Come and knock and our door, we've been waiting for you . . .
No kisses this time, but three's company for a triplet of new VOD-related products being showcased at the Cable-Tec Expo next week—two EdgeQAMs and a dynamic bandwidth manager (DBM).
C-COR's CHP eQAM
The first eQAM is C-Cor Inc.'s converged headend platform (CHP) eQAM, which the company claims is the industry's first 1GHz eQAM device. The connecting product joins the company's 1GHz suite of HFC network products, says Bill Dawson, C-Cor's VP of access strategy. It is a module for the CHP Max5000 headend platform and can be installed alongside transmitters in the same CHP chassis.
The CHP eQAM supports 120 QAM channels in a compact two-rack unit (2RU), and it enables a more than 40 percent improvement per year in power consumption compared with other eQAM devices (it utilizes a tad more than 3 watts per QAM, Dawson says).
Not only does the eQAM expand the capacity for VOD and switched digital video (SDV) programming, it allows programs not being watched to remain parked at the headend. Lab trials have already been scheduled with two North American MSOs, and commercial availability is expected in September.
Vecima Network's HyperQAM
The second eQAM comes from Vecima Networks. The company's HyperQAM supports up to 128 QAM channels in a 2RU, or up to 4,096 streams.
The box sits at the edge of the network; expands the capacity for VOD, SDV and other programming (it can fit 12-14 programs in a QAM instead of 10); is compatible with GigE and 10GigE; is upgradeable to DOCSIS 3.0 and M-CMTS; can do channel bonding; and there is no need to replace the chassis if a problem arises, says Douglas Fast, Vecima's EVP and VP of R&D.
The HyperQAM's modular design allows more QAM channels to be added—in increments of 1, 2, 4, 6 or 8, to a maximum of 128—as demand increases. The product has been tested and is compatible with industry-leading cable and VOD equipment.
Finally, RGB's DBM will allow operators to deliver up to 50 percent more VOD programming with the same amount of bandwidth, the company says. The device can plug into an existing architecture via the GigE switch, and it also supports both GigE and 10GigE.
In typical VOD deployments, cable operators deliver 10 SD VOD programs per 6 MHz 256-QAM channel, with each program allocated a fixed amount of bandwidth. RGB's DBM enables 15 or more SD programs to be carried in the same amount of bandwidth, while still maintaining optimum picture quality.
The DBM also reduces the latency of an operator's network by simplifying VOD encryption. While operators usually have to process VOD streams, encrypt them and store them individually, RGB's product encrypts the streams for them.
The product has already been tested by equipment manufacturers, and it will be tested by U.S. cable operators when it is available for sale in Q3.
The next-gen DBM will offer digital ad-insertion capabilities.
—Traci Patterson, Web/News Editor - CED, Editor - xOD Capsule
Microsoft unveils Surface's digital tabletop experience
At the Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital conference, Microsoft Corp.'s CEO, Steve Ballmer, introduced the Microsoft Surface, which turns a tabletop into a dynamic screen that provides interaction with all forms of digital content through natural gestures, touch and physical objects (from a paintbrush to a cell phone).
At the end of the year, Microsoft said consumers will be able to interact with Surface in hotels, retail establishments, restaurants and public entertainment venues.
The user interface works without a traditional mouse or keyboard, allowing people to interact with content and information such as music and pictures. It has a 30-inch display in a table-like form factor that small groups can use at the same time.
BigBand accuses ex-employees at Imagine with infringement
BigBand Networks has brought suit against Imagine Communications, charging the latter with infringing three patents that cover advanced video processing and bandwidth management techniques.
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, alleges that Imagine products willfully infringe claims of BigBand's U.S. Patents Nos. 6,937,619, 6,999,477 and 7,058,087. The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief, along with damages for willful infringement.
Five of Imagine Communications' top executives—including the company's founders and CEO—are former BigBand employees.
Additionally, BigBand's Broadband Multimedia-Service Router (BMR) has been deployed by Astound Broadband to add video processing and digital ad-insertion capabilities in the company's Concord and Walnut Creek, Calif., systems.
Volpi named CEO of Joost
Joost has named Mike Volpi as the company's CEO, effective immediately. He succeeds Joost's founding CEO, Fredrik de Wahl, who will remain at Joost as the CSO.
Volpi joins Joost from Cisco Systems Inc., where it was rumored that he was next in line to lead the company. He spent 13 years in a variety of strategic management roles at Cisco, most recently as the senior VP and general manager for the Routing and Service Provider Technology Group, which included Scientific Atlanta.
Nielsen to measure Internet, mobile video usage
The Nielsen Company will begin measuring mobile phone users through a new service, Nielsen Wireless, which will measure the number of people utilizing content services, such as mobile Internet and mobile video, and what impact this has on established media behavior.
The service complements Nielsen's Anytime Anywhere Media Measurement (A2/M2) initiative, which will measure TV usage on all video platforms, including mobile phones.
According to Nielsen, in Q1 2007, more than 33 million persons 12 and older used mobile Web in the past 30 days, and more than 8 million persons 12 and older viewed video on their mobile phone.
