Broadband Cable Association of Pennsylvania


June 5, 2013

Thousands of Service Electric customers are back online after a freak accident involving a train cut cable, Internet and phone service across a swath of the Lehigh Valley. By Tuesday morning, the message on the company's website read: "All services from our fiber outage have been restored... Thank you for your patience and support."

Service Electric General Manager Jack Capparell, who spent two long days overseeing the repair work, elaborated: "Everything is working, 100 percent." The outage occurred Sunday afternoon when a tree fell, dragging an optical fiber cable that spans the Lehigh River into the path of an oncoming train. The line, bridging east Allentown and west Bethlehem, was stretched, snapped and fell into the river. More than 8,000 customers lost service, primarily in the communities of east Allentown, west Bethlehem, Bangor, Pen Argyl and Wind Gap.

As of late Monday morning, Service Electric had retrieved the line from the river and begun a complex, labor-intensive job that included splicing 2,000 individual fibers, each in two places, Capparell said. A team of 20 workers were assigned the job, and some worked nearly straight through a 36-hour period. Once completed, the repaired line was mounted on a new pole positioned next to the river, thereby shortening the span across the water and raising the height of the line across the train tracks. "We did beef up the system," Capparell said.

Service Electric Cable TV & Communications of Allentown is the region's biggest cable provider, serving 120,000 subscribers in the Lehigh Valley region. Capparell said Service Electric's system includes contingency plans that allowed the cable company to restore service to more than half of those affected within hours. But, he continued, "You cannot make a redundancy for the main cable. It's like a bridge going out." Allentown Morning Call (SECTV was aggressive with social media in alerting customers, while keeping residences and businesses constantly updated, on the progress of the repair.)

Pitcairn (Allegheny Co.) officials are seeking a buyer for the Pitcairn Community Cable Service. Borough council voted 6-1 last week to hire Duncan Communications Consulting as a broker for the potential sale of borough-owned cable television service, which is available to all borough residences and businesses. The broker will receive $2,500 for each potential buyer it finds. "We want to see if there's anyone even interested in the cable," said council President John Prucnal. Potential buyers would have to meet a certain criteria in order for the broker to be compensated, said Pitcairn solicitor Craig Alexander. "There has to be a serious purchaser who has the ability to purchase it," he said. Councilman John Bova voted against the contract. He questioned whether a broker was necessary to find a buyer. The contract does not prohibit officials from seeking a buyer independently, officials said. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Having the Internet with you on the go is so essential, that in four years, Americans will be more likely to have a mobile Internet device than wired home broadband, forecasts a new report.

This year, consumer spending on Internet-connected smartphones, tablets and other devices will surpass home broadband service fees for the first time, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers' "Entertainment & Media Outlook 2013-2017" report. In four years, nearly 286.7 million in the U.S., or 87% of the population, will have mobile Internet devices, while about 85% of homes will have broadband. Mobile Internet access spending will top $54 billion in the U.S. this year, compared with $49.6 billion in home Internet spending, the consulting firm estimates in the report, out today. In 2012, home Internet spending ($46.5 billion) slightly outpaced mobile ($44.5 billion). "We see mobile growing at a much more pronounced rate than broadband, because we are getting toward the saturation point (on home broadband)," says PwC partner Sean De Winter. "Mobile Internet penetration is screaming through the roof."

Consumer adoption of digital devices is helping drive growth across the entire entertainment and media spectrum. Total spending on Internet access (home and mobile) will see the biggest growth, up 11% in the next four years. But spending on video games, movies, TV and radio -- all delivered digitally, too -- will also rise. As more content is consumed on portable and mobile devices, these so-called second screens gain even more importance from media companies and advertisers. Mobile Internet advertising is the fastest-growing portion of Internet advertising and is expected to increase more than 32% in the next four years, reaching $13.7 billion, PwC says. "We see there's great opportunity in mobile advertising," DeWinter says. "More and more, the content and distribution is recognizing the importance of the consumer in the ecosystem. That is not dissimilar to what we've seen in the past, but we continue to see it ramp up in speed and pace."

PwC's finding jibes with other analysis tracking the growth in Internet-connected devices, or the so-called "Internet of Everything." The more than 10 billion devices wirelessly connected to the Internet today will increase to 30 billion by 2020, projects U.K.-based ABI Research. Behind Internet advertising and Internet access, spending on video games is expected to see the next-largest growth. Projected spending on games will surpass $14.2 billion in 2013, rising to $182 billion in 2017. Consumer spending on movies, pay-TV and music will rise slightly, while spending on magazines and newspapers will continue trending down.

Mobile devices are transforming the home entertainment experience, as well. With more TV viewers using phones and tablets as they watch, "when does the first screen, the TV, really become the second screen?" De Winter says. "You see more and more engagement and the ability to actually target what consumers are doing on the second screen because it's a more interactive device." While the big-screen TV will remain a key part of the home entertainment equation for many years, "The fact is that (TV) is being consumed in such a different way," he says. "And it changes every day with all the social apps out there. USA Today

DirecTV, the nation's second-largest pay-TV company, has purchased a home-security company in Langhorne, LifeShield Home Security, for undisclosed financial terms. Comcast Corp., of Philadelphia, the nation's largest pay-TV company, also has been selling home-security services. Pay-TV companies say home-security could add revenue and lower customer churn. Philadelphia Inquirer