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Also: Verizon questioned about wireline commitments; SeaChange teaches old set-tops some new tricks; Comcast notches a MetroE win

Dish Snaps Up Some LightSquared Debt

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
5/9/2012
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Welcome to the cable news roundup, Hump Day edition.

  • Cable rival Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) picked up US$350 million worth of debt in troubled 4G wannabe LightSquared last week, reports The New York Post, citing an unnamed LightSquared investor. The revelation could spark speculation that the satellite TV giant may try to snap up more spectrum as it considers building a video-capable Long Term Evolution (LTE) network. The report comes just days after Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen, a guy known for his prowess at the poker table, insisted on an earnings call that the company already has enough spectrum to proceed with its 4G plan as it awaits a ruling from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that would allow it to use those licenses solely for terrestrial wireless services. (See Dish Chairman Rules Out More Spectrum Buys .)

  • House Communications Subcommittee member and U.S. Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA) has some questions (PDF) about Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s commitment to wireline video amid Verizon Wireless 's new service bundling partnerships with four major U.S. MSOs, and he wants President and CEO Lowell McAdam to answer them by June 1. Among them, he wants information on Verizon's current FiOS buildout plans, and whether the company will continue all previously planned deployments in markets served by the company's new MSO partners. He also wants guidance on Verizon's DSL plans. Verizon and its partner MSOs, meanwhile, insist that they'll continue to compete for video and broadband subscribers vigorously. (See Verizon & Comcast Deny a TV Truce and Comcast/Verizon Combo Steers Clear of FiOS.)

  • SeaChange International Inc. (Nasdaq: SEAC) is giving old set-tops some new legs with Nitro Now, a navigation system that brings higher-end graphics, advanced video-on-demand (VoD) search and discovery features, click-to-buy applications and video games to legacy QAM-based set-top boxes. SeaChange says it has multiple but still-unnamed North American cable operators on board as customers for the new navigation system, and a spokesman confirmed that it can run on Motorola Mobility LLC and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) boxes. SeaChange views Nitro Now as a bridge to the more advanced, HTML5-based Nitro guide, which is designed for IP-connected set-tops, tablets, PCs and smartphones. SeaChange will show off Nitro Now at The Cable Show, set to run May 21-23 in Boston. (See SeaChange Navigates TV Everywhere.)



  • Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s budding Metro Ethernet service showed some progress with the signing of Sarris Candies, a specialty chocolate and candies company based in Canonsburg, Pa. The MSO does not break down how much revenues are coming in via its new MetroE service, but the bulk of its business revenues ($541 million in the first quarter alone) still come from small businesses served by Comcast's Docsis platform.

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable



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