Comcast & Rogers Plow $15M Into Telepresence

Here's a look at what's pushing the buttons of broadband and cable this morning.

  • The venture capital arms of Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI) have made a combined US$15 million strategic investment in Tely Labs , a company that cut its teeth making video conferencing gear for consumers that relies on Skype Ltd. , but has since branched out with a higher-end "business edition" that costs about $500 per location and connects up to six offices simultaneously. Menlo Park, Calif.-based Tely Labs was founded in 2010. Comcast, by the way, already offers a Skype-TV product in partnership with Technicolor (Euronext Paris: TCH; NYSE: TCH) for consumers, but Tely Labs's new entry is targeted at the small and mid-sized business market, which has turned into an important growth engine for cable operators. (See Technicolor to Make Comcast's Skype TV Box and Comcast Hones 2-Pronged Business Attack.)

  • Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) added 10,700 video subs in the third quarter, reversing a year-ago loss of 5,700, as the U.K.'s largest cable operator continues to make hay with its TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) partnership. Virgin added 205,900 new TiVo users in the second quarter, ending the period with 1.14 million such users, representing 30 percent of its TV customer base. Virgin Media also turned a third-quarter profit of £123.9 million (US$198.4 million), versus a year-ago loss of £73.8 million ($118.2 million), on revenues of about £1.03 billion (US$1.60 billion), up 2.8 percent. Virgin said it will introduce a new feature called Virgin TV Anywhere "in the coming weeks" that will let customers stream live TV channels to iOS devices, alongside "thousands of hours" of VoD that is also accessible on PCs.

  • Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s video joint venture with Redbox Automated Retail LLC is "very close" to launching, and rollouts are expected to begin during the current quarter, company CFO Fran Shammo said during the company's third-quarter earnings call. The joint venture, called Redbox Instant by Verizon, has not released pricing, but analysts see it fetching $8 to $10 per month for unlimited streaming and two to three disc rentals as it prepares to take on Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), notes Home Media Magazine. (See Verizon & Redbox Boot Up Web Video Service .)

  • Vicki Lins, an exec late of Canoe Ventures LLC and Comcast, has resurfaced as EVP and chief marketing officer for the America's unit of Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, a major outdoor advertising company. She's not the only ex-Canoe exec on the move. Also this week, former Canoe CTO and chief product officer Arthur Orduña was named chief innovataion officer of market-leading home security company ADT Corp. (See Cable's Canoe Sinks Interactive Ad Business and ADT Adds a Cable Guy .)

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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