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Multi-Channel News: Out-of-the-Box with Comcast Anyplay, powered by Televation

If you’re a regular reader or a Comcast Xfinity customer in Denver or Nashville, you’ve probably heard about Comcast’s new AnyPlay service, which launched in January and uses Motorola’s Televation box to stream live cable TV to your tablet. 

Leslie Ellis at Multi-Channel News recently got her hands on it and took down her first impressions. Here are some excerpts:

-“That’s where AnyPlay is different, and I’ll say it, better..”

 - “…it’s an extension of the TV programming you already pay for…”

- “It’s a standalone box. No video outputs. Coax in, Ethernet out to the modem/wireless router, and voila: Television on the iPad. (Droids and other devices to come.)”

- “How does AnyPlay compare to the other lab streamers? Put it this way. The lab stuff is in a back room. All those screens, all those services, no TV at the desk! Until now. (I expect my quality of work to degrade precipitously.)”

Read the full story here: http://www.multichannel.com/blog/Translation_Please/33073-Inside_a_Comcast_AnyPlay_Installation.php

And find out more about Comcast AnyPlay at www.xfinity.com/anyplay.

Top 5 Tech Articles You Might Have Missed – Week of Jan. 9

Photo by Engadget

The 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show is wrapping up! This week, hundreds of companies showcased new products and technologies in Las Vegas, including Motorola Mobility. Here’s a quick look at some of our highlights from the 2012 show.

Engadget covered our Connected Home Gateway and featured it in a video demo.  Phandroid and The New York Post raved about Motorola Televation, which allows users to view TV on their Wi-Fi capable companion devices creating a “TV in every room” experience, even getting billing above Justin Bieber in the Post article!

Several of our executives participated in thought-provoking panel discussions at the show. International Business Times quoted David Grubb, Vice President of Architecture & Strategy for Motorola’s Converged Experiences business, on the importance of standards for next-gen TVs. Leon Hounshell, Division General Manager for Motorola Mobility’s 4Home Connected Solutions, discussed how broadband has infiltrated the home energy market at the CES Connections Summit; see some of his insightful comments on the Verizon at Home blog and in our Twitter feed.  While you’re there, follow us so you can stay abreast of all our exciting news in 2012. CES is just the start!  

1. Motorola Connected Home Gateway tour (video) (Jan. 11) By Brian Heater, Engadget: When we first told you about Motorola’s Connected Home Gateway, it was little more than a picture of a cool looking router. Thankfully, however, the company has been giving tours of the technology on the floor of CES, showing off the way it brings together such things as climate control, home security and automation.

2. Motorola Televation Streams Live TV from Your Cable Provider to Your Android Device (Jan. 11) By Kevin Krause, Phandroid: Motorola was showing off much more than smartphones and tablets at their CES booth. Their theme was “do more,” and one way in which they want to help consumers achieve this goal is through their new Televation product.

3. Motorola Televation the next revelation (Jan. 12) By Garrett Sloane, New York Post: Motorola Mobility is laying the groundwork for a Google invasion of the living room. Beyond smartphones, the $12.5 billion pending Motorola acquisition will hand Google control of one of the top makers of cable set-top box technology.

4. CES 2012: Industry Pros Demand Standards for Next-Generation Internet TVs (Jan. 11) By David Zielenziger, International Business Times: A group of top technology professionals involved with Internet TV, including VPs of Yahoo, Cisco Systems and Western Digital, warned Wednesday that consumer acceptance will falter unless industry standards are adopted. With virtually half all new TVs equipped for Internet transmission, the lack of standards presents technical problems that need to be solved quickly, they said at a panel on the Future of TV at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

5. Consumers Are Driving Smarter Energy (Jan. 11) By Alberto Canal, Verizon at Home blog: In addition to the myriad big, loud booths, wildly dressed presenters, and the sheer volume of humanity weaving through it all, the Consumer Electronics Show also hosts a variety of tech-centric panel discussions… One of the panels I attended discussed “Consumer Demand for Energy as a Service.” Broadband has opened the home energy market beyond traditional utility companies and energy service providers, the discussion highlighted. Panelists discussed barriers to effective use and deployment of smart meters, raising consumer awareness around energy, all while keeping it simple and easy.

See more of Leon’s comments on the Motorola Mobility Home account Twitter feed, @MotoMedia2Go.

Motorola Televation for Comcast AnyPlay

If you have to fight to watch your favorite program on the family television, we Motorolans feel your pain. And we have a solution: Motorola Televation.  

Globally, 69% of us are already watching TV on devices other than the television and (according to Kantar Worldpanel Comtech) more than 30 million Americans own a tablet. 

Our new Televation product lets you stream your full channel line-up to your tablet, live, over your home network so that you can watch it anywhere in your house. And, unlike other streaming devices, with Televation you don’t have to compete with the guys in the living room for what channel to play on your tablet. You’re not just watching what they’re watching on another screen; you are in control of your regular channels, whenever you want.

