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Showing posts from February, 2006

MSOs Same-Day VOD, Theatrical Release

Dow Jones reports that Comcast Corp. and Cablevision Systems' IFC Entertainment said that they plan to make certain independent films available via video-on-demand the same day they premiere in movie theaters, starting next month. The film industry seeks to adapt to a climate of declining receipts at the box office, more sophisticated home entertainment systems, and the growing popularity of video-on-demand on cable television systems across the nation. Toward this end, movie studios are starting to show a willingness to shorten the period between a movie's theatrical debut and its first appearance on video- on-demand or DVD. Comcast and IFC said their on-demand offering, called "IFC in Theaters," will make certain films available on Comcast's VOD movie section for $5.99 each. Comcast subscribers will be able to choose from a selection of four to five independently produced films a month.

China Adds Alternative Internet Domains

The Chinese Internet becomes a reality tomorrow -- China's Ministry of Information Industry (MII) has made adjustment to China's Internet domain name system in accordance with Article 6 of China Internet Domain Names Regulations. After the adjustment, ".MIL" will be added under the top-level domain (TLD) name of "CN". A new Internet domain name system will take effect as of March 1 in China. Under the new system, besides "CN", three Chinese TLD names "CN", "COM" and "NET" are temporarily set. It means Internet users don't have to surf the Web via the servers under the management of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) of the United States. The new regulations stipulate that under "CN", two types of second-level domain names, namely categorized domain names and those for administrative regions. There'll be seven categories: "AC" for research institutions; "E

Smartphones Move Beyond Mobile Niche

Smartphones' premium prices and "supersized" form factors have historically combined with a limited demand for advanced data services to restrict them to "niche market" status. But 2006 will bring a growth spurt in the smartphone market that will see worldwide shipments more than double. The 123 million units that ABI Research forecasts will be shipped this year will give smartphones nearly a 15 percent share of the mobile phone market, according to its recent study. What will drive the expansion of smartphones beyond the current core market of early adopters? According to Philip Solis, the firm's Senior Analyst, Mobile Wireless Research, five factors lie behind the devices' growing momentum. "Increasing demand for robust data communications applications � especially mobile email and instant messaging � will play a role, particularly as 3G speeds improve the appeal of mobile data services. With increasing sales volumes, prices are falling fast, whi

24-HR Cyprus ITV Internet Only TV Channel

Informitv reports that Cyprus is claimed to be the first country in the world to have its own television channel on the internet, launched at a fraction of the cost of a conventional terrestrial or satellite television station. Cyprus ITV is a 24-hour television channel available anywhere in the world over a broadband connection. Promoting culture, leisure and business for Cyprus, the online video-on-demand service is designed to provide viewers with information about the Mediterranean island and associated businesses. Cyprus ITV has an in-house production company, shooting on high-definition video for the service. The Cyprus Tourism Organisation and the Press and Information Office on the island have will also use the channel to broadcast their own productions. The Cyprus service is an example of how internet protocol television can be used to deliver high quality video over the public internet to highly-targeted local audiences as well as a wider world abroad. The delivery techno

IPTV to Launch Price War, Not Innovation

As telcos and other new entrants to the market begin to deploy competitive pay television offerings, a new report suggests that price will be the main reason for consumers to change providers. A JupiterResearch report found that 52 percent of consumers would switch pay-TV services if they could get a better price for the same channel selection. The option of pick and mix or � la carte channel selection was cited by 46 percent of respondents. Around 20 percent said that they would switch if given a free digital video recorder, but nearly the same number said that nothing would make the them subscribe. There was apparently little interest in high-definition programming, prioritised by only 6 percent of those surveyed and only 3 percent were attracted by a greater selection of video-on-demand services. Nearly half of those questioned expressed an interest in the ability to scroll back through the schedule to watch programmes they may have missed, while 44 percent were interested in th

Google Testing Pay-per-Call Solution

New York Times reports that the company, whose empire is based on its ability to connect people and businesses through computers, is now connecting them the old-fashioned way � over the phone. Makes you wonder, why weren't the telco online Yellowpage sites trialing this innovation first? Starting late last year, the site began showing green phone icons next to selected advertisements that appear with search results. When the icon is clicked, the user is prompted to enter his or her phone number. The phone will then ring, with the business on the other end of the line (dial-up users would have to disconnect from the Internet first). Google is not charging marketers for the service yet, but analysts say it is a sure bet the company will, thereby ushering in the era of "pay-per-call" advertising in earnest. "Google's entry into this market will popularize this whole space," said Greg Sterling, an analyst with Kelsey Group, a marketing consultancy. "And g

Verizon Features Disney on Fios VOD

Verizon launched a full suite of Walt Disney Company video content on its broadband service and Fios TV on-demand platform. ABC News, Disney Online, ESPN and Movies.com are among the Disney-owned contributors to the Verizon offerings. The two companies announced a broad content agreement in September. "Verizon is a premier broadband and TV service provider, and we're happy to be working together with them to provide their customers with service offerings for every member of the family from brands they know and trust," said Ben Pyne, president of affiliate sales and marketing at Disney and ESPN Networks.

Sprint Criticized for Excluding Indie Labels

Raising concerns yet again that legacy mobile service providers don't understand the transformation taking place within the music industry, Digital Rights Agency (DRA), a digital distributor of independent label music criticized mobile network operator Sprint Nextel for failing to include independent label music on its mobile music download service. "More than three months after launching the service, and after advertising on the Super Bowl and Grammy Awards, it's simply unacceptable that Sprint continues to exclude independent labels from its full-track download service," said Digital Rights Agency managing director Tuhin Roy. While DRA has been told by Sprint that it does not have the resources to carry independent labels, DRA says it and other independent distributors have already licensed their catalogs to Groove Mobile, which powers Sprint's service. DRA claims its offering could be added to Sprint's service by "flipping a switch" at Groove Mo

Shift in Corporate Use of Wireless Services

Because of their ability to generate higher average revenues per user (ARPU), business customers continue to represent one of the most attractive market segments for wireless carriers. As they seek to expand this lucrative subscriber base, carriers need to better understand the dynamics and drivers of corporate wireless buying decisions and tailor their offerings to effectively meet the unique needs of these business users. To better help wireless carriers understand this important market, In-Stat recently completed an in-depth study based on a survey of more than 600 wireless decision-makers in the US. More than 40 percent of the respondent business wireless decision-makers were senior executives (e.g., president, owner, c-level executive) and more than 30 percent were IT or department managers. Key findings of the study include: - Overall, the average monthly bill for voice services was $87.74, with respondents reporting that average monthly bills had fallen significantly for sma

