November 27 - 30, 2001

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High speed data equipment

Pioneer ventures into gateway territory

ANAHEIM, Calif.-Pioneer is testing the home networking waters by offering MSOs a sneak peek at the company's latest product, a modem-based home gateway device that combines a DOCSIS modem, router-firewall-gateway, and wireless networking base station. Operators are increasingly under pressure to meet consumer demand for personal networking solutions, and Pioneer hopes that a combined gateway product like the one on display might help operators meet that demand.

The gateway device Pioneer is showing integrates a DOCSIS 1.0/1.1 cable modem along with an 802.11b compliant wireless base station to connect devices along a personal home network. It also enables four 10/100BaseT Ethernet port connections, allowing for device networking over the wired Ethernet protocol. Pioneer may garner support for a gateway device from the MSO customers it already has secured through sales of its Voyager digital cable product line.

Panelists say peer-to-peer doesn't need to spark fear

ANAHEIM, Calif.-Although maligned because of Napster and other infamous file sharing services, peer-to-peer content delivery doesn't have to be a dirty phrase for the cable industry, according to experts on a panel at the Western Cable Show.

While it could offer great benefit in efficiently shipping popular content around the edge of cable networks, peer-to-peer's soiled reputation, coupled with security concerns and a foggy business case, are presenting more than a few challenges to the technology.

"Right now, it is a great technology in search of a business model," said P.J. McNealy, senior analyst for emerging platforms and media at Gartner Group.

Peer-to-peer file transfer allows users to share content directly with each other, instead of tapping a central server farm. That could prove to be an efficient way to move content around on a network, but the idea still raises red flags with content providers who fear the piracy abuses Napster produced.

"What you get is a total loss of server based control of content, and that's what they are really wigged out about," said Talal Shamoon, executive vice president of business development at InterTrust, a digital rights management provider.

For that reason, he suggested that the set-top box, which already carries conditional access software, might be the best place for cablers to begin offering peer-to-peer file sharing services.

Cable operators, meanwhile, face issues with network management as large files shoot around the edge network where bandwidth is more limited, and the threat hackers will use the content as a Trojan horse to enter via cable modems or set-top boxes and destroy customers' hard drives.

Despite these issues, if cable operators are reluctant to add peer-to-peer content delivery, they face the threat that content providers themselves will outmaneuver them in the content delivery game, according to Travis Kalanick, founder and CEO of file sharing startup Red Swoosh Inc.

"Cable companies better start offering solutions for these entertainment companies; otherwise, the entertainment companies will start to get smart about running these solutions themselves," he said. "They will be able to pierce the toll booth and get past the cable operators without paying."

Thomson multimedia displays new products, upgrades

ANAHEIM, Calif.-Thomson multimedia is showcasing a number of its broadband products at the Western Show. Attendees can see demonstrations of Thomson's VoIP modem (RCA DHG450) at the CableLabs CableNET display, as well as at the ADC booth and the Cisco booth. The full range of Thomson products are being shown off-site at an invitation-only suite.

Thomson-manufactured RCA-brand digital cable modems are designed to deliver a range of features, including manageability, network-friendly SNMP trap reporting, and LED and install diagnostics.

"Among product feature improvements is a major upgrade to our cable modem line with a new release of downloadable software that will enable our cable customers to introduce many new services for remote management and control of high-speed data," said Peter Polit, general manager-broadband data and voice product management, in a statement. 

Thomson's new software release provides a major upgrade to the RCA digital cable modem design. As a result, MSOs now can enable, control and manage a subscriber's home network securely on the existing population of RCA DCM245 high-speed digital cable modems. In addition, the MSO can securely enable and configure the NAT/PAT DHCP, control the number of machines maintained on the network and effectively manage both the LAN and RF networks via extended remote diagnostics, according to Thomson.

SiGe wants to cut the power, price of tuners

OTTAWA, Ontario-IC maker SiGe Semiconductor announced a new silicon platform that will enable extremely low power, highly integrated downstream tuners for use in new DOCSIS cable telephony equipment, cable modems and digital set-top boxes. As MSOs creep into advanced services territory and begin deploying next-gen network elements, equipment and semiconductor makers will be challenged to come up with products that further optimize performance, power consumption and cost.

Based on advanced silicon germanium process technology, the new StreamCharger silicon platform cuts power consumption by 50 percent (as compared to current solutions), and shrinks the bill of materials for a typical tuner module from 300 to less than 30 components. It also boasts superior RF performance over a wide temperature range, which may become more and more important as intelligence spreads further and further out on the network.

Sigma Systems busy migrating Excite@Home biz

ANAHEIM, Calif.-Looking to fill the