Welcome to today's broadband and cable news roundup.
Call it the Google Fiber Effect. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski issued the Gigabit City Challenge late last week, calling on mayors and ISPs to build at least one community in all 50 states with 1Gbit/s speeds by 2015 -- blowing away the 4Mbit/s downstream by 1Mbit/s upstream benchmarks the agency uses now to define "broadband." He said a national commitment, that will include an "online clearinghouse" of best practices on how to reduce broadband deployment costs, will accelerate a critical mass of markets with "ultra-fast Internet speeds."
The FCC should have little trouble hitting the goal. The agency, citing Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council data, says 42 communities in 14 states already have hit the mark. A high-profile city in that group, of course, is Kansas City, Kan., which got access to 1Gbit/s service from Google Fiber last fall. If the cable guys decide to help (or get shamed into helping) the Chairman reach this new deployment goal, look for operators to free up more channels for bonding. The latest Docsis 3.0 cable modems are capable of bonding 24 downstream channels -- enough to produce data bursts near 1 Gbit/s. (See FCC: Broadband Starts at 4Mbit/s, More Docsis 3.0 Gateways Gun for 1-Gig,
and Google's Pointy Stick.)
Pay-TV operators and their programming partners are trying to put TV Everywhere services on tablets, PCs and smartphones, but not everybody is using them. Just 17 percent of pay-TV subs have streamed authenticated TV Everywhere services, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing a 1,000-person study by GfK Media. One big obstacle is the authentication process itself -- 70 percent of those surveyed who have ever watched video online said they'd be deterred from viewing it that way if it required them to sign in. Among other findings, 37 percent accessed online video directly from a programmer's website or app, while just 30 percent said they hooked in via portals operated by their pay-TV operator.
Dish Network Corp. will close another 300 Blockbuster Inc. stores nationwide in the coming weeks, reducing its total to about 500, reports The Denver Post, noting that the move will also result in the loss of about 3,000 jobs. Dish closed about 500 stores last year, and continues to close down underperforming outlets or those that are nearing the end of their leases, the paper adds. Dish bought the bankrupt video rental chain in 2011 for $320 million, and has been trying to make something of the acquisition by bundling Blockbuster's by-mail DVD rental and video streaming services into Dish's subscription-TV packages. (See Dish's Latest Buy Is a Blockbuster and Dish Bundles Up Blockbuster.)
Competitive cable overbuilder WideOpenWest Holdings LLC (WOW) has hired Richard Fish as CFO. Fish most recently was COO of Northwoods Capital Management LLC and CFO of ICG Communications and ITC DeltaCom, a competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) that formerly operated in the southern U.S.