The Online Reporter

Research, Trends and Insight into the Digital Media, Consumer Electronics & Broadband Industries

Ikanos’ New Broadband Speed Test Technology Bypasses the Home Network

- Accurately Tests Broadband Speed

 – Most people check their bandwidth speed from a device such as PC, smartphone or tablet. The problem is that those are speeds that are impacted by the vagaries of the home network’s performance, whether Wi-Fi or wireline.

Chipmaker Ikanos Communications is embedding its new Gigabit Speed Test software in the chips it makes for gateways, regardless of the broadband access technology it uses. That’ll allow telcos to accurately measure the data speed of the broadband they’re providing, even for rates up to 1 Gbps. Ikanos said “Gigabit Speed Test is a powerful new analysis tool that enables both carriers and their subscribers to track and manage the quality of the broadband service as delivered to the residence.”



New embedded speed test software could cure home network “not-spots”


Traditional speed measurement software can only indicate the performance of the slowest link between the Internet and those end devices. That causes telcos a problem because subscribers blame them for poor performance even when the culprit is the home network. One telco recently told us that most of its support calls about broadband speed are due to problems in the home network.

Ikanos’ Gigabit Speed Test runs directly on the residential gateway. The home’s network does not impact the results. Telcos can now separate issues associated with broadband service delivery from home networking issues, especially Wi-Fi performance, which is impacted by many factors the telco and its subscribers cannot control. The result is that telcos can more quickly pinpoint where the problem is — broadband or the home’s network, more likely the Wi-Fi network.

It works with all broadband technologies: copper (all forms of DSL, including; fiber (FTTH), cable (DOCSIS 3.1) and wireless (LTE).

Ikanos said its new Ikanos Gigabit Speed Test “is designed to meet the increasing speeds of the ultra-broadband era, supporting gigabit data rates with minimal impact on the main gateway processor.” Unlike other speed test applications, it checks the speed without disrupting the normal operation of the residential gateway or the home network — so there is no degradation of video quality.

Kourosh Amiri, VP of marketing at Ikanos, said, “The rapidly increasing consumer appetite for ultra-broadband connectivity is a challenge for wireline and wireless carriers alike. While the bulk of carriers’ investment and deployment efforts remains focused on meeting this challenge and enabling gigabit service delivery, it is equally important for carriers to proactively monitor the health of their network and the quality of the delivered service. As a result, innovations such as our inSIGHT Gigabit Speed Test become a critical component of …

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Disney Takes Its TV Business to IP

-First Major Network Broadcaster to Adopt IP-Based Architecture

Disney is taking the future by the horns in a new technology partnership, announced at the start of NAB this week. Disney is teaming up with Imagine Communications to move its linear broadcast operations into a cloud-based system. Doing so will ensure Disney’s broadcast network ABC will be future-proofed as consumers demand more and more OTT and IP-based features and access.


Fellow-Vince Roberts Disney

Disney’s Vince Roberts: moving beyond ‘Big Iron’ infrastructures


“This marks a significant evolution in Disney/ABC Television Group’s broadcast operations, and establishes a foundation for how broadcast programming could be made, moved, managed and monetized in the coming years,” Disney said about the deal.

The deal was announced at Imagine Communications’ press event at NAB.

“By leveraging evolving IP and Cloud technologies we are able to move beyond what’s currently possible with traditional proprietary ‘Big Iron’ broadcast infrastructures,” said Vince Roberts, EVP of global operations and chief technology officer at Disney/ABC Television Group. “Imagine Communications’ IP solutions enable us to automate and deliver workflow processes and technologies to a more agile and scalable environment. Our shared vision and close collaboration will enable Disney/ABC Television Group to take a uniquely innovative approach to the next generation of television and media distribution platforms.”

Imagine Communications’ CEO Charlie Vogt, said the solution “represents the future of broadcast television”

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This Week’s DigiGrams

Named when The Online Reporter was part of the legendary daily bulletin, Computergram International stable, “DigiGrams” is the popular news and miscellany round up found on the back page of the PDF print version.


3m-Plus Viewers Streamed Top NCAA Games During March Madness Final

NCAA’s March Madness drew record live streaming crowds this year. During the popular Final Four games, NCAA measured 6 million live streams, up 59% over 2014’s tournament. Viewers watched 1.5 million hours of video during the final stage of the tournament, a 53% increase over last year.
The national championship game saw a record-breaking 3.4 million live streams, and one million hours of content consumed online, both increases of over 60% from last year.