DirecTV Plans Launch of Dual-Mode VOD

Multichannel news reports that DirecTV Inc. is preparing to launch two types of video-on-demand (VOD) services: one that will be broadcast via satellite and one that will be delivered via high-speed-Internet connections. The satellite service, available sometime over the next few months, will deliver a limited set of top movies to the hard drives of DirecTV customers with digital-video recorders. Customers would pick a movie off the shelf, in effect, and pay for it at that time. The on-demand offering would also include TV shows from NBC Universal and FX, as well as other content providers. In the fourth quarter, DirecTV -- which has more than 15 million subscribers all told -- also expects to allow customers to use a high-speed connection that they purchase from any source -- be it cable company, telephone company or other provider -- to download thousands of movies and other video programs, then watch them on their television sets. This "broadband VOD" service will be ma

Redefine the Traditional Meaning of Primetime

If network television is to survive, it has to embrace the power of the Internet and redefine its traditional meaning of primetime, producer Mark Burnett said. His comments came during an industry forum luncheon at the Museum of Television & Radio in Beverly Hills where the producer of such reality series as "Survivor," "The Apprentice" and "Rock Star: INXS" lauded the creative and financial opportunities to be found throughout the online world. "The beautiful thing about the Internet is it's on-demand and naturally archived and has people forging communities," Burnett said. Adding that broadband in the office has made 9-to-5 the new television primetime, he continued, "I don't think anyone is bold enough to just do TV or the Internet ... but the Internet is clearly surpassing any network, and the future has to be the combination of the two."

China: 2006 Too Early for 3G Mobile

National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) macroeconomic research institute manager Wang Xueqing said the Chinese government should not issue 3G telecom licenses this year, reports The Beijing News. Wang said that 2006 is still too early to release licenses because the market is not mature, regardless of whether the standard is WCDMA, CDMA2000 or TD-SCDMA. In other news, China Mobile announced that it recorded 4.07 million new users in January and reached 251 million users by the end of January. Only 119,000 of the new users are contract subscribers. China Unicom also announced that it registered 1.31 million new users in January and reached 129 million subscribers at the end of January. Broken down, China Unicom had 96.06 million GSM users and 33.03 million CDMA users at the end of January, an increase of 990,000 and 316,000 new users from December, respectively. Prepaid users accounted for less than half of China Unicom's new GSM users while the majority of new CDMA user

Google Pilot to Offer Historic Films Online

Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein and Google Co-Founder and President of Technology Sergey Brin announced the launch of a pilot program to make holdings of the National Archives available for free online. This non-exclusive agreement will enable researchers and the general public to access a diverse collection of historic movies, documentaries and other films from the National Archives via Google Video (video.google.com/nara.html) as well as the National Archives website (www.archives.gov). "This is an important step for the National Archives to achieve its goal of becoming an archive without walls," said Professor Weinstein. "Our new strategic plan emphasizes the importance of providing access to records anytime, anywhere. This is one of many initiatives that we are launching to make our goal a reality. For the first time, the public will be able to view this collection of rare and unusual films on the Internet." "Today, we've begun to make

Premature Saturation: Few Net Newcomers

A new study from Parks Associates has found few new households willing to subscribe to Internet services, which will limit 2006 growth in overall Internet penetration to one percent, rising from 63 percent to 64 percent by year's end. According to "The National Technology Scan (2005)," a survey of 1,000 U.S. homes, there are currently 39 million homes without Internet access, and among these, only eight million own a computer, an obvious prerequisite for Internet adoption. Moreover, the majority of these PC households will not subscribe to an Internet service at any cost. The study found only two million offline homes are planning to get Internet services in 2006. Another 300,000 homes said they might subscribe if offered a cheaper service. At the same time, 14 million U.S. households do not have Internet service at home but access the Web at work or other locations, such as a library or an Internet caf�. "We are clearly facing a problem of demand, not supply,"

Service Delivery Platforms Gain Traction

Service delivery platforms (SDPs) continue to gain market traction as a way for telecom network providers to deliver new services quickly and inexpensively, but SDP suppliers need to do a much better job of explaining what their products do and how they fit into the overall service delivery environment, according to a major new report from Heavy Reading. Key findings of the report: SDP vendors are not doing a good job of explaining what their products do and where they fit into the market � a weakness that threatens to hamper development of the SDP market. Operators may stay with their stovepipe service delivery approach because it seems simpler than trying to understand vendors' very different � and often contradictory � architectural approaches. Or they will buy from names they've heard of, rather than exploring best-of-breed products whose descriptions they don't understand. The lack of a standard SDP reference model is having a negative impact on market development.

Consumer Electronics in a State of Flux

Consumer electronics would seem to be as competitive a field as any manufacturer could want. Manufacturers are subject to competitors who are offering different feature sets, consumers with transient tastes and unpredictable supply chains from business partners. Counting all of the business conditions, ostensibly there should be dramatic swings in global buying patterns of consumer electronics. When In-Stat forecasted the unit sales of twenty different products for the years 2003-2009, the results showed that several product groups were in flux. Of the products surveyed, In-Stat found portable digital audio players (+57.0% CAGR), LCD televisions (+52.3% CAGR), and DVD recorders (+51.4% CAGR) to be the consumer electronics devices that had the most growth. Convergence is affecting older products. Analog televisions are being squeezed out by digital televisions (a �15.3% CAGR) and fax machines (a �13.9% CAGR) are integrated into multi-function peripherals. In-Stat estimates that 200.8

Flyabout to Premiere at SXSW Film Festival

After 13 years of traveling to Austin, Texas to work on other directors films Monika Petrillo has come to Austin to premiere her own film, a personal documentary about fulfilling her lifelong dream of flying around the continent of Australia. As script supervisor for directors Rick Linklater and Robert Rodriguez on such films as The Newton Boys, Spy Kids 2, Sin City and The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3D, Petrillo has spent many months entrenched in the Austin film community and is excited to have her film premiere in the city she could call her second home. "I fell in love with Austin the first time I came here," the first-time director says. "It has a great film community where filmmakers still make the movies they want to, as opposed to LA where filmmakers so often serve the studio system instead of vice versa. I am totally happy and honored to have the premiere of Flyabout here. It's what I always dreamt of." Flyabout tells the autobiographical s

San Francisco Receives Wi-Fi Proposals

New York Times reports that Google and EarthLink have teamed up to offer to build a free citywide wireless network here � one of six proposals by companies and nonprofit groups vying to become the municipality's access provider. San Francisco joins Philadelphia, Anaheim, Calif., and other cities to push for widespread wireless access. What makes San Francisco different is that it could become the first major city to offer free access to ALL its residents. At least two of the six proposals submitted to the city would provide free access: the one from Google and EarthLink, an Atlanta-based Internet access company; and one from SF Metro Connect, a collaboration between Cisco Systems, IBM and SeaKay, a nonprofit group. Jennifer Petrucione, a spokeswoman for Mayor Gavin Newsom, said that a panel of experts planned to evaluate all the proposals by April and make a recommendation to the mayor.

