Cable Catchup

5:40 PM -- Friday is upon us again, so it's a good time to catch up on some of this week's cable happenings.
  • Wideband… in… space: Starman, the biggest cableco in Estonia (not the 80s flick starring Jeff Bridges that grossed north of $28 million in the U.S., in case you were wondering) has joined the Docsis 3.0 club. Starman, which reportedly reaches 45,000 homes, is starting off by offering wideband in the Tallinn district of Lasnamäel, which, we hear, is lovely this time of year.
  • Down on SDV: Be sure to check out why Heavy Reading senior analyst Alan Breznick has trimmed his forecast for switched digital video (SDV) deployments.
  • Later, dude: Starz LLC chairman and CEO Robert Clasen, the gentlemanly, 40-year cable vet who replaced John Sie and once helmed ICTV Inc. (now kickin' butt as ActiveVideo ) and lived to tell the tale, plans to retire by "around year-end," a move that comes about just as there are big changes afoot at parent company Liberty Media Corp. (NYSE: LMC). (See Starz Chief Clasen to Retire and DirecTV to Spin Off, Gain Weight .)
  • Nominum helping Comcast? You may have read this week that Nominum Inc. has smarted up its DNS platform recently so MSOs can offer managed security services. One likely place this is occurring is at Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), which has been getting kicked around some for its broad deployment of "Domain Helper," an ad-supported app that offers suggestions and links when subscribers mistype URLs. Nominum VP of product marketing Gopala Tumuluri had no problem confirming that Comcast is indeed a customer of Nominum's but couldn't comment on whether the MSO is offering DNS Helper in tandem with the upgrade, which probably means it is. Just sayin'. (See Nominum Wants to Play Watchdog.)
  • Comcast cash: The scuttlebutt of the week came courtesy of a Reuters story wondering what Comcast's going to do with all that cash it's hoarding, with speculation that it may try to make a big content/media acquisition to succeed where it failed five years ago when it made a $54 billion bid for Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS). A Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ownership cap prohibits Comcast from making any big cable system buys, of course, but some see Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX), which has spun off its cable division, as a potential target. (See FCC Caps Cable .)
  • Creamy broadband center: We'll have more on this soon, but a new report from Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Inc. analyst Craig Moffett makes a case for cable to treat broadband -- not video -- as its "core" product. In the report, he also attacks the perception that he's merely a cable cheerleader and "likes" cable MSOs. MSOs, he points out, "have atrocious customer relationships, and a middling video product at best. They have highly questionable strategic vision, and a history of poor capital allocation. Corporate governance in the cable industry is some of the worst around. It is virtually impossible to 'like' the cable operators." He even thinks DirecTV has the "best" video offering on the planet and even calls FiOS a "technological marvel" and "joy for consumers." But… he argues that cable's "structural advantage" -- and not necessarily who markets the best or who has the best products -- will keep industry well positioned against its greatest foes. Like I said, much more on this soon…
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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