Viodi View – 04/22/13

A screenshot of a television in the hotel at the Addison, TX, Intercontinental Hotel.
Channel 2 at the Broadband Communities Summit

You can’t rely on the Federal Government or Google to build your broadband for you. That was a common sentiment at last week’s 2013 Broadband Communities Summit. Whether Democrat or Republican, better broadband seems to be a bipartisan cause that all can get behind. We had some great interviews with leaders from communities and industry who are making broadband happen in various ways. We even have an interview with a pioneer of broadband from the original FTTH deployment from 1986. More of that in future issues.


A Total Solution for Property Owners

Ken Pyle interviews John Price at the 2013 Broadband Communities Summit.
Click to view

In-building communications infrastructure is becoming increasingly important to property owners. As John Price, president and owner of M3 Multifamily Media Management, suggested at the 2013 Broadband Communities Summit, the communication network needs to be a complete solution. He also indicates that as part of a total solution “move” programs offered by service providers are critical in helping property owners simplify the transition of tenants as they move from one city to another. Click here to view

[Thank you to M3 Multifamily Media Management for their sponsorship of ViodiTV at the 2013 Broadband Communities Summit].


Comments on a Conversation with an FCC Commissioner

At MTA, Ken Pyle interviews Shirley Bloomfield of NTCA
Click to view.

Unfortunately, ViodiTV was unable to attend both the Broadband Communities Summit, as well as last week’s IP Possibilities. Fortunately, we were able to catch up with NTCA president and CEO Shirley Bloomfield at last month’s MTA Convention. In this interview, Bloomfield recaps the conversation that she and MTA president/CEO, Brent Christensen, had with Commissioner Clyburn. Regulatory uncertainty caused by the FCC order, naked DSL, call completion, the importance of fiber to making wireless work, small markets compared to large markets, video programming access issues are some of the topics covered. Click here to view.


2013 Cloud Connect Highlights, Monitoring, Optimization Cloud as IT Disrupter; SDN as a New Virtual Network Infrastructure & More by Alan Weissberger

This graph depicts the number of mobile devices and tablets sold versus PCs.
Image Courtesy of Citrix

Having attended all four Cloud Connects, this one was by far the most in depth and comprehensive treatment of cloud computing. At last, no more defining terms and debating methods of cloud computing, this year’s conference discussed how the cloud is being used now. And also how business could leverage the cloud for more effective IT operations.  Click on the links below to read this three-part series of articles covering the 2013 Cloud Connect conference.


2013 Ethernet Tech Summit- Market Research Panel, Carrier Ethernet & Unsung Heroes by Alan Weissberger

An image depicting small cell backhaul.
Image Courtesy of Infonetics

“Ethernet Technology Summit attendance was up over 20% in 2013. Topics of special interest included software-defined networking (SDN), 40/100/400 GbE, venture opportunities, and market research.  Another highlight of the Ethernet Technology Summit was a Wednesday evening award ceremony to the “Unsung hero’s of Ethernet.” Click here to read Weissberger’s summary of this event.


From Static to Dynamic

The TELiBrahma service is demonstrated and discussed at CES 2013.
Click to view

At NAB 2013, TELiBrahma announced the release of Point 360, an, “Augmented reality marketing platform for brands and agencies that connects image recognition, video recognition, social integration and geo-targeting technology from TV to Print to Mobile.” ViodiTV got a glimpse of this development at CES, as seen in the interview with TELiBrahma’s Manoj Panedka. Click here to view.


Some Tweets and Short Thoughts:

  • Talk about missing the obvious; in the previous issue of the Viodi View, we tied Google’s broadband efforts to Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity hypothesis. What was missed is that Kurweil became a Google employee in January, as pointed out in this excellent Wall Street Journal interview/article.
  • CBS invests in SyncBak; for those of you who don’t remember what this Aereo-like service is, here is an interview we played last year about this Over-the-Top provider of Over-the-Air content.
  • No time to dig into this right now, but the Gift Clarification Rule provides an example of how people/enterprises will try to game a government subsidy program

The Korner – Bootstrapping an All Fiber Network – Part 1

“You can’t conduct your life with dial-up; this [broadband] isn’t a luxury question,” said Dr. Tim Nulty of  ecFiber.net. In part one of this two-part interview, he explains how one community is bootstrapping the creation of an all fiber network in a very rural part of Vermont. His comments, made in April 2012, were prescient of a recurring theme at the 2013 Broadband Communities Summit, that citizens cannot count on national organizations or the Federal government to bring them an advanced communications system.

