There are several reasons to object to the term "quad play." Technologists have long argued that the expression confuses three types of services (voice, video, data) with a form of signal transmission (wireless). At the NCTC/ACA Independent Show in Chicago last week, Kevin Packingham, vice president of product development for the landmark $200 million, three-year Sprint/MSO joint venture, gave more of a marketing objection to the term. Packingham said that cable and wireless providers are at a competitive advantage to provide not simply a fourth service, but rather a bundle of desirable new services, which could include: "None of the (JV) partners refer to this as a ‘quad play,’" he said. Risks remain Enthusiasm abounds for such new services, as well as the faster speeds enabled by such technologies as Broadband Radio Service (BRS) and Evolution Data Only/Optimized (EVDO). But another common perception of the mobile communications gambit needs checking. No one with hands-on experience is calling it a slam-dunk. Brent Groome, chief executive of customer operations at Horry Telephone Cooperative, who offered a success story at the Independent Show, is a case in point. An innovator that began offering cable TV in 1983 and digital cable in 2000, HTC was a consortium participant in early spectrum auctions, began reselling cellular phone service, and by the end of Q1 2006 had about twice as many wireless as digital cable subscribers. Groome’s churn analysis indicates that presence of wireless and cable video services has made HTC "stickier" to the customer, but cautioned about a "catch 22" if wireless is poorly executed. "They could potentially leave you on all three services," he said. Packingham echoed Groome’s point. "The risk of creating a bad customer experience is high," he said, adding that a lot of the "blocking and tackling" of the JV so far has focused on accurate billing and good customer service. Moving forward As reported earlier in sister publication Cable World, the JV was aiming to begin services in seven markets across the four MSO partners (Bright House, Comcast, Cox and Time Warner) the third week of August, but warned of spillage. As additional participation, Packingham encouraged attendees to stay in touch with existing JV partners all the better to "raise your hand" when the call is issued, possibly in early 2007. "We’re moving very quickly," he said. Also moving ahead is a small-operator solution to converged services discussed by Michael Pastor, president of Net2Phone Cable Telephony. "We are going to be an aggregator and an enabler," he said. The pilot launches this platform will take place later this year, with wider availability expected the first half of 2007.

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FCC Seeks Comment on NAB NextGen Petition

The FCC Media Bureau is seeking comment on NAB’s petition regarding the treatment of multicast streams under the NexGen TV local simulcasting rules.

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