21 posts are filed under this symbol.

Xbox Does IPTV – It’s Official

Microsoft (MSFT) just announced that on November 22nd the Xbox 360 will allow users to purchase and rent high definition television and movies. I made this call back in January of 2006, and repeatedly since then (search this site for Xbox IPTV).

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Broadlogic and Cable’s Analog Ghetto

Broadlogic announced a chip today that provides a high density solution for converting Digital Cable TV channels to Analog. It’s a slick solution but I don’t think it will see mass adoption. Here’s why.

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Someone Tell the Cablecos Fixed Line is Dead

Everyone agrees fixed line is a dying, low margin business. Yet Cablecos like Comcast (CMCSA), Cablevision (CVC), Shaw (SJR), and Time Warner (TWX) are feverishly trying to capture market share in this business. Why?

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Net Neutrality Debate – Gilder Telecosm 2006

Gilder Telecosm 2006 - Net Neutrality

I woke up in SFO at 4AM to make sure I could get to Tahoe in time for this debate. I’ve written extensively on Net Neutrality and stopped once I realized it was unresolvable.

Broadband Brawl: A Debate Over Net Neutrality

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Amazon Unbox Could Unbundle Too

unbox1.PngAn interesting piece of news speculates Amazon (AMZN) may be partnering with Tivo (TIVO) to use their DVR platform.

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The Cablecos are Waking Up to Reality

The WSJ today has an exclusive look (free version of article here) at a report to be released by CableLabs that outlines the potential need for cablecos to undertake a massive infrastructure upgrade in order to stay competitive. Unfortunately, the report is not yet available to non CableLabs members, though we would sure like to get our hands on one (HINT HINT HINT) and CableLabs has informed me it never will be.

The report, which has been reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, warns that at present growth rates cable operators’ existing technology may not be able to compete efficiently with Verizon on Internet services. “At some point, optimization of the (cable) network becomes more expensive than simply deploying” fiber directly to homes, the report warns.

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It’s the Wireless, Stupid

Businessweek writes about T-mobile and a new service they are rolling out using UMA phones (dual GSM/WiFi). These new mobile phones make use of the WiFi network and broadband connection in a users home to make phone calls off the GSM or cellular network.

Contrary to popular opinion, the real threat to the baby bells residential phone business is not the cableco’s VoIP but wireless substitution. Competition from cell phones was eating away at residential lines long before the cablecos began deploying voice services.

Most baby bells already have a wireless infrastructure. None of the cablecos do. This is why the Baby Bells ultimately have the upper hand over the cableco in the battle for residential subscribers. They can migrate their customers (and their phone numbers) to a wireless infrastructure, and Comcast (CMCSA) / Cablevision (CVC) /Time Warner (TWX) cannot. Comcast can migrate customers to Sprint/Nextel (S ), but without owning the infrastructure they won’t extract maximum value.

Wireless is the commanding heights and the most important infrastructure to own and operate in a voice network. Everything else is a commodity.

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Verizon FiOS TV Local Franchise Approved

My local town approved the FiOS TV franchise contract. I attended the first and only public hearing on the matter a month ago (and blogged it here).
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FiOS TV Rollout and Franchise Approval

FiOS HumveeThis weekend was Town Day in the Boston suburb where I live. One of the street vendors was Verizon (VZ), who was promoting their FiOS service. Comcast (CMCSA)was there too.

I took the opportunity to quiz the Verizon rep on how deployment was going. The rapidity and completeness of his answers was either the result of rehearsal or intense pride.

He indicated that the surrounding towns, where FiOS TV was available, FiOS penetration was at 20%. I asked him what 20% meant and he said “One in every Five Homes”. I asked – “No tricky accounting?”. He said no, and that things were going very, very well. I asked about my town, where FiOS TV is not available and he said that penetration was about 10%, and that the lack of video impacted penetration in a big way. Towns with Video service see much higher subscriber take rates.

I was in disbelief – 20% penetration after six months of service was astounding. I pressed him for a few more minutes and he stood firm on his answers.

I then asked him when they would be getting the franchise approval in my town and he said – the Town Meeting is this Wed. Today.

Should be interesting to see what machinations are required to secure a video franchise. I’m going to go.

Tivo – Barron’s Reports

This weeks Barrons has a short article ($$$ link) on Tivo (TIVO) that highlights the acquisition option as well as the need to pursue Cablecos for licensing deals. No new analysis beyond what I’ve written over the last few days, but the article is getting media attention so I thought an excerpt was in order.

With a name that’s become a verb, plus great software, TiVo could be acquisition bait. But its share of DVRs is on course to be eclipsed this year by Scientific-Atlanta (SFA) and Motorola (MOT), the two largest cable set-top makers.

Most of its subscribers come from a deal with DirecTV (DTV), the satellite operator, which pays TiVo $1.15 a subscriber, and accounts for nearly 70% of TiVo’s users and 20% of its revenue. DirecTV last week extended the deal to 2010. It won’t market TiVo’s service, but the deal prevents TiVo from losing existing customers.

Last week’s jury verdict may boost TiVo’s chances to sign up cable operators other than Comcast (CMCSA), with which it already has a deal. Cable guys will find it difficult to work around TiVo’s patents, says Terence Clark, a lawyer who heads the national intellectual property practice at Greenberg Traurig. That could force Time Warner Cable and Cablevision (CVC) into licensing deals.

But the case doesn’t solve TiVo’s most pressing long-term problem. It still has a long road ahead as it tries to win over cable operators with its patent claims.

A buyout may in fact be the best exit strategy for TiVo. In the meantime, selling on Thursday’s pop in TiVo shares may be the best exit for investors. What lies ahead are many years of knocking on cable operators doors, a long, long story with no fast-forward button in sight.

Hat Tip – Seeking Alpha