Ken Pyle interviews Dr. Tim Nulty at the 2012 Broadband Communities Summit.
Click to view

He calls what they are doing as “localvesting” and emphasizes that local citizens are digging into their “piggy-banks” to finance this network that will allow their community to be able to compete and prevent emigration. And Nulty’s background as former  Principal Economist and Senior Telecom Project Officer for Telecommunications at the World Bank gives him the perspective of the importance of what this group of citizens is doing to keep their region relevant in the 21st century.

Stay tuned for part two of this two-part interview. This was one of my favorite interviews from the 2012 Broadband Summit and it was a disappointment not to see Dr. Nulty at the 2013 event. Having said that, there are a bunch of great interviews with speakers from the 2013 show that we will be sharing over the next few months. In the meantime, click here to view.

Thank you Millennium Communications Group for your support in making this video possible.

Viodi View – 04/01/13

The costs of programming have risen faster than the prices MVPDs (Multichannel Video Program Distributors) charge their customers, according to an article posted by nScreenMedia’s, Colin Dixon. Dixon reviewed financial filings from several large program distributors (Comcast, DirecTV and Time Warner) and found that revenues for these large providers have not kept apace with costs for several years. This is a good proof-point to what Jim Beattie described in my interview with him at last week’s MTA Convention in Minneapolis.


The Sports Bubble

Jim Beattie of Bevcomm is interviewed by Ken Pyle at the 2013 MTA Convention.
Click to View

Are we getting to the point where the economics of sports cable programming is no longer sustainable? That is, the high salaries of professional athletes combined with the ever-high fees from leagues flow through to the consumer and, at some point, significant numbers of customers may cut the video cord (in this scenario, the remaining subscribers would have to pay more).

Jim Beattie of Bevcomm, who moderated a panel at the Minnesota Telecom Association’s 2013 Annual Convention on the topic of accessing video programming, likens the business of sports programming distribution to the housing bubble. Stay tuned for more interviews with the other panelist’s from Beattie’s panel. In the meantime, click here to view the interview with Jim.


Multi-Screen Video Content and OTT Partnerships Enabled by New Video Network Architectures by Alan Weissberger

Evegent slide 8 depicting role of local service providers.
Image courtesy of Evergent

Until now, second screen apps for mobile devices have been used primarily for searching, browsing and selecting content for the first screen (TV); perhaps for looking up information about a particular TV program, e.g. movie review, actor bios, related programs, etc. There has not been too much OTT content being watched on those second screens, even though most pay TV customers have free access to “TV everywhere” from their provider. Some may also have access to Hulu, Netflix, etc but don’t watch those much on second screens (they use either game players or dedicated boxes like the one from Roku).

Click here to read more.


Laws Need to Keep Up With Technological Change

Roy Blunt gives his thoughts on the role of governement in telecom in this video interview.
Click to View

“Once you get broadband, then you want better broadband,” said Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) in this interview filmed at the American Cable Summit. He pointed out that small operators are challenged to continue to improve their network to keep up with demand and provide the service their customers require.

Blunt suggests that lawmakers need to be thoughtful when regulating technology-based industries, as the underlying assumptions constantly change. Click here to view.


MDUs – Challenges and Opportunities

Ken Pyle of ViodiTV interviews John Price of M3 Media regarding the challenges and opportunities of serving MDUs.
Click to View

The term MDU – Multi Dwelling Unit – often conjures images of high-rise apartments in cities. As John Price, president and owner of M3 – Multifamily Media Management, points out in this interview, MDU applies to more than just apartment buildings in urban areas. Student housing, campgrounds, hotels/resorts, marinas and senior housing, which Price indicates is the largest segment in the MDU market, are a significant part of an operator’s potential customer base, whether in low-density rural or high-density urban markets. Click here to view.


Bridging the Devices Inside and Outside the Home

Melissa Simpler provides her thoughts on the connected device in this interview with Ken Pyle at the Smart Energy Summit.
Click to View

Harmonizing the disparate devices in the home and making it simple for service providers to be the IT manager of consumers’ home networks is what Melissa Simpler of Affinegy discusses in this interview at the Smart Energy Summit. She explains how the TR-069 standard and its Auto Configuration Server (ACS) reaches beyond the home and into the mobile world bridging the work and home environments. Click here to view.