Hyperoptic Makes Liverpool the Latest Gigabit City in UK

KF2-2002Hyperoptic is expanding its FTTB (fiber-to-the-building) broadband service to residents in Liverpool.

City center multi-dwelling unit (MDU) residents will be able to become subscribers to 1 Gbps symmetrical service once the fiber has been installed.



ACA Warns Pay TV Biz May Be Unsustainable

“If current trends continue, traditional MVPD margins will be reduced substantially each year, and multichannel video service, which has been the foundational service for triple-play providers, may become a losing proposition for small to medium-sized providers within the next five years – by 2020 – or even sooner should conditions deteriorate more rapidly than anticipated.” – American Cable Association, in comments made to the FCC.


OTT Players May Bid on NFL Rights in 2021

“Even for free streamed sporting events, audiences are rarely in excess of a million – to recoup the cost of a successful bid, OTTs would need a paying audience of perhaps 10 million in some cases. But by 2021, when the NFL rights are due for renewal, we would be surprised if one or more OTTs did not bid for an exclusive live package.” – Juniper Research’s Windsor Holden, author of the report “Digital Content – An Over the Top Reaction.”


Baseball Is ‘Suited to Digital Technology’

Angel_Stadium_of_Anaheim“Nobody thought baseball would be suited to digital technology, but it is. Millennials love [accessing MLB on their mobile devices], but older people love it too. Technology is deliberately or inadvertently changing the [way people interact with the] game.” – Bob Bowman, president of MLB Business and Media, in an interview with TechCrunch.





BBC Focuses on Internet Age

“[BBC will] have to learn lessons if they’re going to be in a position to compete with organizations that were born the digital age. The direction of travel for the BBC is that we need to make sure that our portfolio is relevant in the Internet age.” — Matthew Postgate, BBC’s chief technology officer, in an interview with Financial Times.


People Go Nuts for Google Fiber-Copycat

“People just went nuts. We could tell right away there was a lot of traction there, a lot of excitement around doing something similar to Google Fiber in Detroit. There’s a lot of entrepreneurship and technology endeavors going on downtown right now. We thought one way to throw gas on the fire would be to build this world-class infrastructure.” Marc Hudson, one of three founders of Rocket Fiber, which aims to bring 1 Gig broadband service to Detroit.


Pay TV Needs to Move to OTT to Survive

“Comparatively high priced pay TV bundles are losing customers to more inexpensive, IP-delivered content. While pay TV will continue to hold market majority going forward, the best chance for positive growth in the pay TV space lies in the implementation of OTT capability in both standalone and IP-enabled STB capacities.” – Eric Abbruzzese, ABI Research analyst.


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Under the OTT Spotlight, HBO Shows Its Age

Time Warner’s HBO Now has officially launched in the US. The $15 per month SVoD service is available on Apple devices and through Dish Network’s Sling TV streaming pay TV service.

HBO Now enters the world amid what some may dub a pay TV crisis. It has become clearer every day of 2015 that Internet TV is the way forward, from Viacom’s $785 million write-down, to the excitement and buzz surrounding Netflix’s latest original Web-exclusive series, “Daredevil.”

HBO is looking to straddle the spaces these two disparate worlds with HBO Now: it’s a streaming, on-demand platform for HBO’s prized original series and TV shows, one that keeps a respectable distance from its linear TV business. HBO Now’s limited device launch, especially ahead of the season premiere of its most popular show, “Game of Thrones,” is testament to how little Time Warner wants HBO Now to succeed, for now. It’s the same type of thinking that led content owners to require Dish Network to cap its streaming pay TV service, Sling TV, to a few million subscribers.



Parent company Time Warner is wanting HBO Now success


HBO must feel that its content speaks for itself. With “Game of Thrones” being the most popular illegally-downloaded show, there’s a whole lot of truth to the idea that a population of viewers are ready to spend $15 per month to access HBO content legally. And it’s likely that there are a large number of viewers that have purchased an Apple TV in order to be able to stream “Games of Thrones” to the TV set.

HBO Now is at once exciting and anti-climatic. The prospect of accessing HBO content without a pay TV subscription is enticing, even with its price, which is a bit high for OTT standards, especially for a service whose device reach is so limited. After a few days of using the app, here are my Millennial-tinged conclusions.


