November 27, 2007

Peer 2 Peer

Vecima Networks comes up for air with edgeQAM
Vecima Networks is one of those vendors that does a lot of work behind the scenes in both the cable and telco architectures, but the company is moving more toward center stage with the introduction of its own Universal edgeQAM (U-eQAM).

Vecima NetworksVecima started off in 1988 as Wavecom, and the company has undergone several name changes since then. The Canadian-based company officially became Vecima Networks last year following an IPO in 2005.

Vecima's original core competency was in RF, and it started out building analog video modulators for Canadian and U.S. cable operators. In the early '90s it worked with Lan City, providing a frequency translator for early cable modems before building external upconverters for Cisco's first DOCSIS 1.0 CMTS.

Bob Colwill, Vecima's VP of OEM and customer support, said that while Vecima built its upconverter from the ground up for DOCSIS, competing vendors were trying to evolve their previous upconverter technology toward DOCSIS. The end result, according to Colwill, was that Vecima, or Wavecom, ended up with a lot of business due to references from Cisco.

Once the upconverter was integrated into Cisco's CMTS, Cisco subcontracted the upconverters to Vecima. Vecima's upconverters ended up being integrated with all of the major MSO manufacturers, including Arris and Motorola, as well as departed companies such as 3Com.

"All of those CMTS vendors use our upconverters, so we were a little behind the scenes for that," Colwill said. "Almost 60 percent of the world's Internet traffic on cable networks flows through our upconverters."

Vecima, which provides a range of last mile products for cable ops and telcos, came up with its own edgeQAM in 2000 for VOD companies, called the VistaLynx, by using Gigabit Ethernet over fiber to a network edge where an eQAM sits. When the digital simulcast market emerged, the company combined its Gigabit Ethernet input processing that it developed for the eQAM with its analog video modulator to form a new edge decoder, called CableVista, which competes against RGB Networks' edge decoder.

Vecima Networks' HyperQAM
Vecima Networks' HyperQAM

At the SCTE Cable Tec Expo earlier this year, Vecima was one of many vendors to announce a U-eQAM. Colwill said the difference between Vecima's U-eQAM, which is called the HyperQAM, and the competitors' was that "ours has multiple layers of redundancy." Vecima drew on its experience of building DOCSIS eQAMs, upconverters and IP edge devices, along with its RF expertise, to build its HyperQAM.

Cable operators are looking for eQAMs to use in their switched digital video (SDV), DOCSIS 3.0 and modular CMTS (M-CMTS) deployments. While the early deployments of eQAMs are focused around sharing video assets among QAMs, the hope is to also share QAM assets across data and video services, as well.

"One of the main driving applications for edge QAMs is the switched digital video offering, but it's also usable to deliver VOD and data over cable, so it's quite a flexible platform," said Sumit Kumar, Vecima's VP of corporate strategy. "It fits into the last mile portion of the cable networks that are all now being transitioned over to backbone IP."

The HyperQAM is currently in labs with unnamed MSOs and is slated for general availability in the first or second quarter of next year.

  — Michael Robuck, Senior Editor, CED

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Cable industry will serve up SDV adapter for use with DVRs
The cable industry has tackled the concern of switched digital video (SDV) not working with third-party consumer electronics devices, such as DVRs, by developing a new adapter.

CableLabs said the adapter will extend the functionality of some unidirectional digital-ready cable products (UDCPs) that use CableCards to access SDV channels that were previously unavailable to such devices. The external adapter will be available early next year.

After some legislators expressed their concerns, the NCTA started working on a way to solve the problem of sending SDV signals to one-way DVRs and other devices earlier this year. With the adapter, TiVo's DVRs will be able to access all of the SDV channels without a set-top box (STB).

Series3 HD DVR
TiVo's Series3 HD DVR

The new external adapter will attach to TiVo Series 3 HD DVRs and TiVo HD DVRs to ensure that the devices can directly access all digital channels, including switched digital cable channels. CableLabs and the NCTA said the adapter will work on any UDCP that has a USB connector and the necessary firmware.

The adapter and accompanying specifications were developed by cable operators, CableLabs, TiVo, Motorola, Scientific Atlanta, BigBand Networks and C-Cor.

Verimatrix's VCAS chosen for Irish telecom's interactive, VOD services
Ireland's Smart Telecom has selected Verimatrix's Video Content Authority System (VCAS) to secure its advanced interactive and VOD services, called Smart Vision.

