Blankom lands 1st U.S. cable customer – NexHorizon

Fri, 10/10/2008 - 8:25am
Traci Patterson

Blankom USA – the U.S. arm of Blankom Antennentechnik in Germany – has landed its first U.S. cable customer, NexHorizon Communications, which will use Blankom’s digital cable TV solution in its Chula Vista, Calif., system.

NexHorizon will also use Blankom as its exclusive digital headend provider for systems it will acquire in the future, the company said. NexHorizon recently entered into a Letter of Intent to acquire Phoenix Communications in Michigan, and the deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2009.

The non-proprietary Blankom headend system – which is ISO 9001 certified – features a remote-controllable management interface, and it supports both RF and IP video distribution and interfaces to any conditional access system with separable security cards and multiple set-top box options.

Blankom’s headend will convert the Chula Vista system from 60 analog channels to 125 digital channels, allowing for features such as personal video recorders (PVRs) and high-definition (HD). And NexHorizon's subscriber management system will integrate with the billing system and allow for the provisioning of voice, video and data from one screen.

"Blankom is delivering world-class technology at a very affordable price," said Calvin Smiley, CEO of NexHorizon. "Besides providing our customers a much stronger and attractive product offering, the Blankom solution will enable us to make a relatively easy transition to IPTV. With its strong, established cable foundation throughout Europe, South America and Asia, Blankom's technology solutions for the smaller operator here in the U.S. are outstanding. We considered a number of options, but only Blankom could deliver the technology we wanted in the required schedule within our budget, with no ongoing additional costs."

Blankom is reaching out to Tier-2 and Tier-3 operators in the U.S. What makes the company stand apart from the competition is that it makes its own products, it’s able to provide the technology at an affordable cost – and does not charge premiums on set-tops – and it can deliver the technology within 60 days, Blankom President Gerhard Franz told CED. And the quick delivery time is relevant considering the digital transition is only four months away.

With Blankom’s system, an operator pays upfront for the headend, and set-tops are offered at cost. “For cost of ownership, this is the best way to go,” Steven Messino, Blankom’s vice president of sales and marketing, told CED. And if set-tops are taken out of the equation, Messino said that Blankom’s headend solution is 20 percent cheaper than any other company in the market.

In this unstable economy, Franz said cable operators should be comforted by the fact that the company is not a start-up; it is a very grounded and financially stable company with more than 10,000 installed systems worldwide, he said.

And for small operators with little or no engineering or marketing staff, Blankom will coordinate the entire installation and provide the company with marketing expertise.

Blankom Antennentechnik provides turnkey headend solutions, and it has more than 10,000 installed systems worldwide – in areas including Europe, South America, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. The company was founded in 1919, focused on radio and antenna technology.

NexHorizon delivers triple-play services to rural communities through acquisitions and mergers. The company has closed on several cable TV systems to date and has selected additional cable systems, all to be upgraded and consolidated.

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