Also, Indian provider enters fiber face-off; EchoStar to focus on broadband satellite; operators' virtual reality pros join real VR org's board; Russia's MTS division gets new prez; and UK gov stamps O2 as provider of broadband, networks and more.
Comcast and nearly programmers are fighting a TV bundling battle in Maine by uniting to sue the state and several of its townships over a new law requiring cable operators (and only cable operators) to offer customers a la carte TV channels. Filed on Friday, Sept. 6, the suit -- known also as L.D. 832 -- is preempted by federal law and violates the First Amendment, the complainants said. They seek a court order that preliminarily, then permanently, blocks the state from enforcing this new law, which says consumers should pay only for those channels they want, not operator-managed bundles. This is not an affordable model and ultimately will make cable programs more expensive, Comcast et al. argued. Read all the details and analysis in Jeff Baumgartner's Light Reading story: Comcast, Programmers Sue Maine Over Cable à la Carte Law .
SpaceX could launch 24 Starlink missions next year as part of its plan to construct huge high-speed broadband constellations in space, said President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell during the World Satellite Business Week conference in Paris, reported Space News. The company could launch up to four more satellites this year, although that decision depends on customer needs as SpaceX will send clients' missions up before its broadband satellites, she noted. In May, SpaceX sent up its first 60 Starlinks via Falcon 9. It's deorbiting at least five; three are malfunctioning and it's testing intentional deorbiting processes, the company said.
Indian telecom operator Bharti Airtel today debuted Airtel Xstream Fibre, a gigabit service for the same price as the recently launched Reliance Jio Fiber offering. Xstream Fibre will include unlimited landline calls and include some free content, Airtel said. Already available in about 15 markets, Xstream Fibre will expand across more of India, the service provider added. Both Jio and Bharti Airtel gigabit services cost R3,999 (almost $56) a month. (See BBWN Bites: Jio Begins Vast Fixed Play in India, Sky's Wimpy WiFi Guarantee.)
EchoStar on Tuesday announced it completed the previously announced spin-off and subsequent merger of its Broadcast Satellite Services (BSS) business with Dish Network Corp. The transaction was announced on May 20, 2019 as a stock and share deal. Said Mike Dugan, EchoStar president and CEO, in a statement: "The conclusion of this transaction enables EchoStar to focus on the growing broadband market and other strategic opportunities."
Mauricio Aracena, media standardization manager at Ericsson, was appointed president of the Virtual Reality Industry Forum (VRIF), while Chris Johns (chief engineer of broadcast strategy at Sky) and Ozgur Oyman (principal engineer at Intel) will continue their respective roles as vice president and treasurer, the organization announced today. The new board also includes Thierry Fautier (VP, video strategy, Harmonic), Jan Ellsberger (VP, industry development, Huawei), Justin Ridge (principal engineer at Nokia) and Tom De Koninck (consultant media network on Dutch scientific research organization TNO). It also released the next-gen version of VR guidelines which address live VR360, text and fonts in immersive experiences, watermarking 2D framed content and enhanced-quality viewport distribution.
MTS' Media division named Igor Mishin its new vice president. The Russian operator plans to create several branded channels for content delivery, including cable, satellite, IPTV and mobile app. Mishin spent two years at a popular Russian TV network and produced several TV shows.
The UK's Network Services 2 procurement framework added Telefónica UK (O2) to its roster, following the operator's three-year application process and competitive bid. Now O2 can offer the country's public-sector organizations access to telecom services such as Internet access, data provisioning, networks and voice.
Overall peak usage on US cable networks continues to flatten out and even decline slightly, but sustained higher levels of usage on the upstream path have persisted, according to the latest data from the NCTA.
Over the next two years, approximately 60% of service providers (both large and small) will adopt virtualization on a wide scale across their networks, according to the latest survey report from Ovum. Why are providers making these moves? Is there an easy way to start?
Learn how and why service providers are using virtualization to transform their networks. This webinar will look at how providers are leveraging virtualization to create more flexible and agile networks while also providing a better customer experience. Expert speakers from netElastic and Heavy Reading will address the industry drivers for network virtualization, the benefits that can be realized, the challenges to face and the results of virtualization being achieved by providers today.
Key topics will include:
Current network infrastructure and the move to virtualization
Benefits and challenges of network virtualization
How providers can get started
Service provider success stories: the decision to virtualize, the solution, and results