Archives For Broadband

Philly Gets the WiMAX Love

Mari Silbey —  November 6, 2009

Clear WiMAX launch philadelphia 5

Philadelphia got its official Clearwire WiMAX launch yesterday with a celebration in the city’s Love Park. I say official because Clear’s 4G service has been available in the Philly metro area for just over a month now. I signed up with my own Motorola USB modem (filched, with permission, from my employer at a trade show), and the discount pricing on offer for the first six months of use. So far, it’s been a joy, even out in the western suburbs where I reside.

Along with the official Clear launch came news this week that Comcast is also starting to market WiMAX services in Philly through its relationship with Clearwire. However, while Comcast WiMAX market rollouts are very closely following Clearwire’s own, yesterday’s launch event appears to have been all in the signature green of the Clear brand. More lemon/lime pics below. Thanks, Derek!


There’s some good news and there’s some bad news. I’ll give you the good news first. Digeo, the shepherds of the Moxi DVR experience, has escaped bankruptcy and liquidation. With what I assume have been slowing cableco sales and poor retail sales, Arris (ARRS) has stepped in and essentially bailed them out for a mere $20 million. There’s also some good news for the non-executive and non-HR Digeo staff… who will be retained. For now.

The bad news is well known by the investors and owners who’ve taken a bath on such a promising property (Moxi) that never really gained the traction and following it probably deserved. There’s been all sorts of chatter regarding the $110 million investment Digeo, a Paul Allen Vulcan property, made in Moxi back in 2002. But that’s just a portion of the total amount that’s been keeping these guys afloat. Several hundred on the payroll is not a trivial expense, never mind development costs and infrastructure expenses. Which is probably why they’ve trimmed down to a lean 75 employees, the most recent and notable reduction coming as a massive re-org and re-focus in January, 2008.

Arris, who seems to primarily serve the cable industry with IP communications, intends to round out their portfolio with a multimedia end-user offering in acquiring Digeo. They see value in the Moxi experience, but perhaps equally important, they see value in Digeo’s intellectual property portfolio. Arris says Moxi customers, cable or retail, should not expect any interruption in service and that updates will continue to flow. But anyone who objectively analyzes the current US landscape will see little opportunity for a retail DVR to find wide success.

Which is why I expect the Moxi HD DVR to take a backseat to a renewed focus on serving cable providers. Although, as DirecTV continues to serve ReplayTV owners, the few Moxi HD DVR customers should continue receiving guide data for some time – even with a de-emphasis on retail. Additionally, I expect hardware prices will probably be slashed in the near future to unload inventory that they can’t move at $800/pop.

My pal Tim has been mucking about in the newish DirecTV widget platform and, based on his video above, isn’t all that impressed. (Which may be partially attributed to DirecTV’s house brand of DVR which doesn’t function as smoothly his former DirecTiVo models. He’s just a little bitter.) While DirecTV’s “App Store” (Flickr, Twitter, weather, etc) seems too slow in his home to be usable, I prefer this on-box Internet app overlay experimentation to the connected television trend –  folks will purchase/upgrade their sets with much less frequency.

Mapping Television Online

Mari Silbey —  September 16, 2009

Mapping online TV Verizon Comcast Time Warner Cable AT&T Hulu

The landscape of television online is changing so rapidly, it’s hard to keep up. Since the announcement of TV Everywhere trials by Comcast and Time Warner Cable, Verizon has jumped into the mix, and AT&T has started testing its own TV portal site. Comcast’s Stephen Burke has also announced that the initial Comcast trial will go national in the next 30 to 60 days – a far more optimistic timeline than those presented at the TV Everywhere breakfast in New York last month.

That’s all on the good side. On the bad side, there’s word over at Multichannel News that Hulu is considering a new subscription model. It’s not surprising, but we may soon be paying to watch free broadcast TV channels online. Given that ads still don’t bring in TV-level cash on the Net, a subscription model makes sense. Don’t be mad. As Mark Cuban (rightly) rants, subsidized TV is not a constitutional right. Better to focus on getting the pay-TV providers to roll out their TV Everywhere services faster, faster, faster. At least we’ve already written the check for that content.

Having trouble keeping up? Don’t worry. It’s only going to get more chaotic and confusing for a while. But if I can ultimately watch my shows anywhere I go, I can live with that.


While I’m a little late to this particular mile high club, I finally experienced the joy of in-flight WiFi last Friday. Unlike Boeing’s now defunct Connexion satellite solution, it appears that most domestic airlines are utilizing Aircell’s Gogo service – essentially 3G EVDO connectivity in the sky. On my cross country Virgin America flight, the prices for Internet access were more than reasonable: $13 for a laptop or $8 for a handheld. Although, as we discovered, we didn’t need to pay for each device, periodically swapping the connection between Macbook, iPhone, and Blackberry.

Not only were Gogo’s download speeds (and latency) perfectly suitable for typical web browsing, I also had no probs with SD YouTube video (above). In fact, after seeing how quickly the buffer filled, I gave HD a shot. Giving it a minute to build a buffer worked out fine as well. (In fact, I’m more stoked than ever about Call of Duty, Modern Warfare 2. Come November 10th, you can safely expect a period of blog silence.)

Officially, in-flight VoIP is restricted. Which is probably a good thing given how loudly most folks talk into their cell phones. However, when Melissa connected her 8900 Curve to check for email, T-Mobile’s UMA service automatically kicked in. I wouldn’t say it was very usable, with frequent audio drop outs, but the fact that she could check voicemail from 36,000 feet was inspiring.


Right on schedule, the Vudu experience has landed on select broadband-connected LG televisions – making good on the promise to diversify their distribution strategy. Additionally, they’ve inked a deal to bring Vudu on-demand movie streaming, now reworked as a CDN play versus their P2P roots, to select Mitsubishi HDTVs being released later this month. These 1080P Unisen Diamond models retail pricing starts at $2800, although Mitsubishi will kindly underwrite your first $50 of rentals from Vudu’s library of 16,000 titles. (Given my current gypsy lifestyle and minimalist tech accoutrements, what interests me most about these new sets is the integrated soundbar speaker array located in the television’s lower bezel.)

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  August 27, 2009

A periodic roundup of relevant news… from our other blogs:

The Future of the DVR
DVRs will continue to evolve in ways that consumers like and don’t like; in ways that will continue to support industry growth and the big business of content production and distribution; in ways we can’t envision now, but might in just a year’s time.

The Wild Wild West of TV Everywhere

As far as ad measurement is concerned, Quincy Smith from CBS Interactive had the ultimate statement of irony. The Web is supposed to be infinitely quantifiable, but we still don’t know how to equate to the traditional TV standards of reach and frequency.

Fewer Unencrypted QAM & Analog Cable Channels Coming Soon
This allows those cable companies who still have many of their digital QAM channels unencrypted, which don’t require a cable box, to encrypt everything except for the local network affiliates.

The University of WiMAX
Northern Michigan University is launching a Motorola-built WiMAX network and giving away nearly 3,000 WiMAX-enabled laptops to students. As far as anyone seems to know, this is the only stand-alone university WiMAX system in the country.

Windows 7 Commercial Skipping with DVRMSToolbox & ShowAnalyzer

Easy one-button Commercial Skipping is one of the great features of home theater PCs, and Windows 7 has that capability too. To get started we need to have ShowAnalyzer installed as well as DVRMSToolbox and the Windows 7 Media Center Addin.