Cable Show 2013: Broadband Pipe Can Fuel New Services

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Home Control, Energy Management and Health Services On Tap For Cable Ops

By: Mike Farrell Jun 11 2013 – 5:13pm
Washington, D.C. – The broadband pipe won’t just be the conduit for Internet content in the future, with cable operators working diligently to provide services like home control, energy management and home health services in the not too distant future, according to a panel session at the Cable Show Tuesday.
At a session entitled, Coming Down the Pipe: Emerging Businesses Powered by Broadband and moderated by Multichannel News technology editor Jeff Baumgartner, top tech executives from Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Mediacom Communications and Bright House Networks, outlined their strategies for using the robust cable infrastructure for new services. While home security dominated the early part of the conversation – a product that each MSO on the panel has launched – each executive said that even those existing offerings are evolving to include capabilities like thermostat control and other types of home automation.
Time Warner Cable vice president, corporate and new business development Shanti Grandhi added that the push has been to provide services under a connected home banner, providing home security bundled with other products that set it apart from the competition. According to the panelists, about 20% of the home security market is controlled by one company – ADT – but the rest is split between small mom and pop operations that provide services to neighborhoods. Cable operators have been addressing that larger segment by offering products in addition to simple alarms. For example, at Comcast, senior vice president and general manager of new business Mitch Bowling said the MSO includes an Eco Saver feature as part of its XFinity Home Control product that allows customers to set thermostats and turn on and off lights remotely.
Comcast as well as other companies have been repackaging their home services – decoupling home automation products from straight security services – as a way to better tailor the service to customers needs.
Bowling said each MSO has multiple products they can pull together to create offerings that “can literally change the way people live in their homes.” And he added, these products can help drive growth in other segments of the business,
Bowling said that about two-thirds of Comcast’s security customers have never had a home security product before. About 40% of its security customers in Q1 were not prior Comcast customers, and of those 40%, 64% went from zero Comcast products to four Comcast products.
Cox executive vice president and chief strategy officer Asheesh Saksena said home security also improves customers’ perception of their cable provider. He said that Cox’s home security customers regularly give an 8-9-or10 out of 10 recommendation rating to the cable company.
As far as new products, each MSO executive said home healthcare could be a huge opportunity, both by providing connections between patients and doctors and for general health monitoring. Bowling said that on product Comcast is testing is a passive monitoring product for the elderly, which would track their movements patterns during the day and notify a third party when those patterns deviate form the norm.
Time Warner Cable is testing a televideo product that would allow patients to video chat with their doctors, as well as a biometric monitoring service that would allow doctors to receive real-time patient data like heart rates remotely.
Education also is a growth opportunity – Mediacom Business senior vice president Dan Templin said that the MSO is testing a distance learning offering that would give students access to classes they would not be able to access through their local school systems.

Cable Show 2013: ‘CableWiFi’ Alliance Pushes Past 150,000 Hotspots

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Combined Wi-Fi Network has Tripled In Size Since Last Year’s Cable Confab

By: Jeff Baumgartner Jun 9 2013 – 11:54pm

Washington — The MSO members of the “CableWi” roaming alliance announced Monday that they have deployed more than 150,000 hotspots combined, essentially tripling the size of the wireless broadband network since announcing the wireless broadband partnership at last year’s cable event.

Those MSOs – Cablevision Systems, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks – claim they now operate the largest Wi-Fi network in the U.S.

According to Multichannel News research and tracking, those MSOs have deployed north of 165,000 hotspots. Among individual U.S. MSOs, Cablevision, the first in the group to deploy public Wi-Fi on a broad basis, has deployed more than 80,000 hot spots.

Customers of those MSOs can tap in by logging in with their credentials when they encounter a Wi-Fi access point broadcasting the “CableWiFi” SSID. Once a device is authenticated, it will auto-connect to other CableWiFi hotspots automatically.

Together, the CableWiFi members have deployed access points in several U.S. cities, including New York City; Los Angeles; Chicago; Philadelphia; Atlanta; Baltimore; Boston; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; Orlando; Tampa; and Kansas City.

The first implementation of CableWiFi began in May 2012, when the five MSOs announced a combined metro WiFi networks comprised of over 50,000 hotspots.

“At Cablevision, we see firsthand how much usage and convenience WiFi delivers to our customers, which is why we have long been a proponent of this value-added benefit. When we partner with other cable operators in this expansion of Cable WiFi, it gives our Optimum Online customers even greater access to wireless Internet service,” said Gemma Toner, Cablevision’s SVP of broadband product management, in a statement.

“WiFi is a key component of our efforts to deliver Xfinity Internet customers the fastest and most reliable Internet connection, both inside and outside of the home,” added Tom Nagel, SVP of business development at Comcast Cable.

“We recognize that an Internet connection wherever you are is a hugely important feature so we’ll continue to bring more WiFi to the places where our customers live, work and play. It’s like taking your home Internet service with you,” said Mike Roudi, SVP of corporate development for Time Warner Cable.

“Through these WiFi networks, our customers will benefit from having access to WiFi that is complementary to their cellular plans and experience,” said Kelly Williams, VP of product strategy and management at Cox.

“Our customers will enjoy expanded access to WiFi connectivity while on-the-go through this rapidly growing network of Cable WiFi access points located throughout the U.S.,” said Leo Cloutier, SVP, corporate strategy and business development at Bright House Networks.


Cable Show 2013: Clyburn — Cable Does Incredible Job of Connecting Nation

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Washington — After the Cable Show crowd got a wake-up call Tuesday from the fifes, drums and bugles of the U.S. Army Old Guard Army Fife and Drum Corps, acting chairwoman Mignon Clyburn took the stage for her first, and likely only, Cable Show in the big chair, and she came armed with praise for the industry, as well as a call to action.

