Video services

The Friday Five

Here's our glance at a handful of other stuff that happened in the world of cable this week that bear repeating or sharing:

  • Have you seen the new "awesome" FiOS TV spot with filmaker Michael Bay blowing stuff up on behalf of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)? Speaking of the telco’s video ambitions, Mari Silbey, Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT)’s resident “Connected Home 2 Go” blogger, confirmed this week that Verizon is using the DCT700 set-top to help seed its all-digital migration. Verizon, like many other telcos, received a special waiver on integrated security set-tops on the condition that they go all-digital by February 2009. (See Verizon & Others Get Their Waivers.) Silbey notes that Verizon will be giving away DCT700s -- a no-frills, entry-level set-top -- to “analog holdovers.”

  • And speaking of the digital transition, Multichannel News reports that Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Kevin Martin is asking cable (and several other industries) to help out thousands of low-power television (LPTV) stations ahead of the February 2009 cutover. In his letter, Martin points out that more than 7,300 LPTV stations will continue to broadcast in analog come February 2009. The FCC has proposed that those low-power stations make the digital transition by 2012. The concern is that most of the digital-to-analog converters consumers will use to receive over-the-air signals won’t be able to access the low-power stations still broadcasting in analog. That, of course, could place LPTV stations in serious jeopardy. Martin, therefore, is asking cable and satellite TV providers to offer expanded carriage of LPTV services “on a voluntary basis where they have the capacity.” He’s also encouraging manufacturers to implement “analog pass-through” capabilities in at least one widely available digital-to-analog converter box. Multichannel News says only four models of 30 approved by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) have that capability.

  • Vuze and Free Press both weighed in this week on Comcast’s P2P management policies. They issued separate complaints about Comcast, resulting in an FCC probe. Comcast argued in its filing that it uses “reasonable” network management techniques to, in some cases, delay P2P traffic. (See Comcast Defends P2P Management .) For its part, Vuze wants a clarification on what constitutes reasonable network management but, in its view, believes Comcast’s “overbroad and clandestine attempts to interfere with traffic” does not qualify. The Free Press response was a bit more pointed, calling Comcast’s defense “flimsy” and “a desparate attempt to spin its Internet blocking. Cut through all the jargon, and this much is clear: Comcast isn’t managing bandwidth hogs; it’s undercutting competition.”

  • A law firm, on behalf of cable installers and techs, is targeting Source Broadband Services LLC and C-COR Inc. over allegations of unpaid overtime. C-COR is now part of Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS). (See Arris Sews Up C-COR.) Source Broadband bought C-COR’s installation business last summer. (See C-COR Divests Outside Plant Unit.) The suit was brought on by current and former employees that serviced Comcast customers within a 50-mile radius surrounding Memphis, Tenn.

  • The FCC this week issued a final order that prevents U.S. cable operators from owning 30 percent or more of the pay-TV universe. (See FCC Caps Cable .) But this is probably not the last we’ll hear about it. It’s been suggested that Comcast, the only MSO remotely close to the cap, might appeal the order.

Until next week...

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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