Cable Show: Something for Everyone in the City of Angels

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Top-Flight Speakers, Panels, Technology Exhibits on Tap in LA

When the industry convenes in Los Angeles next week for Cable Show 2014, attendees will have plenty to keep pique their collective interests.

From a list of top-flight speakers and array of panels cutting across a variety of disciplines, to an exhibit floor with well over 200 exhibitors and an expanded Imagine Park, networking and educational opportunities will abound at the Los Angeles Convention Center from April 29 through May 1.

General session speakers on Tuesday, April 29 include A+E president Nancy Dubuc; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; Jerry Kent, chairman of Suddenlink; Rob Marcus, chairman of Time Warner Cable; John Martin, CEO of Turner Broadcasting; NCTA president Michael Powell; and ESPN president and Disney Media Networks co-chairman John Skipper.

Wednesday’s lineup features FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts and Discovery Communications president and CEO David Zaslav. In addition, there is host of talent from the creative community: Michelle Ashford, creator, writer, and executive producer of Showtime’s Masters of Sex; Richard LaGravenese, co-creator, writer and executive producer of WEtv’s The Divide; and quadruple threat Kurt Sutter, creator, writer, producer, and actor, FX’s Sons of Anarchy

Thursday concludes with Cox president Pat Esser; Rob Lloyd, president, development and sales, for Cisco; Josh Sapan, president or AMC Networks; and Matt Weiner, creator, writer, director, executive producer of AMC’s Emmy-winning retro advertising drama, Mad Men.

Spread across some 105,000 square feet, 230 exhibitors, including 24 CableNet participants, will show their latest equipment, devices, services and programming.

Imagine Park returns to Cable Show 2014 as the place to gain an early glimpse of what’s next in broadband and television worlds. It’s also the home to a number of informative sessions. Check out the schedule here.

The venue will also house the “Internet of Things,” where visitors can explore the frontier functionality for connected devices. For example, your mobile communicates with your thermostat, which in turn chats with your refrigerator that gossips with your smart door knob. Here, attendees can learn about how machine-to-machine communication via broadband has changed over the last five years and how de riguer it become over the next five.

The Imagine Film Challenge is also on tap, a competition pitting four student teams charged with creating short films of seven minutes or less. The challenge will afford the student squads from Columbia College Chicago, Loyola Marymount University, New York Film Academy and hometown UCLA access to top filmmakers and industry executives, as well as the opportunity to have their work viewed by some of the world’s leading TV and digital media organizations. The films will be shot and edited on the show floor of the LA Convention Center and surrounding areas throughout the Cable Show, with the winner taking home the top prize award following the screenings and deliberations.

The projects will later be broadcast on competition sponsor ShortsHD, which is available on DirecTV and AT&T U-Verse, and across Europe and Africa.

Imagine Park will also serve up Happy Hour, sponsored by Time Warner Cable, on Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

 

TWC Unleashed 300-Meg Broadband To Some

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Speed Upgrades Start In Los Angeles, NYC

 

Time Warner Cable said it has begun to offer broadband speeds of up to 300 Mbps (downstream) in parts of New York City and Los Angeles as part of its “TWC Maxx” all-digital network and service upgrade initiative.

In the upgraded areas, TWC subs who are on the MSO’s Standard tier (15 Mbps down by 1 Mbps upstream) are being bumped to 50×5, while customers on the Ultimate plan (100 x 5) are being accelerated to 300 x 20 at no extra charge, the MSO said, noting that customers will need a DOCSIS 3.0 modem to get the boost. Its Standard service runs about $57.99 per month, while Ultimate is priced about $107.99.

Areas that are getting the speed boost include Costa Mesa and West Hollywood in California, and in areas of Woodside (in Queens) and Staten Island in New York City.

TWC’s network and Internet speed upgrades are coming “soon” to the LA areas of Covina, Cypress, Hoover, Crenshaw District and Jefferson Park, and to upper Manhattan and additional neighborhoods in Queens and Staten Island in New York City. By the end of June, TWC will be delivering the new, faster speed plans to more than 200,000 customers, the MSO said.

Time Warner Cable Business Services unit has also introduced speed tiers of 100 Mbps down by 10 Mbps upstream, as well as 200×20 and 300×20 as new options, complementing the speeds of up to 10 Gbps it offers via its fiber-based Metro Ethernet platform tailored for larger commercial customers.

