News briefing for Friday, Feb. 15 »

Cable360 tipster Brain Clark tells us a certain unnamed island nation has passed a law that penalizes drivers who use cell phones while behind the wheel with amputation of the right hand. Please drive safely this weekend.

Cable’s most important weapon against the satellite companies has been its broadband modem, the tangible symbol of a service that DirecTV and Dish have not been able to provide substantially without the help of a third party. That weapon doesn’t look so scary to Verizon and AT&T.
    Cable’s ability to combat Verizon’s fast FiOS broadband service depends largely on operators having the financial flexibility to roll out the bandwidth-expanding DOCSIS 3.0 specification quickly, the Wall Street Journal reports (and which we mentioned in Tuesday’s morning report). Time Warner Cable, Cox and Charter are taking it slow, waiting to see how DOCSIS 3.0 leader Comcast fares with its aggressive rollout this year, the Journal says. The DOCSIS 3.0 specification enables cable operators to increase downstream speeds to 160 Mbps or higher, and upstream throughput up to 120 Mbps or higher, without any major overhauls of cable’s networks, according to CableLabs.
    Broadband Reports comments that although the Journal story doesn’t exactly break any news, it does present Comcast as the lone major cable operator investing real money now in making its high-speed Internet access business competitive with FiOS broadband. [Wall Street Journal | Broadband Reports]

Amid Comcast’s generally positive fourth-quarter earnings report yesterday was a confirmation that it is not seeking to make any “large, transformative acquisitions,” and is not in the market for Yahoo or Sprint. [Reuters]

Cable vendor Arris reported a 21.62% drop in share price in the fourth quarter of 2007. [Light Reading]

Best Buy lowered forecasts for fiscal 2008. [Reuters]

Toshiba is discontinuing its HD DVD format, according to a Hollywood Reporter story picked up by Reuters. [Reuters]

Another sign of the times: The New York Times is eliminating 100 newsroom jobs this year. [New York Times]

In CableFAX Daily: More on Comcast’s fourth-quarter earnings report. Yesterday’s news briefing. The Cable360 morning news briefing will return the Tuesday after President’s Day.

Got a tip? Contact sgoldstein@accessintel.com and sarenstein@accessintel.com.

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