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Verizon Under the Wire; Dodges CableCARD Deadline

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I put out feelers all last week about Verizon’s hope for a last-minute waiver before the July 1st CableCARD deadline… and came back empty-handed. But late yesterday the FCC made its long-awaited announcement: Verizon has been granted its waiver request and can continue shipping set-tops with integrated security.

It’s been interesting to watch the clock run down on Verizon. The company has been steadfast in its belief that a waiver was coming, but analysts were starting to show skepticism. The set-tops that Verizon uses for its FiOS TV deployments are Motorola boxes, but they’re different from the hardware Motorola sells to cable companies. With no order in for a “host” version of the Verizon set-tops, it’s unclear what the operator would have done if the FCC hadn’t handed out the 11th-hour reprieve.

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OCAP and CableCARD events

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Continuing with the week’s OCAP and CableCARD coverage, there are two events worth mentioning. Monday the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) ran an OCAP dog-and-pony show for the FCC. Not much new appears to have been announced, but a Broadcasting and Cable article mentions some of the OCAP features shown including video games and weather and traffic reports.

Meanwhile, there’s an FCC event taking place today starting at 4:00 pm in, of all places, Portland Maine. As of yesterday the event was going to include discussion of “compatibility between cable systems and consumer electronics equipment,” but oddly today it appears that agenda item has been deleted. The main focus is on localism and media ownership rules. If you’re interested, you can listen to the seven-hour (?!) audio webcast.

Finally, with the roll-call tallies in, it looks like attendance at NXTcomm was down this year, but SCTE Cable-Tec Expo attendance was up. Rock on cable engineers.

Ten Things Only Industry Insiders Believe About CableCARD

Michael Vizard over at eWeek inspired me with his “10 Things They Believe in Silicon Valley but Nowhere Else.” Please note that the list below is my attempt at humor and does not in any way indicate the real opinions of Motorola, cable companies, industry reporters, or anyone else I’ve offended.

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10 Things Only Industry Insiders Believe About CableCARD

  1. CableCARD is a conspiracy that was started by TiVo (Humor, people, humor)
  2. CableCARD is a conspiracy that was created to keep Todd Spangler and Jeff Baumgartner in businessmcredit.jpg
  3. The seven-oh-seven deadline was originally six-six-six
  4. CableCARDs come with a line of credit and can be used at select local retail outlets instead of your Visa or Mastercard
  5. Two-way CableCARDs mean not only can you get video-on-demand and switched digital video, you can now send messages to Brian Roberts through your cable set-top
  6. Multi-stream CableCARDs generate multiple revenue streams per subscriber household and therefore greater ARPUmplayingcards.jpg
  7. CableCARDs were designed so the government can monitor our VoIP (er, I mean digital voice) phone calls
  8. The FCC is going to educate the public about CableCARDs by sponsoring the next World Poker Tour
  9. EBay is setting up special auctions for non-CableCARD set-tops that need to be sold after July 1st
  10. CableCARD 2.0 comes with social networking features that let you add VOD channels to your MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles

Intel on Board with OCAP

Somehow I missed the news yesterday that Intel has signed a licensing agreement with CableLabs to support the Open Cable Application Platform (OCAP). What does this mean? Well, it means that CE companies and CableLabs are slowly resolving the issue of how to make two-way cable services available on CE devices.The July 1st CableCARD deadline is a mere five days away, and the hyper-focused attention of the media has generated serious discussion about how consumers are going to be able to access certain cable services from their retail CE devices. Specifically, most CE devices today are not certified to support two-way services, including video-on-demand (VOD) and switched digital video (SDV). And the major sticking point around getting certified has been OCAP.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind about the CableCARD/OCAP debate. First, everyone wants the issue resolved. CE companies want to be able to offer more services. Cable operators want more people spending money on their services. And Motorola (which has nothing to do with how the issue actually gets settled) is in favor of anything that gets more people hooked on broadband networks.

Second, while OCAP has gotten something of a bad rap, consumers should be aware that the platform has a lot of potential to benefit mass audiences of cable TV. OCAP means more cable applications on the market faster. Whole-home DVR, Follow Me TV (whatever you want to call it), here we come.

Countdown to CableCARD

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I’ve decided not to fight the inevitable CableCARD coverage rush leading up to next week’s July 1st deadline, and instead contribute to the melee.

But I’ll start the week with something nice and non-controversial.

Here’s a good list of the “host” set-tops (set-tops that support CableCARD) in Motorola’s product line:

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Tallying Bandwidth Expansion Techniques

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If you’re not going all Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH), you still have quite a few options for wringing more bandwidth out of your broadband network. I’m starting a tally of techniques. What have I missed?

Going Green

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Since green electronics are all the rage, I had to post this quick note on the new Climate Counts Company Scorecard. Motorola scored at the upper end the spectrum in the electronics category – 60 out of a possible score of 100. To put that number in context, Apple scored a 2. Ouch.

One thing to note. It will be important in the years to come to measure environmental impact beyond the carbon imprint of devices. For example, think about the impact of the services that run on those devices. To deliver those services we’re creating a lot of energy, consuming an awful lot of power, and, no doubt, making a big impact on the environment.inconvenient-it-truth.jpg

Update: eWeek has a great slideshow up with stats on IT’s power/energy usage.