Growing Hybrid Set-Top Box Demand

A new breed of digital set-top box (STB) that will receive and decode broadcast video content from satellite, terrestrial, or cable networks and interactive wireline services such as video-on-demand is finding its way into more and more households. These "hybrid" boxes are the result of government regulations and red tape that limit the kind of electronic content that particular kinds of companies can supply to the public. They also provide a faster time to market for existing broadcast operators that wish to include interactive video services. According to Michael Arden, Principal Analyst at ABI Research, the move to this format has been sparked by two scenarios. "In some countries, franchising and regulatory requirements do not allow telecom operators to broadcast certain kinds of information � essentially, they can't provide programming," he says. "So telecom operators are packaging existing satellite, terrestrial, or cable video services with interact

FTTH: Another One Million Homes Passed

Two leading telecommunications industry organizations, the Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), today announced new estimates showing FTTH deployments now passing over 3.6 million U.S. homes, an increase of almost 1 million homes in four months. The new figures, released prior to the FTTH Council�s quarterly meeting in Washington, DC next week, show the most rapid growth of FTTH deployment to date, with more than 230,000 additional homes passed every month. The figures also show acceleration among homes connected by FTTH, which normally lags homes passed by several months. Over the last four months, the estimate shows, homes connected with FTTH have increasedby 70 percent - to 548,000 subscribers from 322,000. Both organizationshave urged policymakers to reduce barriers to next-generation broadband deployment, such as streamlining cable television franchising processes and allowing municipalities to build broadband networks.

Sharp Growth in Digital Video Recorders

WSJ reports that with satellite-television broadcasters continuing to ramp up marketing of digital video recorders, a new market study projects that roughly half of their U.S. subscribers will have such devices by 2010, up from an estimated 28 percent currently. The study also predicts accelerating spread of the devices among cable-television households, with about 50 perent of those customers also having them by 2010. The report estimates that today, roughly 10 percent of cable households have so-called DVRS, which permit viewers to record, store and playback video programs and offer other enhancements to the television viewing experience. Released by The Carmel Group, a Northern California consulting firm that tracks satellite-to-home broadcasters and cable providers, the study is based on a nationwide survey and information gathered from industry officials. It forecasts a dramatic upsurge in the installed base of personal recorders, those linked to television sets in the home as w

Wi-Fi Hotzone to Cover Whole City of London

The Guardian reports that the City of London is to offer ubiquitous wireless internet access, with hardware installed in lampposts and street signs. Internet provider The Cloud is joining with the City of London Corporation to turn the entire business area into a gigantic Wi-Fi hotspot. "We feel it is important to provide this technology to maintain our position as the world's leading international financial centre," said Michael Snyder, a spokesman for the City of London. "We are responding to the increasing time pressures faced by City workers by providing the technology for them to stay up to date." As many as 350,000 workers could get internet access on the move through their laptop or palmtop computers. Users will pay through business subscriptions or pay-as-you-go accounts. The operators hope to offer access within six months. Wi-Fi hotspots, which operate by broadcasting internet signals across radio frequencies, enable anyone with a wireless-enabled d

U.S. Telco A-la-carte TV for Franchise Relief

Top telephone company executives asked the U.S. Congress to streamline cable-franchising rules during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing, engendering some sympathy from the panel. �I believe the franchising process needs to be looked at, needs to be streamlined,� said Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), a moderate making a point supported by several committee senators from both parties. �The time for a national, streamlined franchising process is now because the era of broadband video is here,� said Verizon Communications Inc. CEO Ivan Seidenberg, who accused cable of �sending their lawyers to impose on Verizon a laundry list of onerous obligations.� The franchising ruckus prompted Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to begin work on a bill that would eliminate local entry barriers if providers offered a menu of a la carte programming in conjunction with traditional programming packages. AT&T Inc. has promised a la carte offerings if allowed to by content vendors. �I don�t see why a retired perso

DirecTV Predicts Healthy Growth Forecast

DirecTV Group Inc., the country's largest satellite television provider, said it expects to add three million customers in the next three years, for a total of 18 million customers by the end of 2008. DirecTV Chief Executive Chase Carey gave the forecasts at the company's investor meeting. The company, which is controlled by media conglomerate News Corp., ended 2005 with over 15 million U.S. subscribers. After a year of heady growth in 2004, the company turned its focus on gaining more high-end customers. Tighter credit controls turned away some customers, but also decreased the number of high-risk customers. The company, which reported year- end results two weeks ago, said it added 1.2 million subscribers in 2005, compared with 1.7 million in 2004. Carey also forecast higher average revenue per user by 2008. DirecTV's revenue per user was $70 at the end of 2005. That figure is expected to reach $81 per user by the end of 2008. Monthly churn is expected to creep up. Chur

Growth of U.S. Pre-Paid Mobile Phone Service

Dow Jones reports that the pre-paid wireless customer, once scoffed at by wireless carriers, has now become a valuable source of business for the industry. Pre-paid customers offer lower revenue and margins, and are more likely to cancel their service. But with an expected slowdown in wireless growth, the carriers are more willing to open up to different avenues of growth. "You'll see a slowdown in revenue growth over the next couple of years," said Todd Rethemeier, an analyst for Soleil Securities Group. "We're running out of good customers in this industry. Do you know anyone who doesn't have a cellphone?" Take Sprint Nextel, it added 1.4 million net new customers in the fourth quarter. Of that total, 624,000 (45 percent) came from its pre-paid service Boost Mobile. The mix of pre-paid customers was surprisingly strong, and helped Sprint meet expectations. This growth also comes at a time when voice revenue is declining. Once again, Sprint posted lo

First WiMAX Certification Lab in Asia

As the industry works aggressively to develop mobile WiMAX products based on the ratified IEEE 802.16e-2005 standard, the WiMAX Forum today announced it has selected the first test laboratory dedicated to the Certification of WiMAX products in Asia. In close collaboration with the Korean government and Cetecom Laboratories, the WiMAX Forum named Telecommunications Technology Association�s (TTA) IT Testing & Certification Lab in Seoul, Korea as the first lab in Asia to become available to WiMAX Forum members to certify compatibility and interoperability of WiMAX products. The TTA (www.tta.or.kr) is an organization established to develop new standards and provide third-party, independent testing and certification services for a range of standards-based telecommunications and IT products. TTA IT Testing & Certification Lab has established relationships with a range of other certification institutions, including CableLabs, BQTF, CCF, CTIA, GCF, PTCRB and VeriTest. The WiMAX F

