CableLabs strikes deal for DTCP-IP content protection
By Mike Robuck
On Thursday, CableLabs said it had given its approval to the DTCP-IP technology for protection of cable content using Internet Protocol for unidirectional and bidirectional digital cable offerings.
CableLabs made the announcement in conjunction with Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, The Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros and the Digital Transmission Licensing Administration (DTLA).
Using DTCP (Digital Transmission Copy Protection)-protected secure links among consumer electronics devices, cable subscribers will be able to access digital cable programming, including high-definition and VOD cable content, on consumer electronics devices and personal computers on their digital home networks.
The approval permits CableLabs licensees under DFAST, CHILA, and DCAS to protect pay-per-view and video-on-demand transmissions against unauthorized copying and unauthorized Internet retransmission, while assuring consumers’ ability to record broadcast and subscription programming, in digital formats, for personal use.
“The agreement we reached today addresses the highly complex concerns raised by the affected parties—cable, content, and consumer electronics—and brings benefits to consumers,” said Dr. Richard R. Green, President and CEO of CableLabs, in a statement.
“Working together we agreed on solutions that meet our respective business needs, and serve the interests of consumers and content providers.”
As part of the agreement, DTLA, which was formed in 1998 by Hitachi, Intel, Panasonic, Sony and Toshiba, withdrew a related petition at the FCC on Wednesday and both entities filed a notice for the new agreement with the FCC the same day. CableLabs previously had approved DTCP for protection of content over the IEEE 1394 interface.
“Approval of DTCP-IP is an important accomplishment, and we applaud the hard work of our colleagues in the motion picture and cable industry for making this possible,” said Michael Ayers, President of DTLA, in a statement. “DTCP-IP for home digital cable products opens the door for increased flexible use of protected digital cable content, providing opportunities for cable operators, content owners, device manufacturers and, most importantly, consumers. This represents a real advancement for the protected home entertainment network.”
DTLA and CableLabs also agreed to work on several forward-looking provisions to help implement the new developments and facilitate new businesses models. One of those provisions included “copy never” content, which DTLA will make available to cable operators with the same level of protection that it adopts for Blu-Ray and HD DVDs.
Verizon launches interactive guide in Calif.
By Traci Patterson
Verizon has introduced FiOS TV’s interactive media guide to its California customers. Earlier this week, Verizon launched the guide to its subscribers in Maryland and Virginia.
The free guide—available to FiOS TV subscribers in parts of Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island—allows users to navigate through TV listings, VOD catalogues and DVR libraries, as well as personal music and photos. Future versions of the guide will add Internet radio, videos, podcasts and games to the FiOS TV multimedia platform, the company said.
Also this week, Verizon launched its FiOS TV service in the Long Island, N.Y. villages of Poquott and Nissequogue; in Norwood and Framingham, Mass.; and in Wilsonville, Ore. The company also launched FiOS Internet service in parts of Brooklyn’s Canarsie, Mill Basin, Georgetown and Bergen Beach communities.
U.S. TV households rise 1.3 percent in 2007
By Traci Patterson
The total number of TV households in the U.S. will number 112.8 million by Jan. 1, 2008, an increase of 1.3 percent compared with 2006, according to The Nielsen Company.
The number of viewers (ages 2+) increased 1 percent, to 286 million. One of the fastest-growing demographic categories was persons ages 55-64, which increased 3.9 percent. Young adults under the age of 50 grew by just 0.3 percent.
Many of the increases for local TV markets in Nielsen Designated Market Area (DMA) ranks are in the southern and western regions of the U.S., which is consistent with the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent annual population estimates that indicate increased population growth in these areas.
Nielsen’s estimates and age/demographic breakdowns, effective Monday, will be used for the entire 2007-2008 TV season. For a full list of the 2007-2008 local TV markets, click here.
Comcast gears up for VoIP roll-out in Atlanta
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Since the start of the year, Comcast has hired 668 new workers in metro Atlanta. Four hundred twenty-two are technical staffers, including those who handle service calls at homes. The rest are stationed in call centers, including one that just opened near North Point Mall in Alpharetta.
