteristics we prize at Cisco, including an unwavering commitment to customer success and innovation."

* Mexican operator adopts C-Cor’s OSS systems
By Brian Santo

Mexican operator Multimedios Redes is deploying C-Cor's Mobile Workforce Manager (MWM) and CableEdge. The combination of products will enable technicians and installers to monitor network performance via mobile devices. MWM will help the operator plan and expedite installations, truck routing, work orders, and dispatch. C-Cor’s CableEdge provides real-time views into operators’ DOCSIS networks.

* Charter sells Ind., Ill. cable systems to Avenue Broadband
By Traci Patterson

Charter Communications has completed the sale of its cable TV systems in Vincennes, Indiana, and other communities in southern Indiana and eastern Illinois to Tyler, Texas-based Avenue BroadbandRBC Daniels brokered the deal, which includes the transfer of about 39,700 basic video subscribers.

* Ixia’s GigE tester examined for scalability
By Brian Santo

Ixia said its testing system was tested to achieve a scalability mark. A single port on its XMV16 LAN Services Module, running its IxNetwork test software, has scaled to 11,582,100 routes across 800 emulated routers. The test was conducted by Isocore.

Isocore conducted a multiprotocol scenario where four routing protocols – OSPFv2, OSPFv3, BGP and BGP4+ – were enabled on a single test port.

* AT&T’s U-verse adds features in central Texas
By Traci Patterson

AT&T's U-verse customers in the Austin, Texas, area now have access to new TV features: AT&T U-bar, which brings customizable weather, stock, sports and traffic information to the TV screen; Yellowpages.com TV, a new way to search for local businesses and other information on the TV; and AT&T Yahoo! Games, which are also available on the TV screen.

* MBO Video deploys Adva’s FSP 3000RE
By Traci Patterson

Adva Optical Networking said that MBO Video has deployed its Fiber Service Platform (FSP) 3000RE for a scalable and flexible Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) architecture.

The FSP 3000RE is currently enabling the delivery of 2.5 gigabits per second and 10 gigabits per second services to MBO Video. Maximum scalability for the platform is up to 40 gigabits per second on each of 40 wavelengths, or up to 1.6 terabits per second. With Adva’s solution, MBO Video can provide video transport for its major statewide video network, as well as its wholesale video network that enables service providers to deliver digital video services.

* Motorola deploying WiMAX network in Pakistan
By Traci Patterson

Motorola Inc. will deploy a WiMAX 802.16e-2005 access network for Mobilink, an operator in Pakistan. Motorola will design, plan, deploy and optimize the WiMAX network, and it will deliver integration and support services, as well as indoor and outdoor customer premises equipment (CPE) units to enable faster adoption.

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