News summary for 9/10/07

Mon, 09/10/2007 - 9:03am
CED staff

Hitachi, Arris team on practical GPON system
By Brian Santo

Hitachi Telecom (USA) said it will be using Arris’ CXM High Speed Internet Access (HSIA) solution in some of its GPON installations.

The combination solves a specific problem for Hitachi as it markets its AMN1220 gigabit passive optical networking (GPON) system aimed at hotels and other high occupancy MDU facilities. ONTs (optical network terminals) are expensive, especially for tests and in deployments where the number of actual subscribers starts out in the single digits. The expense of an ONT is also a barrier in instances where potential subscribers are likely to sign up only for data services because they are already taking video (and voice) from another service provider. 

Hitachi was looking for an inexpensive alternative to ONTs, and Arris had one with its CXM products.

The CXM Broadband Gateway is capable of supporting up to 256 customers. It simply combines 100 Mbps Ethernet and RF signals in coaxial cable. It operates above 900 MHz, and so does not interfere with other traffic being carried on the coax cable. Each subscriber gets a CXM SD30x modem. The modem is connected to the subscriber’s computer, and splits the Ethernet signal to the computer, and the TV signal, if any, to the TV.

Together the components provide service providers with an easily installed and highly cost-efficient solution to address this potentially high revenue market segment.

“GPON is new,” said Rick Schiavinato, Hitachi Telecom vice president, sales and marketing. “The only place for innovation in GPON is in the ONT, but right now there’s not enough volume there to drive price down. Long term, every subscriber will get their own ONT, but right now, the price points aren’t there yet.”

Hitachi’s GPON platform supports full-rate GPON (2.4 Gbps downstream, 1.2 Gbps upstream) and the delivery of RF/IP video, VoIP/POTS voice, and high-speed data services. Hitachi claims the distinction of being the first vendor to place a full-rate GPON system into commercial service; it is in Bandon, Ore., installed in June, 2006.

DirecTV’s three-screen service managed by TandbergTV system 
By Brian Santo

DirecTV’s forthcoming multi-platform on-demand service – covering set-top, Web and mobile content – will be enabled by the WatchPoint Workflow System from Ericsson’s Tandberg Television unit.

WatchPoint is a workflow management system that streamlines and automates the creation, management and distribution of media assets in multiple formats (e.g., MPEG-4 AVC high definition and standard definition, Windows Media and Flash video) to various platforms.

It is based on what TandbergTV warrants is an open, extensible architecture, which makes it able to integrate with multiple internal and external systems, including in-house proprietary, third-party and, of course, other TandbergTV products. TandbergTV said its system can adapt to customers' existing workflow processes, and that it scales in volume and complexity to support new and expanding service offerings.

Hanno Basse, DirecTV vice president of Broadcast Systems Engineering, said, “Tandberg Television simplified a complicated process by automating our entire on-demand workflow, so we could focus our efforts on delivering a compelling lineup of video-on-demand services to our customers.”

DirecTV's new on-demand service will launch later this fall. The company said it will offer thousands of titles, including movies, music and television shows through its DirecTV Plus HD DVR.

Clearwire, ICO to trial mobile video in N.C.
By Traci Patterson

Early next year, Clearwire Corp. and ICO Global Communications will commence a mobile video trial in Raleigh, N.C., with equipment from Alcatel-Lucent and Hughes Network Systems.

The trial will test mobile video broadcast, as well as the feasibility of utilizing Clearwire’s 2.5 GHz spectrum and ICO’s 2.0 GHz spectrum more efficiently, ICO said. ICO is also planning a similar trial in Las Vegas.

Alcatel-Lucent will supply the system architecture and design based on the mobile multimedia DVB-SH open standard, and Hughes Network Systems will provide the device and the interactive elements based on the GMR standard.

For the trial, ICO will integrate its mobile interactive media (MIM) suite of services with Clearwire’s broadband network, and the suite will provide multiple channels of mobile video to large-screen user devices.

“Mobile two-way video, advanced interactive navigation, plus emergency calling and messaging becomes an even more compelling value proposition when integrated with a wireless broadband network such as Clearwire's,” said Tim Bryan, CEO of ICO. “We are well positioned to be the first provider of next-generation mobile satellite services, and we have a clearly differentiated offering by leveraging integrated satellite and terrestrial networks to deliver advanced consumer mobility services.”

