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89% of Google Fiberhoods Make the Cut

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Welcome to today's broadband and cable news roundup.

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) said at least 180 of the 202 "fiberhoods" (areas serving 250 to 1,500 homes) in the Kansas Cities had met their pre-registration goals just before Sunday night's deadline. Google said it will reveal all the fiberhoods that made the cut, and the order in which they will be constructed, on Thursday. But this means at least 89 percent of the fiberhoods involved in the first six-week Google Fiber "rally" will receive services, which include a $70 per month symmetrical 1Gbit/s service and an optional TV bundle that starts at $120 per month. Google Fiber has also committed to offer a 5Mbit/s downstream, 1Mbit/s upstream service for free for at least seven years to customers who agree to pay the upfront $300 construction fee.

As of Friday, only 66 percent of the fiberhoods had qualified for service. Once the final figures are tallied, Google Fiber will create its buildout plan and then open up the site so qualified households can pick and choose their services. Fiberhoods that didn't make the cut this time around will get a shot at a future rally, "sometime next year," Kevin Lo, general manager of Google Access, noted on the Google Fiber blog. (See Nearly 67% of Google's 'Fiberhoods' Reach Goal, How Long Will Google Keep the Fiber Flowing? and Google Fiber Bundles TV, Shuns Data Caps.)

  • Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY)'s multi-screen Horizon TV service is set to go live on Sept. 21 in the Netherlands, with UPC Switzerland set to go live within 60 days, followed by Ireland in the first quarter of 2013, reports Teresa Mastrangelo of Broadbandtrends LLC . Liberty Global took the wraps off Horizon TV at last week's IBC show in Amsterdam. UPC Netherlands will team Horizon TV with a 60Mbit/s (downstream) service for a six-month introductory price of €39.50 (US$50.50), or a 120Mbit/s bundle for €47.50 (US$60.73), Mastrangelo adds. (See Liberty Global Embarks on New TV Horizon.)

  • India's Tata Elxsi Ltd. is the latest vendor to license Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s Reference Design Kit (RDK), a bundle of software for hybrid QAM/IP set-tops and gateways and IP-only video client devices. Tata Elxsi, like fellow licensees such as itaas Inc. and Silicon Software & Systems Ltd. (S3) , will use the RDK to provide software development, integration and testing services for chip vendors and original equipment manufacturers. (See Comcast's Set-Top Accelerator Gains Traction .)

  • St. George Cable of St. George Island, Fla., is in hot water with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) after a string of violations. The Commission has ordered the operator to pay $236,000 in fines for repeatedly failing to respond to the Commission, failing to install or maintain Emergency Alert System (EAS) equipment and violating signal-leakage rules. The signal leakage problem was so bad that the FCC, upon a re-inspection, ordered St. George Cable to suspend operations, but claims it did not comply. The FCC has given the operator 30 days to state, under penalty of perjury, that it's currently in compliance with the Commission's EAS and cable signal leakage rules.

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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    User Rank: Blogger
    12/5/2012 | 5:21:26 PM
    re: 89% of Google Fiberhoods Make the Cut

    Interesting story out of IBC about the difficulty that Liberty Global experienced with getting the Horizon gateway to market. I was wondering why it took so long. See this Broadband TV News report. 

    It's not that revealing or unexpected but I guess it's a cautionary tale for those trying to deploy gateway boxes with new UIs and services. It takes awhile to get all the pieces in place.  

    Pete Baldwin
    Pete Baldwin,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 5:21:26 PM
    re: 89% of Google Fiberhoods Make the Cut

    When I read the phrase "cable signal leakage," I think of wires leaking Kardashian-show episodes, which then seep into a nearby school. Which truly would be a reason to levy fines against an operator.

    Jeff Baumgartner
    Jeff Baumgartner,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 5:21:25 PM
    re: 89% of Google Fiberhoods Make the Cut

    Interesting, thanks for passing it along, Craig. These integrations are tough, and probably speaks to the reason why Comcast is going along the path of having its RDK software bundle pre-integrated on chips.

    And when i think of the all-singing/all-dancing set-top (okay, gateway) I always recall the DCT5000... and the stigma that haunted that project and its connection to the vision of  Dr. Malone.   Is this his new vision for the DCT5000, but one that made it to deployment? JB

    User Rank: Blogger
    12/5/2012 | 5:21:24 PM
    re: 89% of Google Fiberhoods Make the Cut

    Oh no, don't bring up the specter of the DCT5000, the ambitious set-top box project by TCI, Motorola and Microsoft that crashed and burned. Perhaps that memory is why, according to the article, Malone was questioning why Liberty Global needs to be on "the bleeding edge" of gateways. He'd already bled enough.  

    Jeff Baumgartner
    Jeff Baumgartner,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 5:21:23 PM
    re: 89% of Google Fiberhoods Make the Cut

    Fool me once, as they say.  But interested to see how Horizon TV performs in the next few quarters.  The multi-screen aspects and IP capabilities are intriguing/. JB

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