The Online Reporter Goes Hands On with HBO Now

The Online Reporter’s Kendra Chamberlain writes: “Downloading the app was remarkably easy – there’s something to be said for HBO allowing iTunes, Cablevision and Dish Networks to handle all its billing. All I had to do was type in my iTunes password and download the app.

The interface is sleek and wonderfully mobile. Big pictures, easy navigation, almost zero typing required. Video playback is smooth, too. There’s no live streaming, or any link to the linear HBO TV channels. I and others are eagerly awaiting the new “Game of Thrones” episode, to see how and when it becomes available on HBO Now.

There are some funny quirks to the app, though. For example, there aren’t any general descriptions for its original series. The viewer must select an episode to read a synopsis, which makes discovery a bit tedious. Perhaps HBO believes everyone already knows what each show is about, but it shouldn’t. Discovery is incredibly important in an on-demand environment, as we’ve witnessed with Netflix and Amazon and Hulu, all three of which have taken different approaches to getting the viewer engaged with a piece of content. HBO’s version of online discovery is bland. I’m not watching the linear TV channel, there will be no point when I stumble onto a show as it’s airing.

I have no idea what “Angels in America” is about, and judging from its cover image, I don’t care to sit through the first episode to find out. That’s the world of OTT.

There are no recommendations, and personalization is limited. There is a “Watchlist,” but viewers can only add individual episodes to the list, instead of being able to add the whole series. There’s only one profile per account, which is a drag when there are differing entertainment tastes under the same roof. Also, the app only operates in landscape mode, which is preferable to watching, but still a bit odd.

This is TV content, and it’s painful to watch on the iPad, at least for me. I’m so accustomed to slinging anything I have on the tablet onto the TV screen that the Apple product limitation feels particularly unfair…”

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Entropic Lands Major Regional Chinese Telco for MoCA Adapters

- Is the giant telco China Telecom next?

Entropic, soon to be acquired by MaxLinear, has landed what may turn out to be one of its biggest deals ever for its MoCA chips. China Telecom subsidiary Sichuan Telecom, will deploy Ethernet-to Coax Adapters (ECA) with a new Entropic MoCA chip to distribute IP-delivered pay TV and other services over the home’s existing coax wiring.



Sichuan: 81 million inhabitants


Sichuan Telecom is the first Chinese pay TV service to deploy MoCA gear. It operates in the whole Sichuan area.

Sichuan Telecom’s ECA solution is straightforward plug-and-play. In effect, it converts a home’s existing coax wiring into an Ethernet network.

The user plugs the ECA into the home’s coax network and plugs the TV into the ECA’s Ethernet connection. Voila! The TV has access to Sichuan Telecom’s pay TV service and other broadband-delivered services such as OTT and gaming.

Entropic says the MoCA ECAs are “a cost-effective way to bring Internet access to all connected entertainment devices in the home by converting the existing in-home coaxial wiring into an Ethernet network, without having to run multiple cables.” In addition to pay TV, the adapters “can improve whole-home video and data coverage by extending the wired network backbone to all corners of the home in order to distribute HD and UHD media, low latency online gaming, over-the-top (OTT)/Internet content and wireless entertainment anywhere in the home.”

Entropic’s Matt Rhodes, SVP for global marketing, said, “Deployment of MoCA technology by Sichuan Telecom represents the first telco deployment of MoCA in China, a significant milestone, demonstrating that MoCA is truly becoming a global standard. China’s telecom operators represent a large untapped market for MoCA enabled products and this is just the beginning of Entropic’s efforts to see MoCA used pervasively throughout China.”



Entropic’s Matt Rhodes: pursuing untapped markets for MoCA


Entropic’s biggest market for its MoCA chip has been US cablecos plus Verizon and DirecTV. Other than Verizon, this is MoCA’s first announced success with a major telco. Whether the deal might lead to China Telecom’s adoption of MoCA can only be conjectured.

China Telecom is China’s largest broadband service provider. In June 2013 it announced that it would use (HomeGrid) home network chips in its STBs and support TV sets from several Chinese set makers.

That led to our prediction that China Telecom might emerge as the world’s largest deployer of home networking gear in general and specifically Products with chips from Marvell, Sigma Design, Metanoia and perhaps from Xingtera were expected to be …

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Netflix Accounts for 15% of Australia ISP iiNet’s Traffic

In its first two days of operation in Australia and New Zealand, Netflix video accounted for 15% of traffic on Australia-based ISP, iiNet. iiNet is the country’s second largest ISP, with 1.3 million subscribers.