“What a phenomenal conference…. You have done an incredible job of connecting this nation,” she told the audience in a brief Q&A with NCTA president Michael Powell. She pointed out that most of America has access to broadband, but that the country can’t be satisfied with reaching the majority. Almost a million Americans haven’t adopted broadband, she said, adding that cost and literacy were factors. “There are a whole host of people who don’t see what’s in it for them,” she said.

Clyburn said it was “phenomenal” that the cable industry was a big driver of the move of content to the anytime anywhere model.

While Clyburn has been identifying herself as acting chairwoman, Powell said that technically, there was no such thing. “There is nothing acting about you in my mind,” he said.

Convention cochair Abbe Raven introduced Clyburn with the observation that after nearly 80 years, “we can say there is a woman running the FCC.” Powell echoed the historic note, saying she had been an “exemplar” to men as well as women because of her achievement. He asked her what that achievement meant to her. Clyburn said she thought about her grandmother, who was not allowed a full education “due to the laws of the land” at the time, but always encouraged her.

Powell pointed to the president’s announcement of a goal of connecting 99% of students to high-speed broadband within five years and asked whether she thought Wi-Fi should be part of that equation. She said “absolutely,” and that the solution needed to include both licensed and unlicensed services. She said it was not going to be possible to hardwire the entire country and that the goal should be connecting in the most efficient way possible.

Asked what her agenda would be, Clyburn cited statutory requirements like measuring video competition and continued work on incentive auctions, which she said was sucking up a lot of oxygen at the agency, but in a good way since it would be a win-win for industry and consumers.

Appeals Court Affirms Decision to Deny Nexstar Injunction Against Time Warner Cable

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Agrees That Plain Language of Contract Allows for Importation of Distant Signals
By: John Eggerton May 31 2013 – 5:07pm

TV stations may want to re-read their retrans contracts to see whether they, too could be subject to distant signal importations. The U.S. Court of Appeals has denied motions for a stay and injunction against Time Warner Cable for retransmitting Nexstar distant signals, agreeing with a Texas district court that Nexstar is not likely to succeed on the merits of its breach of contract claim against Time Warner Cable.

Nexstar said that the language in its retrans consent agreement (RCA) did not apply to delivering signals outside a market, while TWC said it granted broad carriage rights.

The Texas district court, in denying to enjoin Nexstar, agreed with TWC that the contract provided those broad rights and the Fifth Circuit affirmed that decision this week.

“[T]he plain language of the RCA grants Time Warner broad authority to retransmit Nexstar signals on Time Warner stations (sic),” the appeals court said in the May 30 decision.

Parsing that plain language, the court said that “[Nexstar] hereby gives [Time Warner] the nonexclusive retransmission of the entire broadcast signal of each Station (the ‘Signal’) over each System pursuant to the terms of this Agreement,” meant TWC could retransmit the signals on any or all of its systems, not just the one serving the relevant market.

Time Warner Cable issued this statement: “On Thursday, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a decision in Nexstar’s lawsuit against TWC.  The Court of Appeals decision affirmed the district court judge in all respects in finding that Nexstar was not likely to prevail in its breach of contract and copyright case, since our retransmission consent agreement clearly gives us the right to carry Nexstar signals in distant markets.”

A Texas district judge last fall denied Nexstar’s request for a temporary restraining order against Time Warner Cable and signaled Nexstar is unlikely to win its suit charging the cable operator impermissibly imported Nexstar signals into distant markets to substitute for Hearst TV stations that had gone dark there due to a retrans fight with TWC.

Hearst and TWC settled their dispute not long after the suit and TRO request were filed, so the TRO was essentially moot, but Nexstar was charging copyright infringement and the decision suggests TWC is free to import those Nexstar signals again if it runs into a retrans impasse in those or other markets.

“The Court of Appeals decision affirmed the district court judge in all respects in finding that Nexstar was not likely to prevail in its breach of contract and copyright case, since our retransmission consent agreement clearly gives us the right to carry Nexstar signals in distant markets,” TWC said in a statement

Cox Assists in Oklahoma Tornado Recovery Efforts

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Cox Communications has stepped up efforts to help customers affected by the devastating tornado that hit the Oklahoma City area earlier this week, securing programming rights to extend its Cox TV Connect TV Everywhere app outside of the home and setting up centers where customers can access telecom services.

At least 24 people were killed and thousands were left homeless and without power in the devastating twister that struck the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore on May 20.

Cox Communications parent Cox Enterprises has pledged about $1 million to relief efforts in the areas.

The Cox TV Connect app, which gives TV Essentials and Preferred High Speed Internet Access customers live streaming access to about 90 channels, will be available to certain mobile devices for the next 90 days, said spokesman Todd Smith in an e-mail message. The app is normally available only inside the home but the company is extending the capability to help connect Cox customers to the content they care about wherever they have sought refuge in the weeks and months ahead.

Video can be viewed live on supported Apple and Android devices and is authenticated with the customer’s Cox primary account holder user ID and password.

Supported Apple devices are iPhone, iPad, and iTouch. Supported Android Tablet Devices include: Kindle Fire 2nd generation, Kindle Fire HD 7”, Kindle Fire HD 8.9”, Google Nexus 7”, Samsung Galaxy Tablet 2 – 7”, Samsung Galaxy Tablet 2 – 10.1”, and Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1”. The full suite of TV Connect channels can be accessed here.

Cox is also offering free services at two telecommunications centers in Oklahoma: St. Andrew

800 NW 5th St, Moore, OK 73160; and the Moore Community Center, 301 N. Broadway, Moore, OK 73160

Both locations have Wi-Fi, local and long distance calling and HD TV service.