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News summary for 12/06/07

Thu, 12/06/2007 - 7:55am
CED staff

Charter doubles HD channel count in Louisiana
By Traci Patterson

Charter Communications now offers up to 44 HD channels in its Louisiana territory, which is more than double the number of HD channels available in recent weeks.

In 2008 and beyond, Charter plans to increase HD programming in all of its HD markets with the help of bandwidth-saving technologies such as switched digital video (SDV). Charter expects to provide more than 100 HD programming options, including HD VOD, in nearly all of its markets by the end of the year.

Charter customers will be able to choose from these 100 HD options, which will include movies, series, educational shows and more.
 
"Adding these high-definition channels and high-definition on-demand content to our video offerings, when combined with our high-speed Internet and telephone services, further enhances the value of the Charter Bundle for our customers," said Cathy Fogler, VP and GM of video for Charter.

Verizon adds HD VOD in several markets
By Traci Patterson

Verizon is introducing HD VOD in several of its FiOS TV markets: Richmond and Virginia Beach, Va.; Tampa, Fla.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; and Pittsburgh.

The service will launch soon in the Washington, D.C., metro area, and in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Verizon said its remaining FiOS TV markets will receive HD VOD by year’s end.

"We're delivering HD on-demand with the same amazing picture quality that customers expect from FiOS TV – and with the promise of more HD programming in 2008," said Shawn Strickland, Verizon's VP of video solutions.

Verizon’s initial HD VOD offering contains about 75 HD titles, and its VOD library houses more than 10,000 titles. Last month, the company said it plans to have more than 150 HD programming channels by the end of 2008.

Cisco reorganizes; Little impact on service provider group
By Brian Santo

Cisco has adopted a new organizational structure that the company explained is intended to optimize its ability to drive development of the next phase of communications technologies, largely Internet-related.

The changes within the Cisco Development Organization (CDO) reflect a tactical shift in the way Cisco will focus its development efforts. It appears the reorganization will have minimal effect on the Service Provider Technology Group, which includes the Scientific Atlanta and Linksys operations, where the situation will be “business as usual,” according to a Cisco spokesman.

The shuffle of executive responsibilities will affect the Service Provider Technology Group, however.

It had been led by Tony Bates, senior vice president. Pankaj Patel, senior vice president, has been assigned to co-lead the operation with Bates.

Most of the changes are more tightly associated with Cisco’s networking operations. "Cisco is entering what we believe will be the next phase of Internet growth and productivity centered on the demands of tremendous video growth, the revolution in the data center, and collaboration and networked Web 2.0 technologies, where the network becomes a platform for all communications and IT," said Cisco chairman and CEO John Chambers in a statement. "The evolution of our development organization reflects our continued commitment to customer success and to successfully executing on new market opportunities."

Separately, BT will begin marketing Cisco TelePresence, Cisco’s teleconferencing technology introduced last year. BT has demonstrated Cisco TelePresence on its own network.

Cisco Telepresence integrates advanced audio, what Cisco calls “ultra high-definition” video, and interactive collaboration tools.

Qwest's push for cable-TV bill gets an ally 
Copyright 2007 Denver Publishing Company
Jeff Smith, Rocky Mountain News

Qwest is taking another stab at statewide cable-TV franchise legislation, this time with a key Democrat in its corner.

Rep. Rosemary Marshall of Denver, chairwoman of the business affairs and labor committee, confirmed Tuesday she is working with the telco to sponsor a bill.

"I think competition is better for the consumer," Marshall said, while acknowledging that it likely will be a tough battle and that "Comcast obviously will object to this."

A statewide franchise law would let Qwest avoid the cumbersome process of negotiating with individual municipalities.

But with new Qwest CEO Ed Mueller yet to announce the company's strategic plan, it's unclear how much money the Denver-based telco plans to invest in its own TV product.

Last year, Qwest couldn't get a Democratic sponsor, and its bill was quickly killed by a legislative panel headed by Pueblo Democrat Buffie McFadyen.

Lawmakers expressed concern that Qwest would "cherry-pick" affluent neighborhoods rather than provide TV services throughout a community, and that a state law would pre-empt local control.

Marshall acknowledged that service buildout and local control remain potential sticking points, but said she's not concerned about cherry-picking, per se.

"I think competition drives everyone's prices down," Marshall said, though adding that "clearly newer neighborhoods would be easier to service than older neighborhoods."

Marshall said she will meet again with Qwest officials next week.

Qwest spokeswoman Jennifer Barton said the Denver telco will start seeking additional support once a final bill is drafted.

"Franchise reform is an effort that is nonpartisan, good for Colorado, and we expect to have support from both sides of the aisle," Barton said.

