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Volume 12, Number 24, June 29, 2009 - Bye-Bye Buy American, magicJack Innovates

Industry Events

Webcast: Best Practices in Records Management
(July 9)

 

Regional Meetings
(July-Oct)

 

NTCA Finance & Accounting Conference
(Sep 8-11)

 

NTCA Fall Conference
(Sept 13-16)

 

TelcoTV 2009
(Nov 10-12)

 

The Marketplace

 

Read NTCA's New ePaper on Cloud Computing

 

Telephony

 

Log On, Link Up and Learn

 

 

 

 

 

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NTCA Regional Meetings 2009

Take advantage of an affordable two-day meeting close to home. The 2009 Regional Meetings will offer resources and training on "Finding Opportunities in Tough Economic Times." Understand the outlook and trends of the economy to unlock business opportunities for your telco with noted economist Dr. Ed Seifried. Key topics also will include product positioning tactics, application-layer services, important federal initiatives and cooperative business practices. Find more details on your region's meeting and registration here. Make room reservations as soon as possible by calling the hotel directly and asking for the NTCA rate.


Volume 12, Number 24, June 29, 2009

NTIA Exempts Broadband Stimulus from Buy-American Rule

MagicJack Innovates with Femtocell, Number Porting

Supreme Court Paves Way for Network-DVR

Comcast and Time Warner Join for 'TV Everywhere'

Senate Confirms FCC Chairman Genachowski

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


NTIA Exempts Broadband Stimulus from Buy-American Rule

The federal government is backing away from the buy-American requirements originally attached to broadband stimulus award guidelines and historically tied to all RUS-funded loans.

In a notice published last Friday, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced a "limited waiver" of the buy-American provision in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 "with respect to certain broadband equipment that will be used in projects funded under the broadband Technology Opportunities Program."

The buy-American provision had prohibited the NTIA from awarding a broadband stimulus grant to a public applicant unless that applicant could certify that each element of each broadband network component containing iron, steel and manufactured goods was produced in the United States. A handful of vendors had supported the buy-American requirement, but many others did not, including the largest equipment vendors which utilize components from all over the world.

"It would be difficult, if not impossible, for an applicant to have certain knowledge of the manufacturing origins of each component of a broadband network and the requirement to do so would be so overwhelmingly burdensome as to deter participation in the program," the NTIA said.

The waiver applies to:

  • Broadband switching equipment – equipment necessary to establish a broadband communications path between two points
  • Broadband routing equipment – equipment that routes data packets throughout a broadband network
  • Broadband transport equipment – equipment for providing interconnection within the broadband provider's network
  • Broadband access equipment – equipment facilitating the last mile connection to a broadband subscriber
  • Broadband customer premises equipment and end-user devices – end-user equipment that connects to a broadband network
  • Billing/operations systems – equipment that is used to manage and operate a broadband network or offer a broadband service

Note that this list does not include fiber optic cables, coaxial cables, cell towers and "other facilities that are produced in the United States in sufficient quantities to be reasonably available as end products." Applicants can, however, seek a waiver on a case-by-case basis for equipment not included in either list.

Read the NTIA's official notice.


MagicJack Innovates with Femtocell, Number Porting

magicJack, the device that lets users make and receive calls over its VoIP network for a flat fee, announced in an industry article that it plans to link femtocell service to its product.

magicJack joins a standard home phone to its VoIP service via a $40 USB jack, which sells at big box stores such as Best Buy, RadioShack, and Walgreen's. It lets you place and receive unlimited phone calls for $20 a year, with the first year free. The company collects revenue through selling ads, displayed as a part of the software client that runs as magicJack is operational. Despite media praise, magicJack has its flaws; for one, your computer must be turned on to make and receive calls.

The company is selling about 9,000 to 10,000 magicJacks a day, according to Daniel Borislow, the company's founder, and customers are using about 500 million minutes a month. Further, Borislow touted that the company will do more than $100 million in sales this year and is cash-flow positive, a far cry from other VoIP providers (remember Sun Rocket?).

