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Time Warner Tries New Weapon in War With Satellite TV

Time Warner Tries New Weapon in War With Satellite TV Media & Technology by Carlos Martinez It’s here. Well, almost. Time Warner Cable’s Video on Demand service is set to roll out in the Western San Fernando Valley in August at a cost of $2 million, but it will be worth it, say officials who are trying to stem the flow of subscribers to satellite dish service providers. Deane Leavenworth, Time Warner’s vice president of corporate communications, said the service will undergo beta testing in July and be ready for an official rollout in August to all 120,000 West Valley subscribers. The service allows users to access movies, sports events and other programs at any time, not at set times as is now the case. “It’s like using your home VCR. You can pause, rewind or fast forward a film or watch it any time you want,” he said. The service will eventually replace the company’s current so-called “near-video on demand” service which shows pay-per-view films at set times on several channels. “This will be the first time anywhere that true video on demand will be offered,” Leavenworth said. The company’s other cable services in Southern California will also begin the service in August or soon thereafter. The service will be available for $6.95 per month to subscribers of the company’s digital service. Nearly all of the company’s subscribers have switched to its digital service as it has moved away from analog. Those who subscribe to HBO or its sister premium channels can access those channels’ library of programs with the video on demand service free of charge. Access to other programs and films is available by paying the monthly fee. Inphi Raises $36 Million High-speed components maker Inphi Corp. of Westlake Village has raised $24 million in its second round of equity funding. The nearly two-year-old company has so far raised $36 million in its efforts to develop high-speed integrated circuits for optical networks. Lead investor San Francisco-based Walden International was joined by Menlo Park-based Dali-Hook Partners and Tallwood Venture Capital, both of which had invested in Inphi previously, in December 2000 when it raised $12 million. The company makes broadband and so-called “electro-optical” components for intra-city and long-haul telecommunications providers. The company’s products include multiplexers, modulator drivers and amplifiers for speeds of 10 gigabits and 40 gigabits per second. “Given the current economic environment and reduced investment in telecommunications-related startups, our ability to close such a significant round with a lead investor validates our achievements over the past 18 months,” said Tim Semones, Inphi CFO. Lip Bu Tan, chairman of Walden, said Inphi’s growth potential and technology were the main reasons for investing in the startup. “We looked at a number of promising companies in the optical networking industry, but ultimately we were sold on Inphi’s leading-edge technology and demonstrated customer traction,” he said. Conexant to Spin Off Plant Struggling semiconductor and components maker Conexant Systems Inc. Newport Beach, said it will spin off its gallium arsenide wafer manufacturing facility in Newbury Park after Alpha Industries Inc. agreed to merge with Conexant’s wireless unit. Dwight W. Decker, Conexant CEO, said the company will now outsource its wafer manufacturing to other companies. The facility employs 450 people, but last year was idled for several days due to reduced demand for products. The company said it would sell the wafer manufacturing plant to Conexant shareholders. Terms were not announced. However, with the wireless unit sale, Massachusetts-based Alpha would acquire Conexant’s semiconductor assembly plant in Mexicali, Mexico for $150 million in cash. Total value of the merger was not disclosed. The new merged company would be called Skyworks Solutions Inc., which would be listed on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol SWKS. The merger was announced in December and shareholders for Alpha approved the deal June 13. Last year, Conexant’s wireless unit reported sales of about $250 million. The Newport Beach-based company reported a net loss of $1.4 billion last year on revenues of $1.1 billion, compared to a $190 million loss on revenues of $2.1 billion a year earlier. The company last reported an annual profit in 1999 when it posted $12.9 million in net income on revenues of $1.4 billion. Semtech to Continue Stock Buyback Semtech Corp. CEO John D. Poe said the Camarillo-based company plans to continue its stock buyback plan this quarter, having spent $10 million on repurchasing shares last quarter. The company has $24.2 million allocated for the buyback plan. The stock buyback aims to reduce the 73 million outstanding shares the company has. The stock was hovering around $28 per share last week, with a 52-week high of $44.12 and a 52-week low of $24.86. The company is still recovering from a down economy as evidenced by a drop in revenue in its most recent quarter. For the quarter ending April 28, the company reported $9.9 million in net income on revenues of $49.2 million, compared to $13.2 million in net income on revenues of $60.5 million during the same period last year. Business Journal reporter Carlos Martinez may be reached at (818) 676-1750 ext. 17 or by e-mail at cmartinez@sfvbj.com.

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