Where Are We Headed with Software-Defined Networking (SDN)? by Alan Weissberger

Image courtesy of IDC.
Image courtesy of IDC.

In the third article on the IDC Directions 2013 Conference (March 5th in Santa Clara, CA), we take a hard look at Software Defined Networking as presented by Rohit Mehra, IDC VP for Network Infrastructure. IDC firmly believes that the “3rd Platform” is the way forward and that the network is the vital link between cloud computing and mobility.  “The Cloud is evolving into a comprehensive, integrated application delivery model incorporating all four elements of the 3rd platform,” said Mr. Mehra. Click here to read more, as well as the reader comments about the impact of SDN on traditional networking approaches.


Some Tweets and Short Thoughts:

  • A picture of a hotel TV tuned to channel 40, the home of ViodiTV coverage of the 2013 MTA.
    ViodiTV on TV at MTA

    ViodiTV on channel 40 at Hyatt Regency Minneapolis. Thanks to MTA and the staff at the Hyatt Regency for their help in making ViodiTV at MTA a reality once again.

  • SMB sets example for Enterprises by using cloud for voice. Beyond cost savings; cloud offers flexibility and features; good insight from Bryan Martin of 8×8, Inc., who has done a great job turning his company into a cloud-based voice solution.
  • Excellent article from Brent Christensen of the MTA on importance of telecommuting – Stay tuned for my interview with him about the article.

The Korner – Hopeful with Lots of Opportunity at the ACA Summit with Patty Boyers

Patty Boyers talks about the challenges faced by small cable operators today and 20 years ago.
Click to View

“We have a lot of hope; we have a lot of opportunity,” is how Patty Boyers of Boycom Cablevision describes her outlook regarding her business and the community she serves. She points out that small operators are the best catalyst for bringing broadband to rural areas. Implicit in her comments is that the smaller operators are physically close to their customers and understand the demand and have the flexibility to make a viable business case that larger companies could not make.

In this interview, filmed at the ACA 20th Anniversary Summit, Boyers talks about the importance of fiber and how it works with wireless. She also touches upon the regulatory environment and where small operators could use relief and, by extension, improve the value they are able to offer their customers. Click here to view.

Positive Signs and Positive Cashflow from One Telco

Jeff Gardner, President and CEO of Windstream Communications, opened his keynote speech at U.S. Telecom’s Executive Business Forum with a note of appreciation to US Telecom for getting behind what he termed, “credit stabilization legislation.” These opening comments set the theme for his talk, which was primarily about the financial condition of his company. In doing so, he provided insight into Windstream’s thoughts on the basic business, but also on topics such as wireless and IPTV.

Gardner spoke of the transformation of Windstream Communications from a telephony-based to a broadband-centric company. As proof points, he cited metrics that showed growth in broadband customers from 81k to 934k from 2002 to present. Revenues have increased from $3.1 to $3.21 billion in that same period, which is remarkable given the ongoing voice line loss of approximately 5% per year.

Windstream was born out of a merger of Alltel’s wireline properties together with those of VALOR Communications and instantly became a top-ten telco. It is primarily a rural and suburban carrier with about 20 access lines per mile. Still, they are facing strong competition, particularly in their suburban areas, as evidenced by the fact that 50 to 55% of their markets have voice competitors and 80% of their markets have broadband competitors.

Despite this, OIBDA (Operating Income Before Depreciation and Amortization) is at 53% and Gardner indicated that the dividend was safe and, at the time of his speech, was yielding 9%. He indicated that only 15% of Windstream’s revenue results from regulation (e.g. High Cost Fund, Switched Access, etc.).

Gardner said that there are multiple secrets to Windstream’s success, including aggressive marketing at the local level. Windstream staffs at the local level and targets its marketing efforts to particular markets, as opposed to one-size-fits-all, national programs.

They are expanding distribution channels as well and are finding success in marketing to MDUs – some of Windstream’s college towns have 30 to 40% of their residences located in MDUs. Approximately 10% of their sales are coming from retail channels. Gardner suggested that they are making big investments in their save desk; they have saved some 50% of customers who were about to defect to a competitor.

He spoke of the importance of offering products that customers want. As an example, they created an offering called Greenstreak; which is targeted at those people who are wireless-only customers. Greenstreak is a broadband product which provides a metered voice line (primarily for emergencies). They have not seen cannibalization of revenue from higher priced tiers as they have carefully targeted this offering.

