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Also: Analyst expects a Charter turnaround; Aereo to broadcasters – prove how we're hurting you; Avail-TVN's new name; Cablevision CFO adds duties

Comcast Launches Tech R&D Fund

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
3/12/2013
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Welcome to today's broadband and cable news roundup.

  • Comcast Corp. has created a Technology Research & Development Fund that will award general and targeted research grants and provide support for open source development. Comcast won't reveal how much money is available to the fund, but the Open Home Gateway Forum (OHGF) and RIPE Atlas are among the first grant recipients, according to this blog post by Comcast VP of Internet & Communications Engineering Jason Livingood. Specific topics of interest include networking/distribution, measurement/data analysis, user interfaces, security and new services such as telemedicine and home security. RIPE Atlas uses a global network of probes to measure Internet connectivity and reachability and aggregates that data into forms such as graphs and maps. The Internet Systems Consortium (ISC), meanwhile, announced the launch of the OHGF on Tuesday, referencing the initial grant from Comcast. The OHGF will eventually comprise a group of ISPs and vendors and Internet development organizations that aims to provide "stable, quality-assured reference Open Source software to be used in home gateways," with an initial focus on improved support of IPv6 and a secure way to update gateway firmware. Comcast's Reference Design Kit (RDK), an integrated software bundle for hybrid and IP-only devices, is becoming a central component to the MSO's gateway strategy. (See Comcast's Set-Top Accelerator Gains Traction and Comcast's All-Service Gateways Go 'Headless' .)
  • Charter Communications Inc. has found a supporter in the form of ISI Group Inc.'s Vijay Jayant. The analyst on Monday gave Charter a "buy" rating and bumped its price target to US$100 from $88 after modeling in its pending purchase of the former Bresnan Communications systems from Cablevision Systems Corp. In a research note, the analyst said the stock "appears to be reflecting an expectation of an operational and financial inflection point" and that the management team is starting to "make its mark" under new CEO Tom Rutledge. Jayant gives Rutledge credit for the operational improvements at the Bresnan properties when the exec was still with Cablevision, and believes that the experience could bode well for Charter's turnaround hopes.
  • Aereo Inc. is asking a New York court to require CBS and other major broadcasters to hand over evidence that Aereo's broadband-based TV distribution service and cloud DVR combo is harming their businesses, reports Law360. (See Aereo Widens Net to 19M Homes and Judge Keeps Aereo On The Air.)
  • Avail-TVN is no more … in name, anyway. The multi-screen, video-on-demand content aggregator has rechristened itself as Vubiquity Inc. In case it's not hit-you-over-the-head obvious, the new name is supposed to invoke the notion that viewers are using all sorts of devices to watch content and "are quickly coming to expect ubiquitous viewing." The name change comes after the company bought U.K.-based On Demand Group last year for $27 million. TVN and Avail Media merged in 2009. The combined company now manages about 28,000 hours of content per month and works with more than 340 content providers and 270 service providers. (See SeaChange Unloads VoD Content Unit for $27M.)
  • Cablevision has appointed Gregg Seibert, 57, as vice chairman and asked him to spearhead the company's overall strategy. Siebert, who left Merrill Lynch to join Cablevision in 2009, will continue to serve as CFO and report to Cablevision President and CEO James Dolan. — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable
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