Independent Communications News - 2021 Issue 2

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Independent Communications Serving ACA Connects Members September 2021 - Issue 2

Our Secret "Advocacy" Sauce Delivers as Senate Passes Infrastructure Bill

ACA Connects Members Invest in Their Networks, Shows Market is Working

The Independent Show | The Power of Together Oct. 5-7, 2021

Independent Communications News is an ACA Connects Publication.

Features: Adara Technologies Inc. • Atlas Digital Group • Comcast Technology Solutions • Evolution Digital Kelley Drye CCI Systems

• Minerva Networks • NCTI • OpenVault • Power & Tel • Technetix • Viamedia • HWG • JSI • Kids Street • Sandy Cherry Associates • SmartLabs • Technicolor


OCTOBER 5-6, 2021

VIRTUAL

TIS21 IS GOING VIRTUAL! Attendee registration is available at theindependentshow.org. KEYNOTE SPEAKER Beth Ford President & CEO, Land O' Lakes Inc.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER Jeremy Gutsche A New York Times bestselling author, award winning innovation expert, & CEO of Trend Hunter.

This Year’s Independent Show Is Going Virtual! Though we planned to convene in Minneapolis in early October, we decided the right thing to do -- considering all the lingering issues related to COVID-19 and the Delta variant -- was to meet you all online. To be sure, the Independent Show will be packed with insight, excitement and opportunity! ACA Connects President and CEO Matthew M. Polka endorsed moving the show exclusively online given the unpredictable nature of the current health environment. “Transitioning the entire event to virtual was the best option and in the best interest of our members and vendor partners,” Polka said. “I can promise everyone that we are going to keep all the great content we had planned as well as offer a few fun surprises for those who are registered for the virtual conference.” The Independent Show always offers interesting speakers for their special insights, and the 2021 show will be no different. We have two fantastic Keynote Speakers who have been invited to address our Members. First is Jeremy Gutsche, MBA, CFA, and New York Times bestselling author who is also an award-winning innovation expert. Jeremy is CEO of Trend Hunter, which is described as the world's No.1 innovation website boasting 200,000 idea hunters and 3 billion views from 150 million visitors. Jeremy is often mentioned as a “Chaos Expert.” He is tentatively scheduled to speak on Tuesday, Oct. 5. Next is visionary business leader Beth Ford, President and CEO of Land O’Lakes, a Fortune 200 agribusiness and food company. Beth has been recognized by Fortune as one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders and credited with many advances in her field. She was dubbed by the famous TV broadcast 60 Minutes as "The Farmer’s Advocate,” recognizing all that Beth has achieved for Land O’Lakes members amid so much consumer-driven change in the market. Beth’s most recent achievement is the American Connection Project (ACP), which is aimed at closing the digital divide, particularly in rural communities. Underpinning the ACP is an effort to raise awareness about the critical nature of connectivity. The ACP also advocates for meaningful policy reform and broadband investment and the need to take decisive action to provide connectivity options where they are needed most. Taking a leadership role, Land O’Lakes, under Beth’s direction, has convened numerous organizations and leaders from across the country in this critical time to build strong rural communities positioned for competitiveness and connection now and in the future. Beth is the sister of ACA Connects Board Member Kathy Ford, who is Senior VP of Legal Affairs at WOW! Internet, Cable & Phone. Beth is tentatively scheduled to speak on Wednesday, Oct. 6. The Opening Session will include a can’t-miss discussion by our hosts, ACA Connects President and CEO Matthew M. Polka and NCTC CEO Lou Borrelli. Matt will have ACAC’s Washington, D.C., news to share, while Lou will introduce himself to the members and handle new initiatives from NCTC. Lou, a 43-year cable industry veteran, just joined NCTC in June. Lou and Matt will then be joined by our association leaders, Patty Boyers, ACA Connects Chairman from BOYCOM Vision in Poplar Bluff, Mo., and NCTC Chair Brad Mefferd, Chief Administrative Officer of Buckeye Broadband in Toledo, Oh., for a discussion on the road ahead for our members, industry and associations. Please visit the show website for the most up-to-date information about the event and plan to join us on October 5-6 for #TIS21!


in in this thisissue issue 4 Editor’s Note

5 ACA Connects Members Invest In Their Networks, Shows Market is Working 6 Transitioning to IP Video: Key Strategic Considerations

7 ACA Connects Is Prepared for Change

8 Growing Revenue Through Simplification

9 MVPDs: Down-To-Earth Distribution For Rural Areas

10 Why is Managed Wi-Fi So Important? 11 Our Secret “Advocacy” Sauce

12 What Service Providers Can Do to Stem Illegal Robocalling

13 The C-Band Transition: Much Already Done, Much Still to Do 14 T-Commerce is Coming: Are You Ready? 15 Your Network is Getting Smarter

16 Post-COVID, We’ll Still Face A Crowded Upstream 17 More than 300 ACAC Members Participating in FCC’s Emergency Broadband Program

18 Built for Fast Deployment - The Right Closure for The Right Network

19 InCoax Fiber Access Extension – The Effective Way to Speed Up The Symmetric Gigabit Internet Rollout! 20 Let’s Collaborate to Educate Tomorrow’s AdSellers

21 Infrastructure Is Leaving the Station... Will It Arrive at Its Destination? 23 How Will Expanded Upstream Meet the Rapid Demand of Upload Bandwidth? (3 Misconceptions)

24 Imagining a World Without Retrans

25 ACACommunities: A Video Connection To ACAC Members 26 How to Be a Player with Billions for Broadband at Stake

27 Kids and the Media: What are They Learning? 28 The Data Integrity/Data Insight Imperative

29 ACA Connects’ First Intern Highlights “Intentional” Summer Experiences

30 Flexible Migration Keeps Business Flowing for Pay-TV Providers 31 Connected Home Supply Chain Revisits Priorities in Response to Volatile Global Market 36 ACAC Mourns the Loss of ACAC Founder and Cable TV Pioneer Dean Petersen


Editor’s Note

Ted Hearn ACAC Vice President of Communications

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ver notice this: Almost every financial article about bitcoin comes with an image displaying the cryptocurrency as the monetary equivalent of a glinting gold coin that has a huge letter B in the center with a dollar sign overlay. It’s as if the publisher is saying that you, Dear Reader, can have your own Fort Knox! Occasionally, the text of the story itself will say something akin to this from NBC News: “Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, a digital form of money with no actual bills or coins.” So, bitcoin is code, it’s Ted Hearn software, it’s intangible. Bitcoin illustrations to the contrary wrong foot the reader; they are a deception that prestige media outlets perpetuate unabated. In this issue of Independent Communications News, you will not need to march through some bitcoin-image reality distortion field. This edition, our second of 2021, is filled with topical and informative articles touching on the most vital public policy issues facing ACAC members, who are leading providers of worldclass video and broadband service in many rural parts of America. Rewarding reading awaits those who want to know the very latest. Drilling down a bit, ACA Connects personnel shine in these pages, doing a superb job of presenting complex issues in an understandable format. Their contributions underscore not only their mastery of the law and policy but also their ability to advocate on behalf of ACAC members in a manner that results in real and material benefits. ACAC never forgets that in order to be heard in Washington, D.C., you need your own seat at the table and you need to come prepared. A few examples: ACAC President and CEO Matthew M. Polka highlights the fact that the push in Washington, D.C., for aggressive government oversight of ISPs is starkly at odds with the facts on the ground – specifically, substantial broadband network investments made by ACAC members and the competitive forces they face in today’s communications marketplace. ACAC Sr. Vice President of Government Affairs Ross Lieberman relates how ACAC partnered with the business consulting firm Cartesian to develop a report on broadband availability and adoption so policymakers had accurate data on which to base decisions, including some of the key ones that shaped the contours of provisions in bipartisan Senate infrastructure legislation that passed in early August. ACAC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Brian Hurley explains that more than 300 ACAC Members participated in the FCC’s newly established $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit Program and that ACAC’s participation helped the EBB program sign up more than 4 million eligible households in the first few months of the program’s existence. Also inside are more than a dozen finely crafted contributions by ACAC Associate Members, covering such valued topics as: Rising utilization of the upstream path (OpenVault); deploying managed Wi-Fi solutions (Evolution); understanding the nascent “t-commerce” market as an extension of personalized advertising (Minerva); staying on top of key strategic considerations in transitioning to IP video (Adara); and much, much more. So, in this issue of ICN, there’s a lot about regulation, technology and broadband – but there are no pictures of bitcoins. ■

Independent Communications Serving ACA Connects Members

Publisher John Higginbotham 502.330.4057 jhigginbotham@acaconnects.org Editor Ted Hearn 202.713.0826 thearn@acaconnects.org Advertising/Business Stacey Leech 724.971.6388 stacey.leech@acaconnects.org Creative Director Nathan Penrod 412.715.2494 npenrod@acaconnects.org Subscriptions aca@acaconnects.org

ACA CONNECTS STAFF President & CEO Matthew M. Polka Assistant to the President & CEO Tomeika Slappy EVP & COO John Higginbotham SVP Government Affairs Ross Lieberman VP Communications Ted Hearn VP Regulatory Affairs Brian Hurley Mike Jacobs Sr. Director of Administration and Finance Karen Yochum Sr. Director of Meetings/Industry Affairs Stacey Leech Grassroots Manager Caroline Persinger Digital Media Specialist Nathan Penrod ACA Connects Headquarters: 7 Parkway Center Suite #755 Pittsburgh, PA 15220 412.922.8300 www.acaconnects.org


ACA Connects Members Invest In Their Networks, Shows Market is Working

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acts do matter, and the fact is that ACA Connects members and other broadband providers are continuing to invest tens of billions of dollars in their networks to give consumers a great broadband experience. Yet, while the “glass is almost full,” some Washington policymakers choose to see it as empty. They push for greater regulation over broadband providers, ignoring the good news about the provision of broadband in America. They persist in calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to classify broadband ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. What a disappointment. The idea that now is the time for aggressive government oversight of ISPs is starkly at odds with the facts on the ground. During COVID-19, broadband networks delivered, holding the country together and giving residential, business, and institutional users the connectivity that they needed to keep the economy running, engage in remote learning, and stay in touch with their families, friends, and communities. I know from personal knowledge that ACA Connects Members – some of whom go head-to-head with the biggest broadband ISPs in the land – continue to connect their communities to high-performance networks and invest to produce even faster download and upload speeds. Here are a just few of the many examples of how ACA Connects members are rolling out “future-proof” networks and making other investments: Shentel: Located in Edinburg, Va., Shentel is rapidly expanding its Glo Fiber high-speed fiber optic network up and down Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. The project, launched in 2019, today reaches about 42,000 households in Harrisonburg, Staunton, Front Royal, Winchester, Salem, and, Roanoke, Va. Glo Fiber leverages Shentel’s 6,800-mile regional fiber network to ensure high speeds, low latency, and fair pricing. Cable One: Over the past three years, Phoenix-based Cable One and its family of brands (Sparklight, Fidelity, Clearwave, ValuNet Fiber, etc.) have spent more than $770 million to bridge the digital divide and connect residents and businesses across its multistate footprint. Cable One’s fiber investments paid big dividends during COVID-19 because it meant the company was totally prepared for the unprecedented surge in Internet usage throughout the pandemic. Cable One offers top broadband speeds of up to 1 Gigabit for residential customers and up to 5 Gigabits for businesses. Cable One has plans to boost network speeds to 10 Gigs, creating a range of exciting new possibilities.

