Comcast Uses TV Streamer to Pump Mobile Bundles

2012-10-07 15:49:54

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Comcast Uses TV Streamer to Pump Mobile Bundles
Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is using an in-home video transcoding device to pump up the wireless service bundles it's offering through its partnership with Verizon Wireless .Comcast is offering the device, called AnyPlay and developed in tandem with Motorola Mobility, primarily as part of the joint marketing efforts with the mobile carrier, an MSO spokeswoman tells Light Reading Cable. Customers who purchase a qualifying plan from Comcast and Verizon Wireless are eligible to receive AnyPlay for free for 12 months. Comcast customers who take the TV and Internet bundle from the operator are paying $10 per month for it, while new triple-play customers can also get it for free for a year.Comcast, which is also using pre-paid Visa cards to promote its wireless service bundles, has already introduced packages with Verizon Wireless in more than 30 markets, including Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, Miami and Seattle. Comcast is offering the AnyPlay promotion in every market where it's working with the mobile carrier, the company adds.Comcast isn't saying how many AnyPlays have been deployed, but the promo also shows that Comcast has quietly expanded the availability of the video streaming device, which initially was launched in Nashville and Denver in January. (See Comcast Beams Live TV to the iPad.)AnyPlay is sort of a "headless" set-top with integrated wireless. Equipped with a CableCARD, it converts incoming QAM-based digital video signals into MPEG-4 IP streams, and shuttles them to supported tablets over Wi-Fi. It does not work with video-on-demand (VoD), but it does stream Comcast's entire linear TV lineup.AnyPlay is "verified" to run a handful of tablets, including the Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad, Motorola Xoom 3.0 and 4.0, AsusTek Computer Inc. Transformer Prime, and Samsung Corp. Galaxy Tab 10.1.3. Also, any Android-based tablet with 1280 x 800 resolution running Honeycomb or Ice Cream Sandwich in conjunction with the 1.6 or later version of the Xfinity TV app should work with AnyPlay. (See iPad, Xoom Get First Crack at Comcast's AnyPlay .)For now, AnyPlay limits access to tablets within reach of the subscriber's home Wi-Fi network. However, the device, which Motorola calls Televation, could function like a Slingbox and deliver video streams out of the home with a firmware upgrade, according to an industry source who is familiar with the technical capabilities of the platform. But it's highly unlikely that an operator would activate out-of-home streaming on the unit after it obtained such rights from programmers.
Google Wants Maps Apps on All Devices
Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) wants to deliver a mapping application for Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s new iOS 6, a move that should be welcome news for early adapters ticked off at the new homegrown function in the latest iPhone operating system."We believe Google Maps are the most comprehensive, accurate and easy-to-use maps in the world," a Google spokesman said in an email reply to Light Reading Mobile. "Our goal is to make Google Maps available to everyone who wants to use it, regardless of device, browser, or operating system."Google isn't saying when an app will happen but makes it clear that it would like one to be available to users. It is already possible to get to Google Maps through the iOS browser, but that doesn't offer the all the features or convenience of an app on the phone.The iOS 6 map flap Apple has pre-installed Google Maps as its mapping app on the iPhone since 2007 but dropped it in favor of an in-house build for iOS 6. Initial negativity about Apple's latest operating system, which was released Thursday, has centered around the new app, which uses GPS location feeds from TomTom International BV for the directions. (See Apple iOS 6 Shakes Up Mobile Communications.)