These new troops were added to Comcast’s payroll to help with a key goal – to sell and install more of the company’s phone service. The workers, along with previous hires, are trying to take as many customers as possible from AT&T and others.
For months, there has been ample talk about the growing battle between phone and cable companies. On the phone side, AT&T and industry peer Verizon Communications are in the early stages of launching cablelike TV services to compete with Comcast and others.
Cable operators, however, are a step ahead – they have moved rapidly to target phone users, touting service delivered via Voice-over-Internet Protocol, or VoIP.
So far, they’re having success in their forays in phone service. “The whole industry is doing well,” said Bruce Leichtman, president of Leichtman Research Group.
* During each of the previous two quarters, cable operators have added a million phone users, Leichtman said.
* Of the more than 86 million households that can get phone service from cable companies, about 11 million of them do so.
* Comcast provides phone service to about 9 percent of the homes that are eligible to get it, Leichtman said.
Gene Shatlock, Comcast’s top executive in the Atlanta region, said the company’s Comcast Digital Voice service has grown strongly since the start of an aggressive marketing campaign about a year ago. During that span, Comcast has filled TV time with ads, including one featuring a man with tiger-stripe tattoos. “We’re really on the offensive,” Shatlock said.
Increasingly, the focus at Comcast, AT&T and elsewhere is about getting customers to take a “bundle” of services. If someone uses two, three or even four different services from a single company, they tend to stay with the provider longer.
Shatlock said about half of Comcast’s new customers are signing up for two or three services. Comcast has heavily marketed a $99 bundle of phone, enhanced-basic cable TV and high-speed Internet services. Prices go up from there, including a more advanced package of services priced at $159.99 per month, not including taxes and fees.
Of course, phone companies aren’t sitting still as Comcast and others target their customers.
AT&T and Verizon have the notable advantage of offering cellphones, while cable is only in the early stages of selling wireless phones as part of a still-unproven partnership with Sprint Nextel.
AT&T and Verizon also resell satellite services as a way to entice people from cable. In the future, the companies plan to roll out their own video services in more areas, including AT&T’s U-verse.
The cable industry, however, has an opportunity to lock up customers with bundles of its own. The experiences of cable operators who were early entrants in phone service also shows that there is much room to grow.
Atlanta-based cable operator Cox Communications – a sister company to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution – has signed up phone customers in about 25 percent of the homes it serves.
Cox got a leg up by offering traditional, circuit-switched phone service first. The company, whose big markets include Las Vegas and parts of Southern California, is now shifting to VoIP.
Cablevision, which serves metro New York, has even higher market share for its phone service.
Leichtman said it is a “very reasonable target” for a cable company to get at least 20 percent of the market.
Analyst Christopher King, of Stifel Nicolaus, said Comcast Digital Voice enjoyed “impressive growth” in the second quarter. The company added 671,000 users, quite a bit more than King’s estimate of 620,000.
“We expect to see continued strength in the company’s digital voice business as more marketable homes are added and current markets mature,” King said in a research note.
Broadband Briefs for 8/24/07
* Occam Networks sponsors DSL Forum meeting
By CED Staff
Occam Networks, a supplier of Ethernet and IP-based loop carrier equipment to telecommunications companies, announced today that the company is sponsoring the Q3 2007 meeting of the DSL Forum. The quarterly meeting will be held in Nashville, August 27-30.
Bob Howard-Anderson, Occam’s president and CEO, will provide welcoming comments at the meeting’s open plenary session. Occam also announced the appointment of Dov Zimring, Occam’s director of strategic technology and solutions, to chair of the DSL Forum’s ambassador committee.
* Cablevision launches Chinese package to programming service
By CED Staff
Cablevision announced on Thursday the addition of an iO Chinese package to its iO International programming service. The new iO Chinese Package, consisting of The Chinese Channel (Sino TV), on Channel 238; ET Global NY, on Channel 239; and CCTV-4, on Channel 240; is available across Cablevision’s service area.