TDS Telecommunications: In May, TDS announced it had reached a major milestone: a half million broadband subscribers. Based in Madison, Wis., TDS is delivering 1 Gigabit speeds to more than half of its total service addresses. It delivers high-speed Internet, TV entertainment and phone services to nearly 1,000 rural, suburban, and metropolitan communities. TDS recently reached agreement with Socorro, N.M., to build an upgraded communication network capable of delivering up to 1 Gigabit Internet. Construction is expected to begin in 2022 and will provide service to 5,300 new addresses. TDS, in a similar announcement in June, said it was expanding its fiber network in Spokane County, Wash., and Spokane Valley, Wash., with the network ready to connect 22,000 addresses in Spokane County, including the City of Millwood, and 46,000 addresses in Spokane Valley. You can’t help but be impressed by what Shentel, Cable One and TDS have been doing. Of course, I could point to hundreds more examples where ACA Connects members are putting their broadband customers first by investing in first-class communications services. ACA Connects members have a great story to tell Washington, D.C., policymakers. We are giving our consumers and communities superior broadband connectivity and a great customer experience. Further, every new broadband customer passed by an ACA Connects member’s private broadband network is an American household the government can scratch from the list of locations that do not have access to broadband. The more progress the private sector achieves on its own, the less taxpayer money will be needed to close the digital divide. Failing to see what broadband ISPs have delivered is troublesome, and it means that we need to make sure that when D.C. policymakers review the services received by consumers in markets served by ACA Connects members, they stand down from the most harmful proposals and put them on the back burner. ■

Matt Polka ACA Connects President and CEO

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Industry News

Transitioning to IP Video: Key Strategic Considerations

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By Joseph D. Nucara P.Eng., MBA CEO & Co-founder Adara Technologies Inc.

any U.S. Cable operators are rethinking their recent plans to deemphasize video. Further, those operators who have come to understand the strategic value of a video offering have been forced to rethink their IP video strategies in the wake of recent vendor Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, which could be a months-long restructuring process under new ownership. Consequently, a number of critical strategic questions and concerns are being raised both in relation to the role of video (and especially IP video) in an operator’s strategic future as well as in relation to the selection of an IP video partner.

Joseph D. Nucara Adara Technologies CEO & Co-founder

Regarding the role of video, operators in recent years have strategically deemphasized or entirely eliminated their video offerings in large part in response to increasing content costs that have resulted in eroding video margins, contrasted by comparatively healthy broadband margins and developing broadband competition. This landscape is changing dramatically, however, with increased regulatory pressure and broadband competition, foreshadowing significant downward pricing and margin pressure for broadband in the very near future. In addition, operators are coming to realize that while broadband remains profitable (for now) and increasingly essential, it is largely invisible to the customer, delivering no meaningful branding or customer engagements. Video, by contrast gives an operator’s broadband service a public “face.” That plays a critical role in delivering constant visual customer engagement for many hours every day. Further, it’s been shown that broadband subscriber counts grow 2X – 5X faster and churns less when combined with a video service. And, while even legacy video delivers ongoing, daily engagement with customers, its economic benefit to an operator’s overall business is further strengthened by a successful transition to IP video by enabling the following incremental opportunities: • Use of video screens to promote an operator’s Broadband services; • Leveraging video screens for incremental operator advertising revenue; • Use of video screens for brand-building: Beyond logos and colors; • Promoting partners with shared values; and • Advertising company events, charities, community, local initiatives, etc. _ Continued on page [32]

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September 2021 - Issue 2


Industry News

ACA Connects Is Prepared for Change By Patricia Jo Boyers Chairman, ACA Connects

As I look back on the past 12 months, all I can tell y’all is that it’s been some year! The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic – which still isn’t over – occurred simultaneously with no shortage of disruption, division, and dislocation for reasons that have been welldocumented elsewhere. My point in starting this way is to take a moment to thank all ACA Connects Members for serving as one of the few areas of stability during the past year. You kept your customers and Patricia Jo Boyers communities connected, which allowed millions of Americans to remain safe at home while continuing to work, study, monitor their health and stream sports and movies on TV and all those slick digital devices. What you have done is an untold and unsung success story during the pandemic. We are proud at ACA Connects to tell your story, and you can be sure that we’re never going to stop! If there’s no one out there saluting you great work, please know this: I will do so with endless pleasure, whether I’m visiting Capitol Hill or the Missouri state house. I’m not just a name on the ACA Connects leadership page. I am your captain, your champion and your biggest fan. Looking forward, we need to be prepared for change. We’ll be dealing with new matters. As a result of last year’s elections, major policy shifts could follow (some of which might not be too good). And we need to be prepared for changes in the industry. Well, as I like to say, I’m all about 10% of the problem and 90% of the solution, and that’s been our approach these last 12 months – to be the solution! We will rely on our 28-year history of being honest, credible brokers in Washington, D.C., where relationships matter greatly. We do see major policy change ahead, primarily at this moment through a massive infrastructure bill that passed the Senate in August and is now in the hands of the House leadership. By no means are we in position to declare victory because there’s still so much time on the clock. We have to keep our guard up for you because Washington, D.C., can be a very unpredictable place, as I assume you are aware. And we are prepared for industry change in that we will provide you with the deepest and most substantial and regular communications with the critical and essential information you need. Much more is still to come. Thank you for staying loyal to the cause, faithful to your mission and true to your customers and communities each and every day. We are keeping America connected when the need is greatest, and it speaks volumes that ACA Connects’ credo is always to put duty first. In spite of all that we have endured together, ACA Connects is stronger than ever, and, by God, we are not going away. So, let’s get to it! Patricia Jo Boyers is President of BOYCOM Vision in Poplar Bluff, Mo. ■

Independent Communications News

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Industry News

Growing Revenue Through Simplification

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By Mark Mihalevich Founder and CEO, Atlas Digital Group

s competition heats up in the market for high-speed Internet services and consumers increasingly turn to digital commerce, it’s time to rethink strategies for growing revenue. It’s easy to get lost in the promise of future technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) as a way to optimize offer strategy and revenue growth, but there is a much simpler way: simplification itself. Traditional thinking indicates the way to drive more revenue from product offers is to maintain a low “starting” price point and add fees, surcharges, and required equipment after the selection is made by a customer. This is known as “cart stuffing” and is counterproductive in several ways. It confuses customers, destroys trust and customer satisfaction, and works against revenue goals.

Mark Mihalevich Atlas Digital Group Founder and CEO

To understand the negative effects of cart stuffing, let’s break down what drives offer performance. Revenue generated by a product offer is based on two factors: (1) the revenue per sale, and (2) the likelihood that a customer will purchase the offer when it’s presented, known as “offer conversion rate.” Focusing on revenue per sale will lead to strategies that ignore offer conversion rate, like cart stuffing. A better way to think about offer performance is to answer the question “how much revenue is created when I present this offer to a customer?” This means measuring performance based on revenue per presentation, or view, rather than revenue per sale – and this is where simplification makes a difference. Offer conversion rate is far more important than revenue per sale when measuring performance based on revenue per view. Data gathered from our digital commerce platform, Atlas CORE, provides a clear case study of the importance of offer conversion and the advantage of simplification. Let’s say two high-speed Internet providers are similar in size and pursuing a similar market strategy. Both offer up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) Internet speeds. Let’s call them “Provider A” and “Provider B.” Provider A offers 1 Gbps at $70 per month; however, several additional charges and fees are added at the time of purchase. Provider B offers their 1 Gbps product at $90 per month with no additional fees or charges. Without the benefit of data, it’s easy to imagine that Provider A’s lower starting price offer will perform better – but that’s not the case. In fact, even though both offers end up with a similar average revenue per sale, Provider B’s 1 Gbps $90 offer generates an average of 43 percent more revenue each time it’s presented to a customer. How can this be? The answer is offer conversion. Provider B’s simpler, no-strings attached offer converts more sales when presented to customers, resulting in more revenue per view. Simplification works. Rather than competing in a price race to the bottom, simplification allows providers to build value based on transparency and trust, growing revenue and customer satisfaction that will continue paying dividends for years to come. To learn more, visit www.atlasdigitalgroup.com or call (314) 690-8907. ■

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September 2021 - Issue 2


Industry News

MVPDs: Down-To-Earth Distribution For Rural Areas

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By Phil Voelker Senior Copywriter, Comcast Technology Solutions

ultichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) in smaller, rural areas have more options than ever before to stay competitive. The repurposing of C-band spectrum for 5G services has many providers asking “do we transition to the new satellite and take a business-as-usual approach, or can we do things differently?” Many providers now have a ground-based alternative that was previously unavailable. It could be the right time to stop “doing dishes” and transition to a ground game. TERRESTRIAL VS. SATELLITE DELIVERY – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? A high-level discussion about satellite delivery is a horrible pun; but as Nick Nielsen, a Fellow at Comcast Technology Solutions, explains it:

Phil Voelker Comcast Technology Solutions Senior Copywriter

“The big change is how to get signal to the plant. With satellite delivery, it’s the satellite that beams the information to a dish at the cable plant. Terrestrial delivery replaces this with broadband IP networking (typically fiber). Imagine you’re a media company and you need to get programming to several local cable plants. All these transmissions need to be aggregated and assembled into the high-quality experiences that ultimately get delivered to consumers. THE NEXT EVOLUTION OF THE CABLE PLANT It used to take a farm of expensive satellite dishes for a plant to acquire its signals. Nielsen continues: “In the 90’s, we set up a means of pre-compressing and pre-bundling signals that could be accomplished with just one dish. There are still limitations – a fixed bandwidth means that if a provider wants to offer a new channel, they may need to decide which existing channel needs to be swapped out. A terrestrial-based solution takes the satellite out of the equation. If an MVPD can connect point A to point B via the Internet, adding more channels becomes more of a straightforward bandwidth question. Terrestrial delivery offers that scalability and flexibility; plus it’s hard to add dynamic services in a one-way, broadcast-only environment. Things like video on-demand, ad insertion, interactive experiences -- anything that’s on a per-person level needs a two-way medium. Moving to a terrestrial model opens up the ability to eventually serve full-service IP video to consumers. FROM TERRESTRIAL TO FULL IP DELIVERY The headend might get a signal via terrestrial IP, but it’s still distributing via a QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) signal; basically, content in the form of MPEG transport streams gets split up into 188-byte packets that go through QAM, converting them into analog for broadcast. _ Continued on page [32] Independent Communications News

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Industry News

Why is Managed Wi-Fi So Important?

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By Marc Cohen EVP Marketing and Sales, Evolution Digital

irst, what is managed Wi-Fi? Managed Wi-Fi refers to enterprise-level services that oversee the ecosystem from edge device to cloud – including hardware, software, connectivity and security -- to ensure consistent, high-performing wireless coverage.

Managed Wi-Fi solutions offer both Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and their end customers interactive tools and features to manage all aspects of network performance -from provisioning routers and mesh devices in the home for optimal distances, limited interfering signals, and physical barriers to monitoring actual throughput on connected devices at any given time.

