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Comcast Uses TV Streamer to Pump Mobile Bundles

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
9/20/2012
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Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is using an in-home video transcoding device to pump up the wireless service bundles it's offering through its partnership with Verizon Wireless .

Comcast is offering the device, called AnyPlay and developed in tandem with Motorola Mobility, primarily as part of the joint marketing efforts with the mobile carrier, an MSO spokeswoman tells Light Reading Cable. Customers who purchase a qualifying plan from Comcast and Verizon Wireless are eligible to receive AnyPlay for free for 12 months. Comcast customers who take the TV and Internet bundle from the operator are paying $10 per month for it, while new triple-play customers can also get it for free for a year.

Comcast, which is also using pre-paid Visa cards to promote its wireless service bundles, has already introduced packages with Verizon Wireless in more than 30 markets, including Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, Miami and Seattle. Comcast is offering the AnyPlay promotion in every market where it's working with the mobile carrier, the company adds.

Comcast isn't saying how many AnyPlays have been deployed, but the promo also shows that Comcast has quietly expanded the availability of the video streaming device, which initially was launched in Nashville and Denver in January. (See Comcast Beams Live TV to the iPad.)

AnyPlay is sort of a "headless" set-top with integrated wireless. Equipped with a CableCARD, it converts incoming QAM-based digital video signals into MPEG-4 IP streams, and shuttles them to supported tablets over Wi-Fi. It does not work with video-on-demand (VoD), but it does stream Comcast's entire linear TV lineup.

AnyPlay is "verified" to run a handful of tablets, including the Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad, Motorola Xoom 3.0 and 4.0, AsusTek Computer Inc. Transformer Prime, and Samsung Corp. Galaxy Tab 10.1.3. Also, any Android-based tablet with 1280 x 800 resolution running Honeycomb or Ice Cream Sandwich in conjunction with the 1.6 or later version of the Xfinity TV app should work with AnyPlay. (See iPad, Xoom Get First Crack at Comcast's AnyPlay .)

For now, AnyPlay limits access to tablets within reach of the subscriber's home Wi-Fi network. However, the device, which Motorola calls Televation, could function like a Slingbox and deliver video streams out of the home with a firmware upgrade, according to an industry source who is familiar with the technical capabilities of the platform. But it's highly unlikely that an operator would activate out-of-home streaming on the unit after it obtained such rights from programmers. (See Moto, Comcast Team on In-Home TV Streamer .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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