“These significant speed increases and network enhancements will allow our Internet customers to get the most out of their TWC experience,” “With this service transformation, our customers can enjoy all the ways they use TWC Internet even better, including streaming video, downloading music and more,” TWC chairman and CEO Robert Marcus said, in a statement.

TWC has completed its all-digital rollout in NYC, and expects to wrap it in L.A. by year-end. With the upgrade, TWC is also expanding its VOD library to 75,000 hours of content, and extending the reach of a new cloud-based interface for its video platform.

The upgrades are part of the MSO’s three-year ops plan announced in late January, weeks before Comcast announced its proposed acquisition of the nation’s second largest MSO.

 

– See more at: http://www.multichannel.com/news/technology/twc-unleashed-300-meg-broadband-some/374029#sthash.3E7MRUhm.dpuf

Comcast’s hotspot network grows to 1M nodes, driven by crowdsourced Wi-Fi

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Comcast revealed on Wednesday it has grown its Wi-Fi hotspot network to 1 million nodes. Considering that on Tuesday its FCC filing on its planned acquisition of Time Warner Cable listed 870,000 hotspots, it appears to be ramping up its wireless network quickly.

Comcast can scale so quickly because its broadband customers are doing much of the heavy lifting. Its latest wireless home gateways all operate in dual modes, providing a private home network for the customer and a public network that can be accessed by any Comcast broadband customer. Comcast also offers public hotspot capabilities to all of its business customers and has built with thousands of high-powered outdoor hotspots in key high-traffic zones in its operating territory.

Comcast isn’t breaking out how many neighborhood hotspots it’s running versus commercial access points, but they make up the vast majority of its network. Comcast is part of the CableWiFi consortium, which pools together the outdoor and business hotspots of Time Warner, Cox Communications, Cablevision Systems and Bright House Networks. CableWiFi has 200,000 hotspots in total, meaning Comcast has more than 800,000 access points transmitting from living room shelves.

Though its hotspot network is a considerable resource for Comcast’s customers, it’s not the easiest to use. Customers still have to log in to each hotspot using their Xfinity credentials, but emerging technologies like Hotspot 2.0 will eventually make those connections automatic. When that happens Comcast can turn its hotspot footprint into a kind of mobile data overlay offloading smartphone and tablet traffic off from cellular networks.

Comcast told regulators it’s weighing using that footprint to create a Wi-Fi First mobile network, using cellular systems to fill in the gaps between its hotspots. It hasn’t revealed whether it would sell such a service to consumers to sell Wi-Fi capacity to other carriers.

 

Charting Charter’s Progress

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Charter Communications’ launch of a new app that can stream more than 130 live TV channels in the home to tablets and smartphones (with some out-of-home access expected down the road) marks the latest step in the operator’s transformational process under Tom Rutledge, who took the helm more than two years ago.

A big piece of this shift involves other services as well as a fresh brand that Charter will use as it completes all-digital upgrades.

Following up on plans first revealed by Rutledge last November, the company confirmed (subscription required) that Charter (hat tip: DSL Reports) has already introduced that new brand, “Spectrum,” in two markets — Fort Worth, Texas, and Greenville, S.C.

Similar to Comcast’s Xfinity playbook, Charter is introducing the brand with new services that are tied to this analog-reclamation process. At this stage, Spectrum means the doubling of max Internet download speeds – from 30 Mbps to 60 Mbps – at no additional cost, alongside a hefty expansion of live HDTV channels, a larger VOD library, and advanced voice service paired with unlimited nationwide calling

As this site shows, Charter is using the new brand to tout a set of new triple-play packages: Select, Silver and Gold.

And expect the brand to reach several more Charter markets in the coming weeks and months, as the MSO expects to complete its all-digital shift in all markets by the end of 2014. Those efforts are already underway in markets such as southern California, and parts of Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Massachusetts and Missouri.

– See more at: http://www.multichannel.com/blog/bauminator/charting-charter-s-progress/373747#sthash.Lh5RryoI.dpuf

Comcast, NCTA cheer FCC 5 GHz Wi-Fi order

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March 31, 2014 | By 

FCC commissioners agreed to open up 100 MHz of spectrum in the 5 GHz band available for use with Wi-Fi services, in a big win for Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA)  and other broadband providers that have said they need more unlicensed spectrum to support advanced services.

“Today’s decision is a win for every consumer who uses Wi-Fi.  It will help alleviate congestion and pave the way for next generation Wi-Fi technologies that will operate at gigabit-per-second speeds,” Comcast VP of Regulatory Policy David Don said in a prepared statement.