Consumers Call VOD Option of Last Resort

MediaPost reports that for all the hype surrounding video-on-demand TV services, usage remains low, it's getting few new subscribers, and people who do sign up tend to view it as a "last resort for television." Those are the main conclusions of "Video on Demand: Attitudes and Opportunities," a new report from consumer researcher E-Poll. What's wrong? and what has to change for VOD to succeed? Above all, consumers say VOD should be offered free, which may be good news for advertisers, indicating that advertising may be a more viable alternative to pay-per-view and subscription-baed pricing models. "There are a couple forces that are driving advertising for VOD," advises Gerry Philpott, E-Poll's president and CEO. "For cable to be competitive [other TV service providers] they'll have to offer a fair amount of free programming on demand." Consumers appears to be even more amenable to receiving targeted advertising as part of free V

EarthLink Partners EchoStar and DIRECTV

EarthLink announced separate partnerships with EchoStar Communications and DIRECTV to offer DBS satellite TV service. EarthLink will begin reselling the EchoStar's DISH service by the end of the first quarter of 2006 in select parts of the country. EarthLink will be responsible for marketing, account management, and billing inquiries. DISH Network will provide programming, installation, and technical support. In other markets, EarthLink will offer a bundled package of DIRECTV service and EarthLink Internet services. This arrangement will also start by the end of the first quarter of 2006. "EarthLink continues to evolve with the changing communications and entertainment needs of our customers," said Gary Sonnier, EarthLink vice president of consumer access products.

U.S. Internet Surfers Still Sticking with Dialup

Red Herring reports that by the end of 2005, the number of Americans with home broadband finally eclipsed the number using dialup to get online, according to the Yankee Group. But despite the best efforts of cable Internet and DSL purveyors at wooing potential subscribers, there are a lot of dialup users still out there. The U.S. home broadband population added 10.5 million people to its ranks in 2005, hitting 40.1 million users. The dialup population slipped nearly 18 percent over the same period, to 36.9 million. By the end of 2009, Yankee estimates the number of broadband users in the U.S. will hit 65.7 million, while the dialup population will shrink to just under 20 million. Dialup users aren�t shedding their slower connections more quickly for a variety of reasons. But 45.5 percent of participants in a recent survey said they weren�t switching to broadband because it was too expensive. Nearly 31 percent said they simply didn�t want a faster connection. More than 12 percent said

Charlize Theron Will Speak at SXSW Film

The South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and Festival announced the selection of panels and panelists for this year's event, starting March 10 in Austin, Texas. The panels will take place March 11-14 at the Austin Convention Center. Slated to join various discussions are Oscar-winning (and current Oscar nominee) actress Charlize Theron,as well as actor/comedian David Cross. Charlize Theron will join the panel "The Documentary Beat" on March 14, which will focus on several music documentaries and their makers at the festival. Theron produced the SXSW world premiere, 'East of Havana,' and will be joined on the panel with the film's co-producer Juan Carlos Saizarbitoria as well as filmmakers Paul Rachman ('American Hardcore'), Zach Niles & Banker White ('The Refugee All Stars'), and Margaret Brown ('Be Here To Love Me'). David Cross will join other cast members from the documentary 'Fired!,' for a book-signing and inter

AOL Promises New Service Launches

USA Today reports that America Online plans to roll out major new services over the next few months to help it compete in key Internet battlegrounds � taking on teen-networking site MySpace, voice powerhouse Skype and others, CEO Jonathan Miller said in an exclusive interview. Some of the plans, such as building a MySpace-style network onto AOL's market-leading instant messaging service, have not previously been made public. AOL is trying to keep pace with chief rivals Google, Yahoo and Microsoft as it shifts from a subscriber model to an advertising strategy, Miller says: "Job One is to make sure we're part of that group." "It makes perfect sense," says Charlene Li, analyst at Forrester Research. "The key is making a strong link with AOL Music. Part of the reason MySpace works so well is it has music." AOL has long talked about using AIM as a hub, says David Card, analyst at Jupiter Research. But as AOL struggles to win respect and ad dollars, h

Call for New Digital Media Platform Formats

As part of a special event at the annual MIPTV and MILIA convention in Cannes, BBC commissioners are calling for European multimedia and application developers to submit new digital media formats for development. "Content 360" is an initiative to encourage developers to work on new formats in collaboration with leading broadcasters. Developers are invited to present original concepts which fully exploit the creative potential of new digital platforms and maximise the interaction between audiences and broadcast television. The BBC is inviting pitches for mobile platforms and user-generated content, archive navigation, and next-generation collaborative web concepts. Nominees will pitch their projects to a panel of BBC commissioners and the winners will receive BBC development funding of up to 15,000 euros each. The Korean Broadcasting Commission, KBC, will sponsor a category for DMB or digital media broadcasting, mobile content and applications. The National Film Board of Ca

Social Computing Empowering the Individual

Forrester Research reports on "How Networks Erode Institutional Power, And What to Do About It" -- Easy networked connections brought about by cheap devices, modular content, and shared computing resources are having a profound impact on our global economy and social structure. Individuals increasingly take cues from one another rather than from institutional sources like corporations, media outlets, religions, and political bodies. To thrive in an era of social computing and the connected consumer, companies must abandon top-down management and communication tactics, weave communities into their products and services, use employees and partners as marketers, and become part of a living fabric of brand loyalists. Between August 2004 and July 2005, social computing tools like blogs and Really Simple Syndication (RSS) grew dramatically across the board. Consumers regularly use blogs twice as much as they did the year before, with 10 percent now reading them at least once a we

TIM & Samsung Test WiBro Network in Italy

Italian mobile operator TIM, a subsidiary of Telecom Italia, and South Korean handset maker Samsung are testing Europe's first WiBro mobile network during the Turin Olympic Winter Games. Developed by Samsung, WiBro is a mobile WiMAX technology that can boost mobile broadband access speeds up to 20/30 Megabits per second. The commercial roll-out of WiBro services in Korea is scheduled to begin in the first half of 2006. WiBro-enabled phones allow always-on connection to mobile broadband, eliminating connection delays to deliver a service similar to fixed-line broadband. With WiBro, it is possible to place video calls to multiple users simultaneously, send content to multiple recipients simultaneously and consult documents and images stored on the phone while surfing the internet or speaking. The technology reportedly does not suffer from signal quality dropouts, even on fast-moving vehicles. During the Turin 2006 Olympic Winter Games, Samsung and Telecom Italia will preview WiBro