Netflix struck deals with ISPs iiNet and Optus to allow users to stream Netflix video unmetered. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings recently told Gizmodo in Australia that his company is opposed to data caps for broadband packages.

“There’s no reason for data caps. We want to make the Internet unmetered. Period,” he said. “The capped model is antiquated: we want to make it about speed. 10 Mbps will cost more than 1 Mbps and 50 Mbps will cost more than 10 Mbps and that makes sense.”



The Netflix family: now settling in “down under”


Those deals, coupled with the high interest in the service as it launched, has led to Internet traffic headaches, as reports of congestion flooded the “Twittersphere” after Netflix launched. Netflix is also now available on Fetch TV set-top boxes, the first pay TV partner for Netflix in the new markets. Fetch TV has over 170,000 subscribers.

Viewers in Australia and New Zealand have been accessing Netflix illegally for quite some time, using VPNs to get around geo-blocking. In the same interview, Hastings said an easy way to eradicate VPN piracy is by acquiring global rights to content. That ensures that everywhere a service like Netflix is available, the content is the same. Netflix has recently begun acquiring …

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Twitter’s Live Video App Periscope Debuts

- It’ll Drive Next Big Surge in Demand for Bandwidth
– Quickly Crushes Rival Meerkat

The next big increase in demand for bandwidth will likely come from live video streaming services such as Meerkat, on which we reported last month and Twitter’s recently acquired Periscope service. Such services will increase demand for both down and up bandwidth.

Anyone with a Twitter account, and there are millions, will soon be able, easily and instantly, to send video streams and watch live videos streams from Twitter users anywhere in the world. The potential scope of such a service is enormous and may well consume the amount of bandwidth that 4K streams will soon use. Live streams will eventually be in 4K as 4K becomes a standard on mobile devices, probably causing bandwidth consumed to exceed that used by 4K OTT streams.



Periscope: surfacing in app download charts


Twitter’s new live streaming service Periscope, like Meerkat before it, allows users to send live video stream quickly and easily over the Net. It’s initially available on iOS devices but an Android app is expected soon, just as Meerkat has also promised. Twitter acquired Periscope in January 2015 for $100 million.

Periscope has several advantages over the previously launched Meerkat:
– Periscope videos are available for 24 hours after they have broadcast, unlike Meerkat’s whose streams disappear when the stream ends. Meerkat has promised a similar delayed replay feature.
– Periscope is owned by Twitter, which allows simultaneous Twitter texting during viewing. Meerkat had done that until two weeks ago when Twitter abruptly blocked it. Now we know why Twitter did that.
– Periscope is a natural adjunct, almost like an upgrade, to Twitter, whose universal use means that Periscope is immediately and easily available on millions of devices.

The applications for live video streaming are enormous, ranging from “selfies” to reporting to live sports and entertainment to live updates from remote locations to education and more.

The increasing availability of free Wi-Fi hotspots and low-cost 4G cellular services means that live streaming already has the infrastructure it needs to become a major app in the same way that Facebook, Google, Twitter and browsing have.

Periscope’s surging popularity showed its potential. On Friday night March 27 after it was released, Periscope was already in the US iPhone top-30 chart, a rare event. By Sunday night, Meerkat had dropped to 523 on the US iPhone download chart. In fact, Meerkat had never made it into the top 100, showing the drawing power of Twitter.

Interestingly, on the same day that Periscope launched, Meerkat announced $14 million in new funding from VCs.

Although Periscope videos can currently originate only from iOS devices, they can be viewed with any device that has the Twitter app or that can access Twitter — which is practically the entire connected world.

Periscope’s Web site says, “It may sound crazy, but we wanted to build the closest thing to teleportation. While there are many ways to discover events and places, we realized there is no better way to experience a place right now than through live video. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but live video can take you someplace and show you around.”

The Periscope app is downloaded separately from Twitter — although using it requires a Twitter account.