Dublin-based Smart Telecom has built a next-gen Carrier Ethernet network to offer triple play services in Ireland. Verimatrix's VCAS will enable Smart Telecom to deliver secure, premium content throughout its digital video network.

VCAS utilizes cryptographic and e-commerce technologies, including PKI and X.509 certificates, which enable a higher level of content security than traditional smart-card-based systems.

Macrovision licensing Connected Platform to STB maker
Macrovision Corp. has entered into a license agreement with a leading set-top box manufacturer Macrovisionthat will allow the unnamed manufacturer to utilize Macrovision's Connected Platform in its digital STBs in the North American cable market.

Cable operators and manufacturers are adopting technologies that bridge the gap between the PC and STBs. Macrovision's Connected Platform enables hardware providers to create wired and wireless digital home products that allow users to discover, browse, search and enjoy personal content on their TV.

The platform enables users to connect between the two silos of digital entertainment and gives next-gen STBs the capability to acquire streamed music, photos and video from PCs and networked storage devices.

Conexant approves new anti-piracy tech
Conexant Systems said it has certified Dwight Cavendish Systems' (DCS) analog copy protection technology on its CX2427X and CX2450X MPEG video decoder families.

DCS develops technology that protects against unauthorized copying of content through the analog outputs of consumer equipment. The technology works for a variety of pay TV applications, including VOD. Conexant's decoders are used in PVRs and other set-tops.

TiVo's DVRs now available in Canada
TiVo announced today that the company's DVRs will be available in Canadian retail stores in time for the holiday shopping season. The TiVo Series2 DT DVR will be available in early December at major Canadian retailers including Best Buy, The Brick, London Drug and Future Shop. TiVo's DVRs will not be available in Quebec immediately.

Series2 DT DVR
TiVo's Series2 DT DVR

Push it

Targeted advertising facing scrutiny from EU
Targeted online advertising is set to face increased scrutiny from European Union (EU) regulators concerned about invasion of privacy, and this threatens the growth of a huge online revenue-booster for media companies, according to a Reuters report.

The German commissioner heads the EU's advisory body on data protection matters—the Article 29 Working Party. Brussels' heightened awareness comes as more than 13,000 Facebook users have signed a petition protesting against the networking site's new advertising system, which alerts members of friends' purchases online, Reuters reported.

Facebook members can choose for their transactions to be kept a secret, but critics of the new ad system say that the knowledge of this option is easily skipped over.

Canadian online ad spending heats up
Canada has one of the best broadband infrastructures in the world and higher household Internet penetration than the U.S., but Canadian companies have generally been slow to advertise online, according to Karin von Abrams, a senior analyst at eMarketer and the author of the new report "Canada Online Advertising."

Online Ad Spending in Canada...

In 2006, spending on Internet advertising in Canada increased 80 percent and passed the $894 million (C$1 billion) mark for the first time. eMarketer projects that online ad spending will pass $2.4 billion (C$3 billion) by 2011—roughly tripling its value in 2006.

Two-way talk

Dish Network adds iTV app for Weather Channel
EchoStar's Dish Network has added more iTV programming to its lineup, this time for The Weather Channel. Viewers with iTV-enabled STBs will have access to local and national weather information, including current conditions, Doppler radar, and 24-hour and five-day forecasts. Viewers will also be able to personalize and save up to five markets.

Last week, Dish Network launched two iTV applications for ESPN and the Disney Channel, allowing advertisers to reach a more targeted audience with interactive ad campaigns. Interactive content includes scores, headlines, TV listings and show information.

Heard on the 'Net

• RE/MAX tested a new system to determine where best to run cable TV commercials to reach potential homebuyers and sellers, reported by The Wall Street Journal.

• Google is testing ads that get 'action,' according to Investor's Business Daily.

• Nielsen consolidates domestic and international client meetings, according to MediaPost.

Company: Streaming21
U.S. Headquarters:
San Jose, Calif.
CEO: Joe Lin

Claim to fame: Streaming21's broadcast and media-on-demand software solutions are used by telcos and other broadband service providers to deliver broadcast-quality video and audio over IP networks. Rich-media apps such as VOD, PPV and live broadcasting can now be deployed on high-speed networks with carrier-class scalability and 24/7 reliability.

Recent news of note: Streaming21 and Cool.revo, an IPTV system integrator in Japan, entered into a new system integration partnership to develop and market end-to-end IPTV and VOD solutions for telcos, broadband service providers and content service providers in Japan.