Marc Cohen Evolution Digital EVP Marketing and Sales

On the ISP side, a remote management platform allows customer care representatives to analyze the Wi-Fi health of the home to, in turn, proactively and reactively use that data to make network adjustments on the fly. Likewise, end customers are provided with access to a mobile application to facilitate self-install and management functionalities for a secure, stress-free and easy-to-use Wi-Fi experience. The 2020-21 COVID-19 pandemic underscored the importance of solving home Wi-Fi problems. According to Plume, the industry has seen “increases of 100% or more in time spent online at home during the work week [and] load, congestion, and optimization surges have risen...252%” (“Why WiFi is the Essential Foundation for Smart Home Success,” 2021). Historically, these issues pointed at the actual pipe coming into the home and, subsequently, subscribers would raise their network speeds and data caps, as well as add unnecessary additional mesh units, to bolster performance. But oftentimes, the issue lies with how the Wi-Fi signal is distributed to all of the consumer’s connected devices. That is where managed Wi-Fi comes in, as the user is now empowered to identify and address the true source of any issue through a consumer mobile-friendly app that offers step-by-step troubleshooting and resolution recommendations without unnecessarily adding more monthly costs. One simple example of self-optimization through managed Wi-Fi is making sure that there is one network name (SSID) and password in the home to take advantage of dual-band steering and load balancing. The ISP can also rejoice, as it enjoys the added benefit of not only less churn from happy subscribers, but also lowering its OPEX through reduced truck rolls and support calls. Consumers rely on wireless home coverage for work, play and everything in between. Now more than ever, ISPs are making hardware choices based on the managed Wi-Fi software offerings that come equipped on the devices. With a variety of managed Wi-Fi solutions available in the marketplace, ISPs are partnering with technology vendors that are best equipped to future proof and adapt with the ever-evolving connected smart home. Importantly, network speed and data cap upgrades have lost their impact with consumers, so it is imperative that ISPs offer the right managed Wi-Fi platform, coupled with customer education, to enable the Quality of Service levels needed to keep their competitive edge against emerging technologies like 5G, fixed wireless and others. For more information about Evolution Digital’s partnership with Plume to offer best-in-class managed Wi-Fi services, please reach out to mcohen@evolutiondigital.com. ■ 10

September 2021 - Issue 2


Industry News

Our Secret “Advocacy” Sauce By Ross Lieberman ACA Connects Sr. Vice President of Government Affairs

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CA Connects’ strength as policy advocates lies first and foremost with our members. You provide us the market data and information we need to develop and advance positions that serve our members’ interests. Over time, our data-driven approach, supplemented by outside experts, has distinguished ACA Connects and given us credibility at the Federal Communications Commission and other agencies and with Members of Congress and their staff. We employed this approach recently to inform the debate in Washington, D.C., on broadband infrastructure legislation. By early 2021, there was serious talk of spending tens of billions of dollars on broadband, but potentially in ways that could harm ACA Connects members. It was important that any legislation avoid funding overbuilds, give small providers fair opportunities to compete for deployment funds in unserved areas, and provide sufficient funding for adoption subsidies. Ross Lieberman

Under these circumstances, we needed good data and analysis to help policymakers make the right decisions. So we partnered with the business consulting firm Cartesian to develop a report, Addressing Gaps in Broadband Infrastructure Availability and Service Adoption: A Cost Estimation & Prioritization Framework, that provided policymakers with detailed data about the size of the country’s broadband and adoption gaps and that analyzes costs to deploy broadband in unserved locations and to offset broadband adoption subscription fees for lowincome households. The data shows, for instance, that approximately 19 million households lack access to 100/20 Mbps service. That’s about 16% of all U.S. households. Our analysis determined that the U.S. can build gigabit broadband to all of these households for $35 billion to $67 billion. The report also shed light on the broadband adoption gap, which is an even greater barrier. Today, 30 million households do not subscribe to broadband even where it is available. Among other subsidy options we analyzed in the report, we found that a 5-year broadband adoption program could connect millions of low-income households with a $50 monthly subsidy for a total cost of $26 billion to $102 billion, depending on the participation rate. We shared the report with policymakers in June, as Congress and the Biden Administration were just getting serious about infrastructure legislation. We then met with policymakers to brief them on the report’s findings – including what could and could not be achieved with available funding – and to convey our policy recommendations. During the summer, as legislative drafting became more serious, we turned to our members to amplify our message with key policymakers. In doing so, we had the privilege of relying on strong relationships that our members have built over the years with their Members of Congress to help bolster our credibility. This team effort made ACA Connects successful in helping steer the Senate broadband legislation in a positive direction. The compromise that emerged was a workable framework for ACA Connects members – not perfect, but far preferable to the worst alternatives. What’s more, the seriousness of our effort and the skill with which we participated have burnished ACA Connects’ reputation. That’s an asset that will pay dividends down the road in all our policy battles. ■ Independent Communications News 11


Industry News

What Service Providers Can Do to Stem Illegal Robocalling

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By Steve Augustino Partner and Chair of Kelley Drye’s Communications Practice

oice communications is at a critical point. After years of nuisance calls, consumers are fed up. They know that scam artists often spoof the telephone number to make it appear that it’s coming from a neighbor or local source. As a result, many have stopped answering calls from a number they don’t recognize. Others are fleeing to text messaging and video calling apps. Trust in voice communications is in the balance. This moment reminds me in a way of the “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk” campaign of the early 1980s. Society had tried many tactics to detect and punish drunk Steve Augustino Kelley Drye drivers. But the efforts weren’t moving the needle much, not until the “Friends Don’t” Partner and Chair campaign took hold. At that point, the effort shifted beyond the violator alone. We have a responsibility, the campaign told us, to help our friends and stop them from making a dangerous decision. We were empowered to take action and were celebrated as a “friend” for doing so. The campaign made it acceptable for others to take action, and this undoubtedly had an impact in lowering the incidence of drunk driving. Anti-robocall efforts are at a similar point. For a long time, we’ve had laws prohibiting nuisance calling and deceitful spoofing. The Federal Communications Commission has taken strong action under these laws, imposing fines of $200 million or more for such practices. But illegal robocalling persists. Even with the Industry Traceback Group, authorized call blocking practices and, this year, the introduction of a call authentication framework, the focus still has been on detecting the illegal robocaller and meting out punishment. These are improvements, to be sure, but illegal robocalling has, by many estimates, remained steady or even increased during this time. The equivalent of the “Friends Don’t” campaign is before the industry, however. As of June 30, service providers that had not fully implemented the call authentication framework were required to file a robocall mitigation plan with the FCC. These plans must describe the “reasonable steps” the entity will take to avoid originating illegal robocalls, and the FCC has said that it intends to take action if those steps negligently allow robocalling to continue. The industry should view these robocall mitigation plans as an opportunity, not just a check-the-box legal requirement. With a robocall mitigation plan, service providers are empowered, like the friend, to do something about illegal robocalling, to ensure that your customers and your partners are not engaging in the practice, and to enforce a protection (like a friend taking her friend’s keys away). What should the robocall mitigation plan contain? The FCC has not dictated any practices, but in my view, three elements are critical. First, the service provider should know its customers and its partners. A service provider should know who the customer/partner is, what their reputation is, and verify that the customer/partner is a legitimate business. Second, the service provider should know the traffic on its network. Tools such as call analytics can be helpful in identifying problematic traffic, as can monitoring for indicia of potentially illegal traffic, such as spoofing of multiple numbers or significant unanswered call rates. Third, the plan should contain contractual terms that prohibit illegal calling and penalize certain actions associated with illegal calling. Anti-spoofing restrictions could be in place. Penalties for short duration calls or unanswered calls can be developed. Suspension and termination of service should be at the ready in the event unlawful calling is suspected. And resources should be devoted within the organization to implement and enforce these terms. Service Providers Don’t Let Their Customers Engage in Illegal Robocalling. Pass it on. ■ September 2021 - Issue 2 12


Industry News

The C-Band Transition: Much Already Done, Much Still to Do By Mike Jacobs ACA Connects Vice President of Regulatory Affairs

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t this time a year ago, ACA Connects Members were finalizing decisions as to whether to accept lump-sum payments for transitioning their earth stations to accommodate the C-Band auction. Effectively a year into the transition for ACA Connects Members, this is a good time to take stock of where you should be right now in your transition activities – regardless of whether your company elected lump sum reimbursement – and what you should do going forward to ensure as seamless as possible a transition: If you have one or more earth station(s) in or near a “Phase I” area, your antennas at such earth station(s) should be outfitted with “red” passband filters by now. If your earth station(s) in or near such areas do(es) not have such filters, act now to obtain them and have them installed, or to contact the satellite operators to do so if your company did not elect lump sum reimbursement. Phase I of the transition concludes December 5, 2021, at which time unfiltered earth stations in or near such areas may begin to receive interference. If necessary, consult the C-Band Transition Resource pages in the Member Lounge of the ACA Connects website for more information about Phase I areas and which earth stations need red filters. Mike Jacobs

Speaking of ACA Connects’ C-Band Transition Resource pages: You should visit these pages more often! They contain a wealth of information such as: breaking news; satellite operator resources; filtering and other technical specifications; satellite operator transition activity schedules; and ACA Connects Members-only C-Band transition webinar materials. Be responsive to outreach by the satellite operators and their contractors. The FCC requires all earth station operators to coordinate with the satellite operators. Not only is it the best way to ensure your continued ability to provide substantially the same service to your subscribers during and after the transition, but the FCC has canceled earth station registrations of unresponsive operators. Be responsive to outreach by the Relocation Payment Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse is the entity actually tendering reimbursements. Therefore, responsiveness to the Clearinghouse is in your best interest to help prevent reimbursement delays. And, of course, be responsive to ACA Connects! We’re doing our best to inform you of significant transition developments. Keep in mind ACA Connects communications and webinars are designed to provide you with actionable information to help ensure you stay on top of regulatory obligations, impacts, opportunities, and milestones. “If you see something, say something.” ACA Connects is in frequent touch with the satellite operators, the FCC, the Clearinghouse, the Relocation Coordinator, and others playing key roles in the transition. We have surfaced – and achieved resolution of – several implementation issues first brought to our attention by ACA Connects Members. You are the eyes and ears on the ground. Finally, you are welcome to reach out to me at mjacobs@acaconnects.org with transition-related questions or issues you are facing. While we are well into Phase I of the transition, Phase II will last another two years after Phase I is completed in December. Much has been done already, but there is still much to do. Following the guidelines above will help make the transition as seamless as possible for your companies. And ACA Connects is your partner in promoting that objective. ■ Independent Communications News

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Industry News

T-Commerce is Coming: Are You Ready?

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By Matt Cuson VP of Marketing and Product, Minerva Networks

mazon was in the news regarding plans to enable purchases from TV screens a natural evolution of e-commerce dubbed ‘t-commerce’. While t-commerce is in its infancy, it’s an obvious extension to personalized advertising via Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI). TV and broadband operators may not be traditional e-commerce companies, but they find themselves conveniently positioned to play an important role in this large new revenue stream. To capitalize on the opportunity, planning needs to start now.

