Video services

Cox Wireless Clears California

Cox Communications Inc. 's latest wireless moves in the Golden State lead off Thursday's cable news roundup.

  • Cox has completed its launch of wireless services in California following debuts in San Diego and Santa Barbara. Cox, which is piggybacking on Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s wireless network, expects to have wireless services up in more than half its footprint by year's end, with markets such as Topeka and Wichita, Kan., and Northwest Arkansas on deck. The MSO has already launched wireless in Roanoke and Hampton Roads, Va. (and Northern Virginia); Omaha, Neb.; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla.; Cleveland, Ohio; Rhode Island; and Connecticut.

  • Free Press has filed suit against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's network neutrality rules in the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston on grounds that the rules leave wireless Internet access less protected than wired connections. Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS) are expected to challenge the rules, now that they have been published in the Federal Register. (See Verizon Fights Net Neutrality Order.)

  • National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) President and CEO Michael Powell called out Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) chief Gary Shapiro about recent comments Shapiro made on CNBC that the Obama administration was "the most anti-business" of his lifetime based on its large number of proposed regulations. Powell argues in a blog post that Shapiro's position there runs counter to the CEA's efforts to get the FCC to push ahead with AllVid, a potential successor to the CableCARD. AllVid, Powell argues, "is the classic example of the jobs-killing, cost-raising, innovation-crushing regulation that Gary blasts as anti-business." To his credit, Shapiro posted a couple of responses, noting in one that "you can't walk into a Best Buy and purchase a cable box" 15 years after Congress passed a law requiring that set-tops be available in retail stores.

  • Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) has added a bevy of new features to its iPad app, including a basic search function for movies and TV titles and programming genres (an enhanced version that can search by keywords and cast and crew is expected out by early 2012), the ability to toggle closed captioning, and parental controls that can block the app from receiving specific live TV channels.

  • The Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice has requested more information from Motorola Mobility LLC and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), a decision that could prolong the review of Google's proposed $12.5 billion acquisition, Bloomberg reports. The deal is expected to close by late 2011 or early 2012. (See Cover Sheet: Google to Acquire Moto Mobility.)

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

  • Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:52:15 PM
    re: Cox Wireless Clears California


    Verizon apparently didn't want Shapiro and Powell to have all the fun.

    VP of Federal Regulatory Affairs David Young weighed in with a blog post that defends Powell's assertion that AllVid rules aren't needed and argues that satellite TV, which as excluded from the original FCC separable security rule,  demosntrated that most would rather lease than buy STBs.

    But Young also goes on to argue that "the whole concept of a tradtional set-top box is quckly fading in relevance" as a wide range of broadband-connected devices continue to come on the scene. 

    The timing of the argument is interesting because both Comcast and Verizon are expected to be among the first servcie operators to hook into MSFT's Xbox TV platform, and I'd suspect they'll both use that as a prime example to show the FCC why they think AllVid isn't needed because, as they see it, the retail market for "smart" video devices is evolving on its own and doesn't need further gov't meddling.  

    Working with the Xbox 360 (and the earlier announcements that will enable some  MSOs to pipe programming to Samsung and Sony connected TVs) is a good start, but is it enough? 

    The FCC has been very quiet about AllVid lately and that silence, i think, speaks volumes about whether AllVid will ever shift out of notice-of-inquiry mode and become a bona fide rulemaking effort.   JB


    AESerm 12/5/2012 | 4:52:13 PM
    re: Cox Wireless Clears California

    Young makes some good points, reminding me that operationally (if not culturally) VZ is in many ways a "cable operator." This retail access has been a long, costly ride. Remember the articles we wrote about point of deployment (POD) modules, what a decade ago? Is the Xbox gambit legit or posturing? Probably more substantive than some of the industry's demos at  at CES. (Definitely more so than the tru2way press conference a few years back.) After all, there is a real market for Xboxes. Does it dovetail with the opposition to AllVid. Sure. But is the traditional set-top "rapidly fading" as Young argues. Hmm... There's lots of innovation and disruption out there, but it all depends on how you define rapidly. If the FCC turns its attention to this one and shifts into rule-making mode, some of its lawyers will probably take a stab at that question.

    fgoldstein 12/5/2012 | 4:52:09 PM
    re: Cox Wireless Clears California

    Chicken, meet egg.

    A video customer will probably rent an STB from the cable provider because it's the easiest thing to do, and they don't run the risk of missing out capabilites that a privately-owned box can't get.  Why buy a box with CableCard if it doesn't let you do VoD or other features?  Thus there's not enough market for vendors to push them.

    If a newly-mandated standard allowed a third-party CPE to do everything that an MSO-provided CPE could do, then perhaps we'd see some innovation.  Hmmm, this reminds me of some distant historical era.  Anybody remember Carterfone?  Part 68 registration?  The telcos insisted that this horrible over-regulation would Break Everything, but boy did it spur innovation.  Really.  It was the best thing that could happen to everyone, as the innovative CPE made the network more valuable.

    Idiotic idiologues spouting partisan agendas against all regulation are often working against their clients' best interests.

    Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:52:08 PM
    re: Cox Wireless Clears California

    Tru2way tried to add VoD to the retail mix and it was a dud, with blame to go around... cable's license requirements and onerous certification requirements made it a non-starter for most of the CE guys, so it never got the buy in despite that Sony MOU.  And I agree... one-way CableCARD devices that need some tuning adapters for SDV and don't do cable VoD have never burned it up.

    Almost on cue, the NCTA just released its latest CableCARD report and the situation is still way out of balance: top 10 incumbent MSOs have deployed 30M+ operator-supplied STBs with CableCARDs, and just 585K CableCARDs for use in retail devices like TiVos DVRs.

    I think pay-TV's wider adoption of IP and more software-centric security will help make it easier for the CE guys to support pay-TV services without having to deal with stuff like tru2way and cablecards, and I'm getting the sense that operators are going to go out of their way this time to help make that happen in order to keep a potential AllVid mandate in check. 

    And considering how well the CableCARD did in terms of spurring a retail market for cable-ready video devices, does anyone really think another gov't mandate is the answer? JB



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