Unfortunately for many in the industry, technology stocks are anything but hot right now. But as 10,000 cable tech personnel discovered last month, there's still some heat being generated by technology–and it isn't all related to the weather in San Antonio, Texas.
This year's SCTE Cable-Tec Expo played to an audience that was down about 10 percent over last year, but the mood was decidedly upbeat, the show floor was crowded and the conference sessions were mostly filled.
Although the Expo lacked a "can you believe that" type of announcement, many of the nearly 400 exhibitors brought new products for the attendees to touch, feel and try. Here's a rundown of some of the new announcements:Data communications
Harmonic Inc. has introduced its new PWRBlazer Data Port, a standards-based, dual port Ethernet switch. The unit is a compact single-slot module that features a 100-Mbps full-duplex fiber upstream interface and two 10/100BaseT auto-negotiating downstream interfaces. The PWRBlazer has been designed to interface directly with standards-based switching and routing equipment at the headend, as well as standard 10/100BaseT subscriber-side equipment such as firewalls, hubs, routers and computer-hosted Ethernet controllers. The environmentally hardened switch can be strand-mounted, installed in street cabinets or placed underground.
Adams Global Communications displayed what it calls "the world's smallest external DOCSIS 1.1 cable modem" at the show, as well as its new home networking router.
The ACM6045EB "Pocket Modem" measures less than one inch in height and comes with a standard switch mode power pack to eliminate overcrowding that often comes with conventional power adapters. The company's ACR6264BS unit is a four-port Ethernet router that features a USB port, HPNA 2.0 and a secure PCMCIA slot for what it calls a "revenue following" operator-controlled wireless upgrade.Fiber optics
Arris announced its new Global Access Fiber-to-the-Subscriber product family. Deployable either as Fiber-to-the-Curb (FTTC) or as true Fiber-to-the-Subscriber (FTTS), the Global Access family of solutions is the first unified access network architecture to break the cost barriers set by traditional Passive Optical Networks (PON), achieve cost-effectiveness for Fiber-to-the-Home/ Business and provide a scalable bandwidth solution for operators, according to Arris.
The Global Access family is capable of delivering voice, video, and both residential and business data services over a single fiber infrastructure for substantially lower costs than those of typical PON architectures. Using an advanced Outside Plant (OSP) architecture, Global Access solutions allow for a wider variety of applications and the ability to service more users with less committed fiber, therefore lowering network costs per subscriber without investing significant additional capital.
Optinel Systems has announced a new broadband cable transport system for both centralized and distributed architectures, suited for video-on-demand services and headend consolidation. The company's all-optical transport systems have been designed to meet the needs of the cable industry. Optinel's transport system is a scalable system that allows information to remain in its hybrid fiber/coax-compatible format, thus reducing the cost and improving the performance of existing networks, according to the company.
Motorola Inc. Broadband Communications Sector showed its new Multiservice Broadband Transport 5000 (MBT-5000) platform, a data-optimized, multi-service optical transport system that offers service flexibility and high port density, and provides carrier-class reliability and quality of service, according to the company. The platform was added to Motorola's optical transport product portfolio as part of the company's recently announced agreement with Turin Networks.
The platform leverages a standards-based, unified architecture that integrates next-generation Sonet/SDH technology with Ethernet switching and DWDM capabilities. With this platform, broadband operators can deliver flexible Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet services–as well as traditional voice and private line services– efficiently over the same metro area network infrastructure. In addition, the MBT-5000 offers a "pay-as-you-grow" design concept that addresses operators' limited resources for investing in next-generation networks by enabling incremental performance and service growth.
Aurora Networks has introduced the Aurora 4000 series optical node, optimized for high bandwidth applications. By providing for small node service areas of 200 homes or less, the new node is optimized for the deployment of passive hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) networks, minimizing or eliminating cascades of RF amplifiers. This fiber-deep architecture allows implementation of bandwidth-intensive services for residential and business customers, such as high-speed Internet access, video-on-demand (VOD), voice-over-IP (VoIP), interactive television and circuit-switched telephony.
The integrated Ethernet capabilities of the Aurora 4000 series node provide a platform for the introduction of new, revenue-generating services. At a modest cost, operators can offer high-speed Internet access, VoIP and other broadband services to small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) for monthly revenues far greater than similar residential services, according to the company.
C-COR.net has introduced two new features to its Optiworx ISX node product line, providing DWDM and digital return capabilities. The new Optiworx ISX Analog DWDM Return Path Transmitter application module allows operators to increase bandwidth utilization of optical fibers from the node-serving areas to the headend/hub, resulting in material cost savings. In addition, the new Optiworx Digital Return System (DRS), consisting of dual-input Digital Return Path Transmitters, for use in ISX nodes, and dual-output Digital Return Path Receivers, for use in the Optiworx Universal Broadband Equipment Shelf, is designed to enhance the return path capabilities of the existing base of ISX3040 nodes.Network management/monitoring
Acterna has announced its Vision360 OSS Applications Platform, a complete operational support system (OSS) platform for cable. The platform provides a suite of service assurance applications for network and service layer management that is scalable, flexible and open. The platform will serve to unify disparate systems that support the services and technologies carried over the integrated broadband network, providing an overall service assurance and management solution for MSOs.
Vision360 provides pure Java plug-and-play; ready-to-use monitoring and topological display applications and components; and a full suite of programmer templates, tools and interfaces to facilitate configuration and integration.
AFL Telecommunications has introduced a new facility monitoring system called "Scout," a Web-based product that allows facility managers to remotely monitor the functions of headend, hub site and central office locations, make changes to the building's systems, and receive alerts if a system is malfunctioning. And it can all be done from a laptop, via the Internet. Users can check and manage power levels, building temperature and other key facility functions.
