Bell union members start voting; new set-top testing tool coming

Voting begins this week on the third proposed contract renewal between Bell and its 5,000 services and craft workers in Quebec and Ontario.

“This has been an incredibly difficult round of bargaining with Bell,” Richard Chaumont and Sean Howes of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union said in a statement on the union’s Web page. “Since October, the bargaining committee has worked tirelessly to fend off Bell’s concessions as much as possible, and to work for the improvements that are important to the membership. Twice we have rejected inferior offers from Bell.”

But the most recent offer, tendered May 5 by the company, is “significantly improved” over previous ones, they said. Bell has backed off a proposed immediate 22 cents an hour cut, the union said. Instead it has agreed to annual increases in a four-year deal of 1.5 per cent on signing and two per cent a year starting Dec. 7. However, the union did agree to an increase in the work week for full-time staff from 37.5 to 40 hours starting Dec. 7. Until then full-time staff have the option of working either the longer or shorter hours.

Ballots are to be tallied and results released May 30.

New set-top box testing tool for cable operators

ATLANTA —itaas Inc., will soon begin selling its Switched Digital Video Client Simulator (SDV-CS), a pre-deployment software tool that simulates millions of set-top box SDV requests to verify wide-scale deployments. The application, which will be available in the third quarter, allows cable operators to road test SDV services so they can be ready to release and scale the technology.

The itaas SDV Client Simulator works in a multi-vendor environment to identify and correct potential issues before services are introduced into the market. It simulates SDV system load by generating various patterns of viewer channel change behavior on a large scale, to identify bottlenecks in a lab environment and to test upgrades and corrections to the delivery system. SDV-CS does not require additional QAMs or set-top box investments.

“The industry is relying on switched digital video services as a way to open up the bandwidth gates without disruption or degradation in service quality,” said Jatin Desai, CTO itaas. “Simulating SDV under real world conditions means that MSOs [multisystem operators] can confidently introduce and scale services faster and without unforeseen impacts on their network.”

No pricing details were made available.