Watching and streaming videos is about as easy as it can get. Users can watch Periscope videos from Twitter users they follow. An alert tells them when a video from those users starts. Broadcasters and viewers can then text live with each other. To send a video, users can stream to all their followers or limit the ones that can view. By tapping the “shoot” icon and entering a title for the stream, the live streaming begins…

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Google’s Android TV Quietly Prepares to Take Over Living Rooms Worldwide

-Android TV Poised to Become the Dominant Entertainment Technology Ecosystem
– TV Sets, Net-Top Boxes and Game Consoles to Appear This Year

With three announcements last week about new products available around the world that support Android TV, it’s becoming clear Google has a huge advantage over Apple, Amazon, Roku, Microsoft or Sony.

Apple’s plans for Apple TV stole the limelight this month, but Google is quietly becoming the dominant force in home entertainment thanks to Android TV – its answer to Apple, Roku, and Amazon.

As audiences continue to fragment across viewing devices and entertainment services, platform unity across devices will become an increasingly important component to any CE device. That fact spurred Comcast’s Randall Hounsell, VP of mobility solutions, to predict 2015 to be an important year for Google.

“In the OTT world, one of the biggest problems is the fragmented environment for building applications,” Hounsell said, speaking on a panel at CES earlier this year. The platform that unites the most customers to the most devices will ultimately take the lead in the ecosystem, and Hounsell thinks that’s going to be Google. “One thing that’s going to big in 2015 is Android TV,” he said.


The Android Ecosystem

Android TV is the new living room piece of Google’s now-all-encompassing Android technology ecosystem. The smart TV operating system is based on Android Lollipop, the most current version of the OS.

Google first unveiled the new TV OS and entertainment platform last year.

Android TV

      Android TV: big in 2015


Initial responses to the platform were positive, thanks to its slick user interface and integration with other Android products, making the TV platform the last piece of the Android puzzle.

Like everything else Google does, Android TV is an open platform, which will help it gain hardware partners who don’t want to spend money developing their own OS.

Android ecosystem now includes:
-over 80% of the smartphone market, according to estimates from IDC
-60% of the tablet market, according to IDC
-20% of the NTB market, according to Parks Associates, with Chromecast dongles outselling Apple TVs in 2014, according to IHS estimates
-Nexus Player NTBs
-Android TV smart TVs from Xiaomi, TP Vision’s Philips, Sharp and Sony, including 4K models
-Razer’s Forge TV gaming consoles
-Nvidia’s Shield 4K gaming console
-Free Mobile’s Freebox 4K STB

And let’s not forget these OTT content services:
-Google Play store offering movie and TV show downloads and rentals
-Google Play Music, offering unlimited streaming for $9.99
-YouTube, the world’s global video provider

Thanks to Google Cast, Google’s version of Airplay, most anything available on Android-based smartphone, tablet or even Chrome browser can be sent to the TV screen with a Chromecast attached, which essentially closes the entertainment circuit.

With its impressive device reach and content services, Google has positioned itself as the most thorough, pervasive and cross-platform entertainment system around the world.


Android TV Will Debut in US, UK and China This Year

Android TV devices are set to appear in at least three markets this year: the US, UK and China – an important market because of its size, and one where Google already dominates in smartphones.

* In the States, Sony is releasing its line of new Bravia UHD and HD TV sets sporting the Android TV operating system. All of Sony’s new smart TVs operate on Android TV. They are slated to appear in stores in May of this year, priced between $1,300 and $8,000.

* Sharp’s line of new 4K and HD TVs will also be sporting Android TV. They aren’t scheduled to appear until late 2015. The entry-level sets are priced below $1,000. The UH and UB lines are all UHD TV sets.

* TP Vision launched its first Android TVs in the States last year, and is launching its next generation of Android TV sets later this year. In the UK, TP Vision has said 80% of its new UHD and HD TV sets support Android TV. The company confirmed this week that it’s planning to release UHD and HD models in the UK in the first half of 2015.

* In China, Xiaomi has unveiled the Mi TV 2 series, the first Android TV-based smart TVs to hit China. The sets are available in both HD and UHD, and are priced between $320-$645, in sizes ranging from 42 inches to 49 inches.


Android TV Net-Tops in US, UK and France

Google launched its new NTB last fall in the US, and has begun taking orders for the device in the UK.

The Nexus Player has Intel’s 1.8GHz Quad Core Atom processor. It comes with 8GB of storage and 1GB of RAM. It connects to the TV set with an HDMI cord, and connects to the Internet with built-in 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO Wi-Fi. It also has a micro-USB port for playing personal media on the TV set.

It supports Google Cast, so viewers can push videos from their personal smartphones or tablets onto the TV screen. The remote control uses voice features to make searching for specific content easier. Google is also selling a gamepad control for Android games on the TV set.