On2's portfolio extends with Hantro acquisition
Last month, On2 Technologies Inc. acquired Finland-based Hantro Products Oy, a provider of video technology for mobile devices. The combined company (a close date is expected before mid-August) will have a comprehensive portfolio of highly optimized VP6 and VP7 codecs and standards-based video compression technologies.
ABC.com's video player, powered by On2's VP7 technology
The acquisition allows On2 to delve deeper into the mobile device space, said On2's CEO, Bill Joll. The company's goal is to eventually address all mobile and portable devices. In 2006, about one billion mobile devices were shipped, of which 10 percent were smart phones and 30 percent were video-enabled phones, and the number of video-ready phones will only increase.
VP6, which is licensed to Adobe for Flash 8 and 9, is the predominant format for UGC. On2's VP7 technology—utilized by Skype, AOL, ABC.com and XM Satellite Radio, and which is being trialed by China Mobile—is the next generation of Flash. It's easier to implement than VP6 and is more efficient in terms of power consumption, Joll said.
VP6 and VP7 can play HD content on a low-end machine, while H.264 requires high-end machines, Joll said. On2 transfers content to the PC and STB more quickly, he said, and the company expects to eventually bring this capability to mobile phones.
SeaChange narrows loss in first quarter
Total revenue was $38.8 million, up 17 percent year-on-year, leading to a narrower loss for SeaChange International in its first fiscal quarter of 2008.
Revenue in the broadband segment, which includes VOD and ad-insertion hardware and software, was $19 million, an increase of $2.7 million (and also up 17 percent) year-on-year.
Redback edge router bridges mobile, fixed services
Ericsson's Redback Networks operation introduced a new multi-service edge router that the company is positioning as a million-subscriber rack for HDTV, HD VOD and broadband mobility services.
The company is claiming three innovations for its SmartEdge 1200: It will double carrier capacity for new video upgrades, extend triple-play services to broadband mobile networks and integrate up to six network applications into a single router.
The first customer for the new SmartEdge 1200 is ChungHwa Telecom (CHT) of Taiwan.
• Internet ad revenue up again
Internet advertising revenues hit a record $4.9 billion in Q1 2007—a 26 percent increase year-on-year and a 2 percent increase from the previous quarter's $4.8 billion, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
• Hearst lands content deal with Google's YouTube
Hearst-Argyle Television Inc., Google Inc. and YouTube have announced an agreement to distribute and monetize select Hearst-Argyle TV content online.
Local Hearst-Argyle TV stations in Boston, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Manchester, N.H., will begin posting local video content to dedicated YouTube channels.
• DirecTV adding its first iTV service
DirecTV is launching its first iTV service for the upcoming U.S. Open Championship. Beginning Thursday, DirecTV's U.S. Open Interactive will supplement ESPN's coverage of the first two rounds of the tournament.
• GSN, Two Way TV deal to make GSN shows interactive
GSN is partnering with Two Way TV to utilize Two Way's Simcast technology, which allows viewers to play along with their TVs in real-time via their mobile phones.
GSN will launch the interactive technology this summer, and with "game texting," viewers will be able to engage with GSN's Monday night casino programming, "High Stakes Poker" and "World Series of Blackjack." At a later date, viewers will be able to play along with GSN's game and reality shows.
• AT&T appoints new programming director
AT&T Inc. has appointed Anne Lakstigala to senior director of programming, where she will manage content acquisition for the company's portfolio of broadband video products.
As part of the company's initiative to deliver programming to the three screens—the TV, PC and mobile phone—Lakstigala will deal with content distribution via AT&T's broadband and wireless services, including AT&T U-verse OnTheGo, AT&T Homezone VOD content and AT&T Broadband TV.
• Streaming21 launches IP broadcasting solution
Streaming21 has unveiled its IP broadcasting solution, the Media Relay Server 2.0, which enables the broadcasting of live TV channels and events to TV sets via the Internet.
The solution—which delivers broadcast-quality video streams in MPEG-2, MPEG-4 and H.264, in SD and HD—is an alternative to the satellite delivery of live video and helps broadcasters cut costs on video transmission by using IP networks, the company said.
• Motorola chooses JiWire's mobile ad network
Motorola Inc. has accepted JiWire, a mobile broadband advertising network, for its MOTOwi4-ready application ecosystem, which includes apps that complement MOTOwi4 wireless broadband networks.
JiWire's mobile broadband advertising network enables municipalities and other network operators to deliver location-driven ads to users.
• OpenTV's PlayJam hits Asia
OpenTV Corp. said that Astro All Asia Networks plc, a DTH satellite TV provider in Malaysia and Brunei, has launched PlayJam Games, a TV channel with interactive games supplied by OpenTV's PlayJam.
• Apple gets head start in online rental, reported by the Financial Times.
• A video report on the role of UGC in advertising, reported by Advertising Age.
• WB Home Entertainment favoring cable VOD over rental, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
• Lord Saatchi pits Google data vs. human nature in a Financial Times article, and Advertising Age's Matt Creamer voices his opposing opinion.