Arris CEO Stanzione Sees Video Poised for a Comeback in Cable


ATLANTA — A mix of fierce competition and a haggard housing market has conspired to keep cable video in the doldrums, but the industry’s shift to IP video and cloud-based services will help cable operators reestablish video subscriber growth, at least according to Arris Group chairman and CEO Bob Stanzione.

“I think we’re at the brink of sort of a breakthrough,” Stanzione told The Wire at last week’s Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers’s Cable-Tec Expo in Atlanta. He was among 9,800 attendees at the event, up 6% from a year ago in Orlando, Fla.

Today’s tech trends, he said, remind him of the 1990s, when cable pursued high-speed data and phone services, and then followed with HDTV rollouts. A new class of boxes and gateways, linked to a cloud infrastructure, will “spur growth in the industry,” he predicted.

Arris hopes to seize on this trend following its $2.35-billion April acquisition of Motorola Home (the former General Instrument business). The CEO said Arris’s integration of Motorola Home is “nearly complete on all of the customer-facing aspects of the business.” That includes the combined sales forces as well as the merging of product roadmaps and dealing with product overlaps.

“The work to be done is actually behind the curtain, and that is the [information- technology] infrastructure of the company... We’re not as efficient as we could be,” he added, estimating that this portion of the integration will take another six to nine months to wrap up.

Stanzione has also been making the rounds as Arris — which earlier rolled up cable vendors C-COR, Digeo and BigBand Networks — becomes a more diversified, global company. He spent the last month travelling to Europe, the Far East and Latin America to get a better fix on those markets and to visit with new customers that came out of the Motorola Home deal.

“The cable companies outside the U.S. know about Arris, but a lot of the telcos don’t,” he said.

Arris also has made arrangements with Google to continue using the Motorola brand on cable modems and other consumer-facing devices sold at retail for an additional two years. And it plans to start co-branding products at retail.

“We’ll absolutely stay in retail,” Stanzione said. “I think retail is a business we ought to grow because I think a lot of these in-home devices are going to end up being self-install, and we want to have a retail presence.”

In Praise of C-SPAN, Where the ‘Mad Men’ Of Democracy Reign

AMC Networks president Josh Sapan, the recipient of the Media Institute Freedom of Speech Award, led off his acceptance speech at last week’s awards banquet in Washington with an expletive-punctuated love letter to cable public-affairs network C-SPAN and its founder, Brian Lamb, who presented the award to Sapan.

Sapan was being saluted for such free-speaking, edgy-but-brilliant shows as Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead.

Saying Lamb had done a “beautiful” job of introducing him, Sapan said he had known Lamb for three decades and would “carry on” briefly about C-SPAN, which he proceeded to do.

He called the channel a “breathtaking media construct that makes democracy transparent, freedom of speech resilient, and took those two things, which could have been sort of remote and uninteresting, and made them popular, which is no small feat.”

Because of what CSPAN accomplished, millions watch democracy in action, “which I find pretty marvelous and breathtaking,” Sapan said.

He also said C-SPAN made democracy “so much more engaging and even, occasionally, goddamned riveting.”

—John Eggerton

NCTA Retains Claim To ‘Internet & TV Association’ Name

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association has amended its patent-office application for a new name — NCTA The Internet & Television Association — and indicated it is still interested in potentially using that new moniker.

On Oct. 16, the NCTA made the necessary changes to the description of the new name to satisfy the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Basically what was required was changing “conducting trade shows, seminars and workshops in the field of communications technology, products and services” to “conducting trade shows in the field of communications technology, products and services,” because USPTO said the former was too broad, and making no claim on “Internet & Television Association” outside of its use prefixed by “NCTA,” because the office said it had to.

The NCTA said it had a “bona fide intention to use or use through the applicant’s related company or licensee the mark in commerce on or in connection with the identified goods and/or services as of the filing date of the application,” which was last spring.

The office found no marks that would conflict or bar granting the NCTA the name, so it will likely get it.

—John Eggerton