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Volume 12, Number 06, February 9, 2009 - AT&T, Cable Co. Seek Verizon's Alltel Assets

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Industry Events

Rural Economic Development Conference & Site Visit (Mar 15-18)

 

2009 Legislative & Policy Conference (Mar 23-25)

 

Telcom Executive Forum (Apr 5-7)

 

IP Possibilities: A New Road to Revenue
(Apr 21-23)

 

PR & Marketing Conference
(Apr 26-28)

 

The Marketplace

 

DTV Transition Q&A for Telcos

 

Log On, Link Up and Learn

 

RT Magazine

 

 

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How can a rural telecommunications provider thrive in a down economy? It is critical now more than ever that you discover untapped revenue streams for your organization and make essential decisions about implementing IP-based technologies. Two days of panel discussions at the IP Possibilities Conference & Expo will showcase best practices that you can adopt to keep your telco out in front of your competitors. Register by March 23 to qualify for substantial savings, and sign up to receive e-mail updates about the conference.


Volume 12, Number 06, February 9, 2009

AT&T, Cable Co. Seek Verizon's Alltel Assets

DTV Transition Date Remains Up in the Air

More Watching Video on Web

USDA Rural Development Approves ADC's Fiber Panel Products

NTCA Publishes Wireless Survey Results

...And last but not least, our tech video of the week


AT&T, Cable Co. Seek Verizon's Alltel Assets

Verizon Communications said last week that more than 30 parties have expressed interest in the wireless assets the telecom company must divest as part of its purchase of rural wireless provider Alltel Corp.

The Wall Street Journal said AT&T is chief among the bidders. Private-equity firms Carlyle Group and Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts & Co submitted a joint bid, while Providence Equity Partners LLC also expressed interest. Of particular interest, at least one cable provider also has expressed interest, the newspaper said. Bloomberg News is speculating that Cox may be in the running.

Verizon Wireless agreed to sell the assets in exchange for government approval for the $28.1 billion Alltel purchase. Thought to be valued at $3 billion, the assets include 2.1 million wireless subscribers in 22 states, as well as wireless spectrum.

Upon closing the deal in early January, Verizon Wireless became the largest U.S. wireless carrier with 80 million subscribers. This pushes AT&T to a distant second, with 71.4 million customers.

Read more at Telephony Online.
Read the Bloomberg News article.


DTV Transition Date Remains Up in the Air

By a vote of 264-158, the House of Representatives on February 4 passed the DTV Delay Act (S. 352). The legislation delays the originally scheduled digital TV transition date from February 17 to June 12. The bill now will be passed to the White House where President Barack Obama is expected to sign it into law. The new implementation rules are contingent on his signature.

The bill directs the FCC to accommodate those stations that wish to switch to digital earlier, including the previously scheduled transition date of February 17. Broadcasters had until noon today, February 9, to inform the FCC of their plans. They must also air at least 120 PSAs informing viewers of that decision between now and the transition date.

Many stations were expected to ask to terminate their analog operations, due at least in part to the significant financial burden caused by operating both an analog and a digital signal. Hoping to influence public opinion and discourage a flood of broadcaster requests, Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps announced last week that ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and Telemundo have pledged to keep their analog signals running through June 12, and Gannett and Hearst-Argyle also said the vast majority of their stations would do so.

The commission has said that while stations may still ask to pull the plug on February 17, it may deny the request if it feels it is not in the public interest—for example, if all the stations in a market with high analog-only penetration want to make the switch early.

In related news, the nation is a bit closer to being ready for the transition, according to Nielsen research, which announced that another 700,000 homes became equipped between January 18 and February 1. During this timer period, households not prepared for the transition fell slightly, from 5.7% to 5.1%. In total, 5.8 million U.S. households remain unprepared for the digital transition. However, awareness of the DTV transition is high, according to a new poll released February 5 by the National Association of Broadcasters. The telephone-based poll of 2,650 households conducted in early January, found that 97% of respondents were either aware of the switch, knowledgeable that the transition will impact signals or could identify the deadline.

Keep up-to-date on DTV developments at Broadcasting & Cable.


More Watching Video on Web

Internet users in the United States watched a record 14.3 billion online videos in December, an increase of 13% more than the previous month, according to comScore, an Internet marketing research firm.

YouTube led the way with a 49% gain in videos viewed in December and accounted for about 41% of the market share with 5.9 billion videos watched. Fox Interactive was a distant second with 444 million videos viewed, and Yahoo was third with 330 million videos viewed.

View the comScore release.
Read the CNN article.


USDA Rural Development Approves ADC's Fiber Panel Products

ADC, a supplier of infrastructure solutions for fiber deployments, announced last week that its LSX Fiber Panel product family received acceptance by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Program. Product acceptance means that rural telcos can purchase and install ADC's LSX Fiber Panels using this agency’s loans or grants.

"ADC recognizes the importance of accelerating network upgrades in rural areas that provide advanced communications so essential to fostering economic growth," said Pat Thompson, director of fiber products for Global Connectivity Solutions (GCS) for ADC.

