Post FCC waiver, Evolution scores customer win
Evolution Broadband is cashing in on the waiver it received from the Federal Communications Commission earlier this year with a customer win.
Municipal cable operator Frankfort Plant Board (FPB) has signed on to use Evolution’s digital-to-analog converters (DTAs), which were granted a three-year waiver  by the FCC in June, in order to reclaim analog bandwidth for more advanced services and additional HD offerings.
FPB, which is based in Frankfort, Ky., said it looked at other options for its digital migration, including fiber overlay and switched digital video, before picking Evolution’s low-cost set-top boxes with the DTAs.
“We realized we were channel locked and running out of space on our 750 MHz system,” said John Higginbotham, FPB’s cable/telecom superintendent. “We need to reclaim bandwidth in order to launch more HD to retain customers and continue to compete in the market. Today there is no space for VOD rollout or DOCSIS 3.0. Over 70 percent of our subscribers have cable modems, and we can see the need for speed only increasing.
Evolution’s DTA gives us the ability to reclaim between 280-300 MHz, allowing us the potential to launch up to 60 additional HD services.”
Frankfort Plant Board has more than 17,000 subscribers and plans to begin its digital transition in October. FPB said it initially plans to deploy on a node by node basis.
“One of the added benefits of using the Evolution DTA is our three-year product waiver from the FCC,” said Chris Egan, COO/principal at Evolution. “This three-year time period allows Frankfort to rollout at their own pace while paying attention to subscriber feedback through the installation process.”
The Evolution set-top boxes that FPB is using include embedded security from Conax.
Under the auspices of its Project Cavalry, Comcast has been a big proponent of DTAs  as it moves analog channels over to digital in order to reclaim bandwidth.
Cable operators can reclaim between 250 MHz and 300 MHz in each system that goes all-digital. If a typical cable system has 79 analog channels and the operator decides to move 59 of those channels to digital, while perhaps leaving 20 or so as a life-line analog service for some select markets, it would reclaim 354 MHz.
Given 354 MHz of reclaimed spectrum in the example above – and the fact that, on average, 10 standard-definition MPEG-2 digital programs can be inserted into one 6 MHz slot – this yields enough bandwidth for nearly 590 channels.
Earlier this year, Evolution announced a deal with TiVo to use its Series 3 high-definition set-top boxes, which would allow a service provider to offer an over-the-top, VOD-like service. Evolution President Brent Smith said this morning that his company is in talks with FPB in regard to using the TiVo DVRs, which include CableCards, but no formal announcement was forthcoming.
Smith said Evolution would have some TiVo-related announcements over the next few days.