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CEA Tries to Kill Charter's Video Plan

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Welcome to today's broadband and cable news roundup.

  • It's déjà vu all over again for Tom Rutledge, Charter Communications Inc. 's new CEO. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is opposing the operator's request for a two-year waiver on set-tops with integrated security so the MSO can move ahead on a plan to go all-digital and introduce a downloadable security system that relies on a security chip. The CEA opposed a similar request by Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) (Rutledge's former company) in 2009, but the MSO ended up getting the waiver, which has since expired. (See Charter Video Plan Good News for Cisco, Samsung and Cablevision Scores Set-Top Waiver Extension .)

    The CEA hasn't altered its argument much. In its Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing Friday, the CEA argues that the FCC needs to instead "identify a new, secure, open, and national standard interface between MVPD [multichannel video programming distributor] services and retail device." The CEA and its cohorts have been urging the FCC to move ahead on AllVid, a possible successor to the CableCARD that would be applied to all U.S. pay-TV providers. The CEA fears that the security chip in Charter's plan will support just one conditional access system, removing any notion of device portability with other service providers. Replies are due to the FCC by Dec. 10, but Charter has already stressed that it intends to continue to support retail devices that rely on the CableCARD. (See Google & Friends Try to Keep AllVid Alive and Cable Lobby Gripes About Google, AllVid .)

  • Canada-based cable operator Cogeco Cable Inc. (Toronto: CCA) officially entered the U.S. market Friday after completing its US$1.36 billion acquisition of Atlantic Broadband, an operator that serves about 251,000 subscribers in western Pennsylvania, southern Florida, Maryland, Delaware and South Carolina. With Atlantic, the 12th-largest U.S. cable MSO, in the fold, Cogeco now serves more than 2.45 million cable subs. (See Cogeco Invades US Via $1.36B Atlantic Buy .)

  • Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) unleashed some initiatives in Kansas City late last week, seemingly to help counter the threat of Google Fiber. Among them, TW Cable launched a Wi-Fi network that is freely accessible to residential cable modem subscribers (for those who subscribe to its "Standard" tier and above) and to local area businesses customers. Non-subs can tap in for a fee. TW Cable has deployed about 8,000 hot spots in Kansas City; New York City; Charlotte, N.C., and Los Angeles, its largest deployment so far. Here's TW Cable's Wi-Fi coverage map, which also includes hot spots operated by its MSO roaming partners. (See Google Fiber Starts to Hook Up Customers and TW Cable Smartens Up Its Wi-Fi.)

    In K.C., the MSO also launched Starter, a low-cost 5Mbit/s (downstream) broadband service that will run $9.95 per month -- a price that's guaranteed to stay in place for two years. The MSO estimates that 85,000 students in 190 schools in the area are eligible for the tier.

  • Carlisle Cos. has put up $265 million to buy Belden Inc. (NYSE: BDC)'s Thermax-Raydex wire and cable unit.

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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    Jeff Baumgartner
    Jeff Baumgartner,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 5:16:39 PM
    re: CEA Tries to Kill Charter's Video Plan

    Would seem that CEA has its work cut out for it trying to get the FCC to cut down Charter's waiver request. Would seem hard for the Commission not to grant this to Charter after already granting it to Cablevision. 

     And we'll have to see if Charter will indeed go with the NDS (now Cisco) keyladder for their downloadable security system. NDS has insisted that it would license it and has claimed that other conditional access systems could work on the key ladder, though i have not seen it happen yet. If other MSOs go along with these sort of idea (there's been talk of a licensing authority for this), we could see a more common security platform that's a bit (okay, a lot) more elegant than the CableCARD... but it would still need some buy in from satellite and telco if it were to become something more cross-industry. JB


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