The LSX Fiber Panel product family is designed to satisfy a range of capacity requirements. Panels can accommodate 12 to 288 terminations and configurations including adapter-only, stubbed panel or termination/splice panels, according to the company. ADC also notes that the high density LSX 288-position panel offers integrated vertical cable guides within the panel which effectively segregate cables, aiding in easy-to-follow routing paths.

Read the release.


NTCA Publishes Wireless Survey Results

Wireless service options abound in rural communities, despite barriers to accessing appropriate spectrum and geographical limitations, according to the "National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) 2008 Wireless Survey Report," released January 29.

Nearly 60% of respondents currently provide wireless service to their customers, in the form of broadband data (56%), mobile voice (36%), and text messaging (29%), among other services. Of those not currently offering wireless service, 17% of respondents are considering doing so, while nearly three-quarters (74%) have previously considered an offering and deemed it not feasible.

Current economic conditions appear to be affecting some respondents' ability to obtain financing for wireless projects. Thirty-four percent indicated the process is "very difficult" (24%) or "virtually impossible," (10%). This combined characterization range is up from just 13% last year, when not a single respondent classified the project as "virtually impossible." Conversely, 31% deemed the process "relatively easy" or "very easy" in 2008.

Rural providers have invested considerable resources in wireless, with an $8.2 million average total (cumulative) investment in wireless facilities-excluding spectrum, and average total (cumulative) investment in spectrum of $711,000.

While 57% of respondents hold at least one wireless license, and approximately one third (30%) obtained access to spectrum in the 12 months prior to the survey, nearly half (47%) reported utilizing unlicensed spectrum to provide some wireless service, despite interference and other associated problems.

Conducted in the fall of 2008, the survey examined NTCA member companies' wireless activities. Survey responses were received from 76 companies (representing a 16% response rate) in 30 states, as well as Canada.

View the survey report.


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And, last but not least, our video of the week, courtesy of Bev Brix from River Valley Telecommunications Cooperative.


Have you recently seen a funny, entertaining or informational video? "The New Edge" would love to hear from you. Please send your suggestions for the next "video of the week" to jward@ntca.org and your video might be featured in an upcoming issue.


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The Marketplace

DTV Transition Q&A for Telcos
NTCA has prepared a question and answer document for telco customer service representatives to use to address customer calls about the digital television transition. The document features explanations for a broad range of typical questions. Also, this information piece may be used by telcos for posting on your Web site or in your upcoming newsletters. NTCA encourages you to use this downloadable document for your efforts to educate customers about the upcoming changes to DTV. If you have any questions, please contact Steve Fravel at 703-351-2012.

Log On, Link Up and Learn. Join NTCA’s Tech Community
As you well know, the telecom industry is evolving at an increasingly fast pace. Rural telecom professionals need to maintain access lines and trouble-shoot existing issues, while also developing new, cutting-edge technologies. Learn new strategies to manage the chaos and keep up with industry trends. Join NTCA's Tech Community today and utilize one of your best assets – your peers. Visit http://tech.ntca.org to learn more.

Rural Telecommunications Magazine
NTCA's award winning magazine is the most valuable resource for the telecommunications industry. Each issue offers readers up-to-date information about public policy, developing business, technology, management, marketing, operations and more. Get access to selected feature articles from the latest issue of the magazine as well as subscription and advertising information.


Rural Economic Development Conference

Industry Events

Rural Economic Development Conference & Site Visit (Mar 15-18)
Telecom companies are perfectly positioned to become an engine of growth in their community with the global telecommunications explosion, allowing them to attract business, create jobs and develop tourism - all of which add to the local economy. This year's conference features an exciting new meeting format. Meet with state economic development officials and view several model economic development projects. Join us for the Rural Economic Development Conference and site visit on March 15-18 in Albuquerque, N.M. Register.

2009 Legislative & Policy Conference (Mar 23-25)
The 2009 Legislative & Policy conference will be held March 23-25 at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.Take advantage of the opportunity to establish and refresh alliances with our national policy-makers to ensure that the rural voice is taken into consideration as policy-makers explore new laws and regulations that affect the way rural telcos do business. Registration is now open.

Telcom Executive Forum (Apr 5-7)
Meet with your colleagues in Santa Monica for this year's Telcom Executive Forum, April 5-7. TEF is an exclusive event - designed for top executives to discuss issues and foster networking. Learn how to stand out in the age of advertising deficit disorder. Get solutions. Register.

IP Possibilities: A New Road to Revenue (Apr 21-23)
How can a rural telecommunications provider thrive in a down economy? It is critical now more than ever that you discover untapped revenue streams for your organization and make essential decisions about implementing IP-based technologies. Two days of panel discussions at the IP Possibilities Conference & Expo will showcase best practices that you can adopt to keep your telco out in front of your competitors. Register by March 23 to qualify for substantial savings, and sign up to receive e-mail updates about the conference.

PR & Marketing Conference (Apr 26-28)
Learn how to deliver the ultimate customer experience and increase your business bottom line. Speaker Scott Deming will provide the opening keynote and provide key insights and tactics that will enable you to create loyal and happy customers. The conference includes sessions on target marketing, copywriting and social media. This conference to be held April 26-28, 2009, Albuquerque, N.M. Register.

 

 

 

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