Matt Cuson

Minerva Networks The path to t-commerce is a logical and inevitable next step for creating personalized VP of Marketing and Product experiences. Where advertising used to be one to many in legacy TV, the rise of Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) and hyper ad personalization, along with app-enabled devices, makes t-commerce viable. Because e-commerce companies don’t typically have video service, and broadband/video service providers don’t do e-commerce, it sets up nicely as a perfect symbiotic relationship.

Setting aside in-line video ads, there are only a few ways available to operators within the user experience to drive promotion, customer loyalty, and revenue beyond the old fashioned monthly subscription model. The first and one of the easiest and most popular is the promotion of content that is already in the system. This approach doesn’t drive new revenue but helps reduce churn. Think about the seasonal promotions such as highlighting romantic movies around Valentine’s Day. Showing date night movies on a stripe would be the most primitive method of promotion. But it works. The next level up looks to trigger new revenue in the form of TVOD purchases or upgrading to premium content packages. Once you have the basic capabilities to insert posters that promote specific content or premium packages, it is easy to extend them to cross sell nonvideo services like mobile, home monitoring, or simply higher broadband speeds. Learn more about these issues, opportunities and other details in this webinar recording. For justifiable reasons, there is a lot of interest in DAI for in-line video advertising. Better tracking for advertisers and higher ad prices for ad avails ultimately make everyone happier - at least those buying and selling ads. It doesn’t stop there. Because the operator controls the UI, every poster placement becomes an advertising opportunity for the operator - exclusively. Using flexible tools to define how the UI will appear, operators can promote content of course, but those same poster locations can linkout to e-commerce partners. And with a combination of ads fees or revenue share from purchases, operators have plenty of options for how to structure business arrangements. With lower production costs and easier ad management options that use web ad technologies, operators will find more local businesses able to participate in more traditional web ad markets where they can avoid expensive video commercial production costs. It’s time for operators to embrace personalized ads for in-line video but also expand their thinking and look for revenue generation opportunities beyond video ads. The TV browsing experience is nothing more than advertisements for content. That experience is under the exclusive control of the operator and can also be used to advertise items that aren’t video content. As streaming was the inevitable competitor to traditional TV, t-commerce is the inevitable next step for personalized advertising. It’s time to start planning for this platform evolution now. ■

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September 2021 - Issue 2


Industry News

Your Network is Getting Smarter By Von McConnell Broadband Subject Matter Expert, NCTI

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id you realize that the information in your cable and telco networks is one of the most valuable assets that you own today? Not just for the call/data records but also for the supplemental log files it creates. For example, for each phone call or status update on a web page, the network systems generate over 1200+ unique data points. It is precisely these types of data sets that made Google one of the richest companies in the world. Von McConnell Many of the larger telcos and MSOs have been using this data for years in helping to NCTI troubleshoot and predict network problems, cut costs, or provide more personalized services. Using ad hoc and proprietary machine learning (ML) systems is changing the complexion of telecommunication in total. Today, telephone and cable companies have a host of such ML systems in their various networks that do things like: • Undertake proactive network maintenance & troubleshooting; • Assist customer contact with suggestions or tips; • Provide a foundation for many fraud and privacy initiatives; and • Reduce costs of RF and routing management systems, etc.

One of the most valuable data sets is the Operational Data Logs (ODLs) from your various call/session processing network systems. Many telcos and MSOs often throw this data away or fail to fully utilize it once they have resolved a specific problem or issue. But, if you put the ODL records together (e.g., start and end with mid-call events) and look at the holistic transaction, a comprehensive view of the network (and customers) appears for each specific transaction. This view can become even more enriched when applied

A high-level overview of the seven steps/phases/layers of how machine learning works. Larger companies typically apply 1-4, with 5 and 6 as future-state applications.

over time, action, and location, especially when combined with external data from other external network data sources. Using non-network data from such sources as internal customer care, weather, census, ZIP Code, industry/vendor traffic patterns, etc., adds great insights into what is _ Continued on page [32] Independent Communications News

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Industry News

Post-COVID, We’ll Still Face A Crowded Upstream

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By Josh Barstow Chief Revenue Officer, OpenVault

hile masks are coming off, restaurants are reopening and travelers again are taking to the skies, the end of the COVID tunnel is finally in sight. But for broadband providers, the impact of the pandemic on their networks – in particular, the upstream – is not expected to go away anytime soon. With business, education and even family gatherings taking place remotely, broadband upstream traffic was 350% of historic rates during 2020, according to data gleaned from OpenVault’s revenue and network improvement solutions. Broadband providers need new data-centric approaches to understand and address those persistently high levels of consumption in the months ahead.

Josh Barstow OpenVault, Chief Revenue Officer

Between December 2019 and December 2020, upstream usage grew 63% – from 19 GB to 31 GB – far outpacing the 18% rate of increase for the upstream in each of the two prior years. Particularly noteworthy was the 98.5% increase in average upstream traffic during the 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. timeframe, from 5.25 GB to 10.42 GB per subscriber per month as of December 2020, even as per-subscriber monthly downstream consumption during the same period increased just 51.74%, from 91.90GB to 139.45GB. Here’s what we’ve learned about upstream usage toward the end of 2020: • Upstream growth in 4Q 2020 was 24%, a faster rate of increase than the 18% growth rate for all of 2018 or 2019; • The top 1% of subscribers account for approximately 30% of upstream usage, and the top 5% of subscribers account for more than 50% of upstream consumption; and • During peak hours, operators routinely face situations in which a single subscriber accounts for more than 80% of available upstream capacity. Potential remedies such as acceptable-use network management mechanisms, running dedicated fiber lines to upstream-intensive subscribers or reconfiguring networks for increased upstream use via mid-splits to 85MHz or high-splits to 204MHz can incur public relations or financial costs. A mid-split, for example, can cost as much as $35,000 per node. Numerous operators in the United States have combined real-time analytics and bandwidth management practices to help ease congestion and provide improved subscriber experiences. Facing an increasing number of incidents in which upstream traffic exceeded 80% of node capacity, the level of utilization commonly known to negatively affect _ Continued on page [33] 16

September 2021 - Issue 2


Industry News

More than 300 ACAC Members Participating in FCC’s Emergency Broadband Program By Brian Hurley ACA Connects Vice President of Regulatory Affairs

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he Federal Communications Commission’s Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program is in full swing. Congress directed the FCC to establish this new program in response to the COVID-19 crisis, and it officially launched in May. Through the EBB program, households that are struggling financially can receive monthly discounts on their broadband service up to $50 (or $75, if on Tribal lands). The amount of money allocated for these subsidies – $3.2 Billion – reflects the tremendous importance of broadband and the increased demand for fast and reliable connectivity during the pandemic. Moreover, as ACA Brian Hurley Connects and Cartesian recently reported, about 30 million households that have access to broadband do not subscribe. The EBB program is aimed at helping close that adoption gap. ACA Connects is thrilled that more than 300 of its members are participating in the EBB program. In many ways, this program continues the great work that our members were already doing to support their customers and their communities during this unprecedented public health crisis. Our members’ networks deliver high-speed wireline broadband services that can support the full range of connectivity needs brought on by COVID-19, including remote work, online learning, telehealth and more. In other words, ACA Connects members are a perfect fit for the EBB program. Standing up a new broadband benefit program within a few short months is no mean feat. Doing all of this in the midst of a global pandemic makes the accomplishment even more extraordinary. The ACA Connects team has been proud to witness firsthand the tremendous work of our members in updating their systems, training staff, developing outreach materials, and completing the many other tasks required to get the EBB program off the ground and keep it running smoothly. That hard work is paying off. The FCC announced in late July that the number of households enrolled in the EBB program had eclipsed 4 million and was expected keep growing. As Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel put it: “We’ve made terrific progress, but the FCC remains committed to building on this initial momentum so we can connect as many families as possible and help those struggling to get online.” She has been joined by many other policymakers and community leaders in touting the importance of the EBB program and encouraging greater participation. There is tremendous interest in Washington, on both sides of the aisle, in closing the digital divide and bringing digital opportunity to all. The EBB program is widely viewed as a critical part of these efforts. Indeed, there is a good chance this “emergency” program will get extended beyond the COVID-19 crisis. A bipartisan infrastructure deal negotiated in the Senate in late July would make the EBB program permanent and allocate billions of dollars in additional funds to the program. Whether that deal ends up Congress passing in some form, it is clear that there is widespread interest in addressing broadband adoption and affordability gaps. Our members’ strong showing in the EBB program puts us in great position to be part of the solution. ■

Independent Communications News

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Industry News

Built for Fast Deployment - The Right Closure for The Right Network

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By Melissa Seibring Director, Marketing of Power & Tel

s demand continues to grow and expand, agile infrastructure is essential. Fiber splice closures are used throughout the network and are suited for a variety of applications, including aerial, pedestal, buried or underground. Your closures need to be compatible with various types of cables and be easily accessible for maintenance, updates, and expansions. The closures are designed to protect from water and harsh environmental conditions, keeping the components protected and your network up and running. We are a stocking distributor for CommScope closures. Innovative gel sealing technology protects your connections inside from water, sand, dust, and other contaminants that could degrade optical performance. Numerous re-entries are allowed due to its self-healing capability. This makes maintenance and adding extra customers fast and easy, long after deployment.

Outside Plant conditions can be harsh. These closures are designed to work and are field tested for: • Moisture resistance— underwater and under pressure; • Cable manipulation—axial pull, torsion, flexing, and impact;

Melissa Seibring Power & Tel, Director, Marketing

• Optical torsion and bending; and • Resistance to vibration, temperature, chemical, and UV rays.

We supply cutting-edge products that provide superior value to our customers. For almost 60 years, we have made it a priority to provide high-quality equipment, while continually growing as an industry leader in supply chain management, innovation, and industry products. Each network has its Benefits of gel sealing own trait – let us help technology include: you find the perfect • Suitable for aerial, solution and deploy pedestal, and the right closure underground When selecting fiber closures, consider the characteristics in the right place. of your network rather than the type of network. (manhole or https://www.ptsupply. direct buried); com/manufacturer/ • Available for spliced and connectorized COMMSCOPE-CONNECTIVITY ■ closures • Compatible with all fiber types (G652D – G657 series); and • Facilitates fast, reliable closure re-entry and resealing. 18

September 2021 - Issue 2


Industry News

InCoax Fiber Access Extension – The Effective Way to Speed Up The Symmetric Gigabit Internet Rollout!

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By Brenda Stottler Sales & Marketing Director, North America – Technetix

he pandemic has fueled an increased need for broadband speed and service stability. Upload speed capacity is growing in importance and in just a few years more homes will demand symmetrical Gigabit speeds. Legacy technologies and not even DOCSIS 3.1 can meet the rising user demands. The in-building TV networks have been upgraded to support higher frequency spectrums due to analog switchover to digital TV services and DOCSIS network spectrum upgrade. The available spectrum capacity allows the coaxial networks in MDUs to be used in a more innovative way. For Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) operators, signing a broadband contract with a Single-Family Unit (SFU) is a fairly easy process compared to signing a contract with a subscriber in an MDU, as this involves building and apartment owners’ consensus on construction work and approvals.

access can combat the connectivity complexities that operators face. Tasked with pushing fiber deeper into the network, operators can reuse the existing infrastructure as coaxial networks to garner Gigabit speed that residents and businesses require.