With Scout, facility managers can control multiple headend sites from one location. Because the system can communicate with all types of communications protocols, nearly every function in a headend–from power supply and lights, to door locks and temperature–can be controlled remotely, according to the company. The system provides comprehensive reporting and access to real-time data for all sites being managed.
Electroline Equipment Inc. demonstrated a new concept for a DOCSIS-HMS network management transponder designed to monitor and control hybrid fiber/coax network devices. The approach uses existing DOCSIS cable modem facilities as the communications channel to alleviate the need for specialized hardware controllers and modems at the headend, which saves on capital costs and reduces headend maintenance issues, according to the company. The requirement for reserving a dedicated downstream and upstream RF channel to carry the communication between the managed device and the headend would thus be eliminated.
Electroline's transponder technology enables the operator to use an existing SNMP management software solution to monitor the HFC outside plant.Headend equipment
WooshCom Corp. has introduced the first product in its line of miniature MPEG-2 interface adapters for use in cable television headends, satellite uplink/downlink sites and R&D labs. The product converts MPEG-2 transport streams from Motorola's proprietary DHEI (Digital Headend Expansion Interface) to the world standard interface–DVB-ASI.
WooshCom's Model 3010 features a miniature size, light weight, rugged construction and fully locking connections. This allows it to be installed in a free-hanging manner among the cables in the rear of equipment racks. This opens the way to installing WooshCom's adapter directly behind a piece of DHEI equipment, thereby breaking the 12-foot DHEI distance barrier and enabling cable operators to enjoy the compatibility of the DVB-ASI interface standard. Once converted, the signal may be driven over 300 feet.
Royal Philips Electronics has introduced the T-LinePRO, an MPEG-2 encoder designed for Video-over-Internet Protocol applications. The latest member of Philips' PROline series, the new encoder is designed for distribution of video services over broadband networks operated by telecommunications operators. The T-LinePRO also features a new version of Philips' ClearView technology, a platform that's designed to handle high picture quality at low bit rates.
Sencore has introduced a new 2U rack-mountable receiver demodulator (the DM 3382) that allows the user to convert off-air DTV signals (8-VSB RF) to an MPEG-2 Transport System for downstream processing into a system. The unit offers a variety of TS outputs, including ASI, SMPTE310M and DVB parallel.
The new unit allows the transport stream to be processed downstream by a remodulator, demultiplexer, MPEG storage device, or other equipment. Each input has "loop-through" capabilities, allowing the selected input source to be available at the output of all the transport stream interfaces simultaneously.
R.L. Drake Company has expanded its line of digital signal processing equipment with the addition of the Drake SCT860. The dedicated QPSK-to-QAM transcoder can be used to deliver digital services from AT&T HITS and WS-Net systems.
The SCT860 allows up to six transcoders to be deployed in just 3.5 inches of rack space. Other features include RS-232 remote control and monitoring, single hot standby with the ability to select multiple LNB feeds, EAS input with internal switching, CW mode and 256 QAM split mode capability.
CableServ demonstrated its new Alarm Interface Chassis for its CHAS Headend Amplifier System at the show. The new chassis features an alarm interface that senses the presence and functionality of AC and DC power supplies, CHAS Amplifier Modules and CHAS RF Redundant Transfer Switch Modules.
Scientific-Atlanta has unveiled its new Continuum DVP line of products designed to facilitate the launching of digital and on-demand services. The new product family will initially include a scalable Continuum DVP Dense QAM Array and the Continuum DVP encoder. The QAM Array, which has been specifically designed for use in non-S-A digital systems, combines several features, including transport stream processing, QAM modulation and upconversion. It also requires only 3 RU of rack space and can provide up to 16 QAM channels, with a maximum data output of 620 Mbps. In addition, the input interface is card-based and will be available in several versions, such as multiple ASI and Gigabit Ethernet inputs.
The DVP encoder, which allows users to convert analog programs to digital, employs MPEG-2 compression to increase bandwidth efficiency which, in turn, allows operators to recover bandwidth for such services as HDTV and VOD/SVOD. The encoder also allows users to transmit multiple programs per OC-3 link in digital transport applications, and encode analog programs, including locally inserted advertising for use on the digital tier.EAS equipment
HollyAnne Corp. has introduced its new Emergency Alert System encoder-decoder (the MIP-921s), specifically designed to help small cable systems in meeting the special FCC Rules for cable systems serving fewer than 5,000 customers. The EAS rules allow small cable systems to install an EAS decoder only, and still meet the FCC requirements. The MIP-921s is an EAS encoder/decoder offered at decoder only-pricing, according to the company.
The unit receives both national and local messaging via its optional internal AM, FM and Weather Band radios. An optional internal character generator saves additional money as well as rack space. Logging is accomplished by the unit's internal non-volatile digital event storage and/or an external customer supplied printer. Because it's an encoder/decoder, the MIP-921s allows operators to select the time when they conduct their required weekly tests, according to the company.
Vela showed its new single-channel messaging system, the SCM-1, which is designed to help smaller cable operators meet emergency alert system (EAS) requirements. The new Vela FrontLine SCM-1 is a single-channel baseband video and audio messaging system that enables cable operators to broadcast an EAS message to all configured channels simultaneously. The unit's independent character generator channel displays full-page messages–generated from an EAS encoder/decoder or via a touch-tone phone interface to the EAS encoder/decoder–over previously scheduled programming or a solid background.
Editor's note: For more Cable-Tec Expo coverage, see "New Products," page 62.