Cable MSO Opportunity in Enterprise Market

Light Reading reports that instead of waging a costly war with the telcos over video subscribers, cable companies should go on the offensive in the $100 billion U.S. enterprise market. So says a new report titled "Cable vs. Telcos: The Battle for the Enterprise Market." Heavy Reading analysts conducted surveys with 112 people responsible for purchasing telecom services for U.S. enterprises. The results showed that many U.S. businesses, especially small- and medium-sized ones, are comfortable with the idea of buying their telecom services from the cable guys. The telcos have traditionally won the lion's share of the enterprise business in the U.S. while the MSOs have failed to make meaningful inroads, says Sterling Perrin, the Heavy Reading analyst who penned the report. Cox Communications Inc. , for example, is regarded as the most aggressive MSO in the space yet makes only 6 percent of its revenue there. Heavy Reading's research shows that the cable guys are too p

India's VSNL International Gains Teleglobe

VSNL, a provider of international communication solutions based in India, has announced the completion of its acquisition of Teleglobe. By leveraging Teleglobe's assets, VSNL International is poised to deliver a portfolio of next-generation carrier and enterprise solutions worldwide. The combined company will own and operate an international mobile, data and voice network with coverage in more than 240 countries and territories. The foundation of the new company's services will be the integration of VSNL's pan-India presence and cable diversity to and from India and Teleglobe's network. With its acquisition of Teleglobe, VSNL's wholesale customers can benefit from greater network reach and one provider for voice, data and mobile services. As part of its strategy to deliver next-generation solutions, VSNL International will leverage Teleglobe's network and capabilities to further expand services offered through its Global Business Pathway initiative.

NBC TV Created Olympic Web Alliance

It's unlikely that even the most ardent Olympics fan can sit at home to watch all 418 hours of NBC's coverage from Turin, Italy. The network, therefore, pumped up its online presence and entered alliances with Google, ESPN.com, Apple, TV Guide, MobiTV, Zingy and other companies to extend its reach far beyond the television set. "We know that Americans are consuming their media across different platforms," NBC Olympics president Gary Zenkel said. "Although nothing will duplicate the shared experience of watching a big event like the Olympics on television, the reality is that people are on the go and at their desks. Our objective was to create deep and compelling and rich offerings of Olympic coverage on these mobile applications -- and I'm including the Internet with that." The network worked with Internet Broadcasting to create the official online home NBCOlympics.com, which was designed to provide easy access to individualized television listings acr

18 Billion Videos Streamed Online in 2005

The number of Internet video streams served in 2005 was up 50 percent over 2004, to 17.95 billion, with 85 percent of these streamed at broadband rates, according to a report from market research firm AccuStream Research. Surfers also tuned into more streaming Web radio stations, as aggregate tuning hours for 2005 were 43 percent higher than the previous year. Music was the top video category online again in 2005, accounting for 45 percent of all video streams served. In addition to traffic generated by new independent streaming video sites, like Break.com, StupidVideos.com, Roo and VideoDetective, the largest streaming video networks remained part of large portals like AOL, Yahoo and RealNetworks, AccuStream said. "Syndication agreements between large content brands such as FoxSports and MSN Video, CBS and ABC with AOL, along with ESPN and high-speed network providers suggests streaming media is following a maturation path carved out by major broadcast, cable and satellite dist

Local Search and Online Classified Ad Boom

Growth in tradition local advertising -- including classifieds and print Yellow Pages -- will be flat or negative in the coming five years, but advertising in the online version of the same media will grow significantly, according to a new forecast by the Kelsey Group. The group is predicting that local search, including online Yellow Pages, will grow 30.5 percent, to $13 billion in 2010. Interactive classifieds are projected to grow 7.9 percent per year to reach $21.1 billion in that same time, from $14.4 billion in 2005. Print Yellow Pages revenues will grow by just 1.5 percent to $28.4 billion, while global offline classifieds will drop by .2 percent to $78.5 billion, by 2010. "The traditional products, the newspaper classifieds, and print Yellow Pages are going to see flat or negative growth, and negative growth in the case of classifieds," said Kelsey Group Analyst Greg Sterling. "We're going to see a trend towards more performance media, where value is proven

Investment Opportunities from DVR Growth

Jupiter Research estimates that 13.7 million U.S. households already have a digital video recorder, with that figure expected to grow to 54.7 million by the end of 2010. That kind of growth usually should spell rewards for investors who know where to look. Some say that TiVo Inc. -- the only pure-play on rapid DVR adoption -- is the best way to play the growth wave, while others advise avoiding TiVo, which faces severe competition. Instead, some analysts suggest, investors should look to the less-sexy companies that make either the DVR boxes or the stuff that goes into them. Disk-drive maker Seagate Technology, which is acquiring competitor Maxtor Corp., is the best way to invest in the trend, Hoefer & Arnett analyst Mark Miller said. Seagate shipped 2.4 million DVR disk drives in the fourth quarter, while Maxtor and another competitor, Western Digital Corp., shipped 1.3 million each.

Microsoft Office Live Basics Beta Tester

I'm participating in the Microsoft Office Live Basics beta program. I will review the features, and write an assessment when the beta test period has concluded. You can monitor my ongoing evaluation by visiting my beta web site -- yes, it's under construction -- at http://www.geoactivegroup.com Microsoft Office Live Basics offers a collection of free advertiser supported services that will provide a small business with the core requirements for establishing an online identity. Services include a company domain name; five e-mail accounts using that company domain name, each with 2 GB of storage; a Web site with 30 MB of file storage space; an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop design tool for creating a compelling, professional-quality Web site; and the Microsoft Office Live Site Reports tool for monitoring and analyzing Web site traffic.

Chicago Plans Citywide Wi-Fi Hotzone

USA Today reports that the nationwide rush to go wireless appears poised to extend to its biggest city yet. Chicago is launching an effort to offer wireless broadband, city officials said Friday, jumping on the Wi-Fi bandwagon as similar initiatives proceed in Philadelphia, San Francisco and smaller cities. Chicago has hundreds of Wi-Fi hotspots in places like coffee shops, bookstores and libraries, where anyone can walk in, sit down and connect to the Web. Hoping to extend that wireless blanket to all 228 square miles, the city plans to ask technology companies this spring to submit proposals for the project. While it's too soon to say how the system would operate, the goal is to make Internet access "broad and affordable" for residents and heighten Chicago's appeal for businesses and tourists alike, according to Chris O'Brien, the city's chief information officer.

