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Comcast, VZ Wireless Bundle Up in the Bay

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Welcome to the cable news roundup, Hump Day edition.

  • Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) have extended their cross-marketing deal to the Bay Area, allowing cable subs there to bundle mobile services, reports The San Jose Mercury News. Verizon Wireless , in turn, can also resell the MSO's video, voice and Internet services. Comcast and Verizon Wireless have already launched the co-marketing program in Portland, Ore. and Seattle. Other MSOs that are in on the deal -- Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Cox Communications Inc. and Bright House Networks -- have yet to launch similar bundles in their respective territories. All four MSOs have separate deals in the works to sell their Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum to Verizon Wireless for about US$4 billion. (See Sparks Start to Fly in VZ Wireless-MSO Deal and Comcast Subs Get a Taste of Verizon.)

  • SeaChange International Inc. (Nasdaq: SEAC) said it will save $5 million annually from cost cuts and other operations-streamlining measures that primarily involve headcount reductions. SeaChange wouldn't say how many employees were let go, but a spokesman noted that the reductions occurred throughout the company's fiscal fourth quarter, which ended Jan. 31. The cuts follow a recent shake-up at the video software specialist. (See SeaChange Off the Block, CEO Exits and SeaChange CFO Quits.)

  • Comcast has sweetened and expanded Internet Essentials, a voluntary commitment linked to the company's acquisition of NBCUniversal LLC that helps low-income families access cable modem services. Among the changes, the MSO has doubled the program's downstream speed to 3 Mbit/s and has extended the qualifying criteria to include families with children that are eligible to receive reduced-price school lunches, a move that will expand the number of qualifying families to 2.3 million. It was originally offered to families that are eligible to receive free lunches under the National School Lunch Program. Comcast estimates that the program has connected 41,000 families and distributed about 5,500 discounted PCs. (See Comcast Goes Big With 'Internet Essentials'.)

  • Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT) earned 12 cents per share on revenues of $144 million, $2 million better than Wall Street expectations. The impressive thing is that it did that without having Comcast as a 10 percent-or-better customer for the first time since the second quarter of 2006, noted Jefferies & Co. Inc. analyst James Kisner.

  • Technicolor (Euronext Paris: TCH; NYSE: TCH) says it has sold more than 10 million DTAs to North American cable MSOs. Comcast, one of the vendor's bigger DTA buyers, is using the simple, one-way channel zapper to fuel Project Cavalry, its analog spectrum reclamation initiative. Standard-def DTAs run about $35 each; a new breed of hi-def versions are expected to sell for less than $50 per unit. (See Comcast Starts to Kiss Analog TV Goodbye and Comcast HD-DTAs Reach the FCC.)

  • Boxee has shelved its PC-based application as it begins to place all its emphasis on the broadband-connected Boxee Box and a plan to integrate its platform on other types of consumer devices, reports NewTeeVee. (See A Virtual MSO Shall Rise, Boxee CEO Says.)

  • Sling Media Inc. 's SlingPlayer app for the Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) Kindle Fire tablet debuted Tuesday. It'll set you back $29.99.

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 5:43:44 PM
    re: Comcast, VZ Wireless Bundle Up in the Bay

    It's very interesting that Comcast is expanding Internet Essentials. There has been research showing that a high percentage of low-income people who sign up for limited-time discounted broadband keep the service after the discount ends. But Comcast doesn't have that kind of track record yet.

    I can only assume the company's profit margin on the discounted service is sufficient. Maybe the company is also finding that it helps keep video subscribers, etc.

    Other cable companies, including Time Warner, also have similar discounted broadband offerings for low-income users planned as part of the FCC's Connect 2 Compete initiative. It will be interesting to see if these companies eventually raise prices or whether prices remain at the discounted level.

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