The move was also cheered by National Cable & Telecommunications Association CEO Michael Powell, who said the FCC action will drive a “substantially faster Wi-Fi experience” for American consumers.

The FCC said the new rules will remove the restriction on indoor-only use for the 5 GHz band. “This in turn will allow U-NII devices to better integrate with other unlicensed portions of the GHz band to offer faster speeds and reduce congestion at crowded Wi-Fi hot spots such as airports and convention centers,” the commission said.

 

 

 

Energy Efficiency Voluntary Agreement Expands its Reach

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In a hyper competitive Pay TV marketplace, cable, DBS and telco TV providers all know that they have to continually innovate in order to compete for a spot in today’s connected home. They also know that a big part of that innovation has to come in the form of creating a more energy efficient set-top box.

That’s why we’re pleased to report that the voluntary energy conservation agreement (VA) among multichannel video providers, device manufacturers and energy advocacy groups continues to expand and progress. The agreement works to deliver energy efficiency solutions for 90 million American homes. The VA includes commitments to efficiency standards that will improve set-top box efficiency by up to 45 percent, and are expected to rack up more than $1 billion in consumer energy savings annually.

On February 25, 2014, energy advocacy representatives who joined the expanded VA in December 2013 met for the first time as voting members of the steering committee. Highlights from the meeting include:

  • Pace, plc, a major manufacturer of set-top boxes, joined the VA, further expanding its reach.
  • As part of the significant transparency and monitoring requirements of the VA, service providers will be making the energy usage of new set-top boxes available for consumers to review. For example, the new set-top boxes of the six largest cable operators are posted to a web site hosted by CableLabs Energy Lab, the lab established by the cable industry to pursue energy efficient solutions.
  • The VA also includes commitments to conduct industry-funded field verification testing. The steering committee finalized a Request for Proposal to be issued next week, seeking bids for a contractor to conduct verification testing in households to confirm that the posted efficiency levels are being achieved in the field. Potential candidates are invited to contact Paul Glist at the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine (PaulGlist@dwt.com) to request a copy of the RFP.
  • The Independent Administrator of the VA will continue its operations to assess each company’s compliance, produce an annual report, and handle many other transparency and verification functions. The Independent Administrator is already collecting the data to be used in its first annual report of progress during the first year of operation under the VA.

The Agreement Signatory organizations that participated in the meeting are (listed according to number of customers): Comcast, DIRECTV, DISH Network, Time Warner Cable, AT&T, Verizon, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Cablevision Systems Corp., Bright House Networks and CenturyLink; manufacturers Cisco, ARRIS (including Motorola), EchoStar Technologies and Pace; and energy efficiency advocates Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), which also represented its affiliate the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP). The VA was embraced last year by the US Department of Energy, as it terminated its regulatory approach in favor of the VA.

Charter CEO Working to Reduce ‘Cable Guy’ Visits

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Tom Rutledge also says he is “observing” the Comcast takeover of Time Warner Cable but adds, “We don’t need M&A to be a successful company.”

1:00 PM PDT 3/10/2014 by Paul Bond

Tom Rutledge is no fan of multiple visits from the “cable guy,” he said during a conversation at the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet and Telecom Conference in Florida on Monday.

The Charter Communications CEO said he is working hard to minimize the need to roll out personnel and trucks to customers because “getting that out of the business” improves the quality of the product. One way Charter is accomplishing that is by selling triple-play services so that multiple products can be installed with a single visit and fewer “transactions.”

“Taking transactions out of the business actually increases customer satisfaction,” Rutledge said. “The opportunity for things to go wrong are legendary. I mean, people make movies about it — Cable Guy. Getting that out of the business dramatically improves satisfaction.”

Rutledge also talked about “a whole bunch of opportunities” for Charter and other cable companies that will come by way of looming 10-gigabyte-per-second Internet speeds and wireless Internet connections in every home.

“We’ll have the ability to probably do something along the lines of a ‘wireless drop,’ meaning a wireless connection for every household, which might not even require a physical connection between the house and the street,” he said.

He said that he does not anticipate that consumers will want to navigate giant TV screens with their fingers the same way they do with iPads and other tablets, therefore Charter is focusing on improving remote controls for such functionality.

Of the impending Comcast acquisition of Time Warner Cable — a company Charter once coveted — Rutledge said, “We’re observing them.” He added, “We don’t need M&A to be a successful company.”