One of the offerings Windstream won’t be providing anytime soon is wireless, especially as an MVNO. Gardner, who has 20+ years of wireless experience, said that Windstream could not see a path to profitability for a wireless offering. He said it was very difficult, if not impossible, for a rural telco to be competitive in the wireless space.

He had similar thoughts about building out a traditional IPTV infrastructure and IPTV does not appear to be in their video plans in the near-term. With that in mind, he is very pleased with the performance of their digital video offering via their partnership with Echostar/DishTV and called it a long-term strategy. He said that they are paid in the millions of dollars per quarter in upfront commissions, plus ongoing fee for billing and collections for their 231k video subscribers.

When asked who owns the customer, he admitted that, at this point, the customer is pretty much DishTV’s. He hinted that this could change as the rollout of a hybrid satellite/on-demand via broadband offering (expected in Q1 2009) will allow much more customization of the product for Windstream.

This is consistent with their focus on enhancing the broadband experience of their customers. Approximately 85% of their customers can receive their 3 Mbs tier, 40% can receive 6 Mbs and 22 to 25% can receive 12 Mbs. To increase the value of this bandwidth, Windstream has is either offering or planning to offer services such as tech help, home network VOD and security services.

He suggested that one way to monetize its broadband infrastructure is through, “Consumer preference advertising.” This is the type of targeted advertising that has been at the center of controversy in Washington. Gardner pointed out that the industry has to figure out how to add this revenue stream to their portfolio. He believes that targeted advertising ultimately provides a better experience for the consumer, as they will receive advertisements they want to see and implied that the new advertising revenue streams will effectively subsidize consumers’ broadband subscriptions.

Finally, Gardner suggested that Windstream is well positioned for further merger and acquisitions with other telcos. He warned that the ability to enter into such transactions will be slowed somewhat by the credit markets and to not expect anything for 12 to 24 months.
 

Leased Access Rates Cut

[Editor’s Note:  Bob Primosch is a Partner with the communications law firm Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP, Washington, D.C. (rprimosch at wbklaw dot com)]

Last week the FCC released new rules cutting the rates independent programmers must pay to lease channels on cable systems.  Under federal law, cable systems must set aside up to 15% of their channels for this purpose.  The FCC lowered the ‘maximum reasonable rate’ for these channels to 10 cents per subscriber per month – however, the lower rate is not be available to programmers who offer predominantly home shopping or infomercial programming.  Cable operators seeking to charge programmers more must show that a higher rate is reasonable.   The FCC has also adopted rules designed to speed up the process of leasing channels.  Although the cable industry may appeal all of this, that may not stop the new rates from going into effect this summer.

MDU Exclusivity

[Editor’s Note:  Bob Primosch is a Partner with the communications law firm Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP, Washington, D.C. (rprimosch at wbklaw dot com)]

The FCC recently voided all exclusivity clauses in service contracts between cable systems and owners of MDUs (the cable industry has already filed an appeal and asked for a stay of the FCC’s decision).  This does not apply only to apartment buildings – it also applies to other centrally managed residential properties such as gated communities and mobile home parks.

Viodi View – 02/06/08 Issue

The Super Bowl, Super Tuesday and Mardi Gras are behind us. Lots of hype, excitement and, even some substance, associated with these events. With Mardi Gras, there is no substitution for being there. The super events, however, are better on television and even better when augmented with broadband. The intersection of broadband and television and the way these media can reinforce each other was a central theme of last week’s NATPE conference.   

Apple's booth at NATPESome of the buzz from CES was regarding the number of content providers with a serious presence at a tech show.  There was one prominent tech supplier, that wasn’t at CES, but was at NATPE showing off their content production and distribution tools.

20 to 30% of the Views Outside their DMA

The intersection of the February 17, 2009 DTV transition and the broadband video revolution and the ensuing business model disruptions was a recurring topic at NATPE. It is clear from the presentations that the broadcast networks are striving to adapt to changing business models, as evidenced by the amount of content that is available on broadband and the number of new “channels” they are developing. The local broadcasters face a larger struggle, as network broadband video threatens to cannibalize their audience share.

5% Off-Air After the DTV Transition?

Jeff Zucker, President and CEO of NBC-Universal hearkened back to a NATPE speech some 13 years ago given by his predecessor, Bob Wright, who suggested that NBC was not in the television business, but instead was in the video-in-the-home business.  Today, Zucker added to that by saying that NBC is in both the video-in-the-home and video-out-of-the-home businesses.  Click here to read more.

