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@ CES: Cable One testing EchoStar's Aria platform

Wed, 01/11/2012 - 2:38pm
Mike Robuck

EchoStar's Michael HawkeyCable One looks like it's the first customer for EchoStar's Aria platform, which was designed for Tier 2 and Tier 3 cable operators.

EchoStar's Michael Hawkey, vice president of sales and marketing, said at an EchoStar press conference and breakfast this morning that Cable One was testing Aria, but he wasn't able to provide any additional information.

Cable One is the nation's 10th-largest cable operator. It provides triple-play services to approximately 720,000 customers in 19 states.

Aria made its debut at The Cable Show last year. It's a hybrid IP/QAM platform that uses existing cable plant and features cloud-based VOD, TV Everywhere and an interactive HD program guide. It also comes with system maintenance and software upgrades.

Aria also works with new EchoStar SD, HD or SlingLoaded set-top boxes and will allow operators to offer services over multiple platforms and for out-of-home viewing to brand the "experience" of the local operator.

The Aria cable ecosystem lets smaller cable operators deploy most of the bells and whistles that the nation's largest cable operators have without the capex and opex.

It also allows EchoStar to stretch its legs into the cable operator industry while also generating reoccurring revenues.

Broadcom announced last week that Sling Media software was integrated into Broadcom's BCM7425 dual HD transcoding MoCA 2.0 gateway SoC. With the integration, set-top box vendors other than EchoStar can start offering SlingLoaded boxes, and EchoStar could also license the service to cable operators for additional reoccurring revenue.

EchoStar CEO and President Michael Dugan pointed out that the place-shifting abilities of Sling don't have the rights issues that Time Warner Cable and other cable operators are facing when it comes to offering video to other devices, and that all of the current cable operator tablet offerings are home-bound, while Sling content can be viewed anywhere.

EchoStar could also license its new Hopper and Joey whole-home boxes that Dish announced here in Vegas on Monday, albeit without the kangaroo logos.

"That would be an easy decision to make," Dugan said, although he said there would be some additional work in providing customization to cable operators or other service providers.

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