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Number 2 in set-tops, but aiming for the top

Fri, 11/30/2001 - 7:00pm
Roger Brown

Google factor: 8,670

This one was a no-brainer. Locked in a no-holds-barred battle with Motorola Broadband/General Instrument/Jerrold for cable industry set-top marketshare, S-A has shipped some number north of 7 million digital set-top boxes and tens of millions more analog boxes over the course of its 50-year history.

The company has been the favorite supplier of Time Warner Cable, going back to the Full Service Network in Orlando, where the digital box was too massive to put on top of a TV and too expensive to mass produce.

Today, it's solidly in second place in market share, but boasts that its set-tops are installed in more large systems than anyone else.

The company's latest announcement has Time Warner Cable purchasing 625,000 Explorer set-tops from S-A to support the MSO's video on demand and subscription VOD services. In this latest deal, TWC will purchase 100,000 of Scientific-Atlanta's new Explorer 8000 home media servers, which feature a hard drive for PVR applications, such as time shifting and program recording, and dual video tuners.

TWC will also purchase 50,000 of S-A's Explorer 3100HD set-tops that decode all 18 ATSC high definition digital formats for HDTV presentation, as well as standard definition digital and analog video services.

S-A also said it intends to integrate a version of the AOLTV service on its Explorer boxes. The first version of AOLTV for cable will be deployable on all 2000 class Explorer set-tops and will enable users to utilize applications like e-mail, instant messaging, the Buddy List and Buddy Chat.

But the story doesn't stop there. From optics to amplifiers to a full suite of headend equipment, S-A carries it all. It even got back into the high-speed data market through a sales and distribution deal forged with upstart Pacific Broadband Communications.

That deal gives S-A exclusive marketing and distribution rights in North America and nonexclusive rights worldwide to Pacific Broadband's Kodiak cable modem termination system. With a new S-A name, the Prisma G10 can crank out 32 downstream channels and 128 upstream channels using higher-yield 16 quadrature amplitude modulation.

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