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Move Over Net Neutrality – Hulu's Here!

Jeff Baumgartner
12/21/2010

Good mornin', cable fans. It's true! There's news happening that doesn't involve today's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote on network neutrality. (See Network Neutrality Rules Poised to Pass.)

Instead, this news snapshot leads with Hulu LLC mothballing its IPO plans and a Hulu Plus-free Suddenlink Communications , while CableLabs and the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) make a love connection. Meanwhile, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) means business with FiOS.

  • But today's news batch is not completely free of net neutrality nibbles. Breaking this morning was word that Verizon may try to overturn the rules that are expected to be approved later today. According to the National Journal, that option is on the table, but Verizon has not made a final decision on whether it might challenge any such rules in court.

  • NewTeeVee confirms what Suddenlink has already alluded to -- that the MSO can't offer Hulu's subscription-based "Plus" service on the TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO)-made DVRs it's leasing to customers, due to rights holder restrictions. The situation is akin to the one that prevents Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) from streaming video to MSO-provided TiVos. In the meantime, Suddenlink says it hopes to provide access to Hulu Plus "in the months ahead." (See Suddenlink Blames Netflix Contracts and Netflix Gets Hamstrung on Leased TiVos.)

  • Speaking of Hulu, The Wall Street Journal reports that the Web video hub has shelved plans for an IPO, and may chase after other cash-raising options to help it obtain additional content. It's also looking to expand the number of pay tiers it offers, reports the WSJ, which suggests that Hulu's lack of long-term programming rights was among the reasons it pulled back its IPO plans. Hulu's investors include News Corp. (NYSE: NWS), Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS), and NBC Universal .

  • Moving on to the latest developments in the Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT)/Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) peering dispute, Comcast has fired off a letter to the FCC. This letter is a reaction to an earlier one from Level 3, which asked the FCC and Department of Justice to consider the dispute as they ponder whether to apply conditions on Comcast's pending acquisition of NBCU.

    Comcast believes the situation can be resolved without government intervention, as Level 3's request "has no place" in the NBCU proceeding. On that point, the cable operator cites recent attempts by both companies to come to a compromise and launch a series of tests to try out a new traffic-sharing architecture. (See Comcast: Level 3 Balks at Trial Offer and Level 3: Comcast Erected Web Video 'Toll Booth' .)

  • If the heart-shaped carving on the big fir tree behind the cafeteria wasn’t enough evidence for you, it's really official now... Cable's got more than a high school crush on the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) .

    CableLabs has already taken a fancy to the DLNA's content discovery and sharing capabilities, viewing it as a technology that could help give tru2way a place at the retail table. Now it's taken the relationship a step further by joining the Alliance as a Promoter Member. (See Tru2way Flashes Some Retail Hope and CableLabs Joins DLNA.)

    Other members of the DLNA Promoter fraternity include AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Comcast, DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Panasonic Corp. (NYSE: PC), Rovi Corp. , Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), and Technicolor (Euronext Paris: TCH; NYSE: TCH).

  • It's no secret that cable operators have been successful in siphoning away some business user revenues from the telcos by targeting small- and mid-sized customers with Docsis 3.0-based services. Now, though, it looks as if Verizon's trying to turn the tables by using its FiOS network to offer speeds up to 150 Mbit/s downstream and 35 Mbit/s upstream to small business customers in 12 states and in Washington, D.C. (See Verizon Offers FiOS for Business and Cable's $5B Biz Services Bonanza .)

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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