While the digital transition enables cheaper set-tops and bandwidth savings, its main benefit could be competing more effectively with DBS ops, said panelists at The Indy Show Wed. "The perception of digital quality is real," said Motorola’s Ray Bontempi, arguing that cable’s digital move will help prevent defections to satellite and entice new subs with advanced services like VOD (although the current adoption rate of digital services is slower than many would like). Panelists favored simulcasting over an all-digital transition mode, but many smaller ops like Comporium (58K basic subs, 26K digital) may not have the luxury. "It’s an easier transition with simulcast, and we would prefer it if we had the capability" said mktg product mgr Karl Skroban. He noted that all-digital initiatives often force service alterations that miff subs. "Simulcasting allows channel placement onto expanded basic line-ups without aggravating capacity problems," said Sunflower Broadband’s Patrick Knorr. Wave Broadband COO Steve Friedman agreed that it allows distribution to other systems and will eventually offer ops the ability to "tier any way we want." Though, in the meantime, carriage disputes with programmers are popping up over the move to all-digital. "They didn’t trust us in all cases and thought that we would suddenly take their channel off expanded basic and put it on a digital tier," said Wave’s Friedman. The majority of problems from Buckeye’s simulcast have arisen at homes, leading to "a significant 3-4% increase in service calls," said dir, engineering James Brown.

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New Cisco-Acacia Deal

Cisco and Acacia’s merger is back on, with Cisco now agreeing to pay $115/share, or $4.5 billion on a fully diluted basis, for the semiconductor maker.

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