The NTB has OTT video apps such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, PBS Kids, YouTube, TED, Crackle, Pluto.TV, Plex Media, Dailymotion, Huffpost Live, TuneIn, Drama Fever, and others.

In France, broadband and Internet TV operator Free Mobile has unveiled Freebox, a 4K-capable net-top box based on Android TV. Free Mobile is a subsidiary of telco Illiad.

The box is designed to deliver “a comprehensive suite of streaming, terrestrial, on-demand, and recorded content,” the company said. Freebox has Broadcom’s BCM7252 SoC, which supports HEVC, and 10-bit, 4K resolution content at 60 frames per second. It also has the dual-core Brahma15 10.5K DMIPS processor. The NTB has 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and uses Bluetooth with the remote control. The box also supports Google Cast.

Through Free, viewers can receive over 200 TV channels on the box, and can access that content on mobile devices with a Freebox TV app.


And a 4K-Ready Gaming Console

Google is taking on the likes of Xbox, PlayStation and Amazon with its next-generation game consoles. Nvidia unveiled a net-top box gaming console that is powered by Android TV at last week’s gaming developer’s conference. Nvidia is calling the console the world’s first 4K Android TV NTB. The console, called Shield, will launch in May for $199.

Jen-Hsun Huang Nvidia Shield

Nvidia’s Jen-Hsun Huang presenting Shield console


It has all the Android video apps, access to the Google Play store, and supports 4K video playback at 60Hz and 10-bit color depth. It has a HEVC decoder, 802.11 ac Wi-Fi and a gigabit Ethernet port. Inside is Nvidia’s Tegra X1 chip. The console also offers over 50 game titles available on Android.

“Shield will change the way we enjoy digital entertainment at home,” Nvidia president and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said, during the presentation. “It’s an incredibly powerful, efficient and advanced living room entertainment device. It’s the best Android TV experience. And it can transform into a serious gaming machine.”


Skipr’s Pay TV+ Android TV Hybrid NTB

The final Android TV device to make headlines this week is Skipr, a yet-to-launch technology that is looking to launch a commercial-skipping NTB. Skipr’s technology recognizes commercial breaks as they appear on linear TV, and offer the viewer alternative video to watch while the commercials play.

Skipr is working on an Android-based NTB that connects to a pay TV STB. The box will have a quad-core 2 GHz processor, ARM 8-Core graphics and 1 GB of RAM, and will support 4K video. Skipr hasn’t released pricing to launch dates yet….

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New OTT Service ‘247 Retro’ Streams Old TV Shows

-Makes a Case for Linear TV Delivered Over the Internet

There’s a new live TV streaming service in town. 247 Retro has launched an Internet TV service that offers a live linear feed of old TV shows. The live stream is ad-free, except for a few banner ads, and is supported mostly by contributors.

“The whole idea of 247 Retro came about because, like most of us, we’re all frustrated with our traditional television systems, and we’ve always hoped for something better to come along,” Ron Benditt told The Online Reporter. “With the Internet the way it is, there has to be better options out there.”

Benditt said the idea for a linear streaming TV service came about several years earlier, but it wasn’t until recently that he saw a true market opportunity for such a service. “I’ve been thinking really hard about how to package something like this to make it work, from a monetization point-of-view and from a user point-of-view,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ve put the pieces together right.”

The product is a live, linear video streaming site that offers a schedule of older, library TV shows, in a virtually ad-free environment. The stand-out feature of the service is that it is one of a handful of Web-based video services that runs on a linear TV schedule.

So, why come up with a TV solution that’s very much like old, traditional TV? Because some viewers still want to watch TV that way. “When it comes to television viewing, there are many ways that people watch television,” he said.

Most OTT services are focused on delivering on-demand content, but Benditt says he thinks there room for more linear TV programming online. “When I look at what’s going on out there, with Internet television, today, I see the primary focus has been on the providers trying to deliver to the people the [TV shows] they want to view, when they want to view it,” he said. “Sometimes people go in for specific content – they know exactly what they want to watch. Sometimes a viewer wants a constant stream that fits their mood. That’s really what we’re providing.”

He pointed to the choice-paralysis viewers may enter when presented with too many options of on-demand content. “The user can spend the whole night trying to figure out what to watch, and never actually [watch] anything,” he said. Some viewers may prefer to flip on the TV set (or fire up the Roku), sit back, relax and watch a stream of video. “That’s what we’re providing,” he said.

