Netflix Touts New Content Delivery Network
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Comcast Video Unit Targets Enterprise & More
Welcome to the broadband news roundup, Hump Day edition.thePlatform Inc. , the Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)-owned Web video publishing unit, has made its hay by inking deals with major programmers and pay-TV operators, but it's moving more aggressively into the mid-tier market with mpx Essentials. The new, scaled-down publishing product, which starts at US$499 per month for 500 gigabytes of storage and 500 videos, puts thePlatform in closer competition with Web video players such as Ooyala Inc. , Brightcove Inc. and Kit Digital . "It's a very crowded space. It will be a sales battle for sure," admits thePlatform Director of Technical Sales Tim Sale, noting that the company will use mpx Essentials to target markets such as education, healthcare and enterprise. The Essentials edition runs on Akamai Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: AKAM)'s HD network, with the ability to create adaptive bit rate streams (200 kbit/s to 2 Mbit/s) so video can be scaled for a range of screens, including smartphones, tablets and PCs, and connection speeds.TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) has filed a countersuit against Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), alleging that Cisco is infringing on four patents related to DVR technology. The counterstrike comes soon after Cisco, which makes set-tops with on-board DVRs, filed a suit seeking to invalidate those four TiVo patents. (See Cisco Launches Preemptive Strike on TiVo.)Recent valuations of privately held cable operators are out of whack, says Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Inc. analyst Craig Moffett. The latest case in point is WaveDivision Holdings, which is being bought by two private equity firms for a reported $950 million, equating to about $4,400 per video customer -- radically higher than the public equity valuations of major MSOs. Comcast, for example, would have a share price about 51 percent higher than current levels if its valuation was in the neighborhood of what Wave's getting. While Moffett thinks a more active private equity market for cable could "be a significant catalyst for cable shares," he warns that recent lofty valuations in the private arena could dissuade major cable ops from purchasing more Tier 2/3 operators and prevent even more industry consolidation. (See TW Cable Buys Insight for $3B.)Comcast and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) face a class-action lawsuit alleging that the operators retain social security numbers and credit card data even after customers cancel service, reports The Hollywood Reporter. The plaintiffs claim the retention of such data violates the Cable Communications Policy Act, and that the law allows individuals to collect $100 per day for each day of the alleged violation.
Netflix Touts New Content Delivery Network
Here's what's pushing broadband's buttons this morning.Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) is augmenting its use of third-party content delivery networks (CDNs) with a CDN of its own called Open Connect, a move designed to cache video closer to broadband ISPs and reduce transport costs. Netflix said it intends to use CDN partners (Limelight Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: LLNW) and Level 3 Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: LVLT)) for the next few years, but those relationships won't last forever.Netflix expects to have most of its traffic served by Open Connect "eventually," Netflix VP of Content Delivery Ken Florance noted in this blog post about the project. Florance estimates that about 5 percent of Netflix data is already served by Open Connect. Netflix hopes to entice ISPs by offering to install Open Connect servers at their data centers for free or having those ISPs peer with the Open Connect network at common Internet exchanges -- also for no charge.Several major service operators have already gone down this path, including Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), which is using a private CDN for its set-top box VoD service and overarching Project Infinity initiative. (See Comcast's 'Project Infinity' Takes Flight .)Charter Communications Inc. revealed in an Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing Monday that it will open an office in the New York metro area later this year to "house a limited number of senior executives." At the start, at least three ex-Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) execs that joined Charter recently will use the new facility: CEO Tom Rutledge, COO John Bickham and CFO Jonathan Hargis, who all already live in the NYC area. Charter said other execs will relocate to the New York area, adding that most functions at its St. Louis headquarters will remain in place. The operator also has no plans to change the functions of its Denver-based facility, where much of its engineering group is located. (See Another Ex-Cablevision Exec Lands at Charter and Ex-Cablevision COO Becomes Charter CEO.)Independent Comcast shareholders approved a nonbinding resolution that would dump the company's poison pill takeover defense, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer. As part of a takeover defense that's set to expire in November, Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts controls 33.3 percent of the votes via a super-voting class of stock. A spokesman told the paper that the Comcast board will take the shareholder vote into consideration.Comcast says it has met its commitment to enable at least 1 percent of its high-speed Internet customers with IPv6 by June 6, also known as World IPv6 Launch day. Comcast said it met the goal on May 24, noting that "hundreds of thousands" of customers are on the new addressing scheme, with one-third of the operator's broadband network already IPv6-enabled. Comcast expects to have all of its Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) cable modem terminations systems (CMTSs) upgraded to the new addressing scheme in the next few months before setting to work on its base of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) CMTSs.Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) has won a deal to upgrade Cablevisión 's transmission network to 100Gbit/s as the Mexican operator prepares to handle data demand for new 100Mbit/s high-speed Internet services, HD video streaming and business applications. Cablevision will power the upgrade with new Coherent technology that's baked into AlcaLu's 1830 Photonic Service Switch.
Julie Veach to replace Sharon Gillett on FCC Wireline Competition Bureau
Sharon Gillett, chief of the Federal Communications Commission’s Wireline Competition Bureau, has resigned her post to return to the Boston area, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced last Friday. Julie Veach, currently deputy general counsel in the Office of General Counsel, will step into Gillett’s shoes as Chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau starting June 30.Prior to joining the FCC, Gillett served as the Director of the Massachusetts Broadband Institute. Prior to that, she headed the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Cable.“Sharon is one of a kind, and the FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau could not have been in better hands over the past three years,” commented Genachowski. “She’s a strong leader, an innovative and data-driven thinker, and a highly effective manager. Her outstanding leadership, including on the once-in-a-generation overhaul of the Universal Service Fund and so many other important policies, have significantly helped our country, ensuring more Americans will have access to robust, affordable broadband and voice services. I wish her the very best in the next step of her career.”Prior to joining the Office of General Counsel in 2009, Veach served as deputy chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau. She also held a variety of other positions in the Wireline Competition Bureau. Before joining the FCC in 2001, Veach was an associate with the law firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering.
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