Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Avail Media reports they've picked up IP-PRIME customers too

From Fierce IPTV: In the wake of last week's announcement by EchoStar, Avail Media has made a pronouncement of their own. EchoStar claimed it had picked up many of IP-PRIME's former customers, and now Avail has said "not so fast...". Avail Media is touting its own success winning over telcos that up until now have been using IP-PRIME. It has just announced that it has so far converted nine IP-Prime customers, including BEK Communications Cooperative of North Dakota.
SES Americom is ending the IP-Prime service later this year, a move it announced late last year. Avail Media and EchoStar are among some of the companies that have been vying to replace SES Americom in the hearts of IP-Prime telcos.
For more:- Here's the Avail Media press release

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Echostar chases IP-Prime customers

Multichannel News is reporting that "EchoStar's Satellite Services division is marketing its ViP-TV transport service to SES Americom's IP-Prime customers, many of whom are independent telcos. The IP-Prime program is winding down per SES's announcement last December that it would shut down the wholesale IPTV service by July 31 of this year. The ViP-TV offering supports MPEG-4 programming, with about 110 standard-definition channels and 42 high-definition channels.

Other wholesalers no doubt also have been targeting the IP-Prime customers in the last few months, though EchoStar's distinction as a satellite company might be something that separates it from Avail Media, Falcon and others. EchoStar, of course, is the sister company of Dish Network, the satellite TV provider that has partnered with several telcos on resale, but recently lost customers during its fourth quarter, and lost AT&T as a partner"

Friday, March 20, 2009

On my way to Big D!

Another week, another destination. This time, Dallas, Texas, home of the Cowboys, massave suburban sprawl and The Metroplex. I will be attending a conference on wireless telephony, so hopefully I'll be a bit smarter next week. Wish me luck!

A question of online content

One of my readers asked what I thought about service providers offering limited access to online content. To quote the reader's question, "I think it is very interesting how ESPN, Disney, and Soapnet have offered their content based upon a block of IP's provided to a specific service provider. I wonder if this is going to happen with other cable companies and phone companies offering up online access to programming based on blocks of IP's".

Here was my response:
"This is an interesting strategy that Disney is employing. I don't think it
is the start of a trend however and here's why: Disney is HUGE. No MSO can
launch an IPTV or cable service without ABC, Disney, ESPN, etc. For that reason
they can force smaller operators to offer these services (notice Dish and
DirecTV don't - they are big). MSOs would rather not provide this service, but
have no choice. The reason they don't want to is:
a) they have to pay per IP sub (whether they receive TV or not)
b) The sub's relationship is now with Disney, no longer with the MSO. In
other words, Disney forces the MSO to hand over their subscriber list and pay
for the privilege. I don't know of any provider with that kind of power and a
quality online presence.

You could make a case for Viacom but MSOs could launch without Comedy
Central, MTV, etc. if they had to. Unless the model for these other networks
were vastly different (and I do mean vastly) I don't see it anytime soon."

While I stand by my conclusions, I would like to publically apologize for being so negative. I do believe an online component could work, just not in the current model. For example, I think there is room for a multi-souced set-top box where some content comes from cable, satellite or IPTV, and some from the Internet via Hulu, TV.com, or a bit torrent. There is already a taste of this on the market today with Boxee and Apple TV. I'm certainly open to looking at other business models and I welcome all comments.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

AT&T brings smart grid technology to homes

Now that Smart Grid is more accesable to homeowners, AT&T is hoping to be among the first to capitalize on providing this technology through it's systems. Today AT&T announced it is expanding its relationship with SmartSynch and bringing it to the residential sector, providing electrical utilities companies with an alternative smart-grid technology for individual homes.

More than 100 utilities across North America have already deployed this technology. With the addition of AT&T, perhaps we will see a new level of monitoring and consumer understanding of power consumption. Or, perhaps not. Read more at Telephony Online

Friday, March 13, 2009

North Carolina Q

Pulled pork is not my first choice for Barbeque, but when in Nome...

...So we finished our meeting, and it was lunch time. Of course, BBQ was what everyone wanted and the local place is ALWAYS the best choice. We headed to Little Richards in Yadkinville, a town in Western NC near the Virginia border.
I typically order what the locals prefer, and that strategy paid off here. I had a "BBQ Tray", a platter containing chopped pork, coleslaw (with BBQ sauce), and a generous helping of hushpuppies. The "Lexington sauce" was recomended over the standard smoky red, or the straight vinegar sauce. To my surprise, there was no bread, as this was not intended to be a sandwich.
The meat was indeed chopped vs. pulled, and a bit on the drier side (which I prefer). although the Lexington sauce was good, their "thick sauce" was magnificent and I found myself going back again and again to that squeeze bottle. A very satisfying lunch. Amazingly, all this was had for $4.99. If I'm ever back there, I will return.
Little Richard's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que, 916 S State St Yadkinville, NC 27055 (336) 679-7491

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

US pay TV landscape hits 80 million

From Fierce IPTV: Silicon Alley Insider reports that cable TV companies, telcos and satellite TV providers in the U.S. collectively had almost 80 million households signed up at the end of 2008, about 1.5 million more than in 2007. Some observers might find it surprising that the housing crash and the rise of Internet TV viewing hasn't had a measureable impact yet on subscribership, but perhaps that fact also serves a dose of reality about how important such services really are to consumers.

The fastest-growing segment of the U.S. pay TV landscape is of course the still the smallest segment--the telcos. The largest cable TV companies lost customers to telco and satellite players during the year. There has been much debate in recent weeks about whether or not consumers may consider cutting the video cord this year amid the slumping economy and the increasing availability of free video content on the Internet. Integrated offerings now under development by cable TV firms and others, including media companies liek Time Warner may be able to help the pay TV market maintain its growth.

The road calls...

Finally! I'm getting out to see some rural cooperatives, this time to discuss wireless telephony. This trip is primarily a learning experience; to see how they do their business, what are the barriers to success, etc. After this I hope to be more versed on what rural carriers see as challenges as compared to their urban counterparts. Also, BBQ!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Clearwire rolling out in 8 new markets this year

Contrary to what many "experts" we saying about Clearwire's next moves, the WiMAX provider has announced at least 8 new markets before the end of the year. According to Fierce Wireless, "Those markets include Las Vegas, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia and Dallas/Ft. Worth. In addition, the company will convert existing pre-WiMAX markets in Seattle, Honolulu and Charlotte to mobile WiMAX and expand the coverage area in Baltimore, which is a Sprint Xohm market that will be converted to Clear."
Clearwire will launch at least eight markets in 2009 - Fierce Wireless

Monday, March 2, 2009

A closer look at rural broadband

Ed Gubbins from Telephony was recently surprised by the lack of controversy over his column, "Forget Universal Broadband". Among others, Gubbins was questioning the wisdom of improving rural broadband infrastructure as part of President Obama's Stimulus Plan. Either many agree with him or no one (but me) reads his columns.
A Closer Look at Rural Broadband - Telephony