Borislow plans to add femtocell capability this year, and number porting sometime in 2009.

Read the Business Insider article.
magicJack’s inventor addressed the industry in January 2009.
Read NTCA's ePapers for more on femtocells.


Supreme Court Paves Way for Network-DVR

The Supreme Court today declined to hear arguments against Cablevision's remote-storage DVR offering that would allow subscribers to access and view stored content via the cable operator's network.

This paves the way for telcos to roll out network DVRs and subscription services. Network DVRs can run on inexpensive digital set-top boxes and offer customers significantly more storage than a traditional personal video recorder, or PVR.

Cablevision announced its plans for network DVR back in 2006, and in May of that same year several major studios and networks sued the company, claiming that Cablevision violated copyright law by not negotiating programming deals for the network-DVR service. There have also been concerns by advertisers that the service would allow Cablevision subscribers to skip over ads.

Cablevision maintained that a network DVR operates no differently than a DVR in a customer's home, and therefore it wasn't required to cut programming deals for the service.

"This is a tremendous victory, and it opens up the possibility of offering a DVR experience to all of our digital cable customers," Cablevision said in its statement. "At the same time, we are mindful of the potential implications for ad skipping and the concerns this has raised in the programming community.

"We believe there are ways to take this victory and work with programmers to give our customers what they want – full DVR functionality through existing digital set-top boxes – and at the same time deliver real benefits to advertisers. This landmark case gives the cable industry, and Cablevision in particular, the opportunity to do something that our satellite competitors cannot do.

"We expect to begin deploying the first application of this new technology, the ability to pause live television when the phone rings, as a value-added benefit to our customers later this summer."


Comcast and Time Warner Join for 'TV Everywhere'

Last week Comcast Corp. announced that it has joined forces with Time Warner Inc. to push the "‘TV Everywhere" model forward. The concept is aimed at organizing the industry around a single plan that would ask pay-TV subscribers to authenticate or identify themselves as paying customers before gaining access to online TV content.

The companies have agreed to the following principles:

  • Bring more TV content, more easily to more people across platforms.
  • Video subscribers can watch programming from their favorite TV networks online for no additional charge.
  • Video subscribers can access this content using any broadband connection.
  • Programmers should make their best and highest-rated programming available online.
  • Both networks and video distributors should provide high-quality, consumer-friendly sites for viewing broadband content with easy authentication.
  • A new process should be created to measure ratings for online viewing. The goal should be to extend the current viewer measurement system to include advertiser ratings for TV content viewed on all platforms.
  • TV Everywhere is open and non-exclusive; cable, satellite or telco video distributors can enter into similar agreements with other programmers.

The agreement between the companies will make it possible for Comcast customers to access programming from Turner Broadcasting's award-winning entertainment networks free online and on demand.

In addition, Comcast announced it will begin a national technical trial of its "On Demand Online" service in July with programming from Time Warner’s Turner networks TNT and TBS. Approximately 5,000 Comcast customers will have secure access to the premium long-form content. The companies plan to expand content, features and functionality in later phases of the trial.

In the coming weeks Comcast expects other programming networks to participate as the nationwide trial expands. Time Warner expects to announce similar trials with other distributors.

Read the New York Times story.
View Comcast's press release.


Senate Confirms FCC Chairman Genachowski

As last week drew to close, the future of the FCC took shape. The Senate officially confirmed Julius Genachowski as the new chairman of the FCC. As a result, acting Chairman Michael Copps goes back to being a commissioner. The Senate also confirmed Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell for his first full term.

This left only two spots remaining on the commission. President Obama quickly nominated Meredith Attwell Baker to one of the two open positions. The administration had earlier nominated Mignon Clyburn to fill the other open spot. Both were sent to the Senate and are expected to be confirmed later this summer.