ICO - a satellite communications company - is developing an advanced hybrid system, combining both satellite and terrestrial communications capabilities that will offer wireless voice, data, video and Internet services on mobile and portable devices.

J:Com taps OpenTV’s browser for VOD launch
By Mike Robuck

J:Com went with OpenTV’s Integrated Browser as its standard browser for this month’s launch of next-generation VOD and interactive services.

According to OpenTV, its Integrated Browser has been widely used in the Japanese television market in digital televisions manufactured by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. and Victor Company of Japan Ltd. in conjunction with Matsushita's T-Navi. Supporting HTML browsing and broadcast markup language (BML) content, the OpenTV browser was revamped for acTVila, the new common TV portal, in service since February 2007.

J:Com, Japan's largest multiple system operator based on number of subscribers, has offered its VOD service since the start of 2005, using browsers from multiple vendors to support its interactive TV services. However, in order to provide a common user interface and functionality across its subscribers, J:Com picked OpenTV's browser for all its interactive and digital television services, including VOD. All of J:Com's set-top boxes will be equipped with OpenTV Integrated Browser and VOD client software.

"We recognized the requirement for a standard browser deployed across devices making our services much easier for our subscribers. We looked at many options in the market and chose OpenTV Integrated Browser as the best-in-class standard product," said Tatsuya Yoshihara, J:Com's deputy general manager, Service Strategy Division, and General Manager, New Technology Dept. in a statement. "We will further strengthen J:COM's interactive services including VOD, interactive TV services for local communities as well as nationwide content, to meet ever increasing customer needs."

Comcast Media Center adds National Geographic HD to HITS
By Mike Robuck

The Comcast Media Center announced today that National Geographic Channel HD has been added to its HITS Quantum service.

For small-to-midsize cable operators, the move to all digital translates into increased costs for additional equipment such as encoders. In order to help smaller operators offer more HD programming, the Comcast Media Center (CMC) has teamed up with SES Americom to offer HD channels on SES Americom’s AMC-18 HD Prime satellite.

In addition to National Geographic, the HITS Quantum platform also offers A&E HD, HGTV HD, Food Network HD, Starz HD and Universal HD.

HITS Quantum's HDTV service has been launched on cable systems operated by Adams Cable TV (Waymart, Pa.), Cablevision of Marion County (Ocala, Fla.) and MTC Cable (Margaretville, N.Y.). Twelve additional cable system operators have also signed up to receive the service, including Baldwin Telecom Inc., CenturyTel Televideo Inc.Eagle CommunicationsMerrimac Communications Ltd., Orbitel and Spencer Municipal Utilities.

"Thanks to the support of cable television programming network groups such as A&E, NBC Universal, Scripps Networks, Starz and National Geographic Channel, we are able to add HDTV to the HITS Quantum lineup, an essential component for a competitive digital video offering, as demonstrated by this initial demand from our cable MSO affiliates," said Gary Traver, COO of Comcast Media Center, in a statement.

HITS Quantum offers more than 200 digital video and audio services in order to support cable system operators' migration to an all-digital service. The all-digital platform, which features secured authorization, optimized DPI triggers for the insertion of ads, and high-quality video and audio, also provides networks with greater potential for additional penetration on HITS Quantum's cable systems affiliates.

At SCTE Cable-Tec Expo this past summer, the CMC's Ren Finley spoke during a panel session about an in-house solution that puts three channels in one QAM by encoding them at the CMC. While today’s announcement didn’t mention the three-in-one QAM solution, by adding the three channels in one QAM, operators could gain a 50 percent increase in HD programming. Aside from rigorous encoding, the CMC is able to do the 3:1 compression by pairing two “easy” channels with a more demanding channel such as sports programming.

In addition to using AMC-18 for carriage of the HDTV networks offered through HITS Quantum, the CMC relies on SES Americom's 50-state AMC-4 satellite to deliver a high-capacity service that operates at 256 QAM digital modulation. The 256 QAM lineup, which features more than 50 of the widely available channels on basic and expanded basic tiers, combines with a 64 QAM service to allow cable systems serving smaller markets to launch digital video and other advanced services at a fraction of the comparable cost for installing, operating and maintaining headend-based solutions.


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