Pop-Up Lost – A Brilliant Move

Normally, it is easy to work and watch TV at the same time. The dialogue typically carries the shows my wife programs on the DVR. To bring people up to speed on the serial drama Lost, ABC is replaying the final episode from last year. Instead of a stale rerun, the producer added…..Click here to read more

Redefining SIP for TV

Will Richmond of VideoNuze wrote a good article as to how people are consuming media differently than in years past.  He gives an example of how a not-so geeky friend of his is using his new HDTV monitor to consume multiple media types (video, text and audio) from multiple sources (e.g. the PC, Internet, cable, games, etc).  Click here to read more.

Show Me: Marketing With Video on the Internet – The Viodi Book Review

Show Me Marketing“Before long, video on a website will be an expectation, not just an edge,” writes Jessica Kizorek in her new book, Show Me: Marketing With Video on the Internet. This book provides a strong argument that video is becoming something that needs to be an innate part of virtually any business. Just as the web used to be only for high technology companies, video has gone beyond the traditional studios and producers to encompass all kinds of businesses.  Click here to read the entire review.

FCC Updates from Robert Primosch

The FCC updates are from our friend Bob Primosch, who is a Partner with the communications law firm Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP, Washington, D.C. (rprimosch@wbklaw.com):

Primosch writes that, “It looks like it will be a very busy year for the video side. The FCC is targeting content-related issues on a variety of fronts — cable systems (including those operated by telcos) and program suppliers will be affected, perhaps substantially.”

"As they say in the TV business, stay tuned.”

Animation Software – Toon Boom Studio 4 by Roger Bindl

I found what I was looking for in Toon Boom animation software, so I’m fairly impressed with it. The initial learningClick to watch Roger's review of Toon Boom curve was slightly steep, although in reflection I realize I also struggled initially with Flash. The key difference with Studio 4 is that it accomplished two tasks that I was struggling with in Flash. One task was to create pivot points so arms and legs moved properly when I bent them at the elbow or knee.  Click here the read more.

Independent Telco Local Content – A Brief Overview

Ken Pyle discusses the keys to local content success in this presentation that was given at OPASTCO’s 2008 Winter Convention.  This video "compresses" a 25 minute live presentation into about 5 minutes. That’s part of the power of video.  Thanks to ETC 3, SCTV19 and Ringgold Telephone for the use of their videos.  Click here to view.

 

 Don’t Like Your Content Choices?  Make Some of Your Own

Viodi’s Local Content Workshop at Inland Telephone

– Feb. 26th, 2008 – Roslyn, WA

Local Content Workshop Image

This Isn’t Hot Air……. by Roger Bindl

Images of hot air balloons from the Hudson Valley Hot Air Fair

Roger Bindl makes his annual trek to the Hudson Valley Hot Air Affair. His quest to document these soaring bags of hot air has fallen short in past years.  This event is more than about fun, however, as it is also about bringing a community together and the ensuing economic development.  So, watch here to see whether Roger was successful in his oft-tried attempts to film this Midwest funfest.  Click here to view.

NATPE – Technology Driving Content or Visa-Versa

The pace of change in the content world is picking up thanks to the underlying forces of technology that is driving content distribution and advertising models.  Unlike their peers in the music industry, the video producers and content owners represented at the National Assocation of Television Programming Executives get that the world is changing and are embracing the Internet as a way to bring content to any device. 
 

From an independent telco perspective, this is good and bad.  Must be a Club Viodi member to read the rest of this article.  Club Viodi membership is restricted to independent telcos.

Other Club Viodi postings since the previous issue.

The Korner – On the Road – Some Dream, Some Do

For a number of years, I have had a not-so-secret dream of organizing a ViodiTV across America tour. In this dream, Roger and I would travel with our families visiting independent telcos and filming and documenting stories from the heartland. Sponsors would support our efforts through things like banners on the sides of our respective recreational vehicles. 

While I have been dreaming, some friends have been touring the country for real. Their reality is much bolder than my dream, as they are traveling both sponsor-free and job-free. About half way through a yearlong trip, they have proven to be adventurous beyond my dreams, as, for instance, they were in New Orleans this week for Mardi Gras. The most impressive thing about their excursion is they are home schooling of their grade-school children. You can read their story and see their pictures on their blog.

Independent telcos, email me at ken dot pyle at viodi dot com to find out how this might be relevant to what you are doing.

[Note:  We are in the middle of updating the Viodi web site.  Please be patient as we battle website gremlins.]

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