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Originally published Thursday, July 2, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Brier Dudley

Comcast to shuffle channels in August

Comcast is shuffling a bunch of channels in early August in King County, including a few moves related to its digital conversion.

Seattle Times staff columnist

Comcast is shuffling a bunch of channels in early August in King County, including a few moves related to its digital conversion.

Mostly affected are customers who already have digital-cable service.

Starting around Aug. 5, "Digital Starter" subscribers will start getting high-definition versions of 28 channels such as MTV, Comedy Central, BET, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. The full list was printed in the newspaper's legal-notices section.

"Digital Preferred" customers will get four additional sports channels — NBA TV, NFL Network, NFL Network HD and NHL Network — but lose ESPN Classic to the optional "sports entertainment" tier that costs an extra $5.99 per month.

Also being added is an HD version of CBUT, at channel 619. It will be available to "Limited Basic" customers using an HDTV and a digital tuner.

Comcast spokesman Steve Kipp also provided a little information on the Clearwire 4G/WiMax mobile-wireless bundles that Comcast began selling in Portland on Tuesday.

Comcast plans to offer the Clearwire bundles in the Seattle area sometime in 2010, Kipp said.

Portland's promotional price, at least, doesn't sound too bad.

Comcast is offering a $50 per month bundle that includes 12 megabits per second (Mbps) home broadband plus Clearwire mobile service in the metro area, offering up to 4 Mbps. After the first year promo, the plan will cost $73 per month.

Subscribers to Comcast's triple play phone/TV/broadband plan can add Clearwire for $30 per month. It's also offering a Clearwire/Sprint combo that provides local 4G and national 3G via Sprint for an additional $20 per month.

Comcast invested in Kirkland-based Clearwire last year.

Superfast USB 3.0 coming shortly


PCs with USB 3.0 connections could start appearing by the end of the year, boosting throughput 10 times over USB 2.0 -- fast enough to transfer 5 gigabits of data per second.

That's according to a Nikkei Electronics Asia report, which I found via Microsoft product planner Alan Cheslow's Twitter feed and blog.

The report said NEC -- the leading USB 3.0 manufacturer -- is going to begin large-scale production of USB 3.0 host controllers in September.

NEC expects USB 3.0 to quickly become mainstream. It's anticipating 140 million PCs with USB 3.0 will ship in 2011, and 340 million in 2012.

Unfortunately support won't be built into Windows 7 when the software launches. A spokesman said via e-mail that the USB 3.0 specification "was approved too late in the Windows 7 development life cycle so it won't be supported at launch. However they'll consider it down the road."

IT sales plunge, temporarily?

Forrester Research dramatically adjusted its forecast for Internet technology (IT) spending in 2009, saying it now expects a 10.6 percent decline instead of the 3 percent drop it predicted at the start of the year.

That's for the globe. In the U.S., Forrester expects a 5.1 percent decline, down from the 3.1 percent decline it predicted at the start of the year.

But don't fret -- it's only a "temporary pause," Forrester said.

Spending on technology should pick up in the fourth quarter in the U.S. -- which syncs with Wall Street starting to talk about Microsoft stock hitting $30 again -- and recovery in Europe and Asia in the first half of 2010, the firm said.

"While Q1 2009 saw a scary drop in purchases in the U.S. tech market, ironically that is good news for the long run and we expect to see a stronger rebound sooner," Andrew Bartels, Forrester principal analyst, said in the release. "The big drops are not precursors to further declines; rather, we think they are evidence of a temporary pause in U.S. tech purchases, which we expect to start recovering in Q4 as businesses realize that they overreacted in the first quarter."

Breaking down the global decline, Forrester expects computer-equipment sales to fall by 13.5 percent this year; communications equipment spending to fall 12.4 percent; software spending to fall 8.2 percent; and IT consulting and outsourcing to fall 8.6 percent.

This material has been edited for print publication.

Brier Dudley's blog excerpts appear Thursdays. Reach him at 206-515-5687 or

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest. | 206-515-5687

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