Blogger and entrepreneur Anil Dash declares that the search function is "degraded" in the iOS 6 beta compared to the older Google-powered version. Others have complained about the lack of public transport directions in iOS 6. (See Battle of the 3-D Mobile Maps.)A potential holdup There still could be a snag if even Google does rush out a map app for iOS 6 like its recent standalone YouTube app for the new operating system.Analysts are speculating about what would happen if Google did introduce a mapping app that challenged the core mapping functionality built into iOS 6 and why Apple dropped its Google partnership in the first place."My expectation is that they would block Google's maps application from their apps store, which they tightly control," suggests Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group . "If they do allow it I think they would do their level best to cripple it."Apple has faced controversy in the past over reportedly blocking Google Voice back in 2009. However, Apple does currently allow other GPS mapping apps, such as the MotionX-GPS program, in its app store "I would find it doubtful that they would block a Google map application," says Ben Bajarin, principal analyst at Creative Strategies.Bajarin suggests that the origin of the mapping spat between Apple and Google could be that the search giant kept back features like turn-by-turn directions from the iPhone, which are now included in the iOS 6 Apple-built version."My speculation is that Google didn’t give that to them, so that they had to go out and re-invest in infrastructure to give that to consumers," Bajarin says.Apple hasn't yet replied to questions from LR Mobile about the situation
Former JDSU Exec Rediscovers His Optical Drive
AMSTERDAM -- ECOC 2012 -- Four years after vacating the CTO chair at JDS Uniphase Corp. (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU) (which was never subsequently filled), Stan Lumish is back in a full-time position in the optical sector but this time as a chairman and CEO.His new company, which he joined in August, is quite a bit smaller than JDSU, though.He is employee No. 3 (that's the total head count) at Irish startup Pilot Photonics , which, using technology developed by research teams at Dublin City University, has designed optical comb source subsystems -- lasers that emit 10 wavelengths instead of 1 -- for use by research and development labs (independent or systems-vendor facilities). (See Pilot Photonics Demos Comb Sources.)According to Lumish and his CTO, Pilot founder Frank Smyth, these products, available from October, are needed in the development of optical transport systems beyond 100Gbit/s. The lasers enable a lot more data to be sent down a fiber by cutting down the space between the wavelengths so that more can be packed into the space currently taken up by a single wavelength. Smyth points out that the spacing is fixed between the multiple wavelengths emitted by Pilot's optical comb sources and this allows the channels effectively to be transmitted right up against each other.It's the ability to fix those spaces, using a technique known as gain switching that's at the heart of Pilot's secret sauce.The aim is to sell these products to labs that are testing, evaluating or developing superchannel optical transport systems operating at 400Gbit/s and beyond. Lumish, with his extensive contacts book and industry reputation, is on board to open doors, provide advice and help develop the company from its humble beginnings (with the help of a small amount of angel funding from private and public institutions).So what are R&D teams using at the moment as their optical comb sources? Well, many labs have tried to build their own, but, claims Lumish (predictably), with limited success. Others have sourced products from specialist suppliers Time-Bandwidth Products Inc. , a Swiss company that has been around since 1994, or Japanese outfit Optical Comb Inc.Now Lumish is on a mission to make Pilot the primary source for these specialist products. There's still work to be done -- the company currently has three separate products that it wants to condense into one -- and ultimately the aim is to expand the functionality and features while shrinking the physical products' size and cost.That's a lot of work for Smyth and his other colleague, a Spanish intern, to be getting on with. In the meantime, Lumish will be out and about, seeking customers and channel partners while also working on his Irish accent (which, if truth be told, currently needs the kind of nurturing that only long nights loitering in the Temple Bar hostelries of the Irish capital can provide).Which brings us back to the question -- how has Lumish ended up at Pilot? Well, prior to signing up as the company's figurehead he was an independent consultant, helping out various companies in need of industry experience. Lumish says he's had a relationship with the Science Foundation of Ireland for about six years and "a friend there suggested I took a look at this company." Lumish worked with the Pilot team at OFC earlier this year and, with the previous CEO looking to hand over the reins, he stepped up to the plate.That, in turn, brought Lumish to Amsterdam and ECOC, where he and Smyth holed up in a meeting room with their optical combs at hand (see below). The next steps? Find employee number four and work on saying "pint of Guinness" like a true Dubliner.
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