Brenda Stottler Technetix Sales & Marketing Director, North America

Solving the Gigabit challenge cost effectively with Coax and MoCA Fiber access extension technology with MoCA Access increases property reach and subsequently grows the addressable market size for operators. _ Continued on page [33]

Fiber: A costly venture The cost for in-building fiber and construction work is either the responsibility of the MDU owner or the operator. FTTH deployments are the target for Internet operators to be able to provide Gigabit services. However, the installation of fiber broadband to multiple households is far from a straightforward process. It can be both expensive and labor-intensive to install fiber to the apartments. With the costs of fiber deployments in MDUs being as much as 40% of Fiber-To-The-Building (FTTB) deployment costs, it can be a very expensive venture especially if the take-up rate is low for the new services. With the global pandemic fueling a huge growth in demand for instantaneous connectivity in MDUs, reusing in-building infrastructure for broadband Independent Communications News

Gigabit with P2MP or MultiGigabit with P2P connection from DPU to each apartment

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Industry News

Let’s Collaborate to Educate Tomorrow’s Ad-Sellers By John Piccone President of QTT, A Division of Viamedia

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hen I last addressed Independent Communications News readers, in the April issue, I opined on “What Digital Buyers Need to Know About Linear TV.” I argued that the bottom-funnel metrics of digital platforms, while increasingly influential, tell only part of the story when considered in isolation. I also prognosticated, “Inevitably, the linear and digital worlds will collide.” That collision is upon us. But, in contrast to an unhappy collision of objects, this can be the good kind of collision. If you recall Reese’s TV ads of the ‘70s and ‘80s, it’s more akin to the fortuitous collision of chocolate and peanut butter. Linear and digital campaigns increasingly make for a hand-in-glove fit; technology increasingly is enabling that fit.

John Piccone President QTT A Division of Viamedia

And not a moment too soon. In a speech at the June 2021 Association of National Advertisers conference, Procter & Gamble Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard addressed the critical role of multiplatform data in facilitating measurement of linear and digital audiences. “We are close, but not there yet,” Pritchard said. “The digital platforms are ready to go, but they want to make sure the TV broadcasters are part of the testing. The TV broadcasters ... have two requests. First, find a way to properly value a TV impression versus a digital impression ... And, second ... integrate the ‘Open AP’ solution they’ve developed into the cross-platform framework, to provide transparency across broadcaster inventory. This also makes sense, because it’s a strong initiative to help achieve cross-network, cross-channel, and cross-program visibility.” No less important a voice than Pritchard underscores the importance of surfacing audience information in a controlled fashion in order to leverage the scale of linear platforms while embracing the insights offered by digital metrics. In short, one of the primary marketers is exhorting the linear and digital media ecosystems to get on the same page. Three key factors need to be addressed for this imperative to be expedited: Interoperability between linear and digital technologies, enabling workflow to be improved with increased transparency. Control maintained by the principals: As they leverage technology partnerships for audience targeting, ROI measurement and fraud protection, brands and media companies need assurances they remain in control of the advertising value exchange. Stakeholder education and collaboration: The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB) and the Television Bureau of Advertising (TBA) and others could join to create a multi-marketing or cross-platform educational degree, similar to certifications in disciplines such as Search Engine Marketing or Programmatic trading. _ Continued on page [33]

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September 2021 - Issue 2


Industry News

Infrastructure Is Leaving the Station... Will It Arrive at Its Destination? By Curtis Philp Vice President, Alpine Group

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t is that time again . . . infrastructure week, just like every other week in Washington, D.C. Wait, this time it is for real. In all seriousness, for more than a decade and through numerous presidential administrations of both Curtis Philp political parties, one week out of each Alpine Group month is designated as “infrastructure Vice President week.” Shoring up and building out our nation’s roads, bridges, water resources, and broadband networks are not a partisan endeavor. So why is it so challenging to enact? The details matter and are where differences develop. Historically, the total cost of new resources and additional programs, and how to pay for them, is where the initiative runs out of proverbial gas. But this time around, the actual definition of infrastructure has divided the parties, and some within the same political party, into two. Congress and the Biden Administration are pursuing a dual-track approach: a $1 trillion traditional infrastructure package crafted by a bipartisan group of almost two-dozen Senators and a second $3.5 trillion package developed solely by congressional Democrats to accomplish priorities they campaigned on in the last election to take control of Congress and retake the presidency. The traditional infrastructure bill has taken all summer to get this far and through a couple of different bipartisan “gangs” of Senators. For broadband provider interest, the bill finances $65 billion for broadband deployment and affordability. The deal sends $42 billion to the states to allocate grants to ensure coverage in unserved project areas, locations with 80 percent or more that lack access to speeds less than 25/3 Mbps. Once those areas are covered, the funds prioritize underserved project areas, locations with 80 percent or more that lack access to speeds of less than 100/20 Mbps. Those who obtain grants from the states will have to offer at least one low-cost broadband service option, but the rates will not be regulated by the federal agency administering the program. This bipartisan package passed the U.S. Senate in August, and is now under consideration by the House. What about that other package, the $3.5 trillion one? The

Senate has approved topline spending figures. This will enable a final package to be approved later by a simple majority vote in the Senate – instead of 60 votes – and avoid the filibuster. With a 50-50 makeup of the Senate, reconciliation will require every Democratic Senator to vote for the $3.5 trillion package and the Vice President to break the tie vote. This assumes all Republicans oppose it, which is likely. Senate Democrats will have to use September to finalize their $3.5 trillion plan that could include green economy programs to address climate change, tax breaks for families and additional federal support programs, expansion of Medicare and federal health programs, employment and labor union protections, and reforms to immigration laws. While there have been claims by some Senators that topics covered in the infrastructure bill, like broadband, wouldn’t be covered in the reconciliation bill, we expect some Senators to seek more funding for broadband, including for deployment and affordability, computers and tablets for low-income households, and the E-rate program, as part of the reconciliation package. Such a legislative behemoth might have difficulty in passing the Senate, as at least one moderate Democrat Senator has expressed reservations to it. In the House, Speaker Pelosi has drawn a red line arguing that the House will not consider the bipartisan infrastructure bill without also considering the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package. But a group of moderate Democrats in the House, concerned about the size and scope of the reconciliation package, almost prevented the House from approving the procedural measure to even start the process, extracting a guarantee to vote on the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill on September 27. However, there is no guarantee on which package will be voted on first, the bipartisan Senate bill or the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. On the other hand, House progressive members are concerned that the bipartisan Senate infrastructure deal does not go far enough and are pushing to ensure the partybase’s priorities are included in the $3.5 trillion package. The razor-thin Democratic majority in the House could make it difficult to pass either package. The next month will determine whether or not a major infrastructure package, and any large bipartisan measure, can be accomplished this Congress. ■


ACAC Communications DAILY MEDIA SWEEP There isn’t a publication -- print or digital -- that covers the unique concerns of ACA Connects Members on a daily or even weekly basis. But ACA Connects fills that void with distribution of its Daily Media Sweep, edited by ACAC VP of Communications Ted Hearn. Filled with a smart collection of articles, charts, Tweets and news from ACA Connects, the Daily Media Sweep is designed to inform the people who operate America’s independent video and broadband networks. Although the Daily Media Sweep is a quick read on any device for the time-constrained reader, it also offers the ability to dig beneath the surface by calling up full stories and linked documents, such as FCC filings, legal briefs and court decisions.

Robert Wieand ACA Connects Treasurer Senior Vice President at Service Electric Cablevision

Busy is the perfect word to describe our rapidly changing communications business as we continue to roll out worldclass broadband in our local communities. That’s why I turn to the ACA Connects Daily Media Sweep each day to stay in touch with the headlines that are driving so many decisions in our industry. I urge you to sign up today!

ACTION BRIEF Here’s an ACA Connects publication you don’t want to miss! It’s the ACAction Brief, which is produced for, and distributed to, ACA Connects Members and Associate Members every two weeks all year long. The ACAction Brief is a digital product sent via email and packed with lots of great information. Among other things, the ACAction Brief includes Member Advisories on such matters as Copyright Statements of Account, the C-Band transition, robocall regulation and cybersecurity issues. It also includes notifications on ACAC-sponsored Webinars and ways to access archived webinars on the ACAC website. The ACAction Brief also provides the ACAC legal community with frequent regulatory updates provided by the Cinnamon Mueller law firm.

Kathy Ford ACA Connects Board Member Senior Vice President of Legal Affairs at WOW! Internet, Cable & Phone

The government team at ACA Connects works hard at representing independent video and broadband providers in Washington, D.C. ACAC’s biweekly Action Brief will allow ACAC members to track the team’s work, including access to key regulatory updates and filings, plus webinar replays and the indispensable Cinnamon Mueller report. Bonus items include Independent Show and ACAC Summit agenda and promotions. Please sign up!

If you want to subscribe to the Daily Media Sweep or Action Brief, just send us your email address at aca@acaconnects.org!


Industry News How Will Expanded Upstream Meet the Rapid Demand of Upload Bandwidth? (3 Misconceptions) By Todd Gingrass VP of Solution Architectures, CCI Solutions

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ow can hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) operators keep up with the intense bandwidth demands that were put onto their networks over the last 18 months?

This question and questions related to the upstream spectrum continue to pop up. If growth continues to climb at the current rate, what can be done to meet the exponential demand? 1. More Upstream Bandwidth Only Happens With a Complete Plant Upgrade: The first misconception is the only way to get more upstream bandwidth is to do a complete plant upgrade project.

Todd Gingrass CCI Solutions, VP of Solution Architectures

ANSWER: While you and your company will get more bandwidth from a complete plant upgrade, it may not be needed. Many RF node and amplifier platforms have multiple options to have an economical upgrade done. These consist of “upstream only” upgrade kits or amplifier module swaps to bring the spectrum to 85 MHz or even 204 MHz. The reason it is referred to as economical is that the labor required is oftentimes reduced to swapping modules and some tap-level faceplates, as opposed to lots of expensive coax splicing, amplifier location moves, and aerial/underground construction. Plus, an operator can make this change progressively over time, attacking the most problematic areas first to balance the budget and customer satisfaction. 2. You Must Use DOCSIS 3.1 to Use an Expanded Upstream Solution: The second misconception is believing you have to switch over completely to DOCSIS 3.1 to use an expanded upstream. ANSWER: This is completely untrue. Despite the advantages of DOCSIS 3.1 (D3.1) in both directions of the plant, it is important to explore every solution and path an operator can take. Many DOCSIS 3.0 (D3.0) modems can bond channels up to 85 MHz, depending on the brand and model. Adding any amount of DOCSIS 3.0 channels above 42 MHz will increase your aggregate pool of shared bandwidth in a service group. If you do want to use DOCSIS 3.1, by all means, you should. A move into D3.1 can be made into a very easy and progressive process, both technically and financially. _ Continued on page [34]

Independent Communications News

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Industry News

Imagining a World Without Retrans By Michael Nilsson Partner - Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP

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ast year, a client told me something I’d never heard before: “I really don’t care if we get a deal done with these TV stations.”

Now, I’ve probably spoken with clients about retransmission consent hundreds of times over the years. They always think they need to carry major network affiliates regardless of price. This particular client, however, thought that its subscribers had begun to care more about broadband service than traditional cable service. And it believed that subscribers wouldn’t particularly mind losing the stations in question—at least at the prices the stations were demanding. So it was just as happy to walk away from negotiations as it was to ink a deal.