DSL Aggregation Ports Up 38 Percent

Worldwide DSL aggregation hardware DSL ports jumped 38 percent between 2004 and 2005, from 59.8 million to 82.3 million, and revenue increased 23 percent, from $5.19 billion to $6.37 billion, according to Infonetics Research's latest DSL Aggregation Hardware report. "We are seeing tremendous growth in the deployment of IP-based DSLAMs, with total revenue up 25 percent for the fourth quarter and up 124 percent for 2005," said Jeff Heynen, directing analyst at Infonetics Research. "Worldwide, service providers are rolling out high-bandwidth services, including IPTV and video on demand, which require the flexibility and throughput of IP-based platforms." Market Highlights - Worldwide total DSL port shipments increased 9 percent between 3Q05 and 4Q05 - For 2005, Alcatel maintains its top position in worldwide DSL aggregation revenue and port market share, followed by Huawei and Siemens - Tellabs moves into the number-three spot for fourth quarter worldwide DSL ag

New Tech Marketing Performance Matrix

IDC's CMO Advisory Practice announced its new Marketing Performance Matrix, which for the first time draws a direct correlation between a company's internal marketing operational efficiency and its effectiveness in marketplace execution. The Matrix indicates the relative position of tech marketers along two dimensions: efficiency of internal operations, and effectiveness or proof of results. IDC identified several companies within the marketing leadership quadrant of the Marketing Performance Matrix, including Adobe, Cisco, EMC, Intel, Oracle, SAP and Symantec. "The marketing function in tech is undergoing significant fundamental change. All tech marketers need to improve their effectiveness and IDC research demonstrates that a number of leaders are emerging," states Michael Gerard, research director for IDC's CMO Advisory Practice. "IDC will identify and then analyze the marketing management practices of these leaders, with the objective of sharing their te

Sponsored Search Links Grow 16 Percent

Nielsen//NetRatings announced that the number of sponsored link advertising impressions on the Google and Yahoo! ad platforms grew 16 percent, from 55.4 billion to 64.3 billion, between August 2005 and January 2006. This accounts for sponsored link impressions not only on the Google and Yahoo! Web sites, but also in their respective search and contextual advertising networks. �Despite the overwhelming market share that Google and Yahoo! search enjoy, they continue to see strong growth in the volume of sponsored links,� said Ken Cassar, chief analyst, Nielsen//NetRatings. �While Google, in particular, seeks to diversify its revenue, it is a positive sign that its core search advertising business remains robust.� Although Google had more sponsored link impressions in January, Yahoo! is gaining ground. During the last six months, Yahoo's sponsored links have grown 21 percent to 23.2 billion, while Google's have grown 14 percent to 41.1 billion

Rich Media and Sponsors Join Search Boom

Skyrocketing spending in the search category � the core business for Google � has paced the entire Internet advertising sector, but Kagan Research forecasts two other categories will boom as well in the 10 years ahead. The Internet categories of rich media and sponsorships will experience compound annual growth rates (CAGR) from 2006-2016 of more than 10 percent, according to soon to be published Kagan databook Advertising Forecasts 2006: U.S. Market Trends & Data for All Major Media (fourth edition). Search is also forecast to be a 10 percent CAGR advertising category. Search was a $4.95 billion gross advertising category in 2005 accounting for 41.5 percent of the $11.9 billion in total gross Internet advertising for last year. In all, there are eight categories � using the format of the Interactive Advertising Bureau � for Internet advertising, including slower growing email, slotting fees, display ads, classifieds and referrals.

Retail Store to Mimic Virtual Shop Experience

Business Week reports that J.C. Penney will open a physical manifestation of the much-hyped virtual store at New York's Times Square in March. We've been hearing about the virtual store for many years now, with the hype growing to a crescendo during the first coming of the Internet, and peaking just before the tech wreck. Since then, e-commerce has been growing steadily towards inevitable dominance at some point in the distant future. A spectacular initiative from American department store retailing institution J. C. Penney might cause everybody to rethink how e-commerce and the future of retailing might unfold though. The company will construct a 15,000-square-foot physical manifestation of the virtual store at One Times Square on the corner of 42nd Street and Broadway, in New York City. The opening of this temporary virtual store from March 3-26, in which shoppers can purchase the company's full range of merchandise at interactive kiosks, marks a significant developmen

SXSW Adds Digital Convergence Panels

The Digital Convergence Initiative (DCI) announced it is organizing a conference track for SxSWi, the South by Southwest Interactive Festival, ground zero for the digital creatives who push the cutting edge of technological change, March 10-14, 2006, in Austin, Texas. DCI's conference track features 12 panels between March 11 and March 14 addressing "Digital Convergence and Creativity" (March 11-12) and "Digital Convergence and Commerce" (March 13-14). Aimed at the creators of content, inventors of technology, and the entrepreneurs and investors who create new businesses and industries, the panels explore digital convergence, a process that flattens and blurs the barriers between formerly discrete business sectors -- film, video, games, semiconductors, training, education, telecomm and wireless services, music, entertainment, healthcare and medical devices and services, computers and personal devices, home electronics, information technology, security, digital

Telcos Can Differentiate with Customer Care

Telecommunications customers in the U.S. and U.K. have a loud-and-clear message for their service providers: Customer service matters more than cost. That's one key finding from a new survey about attitudes toward telecommunications companies. Signaling their frustration over service, 57 percent of those responding said they'd pay $5 more a month if it meant they wouldn't have to wait on hold or talk to multiple CSRs when they contact call centers. The findings show that "keeping customers happy isn't just about reducing costs," said Michael Matthews, chief marketing officer of the survey's sponsor Amdocs Ltd., in a prepared statement. The survey of 1,000 U.S. and U.K. consumers was conducted by an independent research firm on behalf of Amdocs, which provides customer billing and customer-relationship management software to telecommunications providers including AT&T, Sprint-Nextel and Comcast Corp. The survey was released Feb. 13. Among the study f

Telcos Drive 45 Percent of DirecTV Gains

BellSouth Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc. accounted for almost one-half of net direct-broadcast satellite subscriber additions for DirecTV Inc. in the fourth quarter of 2005, which is believed to be the first time DirecTV�s telco additions almost matched DirecTV's share. DirecTV added 200,000 subscribers in the quarter. With BellSouth reporting 40,000 additions and Verizon 50,000, the two telcos accounted for 90,000 additions, or 45 percent of DirecTV�s total. EchoStar Communications Corp. has yet to announce its fourth-quarter numbers, but SBC Communications Inc. (now AT&T Inc.) said it added 134,000 video subscribers in 2005. Verizon said it now counts 350,000 DirecTV subscribers, while BellSouth said it has 523,000.

