Broadband Cable Association of Pennsylvania


November 20, 2013

Pennsylvania-based cable operator Blue Ridge Communications is making a big bet on TiVo, announcing a deal to deploy every product it is marketing to pay TV distributors, from DVRs to a Web portal. TiVo said Tuesday that Blue Ridge agreed to deploy its new T6 whole-home gateway DVR along with the TiVo Mini and TiVo Stream devices. It's also offering subscribers a Web portal built by TiVo along with mobile video applications.

Atlantic Broadband, the first cable operator to deploy the T6, which contains six tuners, announced a similar deal with TiVo last month. Mediacom Communications announced on Monday that it would deploy the Pace MG1 gateway as its primary DVR, but that it will use TiVo's user interface and program guide. "We made a decision to leverage the expertise of a third party to meet our subscribers' needs and it was clear that TiVo, with its industry leading whole home and multiscreen solution, was really the only service that could deliver on every demand that our customers have now come to expect," Blue Ridge VP of Operations Mark Masenheimer said in a prepared statement. Fierce Cable

Time Warner Cable finance officer Arthur Minson, asked about a possible takeover approach from rival Charter Communications, said it would put the needs of its shareholders above anything else. Speaking at a Morgan Stanley conference in Barcelona, Minson declined to comment on speculation and rumor but when questioned whether there would be a logic to the deal, he said his main concern would be whether it would add value to his investors. Reuters reported earlier this month that Charter Communications was weighing a bid for Time Warner Cable before the year-end. Reuters

The nation's phone system is changing quickly and it is time for the regulators to catch up, new Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler said Tuesday.

Mr. Wheeler, in a blog post, outlined his plan to move forward with what has become known as the IP Transition, the shifting of landlines from circuit-switched systems to a digital, Internet Protocol-based network. Mr. Wheeler said he expects the FCC to vote in January to begin collecting data and conducting trials, in hopes of figuring out how existing regulations must be tweaked to suit an all-digital communications network. "The way forward is to encourage technological change while preserving the attributes of network services that customers have come to expect-that set of values we have begun to call the Network Compact," Mr. Wheeler wrote. "We have listened, and now it is the time to act. In this, I agree with my commission colleagues."

The existing landline phone network controlled by companies like AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and CenturyLink Inc. is subject to strict rules developed over a century, including a host of consumer protection measures and requirements to allow rival carriers access to the network. Even newer technologies, such as wireless phones and Voice over IP, or VoIP, must connect to the existing phone network in order to complete calls. "We're not just talking about the 100 million people with traditional phone lines. That alone would be important. But we're also talking about reaching into the guts of the system, where things like 911 work, and figuring out how to upgrade that to these new technologies," said Harold Feld, senior vice president at Public Knowledge, an open Internet advocacy group.

AT&T and other legacy phone providers have been looking to retire the old networks in favor of new, IP-based phone systems that are often delivered by broadband, both wired and wireless. But it has been unclear how many of those old rules would be applied to the new networks, in part because the FCC previously decided against classifying broadband Internet as a telecom service, which would subject it to greater regulatory oversight. "Our current infrastructure has served us well for almost a century but it no longer meets the needs of America's consumers. The transition to broadband and IP services that has already begun is driven by consumers who are moving to the Internet and choosing to connect in ways not imagined just a decade ago," AT&T's Jim Cicconi said in a response published online.

The transition to IP technology has yielded many benefits, such as greater speed and capabilities. AT&T and Verizon have both invested heavily in unregulated technologies, based mostly on fiber cables. The mixture of old and new technologies has also produced glitches, most notably a recurring problem with call completion in rural areas that has drawn serious scrutiny in Congress. Call spoofing and other cybersecurity concerns have also emerged in the phone network, which lags behind the Internet when it comes to security.

Mr. Wheeler's blog post calls for the FCC to start collecting data and conducting "a diverse set of experiments" that may include the geographic trials proposed by AT&T. It also suggests that carriers will be expected to preserve the universal availability and reliability of the phone system, even as they transition to new technologies. Mr. Feld said if completed successfully, the transition should ensure that all the various forms of voice calling work better together. He also praised Mr. Wheeler's leadership on the issue, just two weeks into his tenure. "Wheeler is saying up front, we're going to keep the values. However this turns out, we're going to make sure that every American still has a right to phone service," Mr. Feld said. Wall Street Journal; more in New York Times