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Charter, Harmonic team on GigE-based VOD

Sun, 08/25/2002 - 8:00pm
Jeff Baumgartner

Charter Communications said it is deploying Harmonic Inc.'s Gigabit Ethernet-based video-on-demand gear in 12 markets with "additional markets planned for later this year."

The move marks the latest in Charter's VOD migration following the demise of Diva Systems Corp., a company that filed bankruptcy in late May and sold most of its assets to Gemstar-TV Guide International for about $40 million. Charter also is in the process of replacing Diva's video servers and underlying VOD systems with those from rival vendors Concurrent Computer Corp. and nCUBE Corp.

In the case of Harmonic, Charter is using the vendor's Narrowcast Services Gateway for its ongoing rollouts, in combination with Harmonic's GIGALight DWDM transport systems in some markets, the company said.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but that didn't stop investors from snapping up Harmonic shares, which rose 34 cents, or 11.6 percent, to $3.26 per share in early trading Monday.

GigE, which is growing in popularity among cable operators that are deploying VOD in new markets, touts lower costs and higher capacities compared to legacy transport schemes such as ASI (asynchronous serial interface) and direct QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation).

The deal with Harmonic "provides an efficient standards-based infrastructure for delivering VOD, which is very important for our future growth, and seamless integration with existing equipment in our diverse network environments," said John Pietri, Charter's senior vice president of engineering, in a press release. "This solution gives us the added benefit of a pay-as-you-grow deployment model, allowing us to add capacity only when and where it is needed."

Charter said it is deploying in GigE equipment in 12 markets, where the MSO is using a mix of servers and systems from Concurrent and nCUBE. Those systems are: Asheville, N.C. (Concurrent); Birmingham, Ala. (nCUBE); Duluth, Ga. (Concurrent); Ft. Worth, Texas (nCUBE); Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C. (Concurrent); Hickory, N.C. (Concurrent); Long Beach, Calif. (nCUBE); Newtown, Conn. (nCUBE); Pasadena, Calif. (nCUBE); St. Louis, Mo. (Concurrent); Slidell, La. (Concurrent).

Charter is moving ahead with GigE in nCUBE markets today, and expects to do the same in Concurrent properties once the vendor's cable-based GigE products are ready to roll, company Vice President of Engineering and Technology Don Loheide said in an earlier interview for a feature story that will appear in the September issue of CED magazine. Charter, in the meantime, is leveraging legacy transport equipment made by Synchronous Inc., a company that Motorola Inc. acquired in January, in the MSO's Concurrent-based VOD markets. Concurrent officials have maintained that the company's GigE-based servers for cable networks should be out of the lab phase and ready for prime time "in a matter of months."

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