Charter shares, meanwhile, were rising 1 percent to more than $128 a share on Monday during midday trading. Wall Street analysts have been friendly to the stock lately, and, on Monday, Jefferies Group upgraded shares to “buy” with a $150 price target. On Friday, Northland Capital upgraded the stock to “outperform.”

Sources: Senate Hearing On Comcast/TWC Moving To April 2

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Will Make Way for Hearing on STELA

By: John Eggerton Mar 10 2014 – 04:07pm

According to sources, the Senate Judiciary Committee is moving its hearing on the proposed Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger from March 26 to April 2.

That move will be to make room for a hearing on the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA), said multiple sources. The committee would be unlikely to hold two big hearings on the same day.

STELA has been heating up, with a draft of a bill in the House Communications Subcommittee and movement in the Senate Commerce Committee as well, where Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D- W. Va.) has asked for input on what should be in the bill.

The House Communications Subcommittee is holding a STELA hearing March 12, with witnesses from across the stakeholder spectrum including National Cable & Telecommunications Association President Michael Powell.

Pay-TV Firms, CEA, Energy Agree On Set-Top Standards

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Voluntary Pact Aims At Saving $1B Per Year By Conserving Power

By: John Eggerton Dec 23 2013 – 11:20am

The cable and consumer electronics industries, energy efficiency groups and the Department of Energy have struck a deal on voluntary energy efficiency standards for set-top boxes that they say will result in “significant energy savings for more than 90 million U.S. homes” while avoiding regulations that cable operators had argued would hurt, not help.

The new standards — including energy-use monitoring by pay-TV providers — are predicted to boost set-top box energy efficiency between 10% and 45%, depending on the box, by 2017.

That is expected to translate into more than $1 billion annually, a figure that could grow with the growth of whole-home devices and increasing demand for DVRs and HD set-tops.

The standards agreement applies to all types of boxes from pay-TV providers: cable, satellite and telco. Energy use monitoring will be subject to an independent audit. DOE also reserves the right to test the boxes under the federal Energy Star verification process.

“As Americans increasingly rely on more electronic devices and gadgets, managing energy consumption is both an environmental and economic priority for consumers and industry alike, Michael Powell, NCTA’s president, said in a statement. “The cable industry is working hard to improve the overall consumer experience and we are proud to develop solutions that will reduce our energy footprint and result in real energy savings for millions of consumers.”

Also signing on to the agreement were the Consumer Electronics Association, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and the Appliance Standards Awareness Project. Multichannel video providers onboard include Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network, Time Warner Cable, AT&T, Verizon, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Cablevision Systems, Bright House Networks and CenturyLink.

Back in June, NCTA asked DOE to pause an effort to come up with government-mandated energy efficiency standards because such regulation would foreclose innovation and “sabotage” a voluntary agreement among equipment manufacturers and the top multichannel video providers.

Under the voluntary agreement reached last fall, Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Verizon, Charter, AT&T, Cablevision, Bright House Networks and CenturyLink – along with consumer-equipment companies Cisco, Motorola, EchoStar and Arris – said new set-tops would meet Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star 3.0 levels. Devices that meet that standard are 45% more efficient than ones that don’t, according to the EPA.

Also, “light-sleeper” mode software will be employed by cable operators to more than 10 million DVRs already in use, and satellite operators will include a power-down feature in 90% of the set-tops they deploy.

Energy conservation advocates did not sign on to that agreement, and the Energy Department restarted the process, which will now officially be terminated with the agreement to the new standards.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who has been pushing for the standards, praised the agreement, but said she would monitor its progress to insure industry follows through.

“In 2011, I urged the CEOs of every major television service provider to work together to introduce more energy efficient set-top boxes,” the senator said in a statement. “At the time, set-top boxes were costing Americans $3 billion in electricity charges each year — with $2 billion wasted when televisions were not being used. Today’s voluntary announcement demonstrates the television industry took this matter seriously, and I commend industry and efficiency advocates for agreeing to make 90% of all set-top boxes as efficient as today’s most energy efficient boxes by 2017.”

She said she would “monitor the situation carefully to ensure the industry remains committed to building on today’s substantial progress in future years.”

The National Resources Defense Council issued a statement by Noah Horowitz, one of the lead negotiators for the voluntary agreement and a senior scientist and director of the Center for Energy Efficiency at NRDC: “This historic agreement promises to put $1 billion back in the pockets of U.S. consumers every year because the new set-top boxes will use less energy. We appreciate the industry’s renewed commitment toward making the devices that bring pay TV into 90 million-plus U.S. homes more efficient and look forward to working together to reduce their future energy use.”

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