Comcast's X1 Fails to Impress
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Arris Plows Cash Into Risk Analytics OSS Startup
Welcome to the broadband news roundup, T.G.I.F edition.Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) has taken a minority stake (the amount wasn't disclosed) in Rev2 , an OSS software startup that specializes in business risk analytics. Via the collection and aggregation of network data, Rev2's goal is to help service providers prevent outages and cut down on truck rolls and repeat service calls by prioritizing preventative maintenance and identifying system-wide issues brought on by chronically failing equipment. As part of the investment, Arris will integrate and co-sell Rev2's RiskView software to cable operators around the globe.Rev2 also announced the promotion of CTO Robert Cruickshank III to CEO. Before joining Rev2, Cruickshank was VP of Customer Service, Operations Center at Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC). And he knows a few things about Arris -- he spent part of his career there as VP of operations and business support, coming on board in 2004 after Arris bought C-COR Inc., where Cruickshank had served as VP, worldwide market strategy and chief corporate technologist and architect. (See Arris Acquires C-COR.)More changes are afoot at Charter Communications Inc. as new CEO and former Cablevision exec Tom Rutledge settles in. On Thursday, the operator announced that President of Operations Steve Apodaca will leave after a nine-year stint with the company. He reported to Charter COO John Bickham, another ex-Cablevision exec. (See Another Ex-Cablevision Exec Lands at Charter.)The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has formed a 4K Working Group focused on the higher-resolution, next-generation HDTV platform, with the first meeting set for June 20. Notably, ESPN VP of Strategic Business Planning Bryan Burns will head up 4K discussions with content providers, producers, distributors, retailers and manufacturers.Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) CMO Mike Ritter told CNET that broadband pricing will indeed rise when the company releases its new FiOS tiers, led off by its new 300Mbit/s (downstream) service. But he said more flexibility in service bundles may enable some Verizon customers to pay less each month than they are now. (See Verizon Tees Up 300-Meg FiOS Tier .)Cox Communications Inc. has promoted Paul Cronin to SVP of customer experience, where he'll handle customer care across the operator's service lines. He most recently served as GM of Cox's New England-Cleveland system, and is late of Media One and Continental Cablevision (now both part of Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK).
Euronews: AlcaLu Staff Transfer to Huawei
Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) and Alekstra Corp. proffer something for the weekend in Friday's roundup of EMEA headlines.About 200 Alcatel-Lucent employees are to transfer to Huawei now that the Chinese vendor has taken over the managed services role at Swiss operator sunrise , Huawei tells Light Reading. A further 30 staff will transfer from the operator to Huawei as part of the deal, the value of which Huawei is not revealing. (See Huawei Replaces AlcaLu at Sunrise.)Virgin Media has launched a free Wi-Fi service at four major London Underground (subway) stations, with plans to make the service available at 80 stations by the end of July and 120 by the end of the year. (There are 270 stations in central London and the suburbs in total.) The service is free to anyone for the first few months, but once the Olympic Games and summer are over only Virgin Media customers and people signed up to the cable operator's partners will continue to get free Internet access, while others can opt for a pay-as-you-go service. The public Wi-Fi business model has been a hot topic of debate this year. (See Should Wi-Fi Be a Free-for-All? and Wi-Fi 'Wild West' Challenges Carriers.)Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM) has teamed up with local energy firms in Meilen and Herrliberg to build a shared fiber broadband access network that will see four fibers laid for every home and business. Swisscom's FTTX strategy, first announced in 2008, includes non-discriminatory access to its fiber-based broadband infrastructure for alternative service providers and has resulted in multiple fiber rollout partnerships around the country, though in some markets the incumbent is working alone. (See Swisscom Expands FTTH, Swisscom Brokers New FTTH Deal, Swisscom Plans New FTTH Nets, Swisscom Expands FTTH in Ticino and Swisscom Plans $2.3B FTTx Rollout.)Finland-based Alekstra is planning to launch a Skype-type global VoIP service for enterprise customers in 2014, according to a report on Reuters. In addition to offering low-cost voice services and starting up MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) businesses, the company has developed Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) software that can identify if companies are being over-charged for their existing voice services.
Comcast's X1 Fails to Impress
Here's a glance at what's pushing the buttons of cable and broadband today.An early review of Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s IP-capable, next-gen video service, X1, was less than sterling as the operator prepares to launch it in Boston. Hiawatha Bray of The Boston Globe acknowledges that X1 is a substantial improvement over the company's older video service/navigation system, but calls the X1 a "work in progress." Among his quibbles: the install took two hours, the new navigation system "looks like the old cable system guide, with prettier fonts" and the interactive apps offer a mixed bag. But he does like the X1's search features and considers the X1 remote a "step up from the current model." Comcast intends to use the X1 to reenergize its video service. Following Boston, Comcast is expected to introduce X1 in a handful of markets later this year and into early 2013, including Atlanta; Chatanooga, Tenn.; Denver; and in its Philadelphia-area systems. (See Where Will Comcast's X1 Land Next? and Comcast's X1 Video Platform Lands First in Boston .)Dish Network Corp. (Nasdaq: DISH) is starting to feel the negative effects of a new ad-zapping feature in its Hopper HD-DVR. The satellite giant said it has lost access to 14 broadcast channels in six markets stemming from a dispute with Hoak Media over the Auto Hop feature and carriage pricing, reports The Wrap. (See Dish, Broadcasters Go to War Over Ad-Zapper and Dish Sticks It to the Broadcasters .)HBO GO has launched on the Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) Kindle Fire, a move that extends support for the premium programmer's TV Everywhere service beyond devices such as PCs, Roku Inc. players, the Xbox 360 and iPads. HBO GO offers access to more than 1,400 titles, including every episode of several original series, including Game of Thrones and True Blood, but requires users to subscribe to a pay-TV service. HBO has resisted the urge to unbundle its service and sell it directly to consumers via broadband (at least "for now," the progammer tweeted on Wednesday), but a recent survey suggests that consumers would be willing to pay about US$12 per month for direct, over-the-top access.TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) Premiere DVR owners who also subscribe to Comcast in Boston now have access to the operator's Xfinity VoD application. TiVo and Comcast have already completed a similar integration in San Francisco. (See Comcast Presses Play on TiVo VoD .)SeaChange International Inc. (Nasdaq: SEAC) posted non-GAAP operating income of $1.8 million (6 cents per share) on revenues of $36.6 million in results that reflected the recent sale of the company's broadcast server/storage and VoD management businesses. SeaChange said the quarter excluded $9 million in revenues tied to discontinued operations. It reaffirmed guidance that software revenues for the year would be in the range of $150 million to $160 million. (See Is the Worst Over at SeaChange? and SeaChange Unloads VoD Content Unit for $27M.)
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