3G Wireless is Here, But Too Complex

Reuters reports that they used to brag about how fast their networks are, but this year's visitors to the world's top wireless trade fest, 3GSM, will have more serious matters to discuss. With 79 percent of British consumers complaining mobile services are getting more complicated in a recent survey, the mobile phone industry is looking more than ever for mass-market services. Mobile carriers already operate 91 Wideband-CDMA networks around the world, but the 50 million subscribers on these networks with new phones are still a drop in the bucket of the global total of 2.2 billion mobile phone subscribers. The new networks cost hundreds of billions of euros and they are not being used enough, due to the lack of mass-market services. Data services only generate between 13 and 25 percent of total revenues for most European operators and less than 10 percent for U.S. mobile carriers, with old-fashioned text messaging still generating the bulk of this. "Mobile media promises

Online Music Service 2006 Outlook

Point Topic reports that 2005 was a big year for the online delivery of music. By October 2005, Apple�s iTunes service had sold 600 million tracks worldwide, and Apple had shipped over 30 million iPod music players by the end of the year. International music industry body the IFPI estimated that downloads accounted for around 6 percent of total music sales in the first half of 2005. However, although music sites do not have the overheads of a physical music retailer, there are significant running costs involved. There are catalogues to build, involving complex negotiations with rights holders, often repeated for individual countries. And there are value-added features to create, such as band interviews, playlists or talkboards. This all takes investment. So with these low margins, what does 2006 hold for the online music industry? In an area with such rapid growth, it is risky to make predictions. But 2005 showed that online music is a service that people want and will pay for, so t

Implications of Cisco Home Media Strategy

Rutberg and Company offers analysis of Cisco's emerging strategy within the consumer electronics sector -- In the enterprise market, Cisco's entry into a product category typically presents formidable challenges to private companies in that category. However, we believe that Cisco's entry in the consumer electronic markets presents a relatively positive scenario for certain private companies, including even those with competing products and services. In general, home media networking uncertainties include what the home media network architecture will look like and what roles will be performed by service providers, consumer electronics companies, and individual consumers. In a Cisco/Linksys-driven scenario, the consumer purchases and builds the network elements, and as such retains influence if not control over the network's content and service offerings. Given Cisco's open-platform approach, private companies, such as those offering home networking products or

Wireless Downloads for Nintendo DS

Nintendo unveiled plans to let players wirelessly download free game demos, trailers and other content to their Nintendo DS portable devices from thousands of kiosks across the country during the Academy of Interactive Arts and Science's DICE 2006 Summit in Las Vegas. The initial details of the digital distribution project were outlined by Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo executive vp sales and marketing, during his keynote speech, during which he spoke of the expanded wireless capabilities of the Nintendo DS and the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. He said deals already are in place to have the kiosks placed in such specialty retail stores as Gamestop, EB Games and Game Crazy. Fils-Aime added that Nintendo is in advanced discussions with Target and Wal-Mart to add kiosks in their stores, and that he expects the initiative to expand beyond retail premises. Japanese fans already can download Nintendo DS content at train stations.

U.S. Market Study: IPTV Poised for Growth

The Internet appears to be the threshold of new technology these days, and the future of TV may be in its hands. A recent survey by Harris Interactive conducted among U.S. adults explores consumer awareness and interest in and the potential impact of IPTV, an upcoming digital television service that is delivered through Internet protocol over a broadband connection. Despite limited availability in the United States, more than half (56 percent) of all U.S. adults say they have heard of IPTV and substantial numbers indicate interest in adopting it for use on their TVs and home PCs. The survey also shows how the adoption of IPTV may impact cable and satellite providers and the types of providers that may be able to capitalize on this new technology. The most recent study was conducted online from December 2 to 8, 2005 among 1,039 U.S. adults. Many adults expressed a great deal of interest in the interactive features IPTV has to offer, the most popular of which include: �The ability to

U.S. IP-enabled Connected Home Forecast

The connected home era has finally arrived, according to the latest research from Strategy Analytics. US sales of IP-enabled devices in 2005 rose by over 500 percent to 16 million units, as consumers rushed to buy IP-enabled games consoles, entertainment PCs and digital video recorders. This report, "Quantifying the Digital Home Opportunity," predicts that by 2010 US households will own more than 330 million IP-enabled devices that will be able to share and access music and video across home networks. "Connected," or "IP-enabled," devices allow consumers to share content and entertainment applications across a home network. Major technology providers, such as Cisco/Linksys, Intel and Sony, are heavily promoting a new era of digital consumer electronics built around the connected home network. Early success stories include portable gaming devices from Sony and Nintendo, Microsoft's Xbox 360 and TiVo's latest DVRs. Peter King, Connected Home Devic

Mobile TV Phone Handset Sales Forecast

Strategy Analytics predicts that TV phone sales revenue will soar from $5 Billion in 2006 to over $30 Billion by 2010. In the critical path are enabling technology vendors like Qualcomm, TI, ATI, Philips and STM Microelectronics who must help handset vendors work through the inevitable size/design/power/integration and price trade-offs in the post camphone mobile era. Report author, Neil Mawston, Associate Director in the Global Wireless Practice, notes, "Japan and Korea dominate market volumes today, accounting for over 80 percent of TV phones sold in 2006. However, Western Europe and North America, as well as China, will be the hot spots for global volume growth over the next few years. We expect Western Europe to ramp up to over 1 Million units sold this year, with North America and China coming online in 2007. The share of TV phone volume held by Japan and Korea will drop precipitously to under 50 percent by 2008, and under one third by 2010." Chris Ambrosio, Director

Digital Direct-to-Home Pay-TV Revenues

Digital Direct-to-Home (DTH) pay-TV revenues continue to grow at a faster rate than subscribers, as annual average revenue per user (ARPU) grows with price increases and additional services, reports In-Stat. Revenues will be US$46 billion in 2005 and will rise to US$80 billion in 2009. "In countries where DTH pay-TV has been available for over five years, as in North America and Europe, the market is mature and subscriber growth is slowing," says Michelle Abraham, In-Stat analyst. "Where DTH pay-TV platforms were launched after 2000, subscriber growth rates are higher. In India, for example, DTH pay-TV subscribers are expected to have tripled in 2005." In-Stat found the following: - The digital DTH pay-TV market is now in its 12th year, with 60 platforms in countries around the world. - By the end of 2008, there will be 100 million digital DTH pay-TV subscribers, continuing the DTH reign as the top digital TV platform. - The expected launch of a DTH pay-TV plat

Media Center Notebook Computer Sales

Current Analysis reports that Media Center notebook computer sales experienced an unprecedented spike in U.S. retail in January 2006, doubling in the number of sales from December 2005 and capturing 16 percent share of the U.S. retail notebook market. In conjunction with the sales spike, the average selling price (ASPs) of these systems sharply declined; the ASPs of Media Center systems dropped to $1,251 in January 2006, which represents a 28 percent price decline from the previous month and a 49 percent price decline from January 2005. The growth seen in sales of Media Center systems without tuners in both the desktop and notebook markets demonstrates consumers� usage patterns with Media Center systems. Consumers are willing to pay a slight premium for Media Center systems in order to organize, store and share their digital libraries, but they are not yet ready to marry their PC to their TV. The reluctance to connect PC and TV is two-fold: Consumers are not willing to pay a signifi

