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News summary for 9/24/07

Mon, 09/24/2007 - 8:50am
CED staff

Arris snaps up C-Cor for $730 million
By Mike Robuck

Arris wasn’t able to land Tandberg Television earlier this year, but it did announce Sunday night that it has snagged C-Cor for $730 million.

The cash and stock deal has been approved by both companies’ boards, but the acquisition still needs the shareholders’ stamp of approval and regulatory approval. The deal is expected to close in January. The combined entities of Arris and C-Cor will create a company with more than $1.2 billion in sales over the past 12 months.

"Arris and C-Cor have had a long standing business relationship,” said Bob Stanzione, Arris chairman and CEO, in a prepared statement. “The combination of our two businesses will create the leading pure play solutions provider to the global cable industry offering a full suite of IP telephony, high-speed data, video infrastructure and video management solutions. The combined company will be extremely well-positioned to deliver cross-platform solutions aimed at key customer spending initiatives including switched digital video, next-generation video-on-demand and digital advertising infrastructure.”

Arris makes gear for broadband cable networks including its cable modem termination system (CMTS) that has been deployed by North American cable operators and other operators around the world. The company also sells cable modem and telephony equipment.

Suwannee, Ga.-based Arris counts ComcastCoxTime Warner and Liberty Global among its customer base.

C-Cor, based in State College, Pa., sells broadband access platforms for cable, operations support systems and video-on-demand systems. Earlier this year, C-Cor and the Comcast Media Center rolled out “VOD in a Box” for smaller operators. At this year’s SCTE Cable-Tec Expo, C-Cor demonstrated a combined solution for switched digital video with Harmonic that used C-Cor’s nABLE Session and Resource Manager.

FBR Research analyst Brian Coyne wrote in a summary today that Arris’ purchase of C-Cor was positive because the two companies’ portfolios have little overlap. He also didn’t anticipate any other offers for C-Cor.

“The deal would give Arris important video products and technology, along with more international exposure, a positive since we think cable capex will grow faster outside the U.S. over the next few years,” according to Coyne.

In February, Arris announced a $1.2 billon bid to purchase Tandberg only to see Ericsson buy up Tandberg for $1.4 billion.

Coyne also wrote that the combined portfolios of Arris and C-Cor could be attractive to other buyers down the road, including Ericsson or Alcatel.

Cox to trial NBC shows on-demand in Calif.
By Traci Patterson

Cox Communications will trial five NBC Universal primetime shows for free on its VOD platform in Orange County and Palos Verdes, Calif.

The available shows will be “30 Rock,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Las Vegas,” “Life” and “Bionic Woman.” Each episode will be made available the day after the show premieres. As part of the trial, the fast-forward feature will be disabled.

This fall, Cox is conducting a trial with Disney - also in Orange County - offering its subscribers there the ABC series “Desperate Housewives,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Lost” and “Ugly Betty,”  and select ABC and ESPN college football games, also for free and without ad-skipping.

BigBand Networks rolls out third-generation universal edge QAM
By Mike Robuck

BigBand Networks announced today the general availability of its newest universal edge QAM, the BEQ6000.

According to BigBand, it’s the first company to deploy universal edge QAMs in both switched digital video (SDV) and modular cable modem termination system (M-CMTS) environments. Last month, Cox Communications said it was using the BEQ6000 for SDV in its Northern Virginia system with the one of the primary goals being to add more HD channels to its lineup. Cox has 246,000 video subscribers in Northern Virginia.

Dutch operator Multikabel has also deployed the BEQ6000 platform for M-CMTS to provide high-speed data and voice-over-IP services while Japanese operators Cable Networks Akita, Hino Cable Television and Bay Communications are using the BEQ6000 to deliver high-speed data services as well.

Jonathan Bass, BigBand’s senior manager of corporate marketing, said the Multikabel deployment has passed 50,000 VoIP and data customers in the Netherlands.

“The initial feedback from Multikabel was they were concerned over VoIP because it’s very sensitive and the customers have high expectations for quality and consistency,” Bass said. “For them to have the confidence in our edge QAM , to scale it like they have, we felt was a real feather in the platform’s cap.”

John Holobinko, BigBand’s vice president and general manager of cable IP, said the BEQ6000, which is the company’s third-generation edge QAM, will allow cable operators to launch new services rapidly, and with improved operational expenses.

According to BigBand, the BEQ6000 achieves QAM modulation with more than twice the signal quality and up to twice the signal level compared to other leading QAM devices on the market today.

