• Moody's changes AT&T outlook to negative
By The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) – Moody's Investors Service said Monday it has changed its outlook for the debt ratings of telecommunications company AT&T Inc. to negative from stable after the company said it is buying former Alltel Corp. assets from Verizon Wireless (story here).
AT&T said Friday it will buy the assets of Verizon Wireless in 79 mainly rural areas for $2.35 billion. Verizon Wireless was forced to sell the service areas, which are spread over 18 states, to satisfy regulatory conditions of its purchase of Alltel.
Moody's said the outlook change reflects "concern that given the increase in debt over the last two years (including debt likely to be incurred for pending acquisitions), weak economic conditions and the likelihood of slower growth and increased competition in the wireless business." At the same time, Moody's also affirmed AT&T's "A2" senior unsecured and Prime 1 short-term ratings.
• Miniweb, blinkx announce integration agreement
By Mike Robuck
Video search engine provider blinkx today announced a technology integration agreement with Miniweb, which is enabling Internet video, interactivity and targeted, Web-style advertising on the TV.
Under the terms of the agreement, Miniweb will use blinkx's software for video search, syndication, recommendations, targeting and personalization as part of its online services platform. This combined platform will allow users to search and discover broadcast television and Internet video from multiple sources on blinkx's index of 35 million hours of video content using Miniweb-enabled, broadband-connected devices.
"Combining broadcast and broadband TV will provide audiences with access to an incredibly rich and diverse universe of video content," said Suranga Chandratillake, founder and CEO of blinkx. "Miniweb is a true visionary in the Interactive TV space, and we're thrilled to be included as part of its platform to help enable personalized online video and give viewers access to a wide range of additional entertainment through their TVs."
• Symmetricom enhances QoE platform
By Traci Patterson
Symmetricom has made enhancements to its quality of experience (QoE) portfolio, with upgrades to both the V-Factor QoE monitoring platform and the Q-1000 Source Video Analyzer.
According to Symmetricom, the immediate benefits to cable operators and equipment vendors include improved monitoring and troubleshooting of digital video quality and the ability to better quantify the impact of new technologies, such as statistical multiplexing and advanced compression.
The V-Factor platform now exhibits extended monitoring capabilities, including RFC 4445 Media Delivery Index (MDI) support, a streamlined user interface based on a new theme, easier navigation, detailed reporting and alarm information, and an updated Web service integration layer. Additionally, the Q-1000 Source Video Analyzer now supports HD-SDI time codes (SMPTE RP188), as well as input profiles. The Q-1000 also provides target profiles.
• Vudu, Brightcove delivering ad-supported content to STB
By Mike Robuck
Online video provider Vudu and Brightcove have formed a partnership to enable Brightcove customers to distribute their content directly to the living room television via Vudu. The first feature available in the Vudu Labs area of the Vudu service will be the MyPlay application, which offers current Sony Music videos through Sony Music's MyPlay Video Network affiliate program.
The two companies said their partnership supports multiple advertising platforms, allowing Brightcove customers to maintain their existing online video monetization strategy and infrastructure while expanding their distribution reach to the television. Vudu is the first partner to support Brightcove-powered, ad-supported content distribution on a set-top box.
"For the first time, content owners can simply and easily make all of their online video available on the television without changing their monetization strategy," said Edward Lichty, executive vice president of strategy and content for Vudu. "Through our integration with Brightcove's online video platform, we are combining the selection and control of the online video experience with the visual richness and lean-back satisfaction of the television experience. Once again, we are increasing the value of the Vudu platform for our partners and our users."
Financial terms of the partnership weren’t available.
• Akamai now supports Flash Media Server 3.5
By Traci Patterson
Akamai Technologies has announced support for Adobe Flash Media Server 3.5 on the Akamai streaming network. These features are designed to allow publishers and content owners to deliver higher-quality video experiences and embrace long-form content distribution.
Dynamic streaming is a new feature in Adobe Flash Media Server 3.5 that switches between different quality versions of a single video stream to deliver the optimal viewing experience for the consumer. The new dynamic streaming capabilities will allow Flash-based video players to shift to end-user machines with different capabilities, such as lower processing power or slower Internet connections.
“Video quality is emerging as a competitive battleground for online publishers, and a variable bit rate streaming solution is critical to help them navigate the diverse terrain of the Internet to deliver on the promise of high-definition video online,” said Tim Napoleon, chief strategist for digital media at Akamai. “Media companies have increasingly turned to Akamai for support as they look to create premium experiences around their valuable online assets. Uninterrupted HD video over a standard Internet connection is a key piece of those experiences. HD video online is at its tipping point, and a mission-critical element for media companies to stay competitive and open up new revenue streams.”
• SecureMedia secures TVBlob’s Blobbox
By Traci Patterson
SecureMedia and TVBlob have announced that TVBlob's TV-centric development platform and hybrid Internet set-top boxes – known as Blobbox – are now protected by SecureMedia's Encryptonite One System conditional access/digital rights management (CA/DRM).
Content owners can realize new, over-the-top television services and business models on the Blobbox using standard Web technologies, while also ensuring digital protection for content distributed in both linear and non-linear means – including VOD, podcasts and HTTP streaming – the company said.
"Our goal is to license the Blobbox software to OEM/ODM manufacturers so that a new kind of TV-centric CE device can be put on retail shelves everywhere," said Fabrizio Caffarelli, CEO of TVBlob. "Consumers gain access to the explosion of HDTV content available on the Web, while content providers can feel confident about delivering this content anywhere in the world to a Blobbox because it has Encryptonite One technology inside."
• HomePlug Powerline Alliance adds 4 board members
By Traci Patterson
NEC Electronics Corp. – along with Gigle Semiconductor, Intellon Corp. and Spidcom Technologies – has joined the HomePlug Powerline Alliance’s board of directors. All four companies have also signed on as Sponsor Members to the Alliance, which is the highest level of membership.
The HomePlug Powerline Alliance is a trade association for powerline communications and a key promoter of global unification for powerline technologies, and the Alliance has more than 70 member companies, has an installed base of more than 27 million units shipped and boasts the recent adoption of HomePlug AV as the baseline technology for multiple international standards.
HomePlug is focusing on adopting communications and networking technologies to help consumers monitor and reduce their energy consumption.