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The Last Days of Unlimited Broadband?

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Some potential fallout from Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC)'s new usage-based pricing policy on broadband leads off today's cable news roundup.

  • Time Warner Cable's return to usage-based pricing (UBP) for broadband, using an gentler, optional policy targeted to its lighter users, could provide a blueprint for the rest of the U.S. cable industry and portend higher rates for unlimited broadband tiers, predicts Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Inc. analyst Craig Moffett, in a research note issued Wednesday. He likens the move to a toe-in-the-water approach, because it familiarizes customers to the UBP concept without foisting it on everyone (TW Cable has pledged to always offer an unlimited, all-you-can eat option), but paves the way for such programs "to become the rule rather than the exception." He surmises that the new usage-based program could cause some cost-conscious consumers to defect to DSL, but expects the competitive effects to be minimal. (See Usage-Based Broadband Returns to TW Cable .)

  • ISI Group Inc. analyst Vijay Jayant doesn't expect all other MSOs to follow overnight with policies similar to the one TW Cable has launched in southern Texas, but views it as a "meaningful 'shot across the bow.'" TW Cable's decision to flex its pricing muscle also shows that broadband is becoming "one of life's greatest necessities, not luxuries."

  • Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s integration with TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) retail boxes in the San Francisco is inching closer to a launch. ZatzNotFunny blogger Dave Zatz tweets that the MSO and the DVR pioneer have posted a sign-up page for the program, which will enable TiVo DVRs to support the MSO's full digital video service, including video on demand (VoD). The page also offers a sneak peek at how the Xfinity On Demand service will be featured on the TiVo user interface. (See Comcast Trial Fuses TiVo With VoD.)

  • Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) is seeking to patent an aesthetic edging device that could make it easier to deploy its fiber networks in Kansas and Missouri without having to dig up streets and yards, reports FierceCable. (See Google Calls KC Fiber-Ready.)

  • MediaMorph, a startup that's developed cross-platform audience measurement and analytics tools, has raised $8 million via a round led by Motorola Mobility LLC and Smedvig Capital. MediaMorph, which counts Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), Starz Entertainment LLC and HBO among its clients, has raised $11 million so far, according to Multichannel News.

  • Canoe Ventures LLC 's decision to scuttle its national interactive ad effort in favor of a focus on video on demand won't kill off the idea; instead it will continue on at the local level, says Zonewire, referring to Comcast Spotlight and Cablevision among examples of operators that are having success pitching the idea of enhanced/interactive ads to local businesses. "Ultimately, that disconnect between what can be accomplished locally and what can be accomplished nationally was [Canoe's] downfall -- or at least a significant contributor to it," the report adds. (See Cable's Canoe Sinks Interactive Ad Business .)

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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