Comcast finally unveils iPad app; Verizon rolls in with 3D VoD

> Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) Chairman-CEO Brian Roberts showed it off at The Cable Show in May; Todd Walker, senior vice president of video product development promised that it would be arriving "very soon," during a CTAM panel in October; and now, finally, Comcast itself has said that its iPad do-everything application is real and headed to market along with upcoming Android and Blackberry versions as part of its Xfinity TV move. If all goes as Roberts believed when he took the stage at the Cable Show, the iPad app will act as a TV guide, remote and video player for Comcast subscribers. Story.

> While Comcast is going small--or at least compact, in the case of an iPad and other tablet devices--Verizon (NYSE: VZ) has expanded its horizons literally out of the television set by becoming the first service provider to use Avail-TVN's 3D VoD service. Besides requiring a 3D TV and an extra $1 to $2.50 more per movie title, subscribers will probably need to have Verizon tweak their set-tops to accommodate the new 3D signals. Story.

> Because broadcasters have done so well with the over-the-air spectrum they were given in the last century, it could cause problems when the FCC tries to grab some of it back for new wireless uses as part of a National Broadband Plan, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a speech to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. The FCC wants about 500 MHz of broadcasters' spectrum and is willing to pay for it, but the broadcasters are holding tight even though, Genachowski argues, most people don't use that spectrum to watch TV. "Less than 10 percent of us--down from 100 percent--still get our television programming from over-the-air broadcast transmissions. Instead people watch TV through cable or satellite. The world has changed but our spectrum allocations still reflect the previous era." Story.

> It is admittedly difficult to feel sorry for Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), but it does seem as if the giant search engine is taking more than its fair share of hits these days. The broadcasters have shut off their content from Google TV; it's not compatible with Comcast's TV Everywhere software; the FCC is looking into its street mapping privacy issues, and now the word is that the new group of conservative Republicans descending on Washington might have a problem with how cozy the Obama administration is with Google. Story.

> It's probably of little consolation to U.S. cable operators, but word is that Comstar-UTS, the leading integrated telecommunications operator in Russia, is continuing to lose pay TV subscribers. At the same time, the Russians are apparently little different than their American counterparts, since Comstar-UTS grabbed more double play (voice and broadband Internet) subs and higher ARPU. Story.

And finally... if things go as planned this year, Terry Cordova, senior vice president and CTO of Suddenlink Communications, will serve out a term as program committee chairman for SCTE Cable Tec Expo. The technical trade show/exhibition is scheduled for Nov. 15-17 in Atlanta. News release.