He added that on the Internet, the market has room for all different types of video services and business models, because consumers have different tastes, habits and preferences. “People don’t want just one thing,” he said. “People want choice.”

The TV fare is niche, old content, which the company bills as “exciting and quirky shows and movies.” Shows include “Dick Tracy,” “Tarzan” and “The Lone Ranger,” all in black and white, along with classic movies like “The Brain that Wouldn’t Die,” and “Radar Men from the Moon.”



The Lone Ranger: back in the saddle


“That content really fits our business model,” Benditt said. The content is inexpensive to license, and will appeal to a niche demographic. That enables the OTT service to run completely free to the viewer, but still generates revenue through the banner ads.

There is a significant movement toward these types of Internet TV services underway. Pluto.TV, and DigiDev’s Something Weird OTT services are examples.

These niche services are helped largely by net-top boxes such as Roku, whose open platform makes it easy to package content into a Web channel that can be accessed on the TV set. And in the world of Internet TV, long-tail, niche content finds its audience. Benditt said the company is working on Roku channel now.

The company is billing the service as ideal for cord cutters. “One can envision a day where many channels like 247 Retro exist online, where the viewer has a collection of bookmarks for their channels, and can casually hop from one to the next, just like hitting the television remote. When this day comes, ‘cord cutting’ will not only be a viable alternative to traditional television, but a sensible one. Ironically, 247 Retro, a channel specializing in vintage content, is leading the

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Hello Telcos! Comcast Is Field Testing 3.1 Version of DOCSIS

- Checking Network Readiness & Beginning Training This Year
– Deployment Next Year — Yep, 2016

The world’s telcos and cablecos have been in a fiercely fought broadband technology battle for over a decade.

The cablecos are winning.

Telcos with copper-to-the-home networks are losing.

That trend appears likely to continue.

The telcos’ best hope, other than building all-fiber networks, is the new broadband technology that is capable of speeds in the 300 Mbps to 1.0 Gbps range.

No telco has yet committed to publicly.



DOCSIS 3.1 coming to a neighborhood near you


The cablecos’ next generation technology is the 3.1 version of DOCSIS, which is capable of speeds in excess of 1 Gbps. DOCSIS 3.1 is a multi-Gbps technology. is a multi-hundred Mbps technology.

You can argue whether multi-Gbps broadband is needed but you can’t argue that anyone ever complained about having too much broadband speed. No company CEO has ever been fired for deploying broadband that’s too fast but lots of telco CEOs should be fired for letting their broadband speeds so badly lag the cablecos’.

Comcast is already field testing DOCSIS 3.1, albeit with specially made gear and at the homes of some of its employees.

Comcast’s VP of access architecture Jorge Salinger told a CableLabs meeting earlier this month, “The target for us is to be in the field establishing network readiness in 2015. Our overall goal is to be able to deploy DOCSIS 3.1 and gigabit-per-second on a broad scale starting in 2016.”

To repeat Salinger:
- Establish network readiness in 2015. That is this year and most of three months have already gone by.
– Deploying on a broad scale in 2016.

No telco executive in the world has yet made a similar statement about In fact it’s not even certain that chips are available for any telco to conduct a broad scale deployment in 2015.

Cablecos can deploy 3.1 on their existing hybrid fiber/coax network and even use the same equipment, not including the modem/gateway.

Telcos have to install fiber much closer to the residence before they can deploy It’s not an easy or inexpensive deployment for the telcos – although it is less expensive and quicker than building all-fiber networks.

Cablecos will need to develop new installation procedures and tools plus train installation crews and technicians. Comcast has jumped the gun on that. It is already begun training 500 to 1,000 people and will in time increase that to 20,000 to 40,000 people.

CableLabs director of network technologies Belal Hamzeh said the certification of DOCSIS 3.1 gear is underway. There have already been three equipment plugfests and several more are planned. It expects to start certifying DOCSIS gear in May. Yes, this May. May 2015. Two months from now.

Where are the telcos and their technologies? Telcos CEOs and other executives should begin making public commitments including expected speeds and availability — just as Comcast’s Salinger has done.

An AT&T executive once answered a question about broadband speeds by asking the question, “Why would anyone at home ever need more that 1 Mbps?” That thinking still continues at too many telcos but …

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