“BigBand’s universal edge QAM deployments for SDV and M-CMTS are breakthroughs,” said Gerry Kaufhold, principal analyst for In-Stat. “Versatile QAM platforms, with the ability to support video, data or voice services, are key to keeping costs down and efficiency up as operators ramp up to deliver more bandwidth and new services.” 

Motorola debuts DSR-6000 series of receivers-transcoders
By Traci Patterson

Motorola Inc. has unveiled the Motorola DSR-6000 series receivers - the first step toward enabling networks to utilize both MPEG-4 AVC and MPEG-2 compression technologies.

With the receivers, programmers can distribute content strictly in the MPEG-4 HD format, and operators can then deliver that content in either the MPEG-4 or MPEG-2 format, in either SD or HD.

The DSR-6000 series follows Motorola’s DigiCipher II secure content delivery system, which reduces operators’ and programmers’ bandwidth requirements by up to 75 percent while they deliver MPEG-4 and MPEG-2 content.

By enabling operators to receive programming in MPEG-4, and by offering more efficient modulation technology, Motorola said it can decrease satellite transponder requirements by up to 75 percent, allowing operators to deliver additional SD and HD programming.

“We see strong demand from our customers and anticipate that this innovative series of products will accelerate the adoption of HD programming,” said Doug Means, VP and GM of Motorola's IP Video Solutions Group.”

Calix, with new Gbit ONT, sings praises of GPON
By Brian Santo

Calix announced the general availability of its 700G optical network terminals (ONTs), a new member of the company’s 700 series of products. The key distinction of this one is the addition of a Gigabit Ethernet interface.

While it’s unlikely that any residential customer will need, want, or be willing to pay for a Gigabit Ethernet connection any time soon, telcos deploying these ONTs will have undisputed bragging rights when it comes to broadband speeds, even after the cable industry deploys DOCSIS 3.0, sometime in the future.

Telcos could offer peak downstream rates of up to 1 Gbps, compared to 160 Mbps for DOCSIS 3.0.

Measured in terms of average, or sustained, bandwidth, which Calix argues is a much more meaningful comparison, telcos can deliver up to 80 Mbps per subscriber in typical configurations, versus “a pedestrian 640 kbps for DOCSIS 3.0-enabled cable operators using 250-home nodes.”

Calix is apparently assuming that all 250 homes on a node would be using broadband services simultaneously, but it is the case that cable broadband is a shared resource.

The point is not the potential superiority of telco versus cable, however, said Calix marketing VP Kevin Walsh. The issue is fiber versus copper, and Gigabit Ethernet and GPON are just as accessible to cable operators as they are to telcos.

“It’s extremely short-sighted not to do GPON,” Walsh said. “Verizon’s been hammering the price down. If I’m a cable operator, I can just get in and take advantage of what Verizon’s done.”

GPON, he said, is fully compatible with cable set-tops. “We have RF,” Walsh said, referring to the RF interface (with RF return) that could be built into Calix’s ONTs. “A cable operator can just plug in to their set-tops. And cable modems? Throw them away.”

In addition to the optional RF interface, service providers can choose from the following configuration options with the 700G:

10/100/1000 Base-T Gigabit Ethernet interface
Optional additional 10/100 Base-T Fast Ethernet interface
Optional Home Phoneline Networking Alliance (HPNA) interface
Optional dual DS1 interfaces for business applications

Calix said that provider Bloomer Telephone is among the early adopters of the Calix 700G ONTs.

Separately, Calix said it has now shipped more than 200,000 GPON ONTs to service providers throughout North America.

More than half of them are 2.5 Gbps GPON ONTs that have shipped in the last 12 months, and a significant number of those are the newly-introduced Calix 700G ONTs. The company claims 450 customers. Most are small rural communications companies, but the company also has Embarq and CenturyTel on its client list.

Broadband Briefs for 9/24/07

* Verimatrix providing security for IPTV triple-play deployment
By Traci Patterson

Verimatrix is providing the security solution for what the company said is the world's first fully integrated IPTV triple-play deployment in Qatar.

The Qtel service offers voice, broadband Internet and MPEG-4 AVC-encoded IPTV over its upgraded infrastructure. Verimatrix's Video Content Authority System (VCAS) will protect the MPEG-4 AVC data streams with advanced encryption.

* ADC adds URH to product portfolio
By Traci Patterson

ADC has expanded its FlexWave product portfolio with the addition of the FlexWave Universal Radio Head (URH), which serves both WiMAX and Distributed Antenna System (DAS) applications.

ADC offers coverage and capacity solutions for mobile carriers and network operators, providing coverage extension for legacy networks and emerging wireless networks. The company’s product portfolio will be exhibited this week at the WiMAX World USA conference in Chicago.

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