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Comcast Backs Sprint-Clearwire Combo

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Welcome to today's broadband and cable news roundup.

  • Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s sweetened US$2.2 billion offer to snap up the shares it does not already own in Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) has the backing of Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), one of the WiMax provider's big shareholders. "We agreed to vote our shares in favor of the merger," a Comcast spokesman told The Philadelphia Inquirer. Comcast paid $1.05 billion for its original 6 percent stake in its erstwhile wireless broadband partner and would pocket about $263 million for its 88.5 million shares, based on the current value of Clearwire's stock. Bright House Networks did not immediately say if it intends to vote its Clearwire shares, which it acquired for $100 million back in 2008. Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) announced its intentions to sell its Clearwire stake in mid-September. (See Sprint Ups Bid for Clearwire to $2.2B , Comcast Gets Closer to a Clearwire Sell-Off , TW Cable to Dump Clearwire Stake and TW Cable to Dump Clearwire Stake.)

  • Comcast-owned video firm thePlatform Inc. is speeding up its partners' over-the-top video streaming via connected devices. A new workflow feature pre-integrates its mpx publishing system with transcoders from Elemental Technologies Inc. (ETI) and Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT), Aspera Inc. 's high-speed file transfer service and Akamai Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: AKAM)'s Sola Media Solutions HTTP ingest platform.

    Such pre-integration is becoming necessary as workflows grow increasingly complex, with some partners requiring 20 to 35 different versions of one video title so they can reach a desired set of tablets, gaming consoles, smart TVs and smartphones, says Marty Roberts, thePlatform's senior VP of sales and marketing. He says thePlatform will develop similar plug-ins for video processing systems from other vendors, including Digital Rapids Corp. , Telestream Inc., Envivio Inc. (NASDAQ: ENVI) and RGB Networks Inc. , in the first quarter of 2013.

  • Hulu LLC has more than 3 million subscribers for its $7.99 per month Hulu Plus service, more than doubling what it had a year ago, company CEO Jason Kilar wrote in a blog post updating the company's financial picture. Kilar said the Web TV hub is poised to end 2012 with $695 million in revenues, a 65 percent increase from 2011. Hulu, which didn't disclose anything about profitability, also spent more than $500 million in content this year. Hulu is now accessible on more than 320 million Internet connected devices (not counting laptops and PCs), and touts a library with more than 60,000 TV episodes.

  • Zoom Telephonics says TW Cable has certified two of its Docsis 3.0 cable modems -- the 5350 and 5341J -- for all five of the MSO's speed tiers. Zoom's angle: buying the modems at retail will let customers sidestep TW Cable's new, controversial modem leasing fees. The 5341J is a stand-alone modem that sells for $89, while the 5350 includes an 802.11n router and sells for $129 at outlets such as Best Buy, Office Depot and Staples. (See TW Cable Could Reap $300M From Modem Fee.)

  • TW Cable has promoted company vet Kevin Leddy to executive VP, corporate strategy, reporting to Chief Strategy, People and Corporate Development Officer Peter Stern. Leddy, mostly recently the executive VP of technology policy and product strategy, will retain his previous duties and tack on responsibility for the company's "enterprise-wide business strategy." Leddy joined the company in 1980, when it was known as Warner Amex Cable.

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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    Jeff Baumgartner
    Jeff Baumgartner,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    1/10/2013 | 4:00:07 AM
    re: Comcast Backs Sprint-Clearwire Combo

    Get 'em while they're hot.  And Juniper used to make CMTS... found  one up for bid for any collectors of old cable gear out there  (only $895!).   JB  

    Jeff Baumgartner
    Jeff Baumgartner,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    1/10/2013 | 4:00:07 AM
    re: Comcast Backs Sprint-Clearwire Combo

    Sometimes fun to poke around eBay to see what cable gear people are trying to sell:

    - Moto Docsis 3.0 modem.

    -Com21 modem from days of yore. Has no shot at working, but it could serve as a paperweight, starting bid: $8

    - A Netgame (remember them?) CMTS. Buy it now price: $600.

    - Harmonic edge QAM:  $3,500, PayPal accepted.

    - Cable headend for hotels: for the do-it-yourselfer


    Jeff Baumgartner
    Jeff Baumgartner,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    1/10/2013 | 4:00:07 AM
    re: Comcast Backs Sprint-Clearwire Combo

    Anyone take this option just to avoid a monthly fee?  Seems like an okay option if you're only getting data from the operator, but complicates things if you're also taking a voice service. JB

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