Waking up to a changed 2013

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It took Rip Van Winkle 20 years of sleeping to experience massive societal changes, according to the Washington Irving story. It took FierceIPTV only about two weeks--fewer than 20 days--to do the same.

When this publication settled in for its mid-winter nap, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) was still trying to sell off its Motorola business and the leading contender appeared to be Pace Plc (LSE: PIC.L), with Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERIC) playing the role of the dark horse. Today, if all goes as expected, Motorola, with a lineage that traces back to the foundations of the cable TV industry, will be part of Arris (Nasdaq: ARRS), another company with deep coaxial roots.

In late December, it seemed likely that AT&T (NYSE: T) would not follow the route being plowed by its telco TV competitor Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and would instead continue to emphasize growth for its U-verse IPTV service. In early January, it's obvious from the noise the carrier is making at CES in Las Vegas that AT&T is committed to U-verse and IPTV along with its other wireline-based broadband businesses. And for those watching the changing vendor climate, Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO), formerly associated with cable TV, is a big part of the new AT&T telco TV model.

And speaking of Verizon, there's no change in the FiOS rollback--or status quo situation. The carrier said it's finished pushing FiOS into new markets (despite running ads on local television begging people to sign up). It's not, however, finished innovating products for the service, as evidenced by its own CES splash with Motorola on a new media server/set-top box combo. It's interesting to note that Moto made the announcement about the new product on the Verizon Web site while standing alone in Vegas. It's also interesting that Moto, long considered a leading cable TV supplier, presented itself a telco TV supplier at CES.

Then there's Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA), which, like most of the cable industry, has always maintained that its traditional HFC network was more than enough to sate even the most demanding customer. Now it seems there's a footnote to that: HFC, when carrying IP, should be enough to sate those demanding customers. Again, a vendor carried the message for the service provider, as chipmaker Broadcom delivered news of a new Comcast IP-based set-top that's driving the MSO into the IPTV space. The box is founded on Broadcom's SoC, and the announcement was on the Broadcom Web site.

Vendors making announcements for service providers is also something new in 2013. It used to be that vendors couldn't even get service providers to admit they were buying their products, let alone deploying them; now the vendors are making the announcements themselves.

Finally, there's another piece about Broadcom that will probably play out more relevantly in 2013. The chipmaker is pushing ahead with the latest 5G Wi-Fi standard to help service providers "provide reliable, whole-home, carrier-grade coverage for multi-room DVR, browsing, gaming, over-the-top and other services," the chipmaker said in its own press release.

There were other things as well, including indications that both Intel and Sony were ready to not only enter the set-top box business but wanted to try their hands at being service providers as well.

There is a saying that "you snooze, you lose." That's hardly the case here. We might have snoozed a bit--and trust me, there wasn't that much snoozing involved--but we never lost, because unlike Rip Van Winkle, we had one eye open all the time watching the world change. -Jim

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