Broadband Briefs for 1/7/10
• FCC seeks extension for National Broadband Plan
By Joelle Tessler, AP Technology Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) – The chairman of the FCC is asking for a one-month extension on the National Broadband Plan the agency is required to submit to Congress. The plan, mandated by last year's economic stimulus bill, is due to lawmakers by Feb. 17. It will lay out a policy roadmap for ensuring that all Americans have access to affordable high-speed Internet service.
The agency is asking for an extra month to finish digging through the massive volume of public comments that it has received over the past 11 months as it has gathered input on how to make universal broadband a reality. The team preparing the plan also wants more time to brief the FCC's five commissioners and members of Congress. The request for an extension needs to be approved by the Senate and House Commerce Committees, which have jurisdiction over the FCC.
"The FCC has been given an enormous responsibility by Congress to create a broadband plan that reflects our highest aspirations as a country," said Colin Crowell, senior counselor to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
Robert McDowell, one of two Republicans on the five-member commission, said late Wednesday that he is "disappointed that the FCC's broadband team is unable to deliver a national broadband plan to Congress by the statutorily mandated deadline."
• Sprint brings 4G to a hotspot near you
By Andrew Berg, Wireless Week
LAS VEGAS – Given the hoopla surrounding Sprint's Wednesday night press event at the Consumer Electronics Show, no one was surprised when it actually released a new product. Sprint couldn't let the night slip by without spotlighting its 4G WiMAX service, as well as the first portable 4G hotspot, the Sprint Overdrive. The Overdrive is similar to the 3G MiFi hotspots currently available in North America. The device allows up to five devices to simultaneously connect to one hotspot.
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse used the opportunity to stress the fact that Sprint is the only national carrier to have actualized 4G.
Brian Dunn, CEO of Best Buy, joined the party, as well. Best Buy will be the flagship retail outlet for the new technology. Also in attendance was Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer. Hot off a keynote for CES, Ballmer delivered brief remarks, applauding the advantages that a device like the Overdrive presents for Microsoft's consumer technologies, such as the Microsoft Zune and the XBox.
Demos following the remarks featured various settings that demand simultaneous connections. For instance, one demo was set up like a college dorm and was supporting an iPod Touch, an Xbox, a Microsoft Zune and a netbook, all at 4G speeds.
• Netflix agrees to delay Warner Bros. DVD releases, adds new CE partners
By Mike Robuck
In return for gaining access to more of Warner Bros.’ library, Netflix agreed to delay Warner’s DVD releases by 28 days. While Wednesday’s agreement allows Netflix customers access to more of Warner’s DVD and Blu-Ray discs, Time Warner’s Warner Bros. hopes to boost the sale of its discs during the 28-day window.
Today, Netflix announced agreements with five global consumer electronics companies that will introduce Netflix-ready devices later this year. The partners include Funai, which distributes the Philips, Magnavox, Sylvania and Emerson brands in the United States, as well as Panasonic, Sanyo, Sharp and Toshiba.
Each company will introduce Blu-ray disc players or digital televisions that will stream thousands of movies and TV episodes from Netflix that can be watched instantly on the new devices.
• Google raises offer for price for On2 Technologies
By The Associated Press
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) – Google Inc. is bowing to pressure from shareholders of On2 Technologies Inc. in its takeover bid for the software company and raising its offer price. The new offer hikes the deal value to roughly $132 million, up from $106.5 million.
Google reached an agreement to buy the company in August, a deal that would give it video compression technology that could be used to cut costs at the YouTube video-sharing site. But On2 shareholders have balked at the price.
The companies disclosed last month that they had failed to collect enough shareholder support to close the acquisition. And On2, based in Clifton Park, N.Y., has had to fend off lawsuits from shareholder who say the offer undervalues the company.
On Thursday, Google said it will give On2 stockholders an extra 15 cents in cash for every On2 share they hold in addition to 0.001 Google share – or about 60 cents worth of its stock, based on the closing price Wednesday.