Viodi View

Viodi View – 08/24/12

Same stuff, different day is the cleaned up song title that comes to mind when reviewing some of our recent interviews with folks who bring a bit of an international flavor to this issue of the Viodi View. Whether it is access to content on terms that are comparable to what can be had by larger operators or providing broadband access to the most rural of customers, the challenges for the smaller operators are the same, even if the terminology and the regulatory environment are slightly different.

Looking North for Ideas to Solve Programming Woes

Alyson Townsend of the CCSA

Ensuring the voices of the smaller independent television distributors (e.g. cable, telco, municipal operators) and the voices of their customers are heard among policy makers and vendors is what the CCSA (Canadian Independent Communications) does. In our interview at the 2012 ACA Summit CCSA president, Alyson Townsend, discusses the challenges faced by the small, Canadian broadband service provider. At the time, the hot-button issue was a CRTC-led mediation between the Canadian Independent Distributors Group (CIDG) (of which the CCSA is a part) and Bell regarding programming rights for the some 29 networks controlled by Bell. In this interview, she suggests that U.S. operators should take a close look at the CRTC promulgated rules about how vertically integrated program provider/distributors deal with smaller distributors.

More Efficient and Better Customer Support

Fiber to the Everywhere

Does automation mean a reduction in jobs? Not necessarily, as proven by this creative independent telecommunications’ cooperative that built on the productivity gains offered by its Fiber to the Home network to improve their quality of service. In this exclusive video interview, Kari Nishek, IS Applications Manager, explains how DRN retrained their work force to provide in-home customer/tech support, after they implemented an all-fiber network with auto-provisioning; this configuration reduces the need for truck rolls and reduces operational costs. Click here to view the video.

On a related note, Brent Christensen of the Minnesota Telecom Alliance and David Crothers of the North Dakota Association of Telecom Cooperatives co-authored an op-ed piece in the Grand Forks Herald that mentions DRN, its advanced network and the challenges it faces due to FCC rule changes after it had built the network under a different set of rules.

Local Operator Driving Global Telework Opportunities


Establishing a model for other operators is what Park Region Mutual Telephone Company is doing with the Minnesota Telecom Association with its telework program. In this interview, Park Region’s General Manager, Dave Bickett, provides an overview of their telework program, how they have worked with other local businesses and how they have had to educate the various constituents, from Human Resources staff to potential employees, about the benefits and nuances of telework. Click here to hear how their work in this area is positioning the people in its community to compete for jobs on a global basis without these new employees having to leave home.

Telecom Death Spiral Continues with ZTE’s Steep Profit Drop by Alan Weissberger

Sluggish telecom operator infrastructure spending, mobile device price wars and roadblocks in several western markets have all combined to cause China’s ZTE to report an 85% drop in profits (year over year) in the latest quarter that ended in June. Net earnings for the first half dropped 68 per cent  to Rmb245m, in line with a warning issued last month. That’s the steepest drop in net profits since the Hong Kong listed company went public six years ago! Click here to read Alan’s analysis and his thoughts on the what this indicates for the overall industry.

A Win-Win Demand Response Program

Smart Energy

Congratulations to Vince Groff for his promotion to general manager for the Cox Home Security business. This promotion complements Cox’s move to commercialize its home automation and security services. Groff is a fixture at the Parks Associates’ Smart Energy Summit and represents a leading voice as to how communications service providers fit into the home automation space. As he explains in this interview, part of his motivation for being at the 2012 Smart Energy Summit was to discover technology companies complementary to Cox’s strength in distribution of broadband services to the home. Click here to view.

Some Tweets and Short Thoughts:

  • Excellent explanation regarding why there are so many independent Iowa telcos and how working together decades ago pays off today.
  • The real TVNext Conference Greg Fawson does a great job producing the TVNext conference. TVNext will be October 10/11th in Santa Clara. Don’t be fooled, like I almost was, by sound-alike conferences that are being held just prior to and nearby the TVNext conference.
  • With all the veteran cable talent at Inovobb, a provider of CPE for operators, I am reminded of the famous quote about “putting the band back together”.
  • This post on a little known battle of WWII that was a precursor to D-Day reminded me of Canadian and Telecom veteran, Tony Jamroz.
  • FTTB – Fiber to the Brewery – Only Roger Bindl could find the connection between Beer and Broadband.
  • Thanks Steve for adding the valuable link to the FCC site about Call Completion/Quality issues.

The Korner – Fiber by the Community

The “F” is silent

A single English mother, who becomes an author and gains a degree of fame for her inspirational work; Lindsey Annison’s story has striking parallels to J.K. Rowlings. Instead of writing about wizards and magic, Annison tackled the real-world challenges of creating a rural broadband network. She wrote about those challenges in a series of books.

In this interview, filmed at the 2012 Broadband Communities Summit, she talks of the process and the motivation for bringing broadband to a rural region of Northern England. Working with her community, Annison found a way to bring broadband to the English country side, where the large telecom operator dare not tread. By using community funding, farmers and volunteer labor, B4RN (Broadband for the Rural North) is bootstrapping the build-out of a fiber infrastructure that has evolved from a wireless last-mile network.

Click here to read the rest of the post and to view our interview when she visited America earlier this summer.

Author Ken Pyle, Managing Editor

By Ken Pyle, Managing Editor

Ken Pyle is Marketing Director for the Broadband Forum. The mission of this 25+-year-old non-profit “is to unlock the potential for new markets and profitable revenue growth by leveraging new technologies and standards in the home, intelligent small business, and multi-user infrastructure of the broadband network.”

He is also co-founder of Viodi, LLC and Managing Editor of the Viodi View, a publication focused on the rural broadband ecosystem, autonomous vehicles, and electric aviation. He has edited and produced numerous multimedia projects for NTCA, US Telecom and Viodi. Pyle is the producer of Viodi’s Local Content Workshop, the Video Production Crash Course at NAB, as well as ViodiTV. He has been intimately involved in Viodi’s consulting projects and has created processes for clients to use for their PPV and VOD operations, as well authored reports on the independent telco market.

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