Michael Nilsson Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP Partner

I’ll bet many more ACA Connects members will find themselves feeling the same way in the coming years as they continue to emphasize broadband. What does this mean? On the one hand, not needing to make a deal certainly makes negotiations much easier! Yet broadcasters aren’t going to much like a world in which cable operators are less eager to pay to carry them. They’re going to use every tool at their disposal to convince regulators to punish any failure to carry (and pay for) their stations. And regulators -- who think broadcasters offer unique local programming essential to public safety -- may be inclined to listen. So if you think you might not want to renew an expiring retransmission consent deal, here are a few legal and policy issues to consider (you will, of course, already have thought through the business considerations): • FCC Good Faith Rules. FCC rules are supposed to ensure “that broadcasters and MVPDs meet to negotiate retransmission consent and that such negotiations are conducted in an atmosphere of honesty, purpose and clarity of process.” Among other things, parties have to meet and cannot simply put forth a “single, unilateral proposal.” Presumably, then, a cable operator cannot simply announce that it will not negotiate with broadcasters at all. But what can it do? How many negotiating sessions must it participate in? Can it tell the station group that it will not pay at all for retransmission consent? • Franchise Requirements and Renewal. Franchise agreements aren’t supposed to regulate programming (other than PEG channels and the like). And franchise authorities aren’t supposed to consider “the mix or quality” of programming at renewal time. But we know that franchise authorities have considerable discretion and may not like it if the cable operator stops carrying local stations—especially if it stops carrying all such stations. How can a cable operator protect itself? • Elected Officials. It’s not hard to imagine stations calling Members of Congress, state officials, and city council members to put pressure on a cable operator to cut a deal. In fact, it’s happened before. How can a cable operator prevent this? As is often the case, the best time to think about this is before a problem occurs. That is, if you suspect your negotiating position with broadcasters will change before the next election cycle, you might consider talking with your lawyer about it now so that you can have a strategy in place when the time comes.

Mike Nilsson is a partner at Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP in Washington DC. He represents clients on a wide range of legal issues, including retransmission consent. You can reach him at mnilsson@hwglaw.com and 202-730-1334. ■ 24

September 2021 - Issue 2


Industry News

ACACommunities: A Video Connection To ACAC Members By John Higginbotham ACA Connects EVP & COO

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n June 2021, ACA Connects launched our newest video series. It’s called ACACommunities, and it will spotlight the many achievements of individual ACA Connects Members across the United States.

John Higginbotham

It will take a close look at their operations, their success stories in the field, and how they have become an essential part of their communities as they continue to deploy broadband facilities to homes, businesses and anchor institutions. I want to thank ACAC Digital Media Specialist Nathan Penrod for his expert videography and desktop editing, which produced these highimpact presentations.

Our launch of ACACommunities was a huge success. Barbourville Utilities, TVS Cable and Holston Connect were featured in the first three videos. On all three occasions, each ACAC Member was excited to have us visit and was thrilled to be highlighted in an ACACommunities video. Not long before writing this article, Nathan and I traveled to visit ACAC Members in Iowa, and I think you’re going to enjoy those videos, too. New ACACommunities videos premiere each month on the ACAC website, so click here to see all of the episodes https://acaconnects.org/digital-events/acacommunities. The video series will underscore the importance of letting ACAC Members explain local market challenges in their own voice, allowing them to connect with regulators and lawmakers in a personal and authentic way. This important series will also demonstrate the need for high-performance broadband networks to reach as many American communities as possible. The videos have the potential to be seen by a large number of viewers. ACAC Members can count on ACAC staff to use social media like Twitter and Facebook and other communications tools to amplify all the great things they are doing to improve life in rural America. To date, the feedback has been fantastic, and we will continue to share it as we produce more videos. Let’s stay in touch. As we make plans for new ACACommunities videos in the fall and into 2022, we’d appreciate the opportunity to tell your story in the communities you serve. If you would like ACAC to consider highlighting your company on the ACAC website and beyond, please email me at jhigginbotham@ acaconnects.org or Nathan at npenrod@acaconnects.org. ACA Connects looks forward to telling your story! ■

Independent Communications News

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Industry News

How to Be a Player with Billions for Broadband at Stake: The Spotlight is on Connecting Rural America, But What Does That Mean for Broadband Service Providers?

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By Valerie Wimer, Vice President, JSI and John Kuykendall, Vice President, JSI

roadband providers of all sizes and types should be positioning themselves to take advantage of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to connect every American to reliable high-speed Internet. The billions of dollars available for infrastructure development and broadband connectivity are overwhelming. Already, over the last year, we’ve seen many billions allocated to various state and federal agencies including the FCC, NTIA, USDA, and the U.S. Treasury Department to be used for funding programs. This massive funding effort is only expected to grow thanks to the Biden Administration’s focus on infrastructure, which seems likely to include tens of billions more for broadband network infrastructure.

Valerie Wimer JSI Vice President

With the rapid pace of these initiatives and the often-short grant application deadlines, companies need to be ready to navigate programs’ complicated eligibility rules and application requirements. The first step in that process is to determine which opportunities are worth the effort needed, and which might not be the best fit. Here are some items to consider as you evaluate the various state and federal programs available to you: Can you, as a broadband service provider, directly apply or must you partner with another organization or entity to be eligible?

John Kuykendall JSI Vice President

Many programs allow providers to apply directly. However, there have been some new programs that put the states and localities at the center of the funding, either through publicprivate partnerships or the states and municipalities directly. Partnerships, where the state or municipal government is the lead applicant and the service providers are partners in the application for funding, can be profitable for a provider and may result in additional opportunities as the partner relationship progresses. But public/private partnerships may also come with additional requirements and responsibilities, depending on the negotiated partnership agreement. We expect to see this partnership structure trend to continue with upcoming infrastructure initiatives. Keep an eye on municipality and state announcements, particularly those from the U.S. Treasury’s Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. Is the program right for your long-term business plan? Government programs can provide great opportunities to meet your company goals. However, taking money under one program may limit your eligibility for other programs. Research the program requirements thoroughly to coordinate funding deployment and ensure that taking funds under one program doesn’t exclude you from another. What are the buildout and reporting requirements? Some programs require buildout completion timeframes which may not be in line with long-term objectives. _ Continued on page [34]

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September 2021 - Issue 2


Industry News

Kids and the Media: What are They Learning? By Augusto Valdez Partner, Kids Street

“All television is educational television,” said Nicholas Johnson, FCC Commissioner from 1966-73. “The question is what is it teaching?” There are some great cartoons out there. That does not mean they are appropriate for your 5-year-old. But they are watching. And learning. The latest media census conducted by Common Sense Media in 2020 found that 2-4 year old’s average 2 ½ hours of TV (video) per day. Kids 5-8 average 3+. Per day. Augusto Valdez

Is that good or bad? For our business, that could be very good. But it also comes with Kids Street Partner a heightened responsibility to our audience. If your target audience is 18+, perhaps the selective filtering of content is the viewers’ responsibility. We can debate that another time. But when you program a channel for kids and young adults, you necessarily take on a greater role. Yes, we are responsible to entertain them. But we also have to answer the question that Johnson asked, ‘what are they learning?’ Providing great entertainment and offering learning opportunities are not mutually exclusive goals. The audience can be entertained with positive messages. And positive role models. And educational value. We developed Kids Street to be precisely this kind of channel. The channel we wish was available for our kids when they were still in the Kids Street age target. Studies have shown that for this 3-7 age group, stories need to be linear with the action delivered sequentially. Both preschoolers and their older siblings up to age 10 tend to be at the development stage when one story line is sufficient. Tell the story directly, and they will get the message. So instead of subversive messages that depict authority figures in a negative light, why not model being a good friend and staying true to yourself instead? That is what kids get with Maya the Bee. Or an adventure into the outdoors of New Zealand with the brother and sister duo Darwin and Newts. The idea of caring and sharing that is part of every story with Strawberry Shortcake. Earth to Luna brings a strong female character and stories steeped in science and the idea of discovery. And the list goes on... These stories have an impact. Kids emulate the characteristics and behavior they see on their shows. And they pick up on these messages better from entertainment shows versus traditional educational shows. We carry these themes throughout the day so that parents can rely on our programming to reinforce the lessons, messages and role models they want their kids to be exposed to. And, in primetime, we open the idea of adventure for the whole family in a block we brand as Family Central Explorer. Starting at 7 p.m. ET we bring the world into our viewers’ living rooms with rich, visually stunning IMAX documentaries powered by some of the most important cultural institutions in the world. Our slogan is Come Have Fun with Kids Street. The learning is just a bonus to that fun. ■

Independent Communications News

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Industry News

The Data Integrity/Data Insight Imperative: Understanding the two halves of the data journey and options for leveraging the results

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By Edric Starbird Managing Director, Sand Cherry Associates

ny amount of data can feel like “big data.” Whether you are trying to meld the torrents of unstructured social media data into your current data warehouse, or simply trying to get a handle on the seemingly endless data spewed out by your billing and customer contact systems, the challenges are frequently daunting and the direction to take is uncertain. What is certain is that the insights buried in your data are lost opportunities. Opportunities to inform strategic and tactical decisions around pricing adjustments, churn mitigation, call center capacity, network investment, etc.

Edric Starbird Sand Cherry Associates, Managing Director

There are two supporting components of the data journey in your business. Data Integrity represents the source systems, data storage, and the overarching data governance that ensure data is delivered with the integrity demanded for confidence-inspired, data-driven insights and action. Data Integrity disciplines ensure that data arrives at the “doorstep of analysis” on-time, coordinated, reliable and accurate, ready for consumption. Data Insights unlock the knowledge trapped inside your data. There is a story within waiting to be discovered – about your business, about how you operate, about how your customers view you. It is the story of what has happened and what could happen. Data Insights will allow you to direct future events to unfold the story you want to realize, most importantly, for the customers and their journey with you.

The Data Journey Big players in broadband and other industries have the financial ability to invest in leading-edge data operations, pushing data capabilities – particularly data visualization – down into every department. They are creating and optimizing centralized, cloud-based data warehouses. And they leverage massive data repositories for data science initiatives such as natural language processing and predictive analytics. Smaller players -- while having to judiciously choose where to invest and probably forgoing the latest innovation -- still have the imperative to learn from the data is running through _ Continued on page [34] 28

September 2021 - Issue 2


Industry News

ACA Connects’ First Intern Highlights “Intentional” Summer Experiences By Nicole Powell ACA Connects Regulatory Affairs Intern

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f I had to describe my internship experience with ACA Connects in one word, it would be “intentional.”

