Belkin's Video Sling to Undercut EchoStar's Price

Welcome to the broadband news roundup, T.G.I.F. edition

  • Belkin Corp. will take on EchoStar Corp. LLC (Nasdaq: SATS)'s stand-alone Slingbox with a video placeshifting device of its own called @TV that will sell for US$149.99 when it becomes available in mid-July. Belkin's entry will undercut the current pricing on Sling products (Best Buy sells the Slingbox Solo for $179.99, and the Slingbox Pro HD for $299.99). Like Sling, Belkin's box will stream home video to PCs, Android and iOS devices via Wi-Fi or 3G/4G cellular networks. The @TV apps is free for tablets, but runs to $12.99 for smartphones.

  • Bright House Networks isn't sweating Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s new 300Mbit/s FiOS tier, telling the Tampa Bay Times that "our network can deliver these speeds if we felt there was a residential market for it." Bright House's high-end residential Docsis 3.0 tier maxes out at 40 Mbit/s in the downstream, and doesn't appear poised to raise it to Verizon's new levels just to match the marketing noise. "Research indicates that the vast majority of customers do not have interest in these types of speeds in their homes, not to mention the potential expense." Verizon's top-end tier costs $204.99 per month with a two-year contract. (See Cable's Upstream Gap and FiOS Speeds & Prices Take a Quantum Leap .)

  • Motorola Mobility LLC 's patent portfolio was a key driver of Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s $12.5 billion acquisition, but Mountain View says the deal was about much more than that. "We bought Motorola for the sum of patents, products and people," Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said Thursday at the company's annual shareholders meeting. Google hasn't revealed its long-term strategy for Motorola's Home unit, which makes smartphones, set-tops, cable modems, video encoders and broadband access equipment, though there's some speculation that Google might try to unload all or part of it. (See Will Moto Go Back to the Future?)

  • Eighteen percent of tablet users pay for video content, up from 11 percent in 2011, while the same could be said for 16 percent of smartphone users, up from 14 percent, finds J.D. Power and Associates in a "pay-to-view" study of more than 4,000 U.S. households that evaluated a range of new video sources, including Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX). The study indicates that consumers are buying more video for viewing on smaller screens, though the same study also showed that viewing of paid content on PCs and Macs declined to 39 percent, from 48 percent.

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has more than 147 million good reasons for buying ClearAccess Inc. , a company that develops TR-069 software that monitors and manages consumer devices. Ovum Ltd. says more than 147 million TR-069-enabled devices were in the market by the end of 2011. Broadband gateways, at 70 percent, made up the bulk of that market, followed by IPTV set-tops (15 percent), VoIP phones (2.5 percent) and femtocells (5 percent). (See Cisco to Buy SPIT Specialist .)

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

  • Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:29:23 PM
    re: Belkin's Video Sling to Undercut EchoStar's Price

    While the lower price is one way Belkin's trying to differentiate here, the other interesting thing it's doing is putting Wi-Fi on the device. Also,  according to Belkin, @TV also lets users record live TV directly to a mobile device... another take on video to go. JB


    AESerm 12/5/2012 | 5:29:23 PM
    re: Belkin's Video Sling to Undercut EchoStar's Price

    That's a big difference between the prices for tablet and smartphone apps. I also thought Slingboxes worked over WiFi. Maybe not all of them?

    Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:29:22 PM
    re: Belkin's Video Sling to Undercut EchoStar's Price

    Sure, you can use a Slingbox to sling TV to Wi-Fi connected devices like ipads and whatnot, but you need to hardwire it to a wireless router. This Belkin thing integrates WiFi so I'd assume it makes for a cleaner set-up, so long as the WiFi is good.  The Slingbox I use is big more kluge.. i've got it connected to an TV that doesn't get  used much in an upstairs bedroom and use  HomePlug adapters to link it to a router on a different floor in the house. It works, but not really ideal. But what Belkin's doing won't be enough for me to swap out the Slingbox. If i was in the market for a new place-shifting devcie i might give it a look. JB


    comtech3 12/5/2012 | 5:29:20 PM
    re: Belkin's Video Sling to Undercut EchoStar's Price

    Your main problem is the homeplug, a technology that has ways to go before it can be used as an acceptable medium for delivering data,especially streaming video.Homeplug presents a lot of latency and packet loss to be used with a Slingbox.Don't believe me? Do a speed test and/packet loss.It is virtually impossible to have good data streams travelling over A.C bearing in mind the homeplug does not detect the most usefull part of that variable waveform of that 110-120 volt AC  called it's RMS,or root mean sqaure.For an homeplug to be effect in delivering that LIE the manfactures state in delivering up to 85Mbps, some intelligence would have to be imbedded in it to find the effective voltage level, thereby arriving at a constancy level to make it digital.This would entail software and effective filtration of electricsl noise.

    Cooper10 12/5/2012 | 5:29:18 PM
    re: Belkin's Video Sling to Undercut EchoStar's Price

    Agree that the addition of wi-fi will make the Belkin device more user friendly than Sling...most people (even techies) do not have ethernet strung to their entertainment center.  However, a single purpose device will remain a niche solution, much the same that Slingbox has remained a niche, and therefore not a material threat to programmers as it relates to place-shifting and out of home viewing.

    Also have to wonder how difficult/expensive it would be to embed this functionality (transcode/streaming) into a game console - would think this would be a compelling combination, and furthers the game console objective of being the primary input to the TV for all entertainment, vs. secondary to the pay TV box.

    The glacial pace of TV Everywhere keeps encouraging solutions like this to deliver the functionality consumers want without waiting for dozens of programming contracts to be restructured.

    Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:29:11 PM
    re: Belkin's Video Sling to Undercut EchoStar's Price

    Just a guess, but imagine that embedding Sling tech into a game console or even a connected TV won't be hard, since EchoStar's already been able to slingLoad some of its DVRs.  Also some new Broadcom chips will come with Sling on-board, so supposedly that feature could be turning it on via a new software load. Having Sling on a chip will make it a bit more elegant than the stand-alone box set-ups. JB


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