Of note, Genachowski will take (former) commissioner Jonathan Adelstein’s seat. As a result, Adelstein, nominated to head the Rural Utilities Service at the Department of Agriculture, is out of a job while he awaits his own Senate hearing and confirmation process.

The future of the FCC: Genachowski, Copps and McDowell, with Clyburn and Baker to (officially) be confirmed later. If the confirmation hearings are speedy we might see a full commission by the end of the summer.

Read the New York Times story.



And, last but not least, our video of the week: The TV Experience – Redux. (Having problems seeing the video below? Click here.)

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.


Tech Forums


The Marketplace

Read NTCA's New ePaper on Cloud Computing
With the advent and prevalence of IP technology and network bandwidth, cloud computing might enable broadband service providers to move further up the stack, away from simply delivering a high-speed pipe, to offering new and innovative applications, and potentially creating new revenue streams. Read NTCA's June 2009 ePaper to learn more about cloud computing, and the potential it holds for rural telecom providers.

Telephony
Telephony, a leading media source for communications service providers, delivers insightful journalism and real-world intelligence about the technologies and business strategies that are driving the industry. For marketers, Telephony reaches a focused audience through a broad range of marketing channels and custom opportunities, and is the only integrated media vehicle that connects marketers with the buying power of the industry at every level of the buying process.

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.


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Industry Events

Webcast: Best Practices in Records Management (July 9)
Join us for an informative webcast on records retention and management. How long should you retain documents such as resumes, applications and salary records? Is your company at risk for a potential lawsuit due to the mishandling of current and former employee records? Answers to these questions and more will be addressed during this 60-minute webcast with James Wehner, attorney from Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered, who will provide insight on the proper handling of employee records. Registration fee: $199 per NTCA member site, $250 per nonmember site. The webcast will be held July 9, 2009, at 2:00 p.m. EDT. Learn more.

Regional Meetings (July-Oct)
Register today to take advantage of an affordable two-day meeting, close to home. The 2009 Regional Meetings will offer resources and training on "Finding Opportunities in Tough Economic Times." Understand the outlook and trends of the economy to unlock business opportunities for your telco with noted economist Dr. Seifried. Key topics also will include product positioning tactics, application-layer services, important federal initiatives and cooperative business practices. Find more details on your region's meeting and registration here.

NTCA Finance & Accounting Conference (Sep 8-11)
Plan to spend Sept. 8-11, 2009 at NTCA's Finance & Accounting Conference. This conference offers you and your financial team a comprehensive program that covers financial management and accounting techniques. Discover strategies needed to cope with one of the most challenging economies in U.S. history. Now, more than ever, employers are counting on you to keep a watchful eye on revenue and expenses. Keep your financial skills sharp, focused and current by attending a conference focused solely on managing the economics of the rural telecom industry. Register today. Early bird ends August 7.

NTCA 2009 Fall Conference  (Sept 13-16)
Register today to join NTCA in the bright lights of New York City, September 13-16. During motivating general sessions and educational sessions, you will learn key strategies to establish your telco as the community leader of change. Fill your toolbox with the knowledge and resources needed to thrive during uncertain times. All conference meetings and attendee housing will be in one location, The Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers, conveniently located in the heart of Manhattan. Housing opens June 15.

TelcoTV 2009 (Nov 10-12)
Remember to register early to save big. Use the promotional code NTCA and save 25% off the Standard or VIP Conference Pass. Interested in sending your whole team to the show? The 2009 event boasts the best team discounts we've ever offered!  This year, send a group of 3 or more and save $200 a person. Team Discount is valid on the Standard or VIP Pass only. You must register a group of 3 or more from the same company at the same time to qualify. Enter the Group Code RRTEAM and remember-discounts CAN be combined with another Promotional Discount Code for maximum savings. For more information on TelcoTV 2009, visit the Web site.

 

 

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