Mobile Video

TW Cable Slings for Wideband

5:15 PM -- Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) has launched a promotion that matches Slingboxes with the MSO's 50Mbit/s (downstream) Docsis 3.0 service. (See TW Cable Slings a Wideband Play .)

Under the campaign, which started on Tuesday and is limited to the MSO's New York City cable system, TW Cable is subsidizing the cost of EchoStar Corp. LLC (Nasdaq: SATS)'s $300 Slingbox Pro-HD video place-shifting device.

It's an attempt by the MSO to push the TV Everywhere idea forward and draw more attention to TWC's wideband offering, while also sending a shot across the bow at programmers who got upset with the MSO for its iPad app. (See Fox to TW Cable: Stop Streaming Our Stuff .)

And it costs bandwidth. TWC had fiddled with broadband meters and usage-based pricing a while back, but mothballed them amid a wicked backlash. The MSO doesn't meter its cable modem service today, but all bets are off when users try to access their Slingboxes on the go. (See TWC Mothballs New Metering Trials .)

And the Slingbox apparently has quite the appetite for wireless bandwidth. According to data collected and analyzed by Sandvine Inc. , Slingbox users tapping in via their preferred mobile networks average 800 kbit/s, while Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) users average just 125 kbit/s.

"With unlimited download mobile plans quickly becoming a thing of the past, TWC subscribers should keep a keen eye on their data usage in order to avoid being surprised by data overages that the Slingbox could bring," Sandvine warns.

Sure, heavy mobile users could see the value of the MSO's Slingbox subsidy go up in smoke if they exceed their caps. But even with Sandvine's warning, I still think this is a great way for TWC to target consumers who were on the fence about paying a D3 premium. Is the promise of a Slingbox rebate enough for you to take the D3 plunge?

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:52:16 PM
re: TW Cable Slings for Wideband

I imagine that most D3 customers are tech-savvy enough to handle this themselves, but I see that TWC will roll a truck and do the Slingbox install, for $40.95. JB


AESerm 12/5/2012 | 4:52:14 PM
re: TW Cable Slings for Wideband

The Slingbox is also a sort of home-based alternative to the remote storage (RS) DVR service that Cablevision (same metro area) is deploying. End result is roughly the same: users to get view their content off the cable network.

msilbey 12/5/2012 | 4:52:14 PM
re: TW Cable Slings for Wideband

TWC's really thumbing its nose at the content guys here. Given the tension levels with programmers right now, I'm a bit surprised to see Time Warner piling on with a Slingbox offer. Of course it makes the MSO look good from a subscriber perspective. Can you imagine any operator doing this a few years ago? 

Other interesting nugget here is that TWC clearly wants people to sign up for its 50 Mbps service. I always get the feeling (and have heard directly in one case) that operators want to be able to say they can offer high speeds, but they don't really want to see adoption because of the strain it would put on their networks. Guess that's not the case here.


craigleddy 12/5/2012 | 4:52:11 PM
re: TW Cable Slings for Wideband

Most of cable's marketing so far for Docsis 3.0 has been aimed strategically in local competitive markets with an offer of 50 Mbit/s downstream, which matches Verizon's highest downstream offer. (And do we really need D3's top speed of 150+ Mbit/s anyway?)

The Slingbox offer seems like a nice sweetener, provided this wireless issue doesn't get in the way, and, you're right, we never would have seen this several years ago. I've also heard of concerns about D3's potential strain on networks, but others think adoption will move at a manageable rate.  


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