My direct supervisors on the regulatory affairs team curated an internship experience for me directly in line with my tangible short and long-term goals. Although I am the first-ever ACA Connects intern, my experience has felt organized, thoughtful, and carefully planned. I was matched with ACA Connects through the Federal Communications Bar Association’s Diversity Nicole Powell Pipeline program, which partners diverse first-year law students with telecommunications law firms, organizations, and associations. On my first day at ACA Connects, I was entrusted with the task of writing reply comments to the FCC on behalf of ACA Connects members’ interests. Although I was intimidated, I felt empowered that my supervisors trusted me enough to challenge me and push me into the role of an advocate. This feeling was sustained throughout the entirety of my internship experience. When I received my first round of edits from ACAC attorney Mike Jacobs, he talked me through the reasoning behind every single edit, and made sure to sustain my voice in the document. After writing the FCC reply comment, I was given the opportunity to create member advisories on pressing telecommunications law matters, outreach directly to members, and update documents to ensure that members were apprised of relevant legal requirements for their companies. The projects that I worked on did not feel like “busy work,” but rather felt integral to the ACA Connects mission of advocating on behalf of its members. Outside of my work tasks, my ACAC supervisors poured into my development as a future attorney. Each week, they arranged one-on-one networking sessions among industry professionals, law firm partners, and senior FCC officials to learn the ins and outs of telecommunications law, to understand their unique career trajectories, and to glean nuggets of wisdom directly from the experts. This part of my experience was especially valuable to me, as a rising 2nd year law student with limited knowledge and connections in the field. I am immensely grateful for these “mini-master classes.” I came to this internship with limited telecommunications law knowledge, and was intimidated at the prospect of supporting senior staff members. These anxieties melted away with each passing day at ACA Connects. This is not to say I was not challenged. My supervisors encouraged me to stay attentive to detail, research diligently, take initiative during meetings, and to always present my best work. I am grateful for not only the technical skills and legal writing experience, but also the authentic connections with legal advocates. I am most inspired by the collegiality, warmth, grace, humor, and compassion of not only my direct supervisors, but the entire ACA Connects team. I could not have asked for a better place to begin my legal career. This internship not only aligned with the legal skills I hoped to attain, but with my values. I am grateful to the Federal Communications Bar Association and to ACA Connects for investing in me. ■

Independent Communications News

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Industry News

Flexible Migration Keeps Business Flowing for Pay-TV Providers

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By Julie Cumberland Head of Global Marketing, SmartLabs

f you’re an operator that offered TV services in the pre-cloud era, it’s likely you made a substantial investment in your infrastructure and TV platform. If you want to modernize your TV offering, you can be left with a conundrum. You may have inherited a system that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars at the time and was accompanied by a lengthy tender process to support your plans. Many of our conversations with new customers center on a strong institutional reluctance to get rid of all that costly hardware, as it is viewed as a waste of resources. It might provide bespoke functionality that is difficult to replicate and many of our competitors insist on throwing that older kit away and starting over with theirs.

Julie Cumberland SmartLabs, Head of Global Marketing

Migration is a key part of SmartLabs’ business – whether that is moving a customer from IPTV to OTT or advising on Linux or Android as their next move – and if opting for Android, which direction they should go. Our mission is to help operators with existing TV services move to multiscreen, collaborating with them to futureproof a solution while using as much of their existing infrastructure as possible. One principle underpins all these conversations. We want to keep the cost and disruption of moving to a modern platform, with a high-quality experience for the subscriber, as low as possible, which is why we advocate utilizing as much of the existing hardware as possible. We have a wealth of experience delivering this for our customers, who are already providing content viewing to millions of subscribers globally. Keep what you need Our conversations with operators start by taking stock of their current IPTV setup. We take a consultative approach, working with each stakeholder team to explore how much of their kit is still supported and what can be kept. We discuss how that is best achieved and what sort of enhancements they want for their customers in the future. SmartLabs’ interface advantage The trigger for many operators to upgrade to SmartLabs’ platform is a need to improve the user interface (UI). With the main DTH services, such as Netflix, continually upgrading the way customers interact with its service, it’s important that operators have a way of remaining current. Operators switching to SmartLabs benefit from the fact that all our interfaces have a consistent look and feel, no matter what platform they are running on. SmartLabs supports operators with set-top boxes running both Android Open Source Project and Linux simultaneously. The UI is identical across the two, which means the operators _ Continued on page [35] 30

September 2021 - Issue 2


Industry News

Connected Home Supply Chain Revisits Priorities in Response to Volatile Global Market

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By Luis Martinez-Amago Deputy CEO Technicolor, President of Connected Home

he coronavirus pandemic strained the global supply chains and companies within the connected home ecosystem. As a result, we saw a new dialogue emerge on how to best build and manage end-to-end supply chains.

The global pandemic halted operations – or reduced them to minimal capacities – in the wake of sourcing challenges, labor shortages and quarantine measures that were pursued around the world. These challenges placed pressure on network service providers (NSPs) who relied on the supply chain to deliver new customer premises equipment (CPE) as the connected home infrastructure became more critical to the personal and professional lives of consumers.

Luis Martinez-Amago Deputy CEO Technicolor, President of Connected Home

Although the effects have never been seen on this scale, major disruptions are nothing new to supply chain management. A crisis of some sort has occurred every 12 to 18 months over the past few years. Today it is the component shortage on top of the continued impacts of the coronavirus. Before that, the connected home supply chain was disrupted by tariffs, trade wars, critical shortages of ceramic capacitors, bidding wars for memory chips, and natural disasters. Re-Thinking Core Organizing Principles The industry is coming to grips with the need to examine strategies that are based on the assumption of stable trade and commerce. We are consequently seeing the supply chain dialogue shift from a focus on efficiency to the imperatives of continuity, agility, resilience and transparency (CART). Continuity – Risks must be managed to optimize “continuity” in difficult circumstances, by making investments that maximize component availability throughout the supply chain landscape and thereby minimizing the negative impact of sourcing disruptions. Agility – The ability to leverage communications and collaboration to rapidly bring up capacity in one part of the world while winding down operations in others has been greatly enhanced by new platform technologies and improved analytical and tracking tools. Moving forward it will be important to have leaders who can shift gears quickly across multi-vendor supply chains. While achieving this is not easy, it is an investment that pays off when crises disrupt existing operations. _ Continued on page [35]

Independent Communications News

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Industry News Transitioning to IP Video: Key Strategic Considerations (continued from page 6) • Ability to curate OTT/SVOD apps inside the operator TV app: • Ensuring that universal search “hits” include OTT/SVOD content on Netflix, Disney+, Prime, Hulu, etc.; and • Importantly, the operator earns the “credit” from customers for being a one-stop, without the need for separate business relationships with the OTT/SVOD providers In selecting an IP video partner, recent events have made a few things abundantly clear: a partner’s financial stability not only determines if it will remain viable, but also determines a partner’s flexibility in structuring business and financial models (CAPEX vs OPEX, for example) that are sustainable and match the needs of each operator. Also important is whether their IP video partner is a private or public company and to what degree it is owned or backed by venture capital and/or private equity. This can significantly determine who actually controls the partner and what its focus and priorities truly are - investors vs. customers, for example. Also key are the IP video partner’s people, history, capabilities, expertise and trustworthiness. Ideally, the partner will have a strong track record of service provider partnering success in video operations and delivery, bandwidth management and expansion, operational support, and video hosting and management, with a well-documented history of commitment and trust among cable operators. ■ MVPDS: Down-To-Earth Distribution For Rural Areas (continued from page 9) Moving to IP video removes the need for modulation. With broadcast, everything is sent out all at once: If you’re an MVPD with 200 channels available, users tune into what they want, but everything’s being sent. IP video sends only what’s being requested by users. When you watch a program on your phone, for example, you’re just receiving the content you are viewing. IP video liberates bandwidth resources that can be used for faster speeds and differentiated services. The C-band transition isn’t a wholesale change in and of itself. It simply forces providers to point to a different satellite. We can and are helping them to do that, but now there’s on-the-ground infrastructure in place that offers an alternative that didn’t previously exist. MVPDs are in a unique situation where average screen time per user is going up, but subscribers to any service have more choices than ever before. Fortunately, MVPDs have more choices, too. ■ Your Network is Getting Smarter (continued from page 15) happening in a localized and more-focused basis. The specific ODL data cannot be sold or leave the carrier’s possession unless it is fully anonymized and grouped with thousands of other anonymized ODL records, but it can be used to improve services to customers. Today, many companies consider the records a mere residual by-product of the existing networks. However, the use of ODL data sets is evolving as essential inputs for more integrated ML systems are being introduced every day. In fact, ML functionality is being inserted into the requirements of industry standards, such as the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE). Leave it for the philosophers to debate the pros and cons of a move toward fully self-aware computers. But the telco/cable industry is plowing ahead and using ML systems in their core networks. They will continue to design and deploy better ML functionality directly into the network in the future to make them more customer adaptive and friendly. Perhaps soon, because of ML, telco and cable companies will offer their customers individually tailored services and radio coverages. For more information or to connect with an NCTI representative, please contact customercare@NCTI.com. ■ 32

September 2021 - Issue 2


Industry News Post-COVID, We’ll Still Face A Crowded Upstream (continued from page 16) subscribers’ experience, operators have been able to: Pinpoint network bottlenecks, identify subscribers who are negatively impacting service, and apply automatic bandwidth control protocols to relieve congestion. The result has been an increase in overall subscriber satisfaction, as well as a 22% reduction in calls to customer service representatives and a 17% reduction in physical service calls. This solution can be implemented quickly and efficiently, often within 1-2 weeks, thus providing quick relief from the impacts of congestion, extension of the life of the network and vastly improved QoE for the majority of subscribers. Cable broadband’s near-flawless performance during the pandemic was a rare bright spot among the clouds of COVID. A common theme in recent months has been the importance of learning from the events of the past 18 months. For broadband providers, one of the most notable lessons has been that the upstream genie is out of the bottle: Ensuring satisfactory experiences for subscribers in the future will take new levels of network visibility and vigilance. Josh Barstow can be reached at jbarstow@openvault.com. ■ InCoax Fiber Access Extension - The Effective Way to Speed Up the Symmetric Gigabit Internet Rollout! (continued from page 19)

Additionally, it cost effectively uses the existing in-building coax cable infrastructure, positioning it as the time-saving and cost-effective alternative to pulling new fiber cables, as well as helping to meet sustainability targets. The broadband access point (antenna outlet) is located at the heart of the apartment for seamless Smart TV and IP-TV services access, rendering additional internal wiring unnecessary. The apartment modems can be self-installed by tenants, saving time and money when installing and launching the services. It can also be rolled-out in stages which shortens time for revenue, lowers initial CAPEX and contributes to faster overall Return on investment (ROI) for operators. Gigabit speeds By utilizing the coaxial network, operators have an alternative to support a high, consistent frequency range and provide Gigabit services effectively. Connected to symmetrical fiber services such as XGS-PON, the full upload and download capacity of the InCoax MoCA Fiber Access Extension can be achieved. This cost-effective option reduces complexity and installation times by utilizing existing infrastructure to the benefit of tenants, MDU owners and Internet operators. InCoax is a valued partner of Technetix Inc. For more information contact: Brenda.stottler@technetix.com. ■ Let’s Collaborate to Educate Tomorrow’s Ad-Sellers (continued from page 20) Yes, my company has a dog in this fight. We recently announced the completion of a family of QTT patents delivering steps in the integration of the pan-device digital and linear television advertising ecosystems. QTT is designed as an interoperable key to unlock digital and linear platforms and to surface Open AP segments, while providing for the control upon which principals in a transaction insist.