Latest FCC Report on U.S. Video Competition

Converge Network Digest reports that competition among multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs), including cable operators, direct broadcast satellite (DBS) providers, local exchange carriers (LECs) and others, continues to provide U.S. consumers with increased choice, better picture quality, and greater technological innovation, according to the latest FCC report on video competition. TV viewership is at its highest level since television viewing was first measured by Nielsen Media Research in the 1950s. The average American watches 4 hours, 32 minutes each day, a record high. Highlights of the report: * The number of TV households and the number of MVPD subscribers increased in the past year. As of June 2005, there were 109.6 million TV households, compared to 108.4 million in June 2004. Of that number, approximately 94.2 million TV households subscribe to an MVPD service, as compared to 92.2 million as of June 2004. * Cable serves the largest percentage of MVPD subscri

IFTA Mobile Video Licensing Guidelines

The Independent Film & Television Alliance has mailed out more than 1,500 copies of its guidelines on licensing for wireless transmission of content to mobile handheld devices, according to IFTA president and CEO Jean Prewitt. Prewitt said the guidance was a must for her myriad members -- sellers doing business in the international marketplace. "European buyers started leaning on people to ask for these rights just after the end of (last year's) American Film Market," Prewitt said in an interview. "The guidelines try to outline how to do business for what are generally considered to be market-recognized technology." The Independent Film & Television Alliance was established in 1980 as the American Film Marketing Association. Its first members were a group of distributors and sales agents whose main goal was to expand the independent film business by creating a world-class trade show, the American Film Market (AFM). Today, the association has evolved

Wireless Data Services Face Tough Sell

Lack of perceived value by consumers for 3G bandwidth indicates continued downward pressure on cellular data pricing, and will also dampen prospects for fee-based Wi-Fi service providers and aggregators, reports In-Stat. Nevertheless, because consumer enthusiasm for free Wi-Fi is ample, Wi-Fi hotspot operators do have an opportunity to exploit the technology�s low barriers to entry and its horizontal business model. "Both cellular and Wi-Fi are currently serving mobile data users" says Allyn Hall, In-Stat analyst. "However, so far, neither service has found the sweet spot, the perfect balance of speed, coverage, and price." In-Stat found the following: - Amongst Wi-Fi users, more than 60 percent sometimes or always plan their travel with Wi-Fi availability as a consideration. - 1Q04�1Q05 year-on-year Wi-Fi revenue and shipment growth was strong, but quarter-on-quarter growth figures show an overall slowdown. - According to an In-Stat consumer survey, laptop/noteb

Microsoft Global Mobile Messaging Alliances

Dow Jones reports that Microsoft said it has formed global alliances with a raft of mobile-phone operators to drive take-up of messaging over mobile phones, specifically in the enterprise market. Microsoft has identified advanced mobile-phone operating systems as a key growth driver. Its Windows Mobile software powers smart-phones, high-end handsets with computer-like functionality, and it competes predominantly against Symbian PLC and Linux-based systems. The market for smart-phones is expected to grow significantly in the coming years as costs come down and consumers become accustomed to using handsets for applications other than voice calls and short messages. Microsoft said that the integration of its Windows Mobile 5.0 push email system with its Exchange and Small Business Server technology will reduce costs for businesses deploying mobile messaging systems because the companies won't need to pay for additional email servers.

Interactive TV Innovations for Winter Olympics

Informitv reports that digital viewers to BBC television are able to receive some 500 hours of programming, up to 15 hours a day, through a choice of up to four extra screens, offering live events and news round-ups. The multiscreen service is similar to that for the last Summer Olympics, and indeed the last Winter Olympics, supported by news, results, medal tables and a viewing planner. Broadband users in the UK are also able to access five channels of simulcast coverage, together with on-demand highlights. Among other innovations is the use of digital video effects to enhance the BBC coverage by combining representations of time and space. SimulCam provides a composite picture of two participants apparently competing at the same time, demonstrating where time is won or lost and the different lines taken. StroMotion is used in skating and snowboarding coverage to show a composite series of frames to illustrate body position and technique. The patented technologies are provided by Da

Is 2006 the Year of the Digital Home?

Digital Home magazine reports that as the dust settles after this year�s CES, it�s becoming easier to pick out the key technologies that will shape 2006. Think high definition video, entertainment computing, Internet-based content delivery and portable digital entertainment. In many ways, these are the same set of technologies that dominated CES last year, but in 2005 they had little mainstream impact due to either (a) the absence of core content to drive them forward or (b) the lack of available (and affordable) hardware. While the US, Japan and Australia enjoyed HDTV broadcasts in 2005, Europe was only just starting the switch to digital television; Media Center was still struggling to win living room acceptance; and TV companies and Hollywood studios were questioning the flaky security of IP content delivery, while publicly nit-picking the specs of next-generation disc formats. Only portable digital entertainment was making any serious in-roads into the global consciousness � App

3G Mobile Reference Design Announced

DMEurope reports that Freescale Semiconductor, Nokia and Symbian have announced that they have jointly created a 3G mobile phone reference design, reportedly the world's first such design. The design uses Freescale's single core modem and runs S60 software on Symbian OS. The design is intended to reduce manufacturers' development time to address the mid-tier 3G market. The design is based on Freescale's MSC300-30 platform, which the US chip maker is showing at 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona. The design also includes a pre-integrated development and verification environment, saving manufacturers testing time. Elekotrobit, a wireless technology design and testing company, has implemented the design into a reference phone. With the design and reference phone, handset manufacturers are expected to save a great deal of time and money usually spent on development and testing, which can sometimes take as long as 18 months.

Broadcast TV Not Hurt by VOD, So Far

People's love of traditional television does not ebb when they get video-on-demand services in their home. A report found no evidence that using VOD cuts into the time viewers spend watching regular broadcasts. At least, not yet. The study by Nielsen Media Research and Comcast Corp. was presented at the Cable and Telecommunications Association for Marketing's On-Demand Consortium in New York. During the three-month study of VOD customers in Philadelphia, households that used Comcast's On Demand service watched traditional television for an average of 723 minutes per day. That works out to 9 percent higher than all digital cable households and 38 percent higher than all cable households.

BT Adds 700,000 Broadband DSL Lines

BT reported 0.7 million broadband additions in its latest fiscal quarter. BT Retail's share was 31 percent. The number of BT Wholesale connections now standing at more than seven million. Highlights for the quarter: * Revenue was 4,946 million Pounds Sterling, up 8 percent (3 percent excluding acquisitions) * New wave revenue of 1,607 million pounds, up 42 percent, now represents one third of total * EBITDA before specific items(1) and leaver costs of 1,404 million pounds, down 8 million pounds * Profit before taxation, specific items(1) and leaver costs of 568 million pounds, up 2 percent * Earnings per share before specific items(1) and leaver costs of 5.1 pence, up 4 percent