Ken Fellman, attorney for the Greater Metro Telecommunications Consortium, said recently that some 17 or 18 states now have cable-TV franchise laws. But increasingly, Fellman said, states are adopting some kind of buildout requirement. Qwest so far has been resistant to such provisions.

smithje@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-954-5155
December 6, 2007

Broadband Briefs for 12/06/07

* Demand for on-demand growing at Comcast
By Brian Santo

Comcast released some statistics on its on-demand services, underscoring the growing popularity of the feature. The operator said it has tallied:

* 6 billion on-demand views in less than four years
* 1 billion hours of on-demand content watched this year alone
* 250 million views each month
* 100 views each second.

Comcast said the library for its On Demand service offers nearly 10,000 titles per month, available anytime consumers want to watch them, with the ability to fast forward, rewind and pause selections.

* Exec moves at Cox
By CED staff

Cox announced two management moves. One was hiring Tim McKinley as vice president of field operations for Cox Business. The other was appointing Rebecca Stone as senior counsel for Cox Communications.

McKinley will be responsible for field operations for New Orleans, Santa Barbara, Greater Louisiana, the Gulf Coast, Middle Georgia, Central Florida, Roanoke, Kansas and Omaha. He will also be responsible for defining and implementing an alternative channel strategy for Cox Business Services.

This strategy will be critical in expanding Cox's services to mid-market customers and in improving its penetration of voice in data-only customers.

McKinley had been COO for The Evermore Group, and prior to that, he’d held a variety of positions over 21 years with Sprint, ultimately serving as vice president of business support services before his departure in 2003.

Meanwhile, at Cox Communications, Stone will be responsible for providing legal support to the Travel Channel marketing group and to Cox's corporate and field marketing teams. She also will provide legal assistance with trademark, copyright and domain name issues. Prior to joining Cox, Stone served as an attorney at Earthlink.

* AT&T study: One-quarter of small businesses unconcerned about online security
By Traci Patterson

Although the majority of small businesses secure their computer systems, 24 percent of them are unconcerned about computer and online data security, and 10 percent have taken no action to secure their data, according to a survey conducted by AT&T.

Thirty-two percent of small businesses are undaunted by wireless data security, and 17 percent of small businesses that use wireless technology have taken no precautions against wireless threats.

But nearly 60 percent of small businesses consider online security a concern, and 82 percent have installed software, such as spam filters or anti-virus protection, to protect their businesses from online security threats. Of the companies that have not taken any precautions against computer or wireless threats, 65 percent do not think it's an issue with their businesses.

"The survey shows that there are still many businesses that don't understand the threats that exist, the impact these threats could have on their business and livelihood, and the easy ways they can guard against them and protect their companies," said John Regan, VP of business marketing for AT&T.

"Small businesses depend more and more on computers and communications technology, and they need to understand how they can protect those systems, whether from a virus or other man-made attack, or from a natural disaster."

The results are based on a telephone survey of 1,000 owners and/or employees responsible for IT at small businesses in 10 U.S. metropolitan/regional areas: San Diego; Chicago; Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Connecticut; Milwaukee, Wis.; Detroit; Dallas; the San Francisco Bay area; and Oklahoma.

The survey follows a Verizon-commissioned study, which found that 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.

* DirecTV to offer local HD networks in 76 markets by mid-2008
By Traci Patterson

DirecTV will offer local HD broadcast networks in a total of 76 markets (representing more than 75 percent of U.S. TV households) when it rolls out 11 additional local HD markets by mid-2008.

The 11 local markets include Tucson, Ariz.; Cedar Rapids and Waterloo, Iowa; Wichita and Hutchinson, Kan.; Louisville, Ky.; Paducah, Ky.; Flint, Saginaw and Bay City, Mich.; Lincoln and Hastings, Neb.; Omaha, Neb.; Albany, Schenectady and Troy, N.Y.; Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, Pa.; and Waco, Temple and Bryan, Texas. The satellite provider began the rollout with the launch of HD local channels in the Flint, Mich., and Waco, Texas, designated market areas last week.

*Former cable exec joins AnswersMedia as EVP of sales
By Traci Patterson

AnswersMedia – a media and technology company that specializes in the design, production, management and publishing of interactive, HD video experiences – has named former cable exec Dan Lawlor as the company’s EVP of sales. He will lead the advertising and sponsorship sales efforts for the company’s AnswersTV operations.

Lawlor joins AnswersMedia from National Cable Communications (NCC), where he served as VP and general sales manager for the advanced advertising division. He has also held exec posts at Turner International, Westinghouse Broadcasting and USA Network.

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