In their own ways, others in the ad-tech space fortunately are doing similar work. Virtually every seller of ad inventory is a stakeholder in the imperative “collision” of the best features of the digital and linear ad ecosystems. After all, skeptics may once have doubted chocolate and peanut butter could go well together. ■

Independent Communications News

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Industry News How Will Expanded Upstream Meet the Rapid Demand of Upload Bandwidth? (3 Misconceptions) (continued from page 23)

3. Set-Top Frequency Discrepancy: The third misconception is the set-top control frequency won’t move for 85 MHz. ANSWER: Yes, even though there is a standard that says they need to, there are a few stubborn brands and models that refuse to. That said, most will move with a little extra love and attention, even if it isn’t documented by the manufacturer. Finding a Cost-Effective Solution While each operator will require a slightly different route or solution, there are always cost-effective roadmaps to get your company there successfully. CCI’s ability to adapt and create a realistic solution to suit our clients’ needs is an ode to our versatility. Our experts have saved companies significant CapEx and OpEx year after year by installing an expanded upstream solution (85 or 204 MHz). Contact an expert today to get started and set your company on a path toward expanding network bandwidth for your subscribers. ■ How to be a Player with Billions for Broadband at Stake (continued from page 26) There may also be requirements of broadband testing, accounting, or additional reporting requirements if the project is selected for funding. Again, carefully study the pre- and post-award requirements of the program you are considering to be sure they fit with your company’s long-term goals. We have never seen this much focus on connecting America’s rural communities. If you are interested in taking advantage of these unprecedented opportunities and want help from a firm that has helped its clients win millions of dollars in broadband funding, visit our website at https://jsitel.com/ or give us a call at 301459-7590. ■ The Data Integrity/Data Insight Imperative (continued from page 28) their fingertips. There are excellent ways to configure core tools, such as those from Microsoft, in order to create a basic but meaningful business intelligence (BI) environment. An excellent alternative or complement to an in-house BI team is to leverage the subscription-based cost advantages and shared data skills of a BIaaS (Business Intelligence as a Service) platform. BIaaS gives operators an opportunity to stay focused on their own core skills of running the business while taking advantage of the data expertise and data focus of the BIaaS platform administrator. BIaaS platforms, such as Sand Cherry’s Broadband BIaaS, can provide a seamless solution for the full-data journey. Broadband BIaaS, for example, provides data management, reporting, visualization as well as intraindustry benchmarking and intra-industry investigative data science. Regardless of the BIaaS solution you chose, you need data experts who understand your industry in order to transform data into meaningful and actionable insights. In our 20-year experience working with broadband operators, we at Sand Cherry have seen the critical need for timely insights based on accurate data and industry-specific analytical approaches. We also know that it is never too late to tackle your data challenges. For more information about Sand Cherry’s approach to managing the data journey, please visit us at www.sandcherryassociates.com/consulting-services/business-intelligence. ■ 34

September 2021 - Issue 2


Industry News Flexible Migration Keeps Business Flowing for Pay-TV Providers (continued from page 30) won’t have their customers asking them for a new box at contract renewal time, which keeps costs low. We share our roadmap of continual upgrades to our interface with our operators, and any of them with a support contract gets access to these at no additional charge. Download SmartLabs’ whitepaper on this topic: ‘The challenges and benefits operators must consider when migrating to a cutting-edge multiscreen video service’. Click on Download white paper at https://www. smartlabs.tv/en/android/ For more: visit: www.smartlabs.tv or email rsailor@smartlabs.tv. ■ Connected Home Supply Chain Revisits Priorities in Response to Volatile Global Market (continued from page 31)

Resilience – It will be increasingly critical to rebuild capacity in supply chain segments that are damaged by a crisis, even as companies shift operations to new sources. This resilience is critical to maintaining the options necessary for enabling continuity in the future. Transparency – The inability to see the status activity through several tiers of the supply chain is a major impediment to continuity of supply chain operations. It is important to put the systems and relationships in place that make it possible to understand the disposition of operations across multiple organizations. It is the only way to understand the current state of the situation, determine any disruptions, and properly contribute to the planning and execution that will accelerate a return to “normal” operations. Technicolor and its supply chain partners have made a major commitment to incorporating the CART principles into our joint operations. It has enhanced our ability to navigate and mitigate risks for our NSP customers during times of uncertainty. This is no longer a “crisis management” posture; it is the “new normal” that is critical to sustaining success in the connected home ecosystem over the months and years to come. ■

WEBINAR REPLAYS At ACA Connects, we place an important emphasis on Connecting and Communicating. That’s why the Member Lounge section of our website is loaded with informative content, including Webinar Replays. ACA Connects Members can access this content by visiting https://acaconnects.org/members-lounge. If you don’t have a login for the Member Lounge, please click “sign up” to submit your information or contact Tomeika Slappy.


Industry News

ACA Connects Mourns the Loss of ACAC Founder and Cable TV Pioneer Dean Petersen (1940-2021)

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arly last month, ACA Connects founder and cable TV pioneer Dean Petersen – who helped establish the vision for independent video and broadband providers that they follow today -- passed away just two days before his 81st birthday. “Everyone at ACA Connects is deeply saddened to hear the news of Dean Petersen’s passing on Aug. 8,” ACA Connects President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said. “ACA Connects simply would not be here today without Dean’s wisdom and commitment at a time when small cable TV providers were threatened by the disproportionate and harmful impact of federal cable TV regulation.” Before there was an ACA Connects, independent providers serving rural America really didn’t have their own advocate in Washington, D.C. “Dean, along with Stan Searle, founded ACA Connects (then the Small Cable Business Association) in 1993. The trade organization was established to create a voice in Washington, D.C., for independent, Dean Petersen smaller providers in reaction to passage of the re-regulatory Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992 and the Federal Communications Commission’s implementing rules. That voice and organization remain as strong as ever nearly 29 years later because of Dean and Stan’s vision,” Polka said. Polka called Dean a “cable guy” in the truest sense of the word, a leader who was totally dedicated to the industry. “He served in many ways, whether as president of Southwest Missouri Cable TV in Carthage, Mo., until its sale in 1999, as a founding Board Member of our Association for many years, and as a leader in telling our ‘independent’ story to Congress and the FCC. For all his service, Dean was named a Cable TV Pioneer in 1994,” Polka said. When Dean stepped down from the ACA Connects board in 1999, he was given ACAC’s second ‘Eagle Award,’ recognizing his contributions to our Members and the cable TV industry. Dean Petersen

Stan Searle of Searle Communications in Monument, Col., was ACA Connects’ first recipient of the ‘Eagle.’

“ACA Connects will miss Dean and we owe him an incredible debt of gratitude. But you can be sure we will carry on in his memory,” Polka said. Please visit here for Dean’s full obituary. ■

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September 2021 - Issue 2


Resources ACAC Website Resource Pages ACA Connects has launched three resource pages to provide its members with convenient access to member advisories, webinar replays, and other information on these important topics: • C-Band Transition – This major transition has kicked into high gear. Check this page for the latest updates and resources to assist in your planning. • Emergency Broadband Benefit Program – Learn the latest from the FCC and USAC on how to participate in this new program. You can also find replays of ACA Connects’ five webinars on the topic. • Robocalls – Find member advisories and other resources to help you stay on top of your obligations. The resource pages are located on the Member Lounge section of the ACA Connects website and are available exclusively to members.

2021 UPCOMING INDUSTRY EVENTS Date

Event

City, State

September 15, 2021

Mid-America Cable Show (Virtual Session 1 of 5)

VIRTUAL

September 19-22, 2021

NTCA Fall Conference + EXPO

Nashville, TN

September 20-22, 2021

CCA Annual Convention

Phoenix, AZ

September 23, 2021

Public Knowledge IP3 Awards

VIRTUAL

September 23-24, 2021

Cablelabs Envision Vendor Forum 2021: Optical and HFC

VIRTUAL

September 27-28, 2021

OTA Annual Conference (Oregan Telecomm Assn)

Stevenson, WA

September 29, 2021

Mid-America Cable Show (Virtual Session 2 of 5)

VIRTUAL

October 3-6, 2021

WTA 2021 Fall Educational Forum

Phoenix, AZ

October 4-8, 2021

Cable’s Diversity Week

VIRTUAL

October 4-5, 2021

WICT Leadership Conference

VIRTUAL

October 5-8, 2021

NAMIC Annual Conference

VIRTUAL

October 6, 2021

Walter Kaitz Virutal Convening & Celebration

VIRTUAL

October 5-6, 2021

The Independent Show

VIRTUAL

October 6-8, 2021

Minnesota Cable Communications Annual Meeting & Conference

Brainerd, MN

October 9-13, 2021

NAB Show

Las Vegas, NV

October 11-13, 2021

WSTA Fall Conference (Wisconsin State Telecom)

Stevens Point, WI

October 11-14, 2021

SCTE Cable-Tec Expo

Atlanta, GA & Virtual

October 11, 2021

2021 Cable TV Pioneers Induction Celebration

Atlanta, GA

October 13, 2021

Mid-America Cable Show (Virtual Session 3 of 5)

VIRTUAL

October 16-19, 2021

Calix ConneXions 2021 - Leadership Experience

Las Vegas, NV

October 20-21, 2021

IAMU Municipal Broadband Conference

Johnston, IA

October 24-27, 2021

Telecommunications Assn of Southeast Annual Convention

Point Clear, AL

October 25-27, 2021

The INCOMPAS Show

Las Vegas, NV

October 26, 2021

Annual Heartland Cable Reception & Dinner 2021

Kansas City, KS

October 27, 2021

Mid-America Cable Show (Virtual Session 4 of 5)

VIRTUAL

November 10, 2021

Mid-America Cable Show (Virtual Session 5 of 5)

VIRTUAL

November 15, 2021

Cable Hall of Fame Celebration

VIRTUAL - C-SPAN 3

November 16-18, 2021

Calix ConneXions 2021 - Learning Experience

VIRTUAL

December 7, 2021

Cablefax Most Powerful Women Celebration

TBD

Events subject to change. Please refer to the corresponding website for the most updated information.


#cabletecexpo

Attendee Registration is Now Open! POWERHOUSE General Session KEYNOTES:

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Eric S. Yuan Founder & CEO, Zoom Video Communications, Inc.

SEE YOU IN ATLANTA, GA OCTOBER 11-14 SCTE® Cable-Tec Expo®, the largest Cable telecommunications and technology tradeshow in the Americas returns in Atlanta as a hybrid experience! Cable-Tec Expo 2021 is poised to transcend the phenomenal success of our 2020 virtual event with a learning and networking experience unparalleled in the cable industry.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Wendell Weeks Chairman & CEO, Corning, Inc.

SHAPING THE FUTURE OF CONNECTIVITY AT THE 2021 OPENING GENERAL SESSION Aiming to shape the future of connectivity, the event’s general session will be kicked off by this year’s program chair, Kevin Hart, executive vice president and chief product and technology officer at Cox Communications. Hart will be joined during the general session by powerhouse technology executives focusing on how the industry can build on key pandemic-era learnings as it unleashes 10G connectivity, revolutionizing the way we live, work, learn and play. PROGRAM CHAIR: Kevin Hart EVP, Chief Product & Technology Officer, Cox Communications

Register today at expo.scte.org

© Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers, Inc. a subsidiary of CableLabs 2021. scte.org