No wonder Televation was conferred Light Reading’s Leading Light Award and Communications Technology’s Platinum Award.

Comcast is beginning to roll out a new service based on Televation, called AnyPlay, in Denver and Nashville.

Find out more about the new Comcast AnyPlay service in the Comcast Voices blog post, “AnyPlay Brings Live TV to the Tablet.”  For more info on Televation, visit here.

Customer Support Tool for Comcast Subscribers

noHold has teamed up with Motorola to develop the Motorola Modem Virtual Assistant which is available to Comcast subscribers now.  Motorola’s Modem Virtual Assistant reduces the calls at the service center and improves the consumer’s experience by providing quick and efficient answers to commonly recurring problems. As first choice of contact for support, the Motorola Modem Virtual Assistant is a web-based application that works like a live chat. Its unique ability to interact in a diagnostic, conversational mode distinguishes it from search engines and chat-bots which simply respond to keywords. Instead, it works like instant messaging where customers type a question or statement, and after only a few clicks or keystrokes, the system provides specific answers

Today, the Motorola Modem Virtual Assistant can be used through the AskComcast Virtual Assistant at Comcast.com which is made possible through Confederated Knowledge(CK). CK is a patented feature that allows one Virtual Assistant to leverage the knowledge of other Virtual Assistants.

Click here to see a video.

Dealing with the Cable Bandwidth Crunch, Strategies Differ

Author: Phil Miguelez, Director, Access Network Architecture

The growth in demand for unicast services—high-speed Internet and VOD—is both a gift and curse for cable operators. More demand means more opportunity for revenue, but it also means more strain on cable networks. Across the board, North American MSOs see downstream bandwidth running out in the next one to two years if no action is taken. That’s right, not running low, but running out. Of course operators won’t actually let that happen, but the pressure to upgrade networks is real, and strategies for dealing with the bandwidth crunch vary from system to system.

Analog is a bandwidth hog, and the decision to keep analog channels going exacts a price on the operator’s network. Comcast has made headlines with its transition to all-digital cable delivery to free up analog bandwidth, and the operator expects to complete the process nationwide by the end of the year. Part of Comcast’s motivation is the fact that it’s maintained a mostly 750 MHz cable plant. At the other end of the spectrum, Cox upgraded to 1 GHz years ago and has thereby been able to hold onto its analog channels, a competitive strategy designed to lure those subscribers who still own several analog TV sets. The recent introduction of new high-power RF hybrids are making the idea of a network upgrade to 1 GHz much more attractive by virtually eliminating amplifier moves and re-spacing. 

Time Warner Cable is somewhere in the middle between Comcast and Cox. With an 870 MHz plant, Time Warner has relied primarily on switched digital video to cut its bandwidth demand. Its transition to an all-digital network is on a much slower pace than Comcast, but with SDV, Time Warner can save bandwidth by keeping select channels switched off when they’re not in use. Charter’s following an SDV path too. It started an aggressive rollout of the technology last year.

Across all MSOs, node splits are still a favored method of increasing bandwidth to individual subscriber service groups, and splits will continue in the future as a normal course of business. However, operators will also keep looking for new methods to reduce the bandwidth crunch; methods that don’t strain their budgets. For that, new ways of thinking and new technology innovations are in order. Because downstream bandwidth demand is going nowhere but up.

The Cable Show 2011 General Session

The last day of The Cable Show 2011 featured several interesting speakers during the general session. 

Paula Zahn interviewed Oprah Winfrey who talked about her plans for the OWN Network.

Dr. Jill Biden talked about the work the cable industry was doing to recognize/bring awareness to military families. 

Erin Burnet from CNN moderated a panel with our CEO, Sanjay Jha, Thomas Rutledge of Cablevision Systems and Brian Roberts of Comcast.  The group talked about the future of entertainment in the home, as well as trends and challenges for leveraging the network to deliver new forms and services. 

Check out these pictures!

Cable, TV, and Telecom at CES

It’s been three years since Comcast made a splash at CES with the unveiling of Tru2way, and since then, both cable and telco providers have kept a pretty low profile at the show. However, with the growth of mobile broadband, and broadband video, operators are likely re-evaluating how they should approach the annual Vegas shindig. Verizon is already set to deliver a keynote speech at CES 2011 with a big focus on LTE. Will there be room for FiOS discussion as well given the new features on the horizon?

Comcast, meanwhile, doesn’t have an official presence planned, but given the presumed-pending merger with NBCU, and the company’s recent iPad app frenzy, it seems quite likely that there will be Comcast folks around and about. NBCU always has a big production booth at CES, and tablet mania is sure to keep new TV apps front and center.

AT&T has exhibited at CES in previous years, and Clearwire made a big show with WiMAX at CES 2010. Will either company follow up in 2011?

As the worlds of cable, telecom, and CE collide, the make-up of CES is likely to change over the next several years. I suspect that shift will gain momentum in January.