BigBand Networks unveiled a new product today that is designed to bypass cable modem termination systems (CMTSs) to deliver IPTV video into subscribers’ homes.

BigBand’s new IP video delivery product suite for the cable industry is called vIP Pass, and the Redwood City, Calif.-based company estimated that cable operators could save up to 75 percent of their capital expenditures for CMTS expansions over the next few years by using its vIP Pass.

Doug Jones, BigBand’s chief cable architect, said vIP Pass took 13 months to develop and was aided by the fact that BigBand was once a CMTS vendor itself before it discontinued its Cuda line.

Cable Video Program Delivery to IP Devices 

The new platform, which is available today in a 1.0 version, uses the existing switched digital video (SDV), video-on-demand (VOD) and linear broadcast platforms, as well as BigBand’s IPTV platform, to deliver both QAM-based video services and IPTV services into a customer’s home. BigBand’s vIP Pass suite requires a software upgrade to its IPTV platform – the edge QAM and control plane – and it already has technology and operational support systems in place.

The video service comes into BigBand’s BEQ6000 universal edge QAM before it’s sent to DOCSIS3.0 modems. Next, the video streams can be delivered to IPTV set-top boxes, tethered flat-screen TVs, PCs and mobile devices such as an iPhone or any other IP-connected device.

“The whole strategy is to save operators a lot of money over the next several years,” Jones said. “The projections are that operators will spend upward of two billion dollars on CMTS expansion that is mainly driven by video. If we can provide them a lower cost solution to providing that video, specifically our vIP Pass solution, it’s a winner.

“It’s really based on QAM costs. If you go to an analyst report and look up the loaded cost of CMTS port, it’s usually four digits as opposed to a universal QAM, which has a three-digit price. There’s really a significant difference in the cost of QAMs and CMTS with digital video, and there has been much more innovation on edge QAMs than on CMTSs.”

Jones said CMTSs work well for data and voice services because they’re “bursty and low bandwidth,” but not for video. In addition to cable operators saving on the cost of purchasing additional CMTSs, customers get better video quality by staying out of the CMTS with vIP Pass. Jones said the one-directional nature of video is better suited for the edge QAM instead of the CMTS, although the latter still would be utilized for an out-of-band return path.

“CMTSs aren’t built to scale with video, especially HD video,” he said. “We believe video quality is going to be important to all screens. We’re aware that HD is the driver right now for digital cable, but video is also going to expand to the three-screen paradigm that is also going to be important. Consumers want to get their programming online and to multiple devices supporting their own place-shift and time-shift paradigms.

“The consumer paradigm is evolving, and it’s based on high-quality entertainment video, and that’s where BigBand stakes itself.”

BigBand’s vIP Pass platform also enables the delivery of more personalized video content, including addressable advertising, digital overlays and digital mosaics. Jones said the next step in the evolution of IP video delivery is bringing in content from Web sites through the edge QAMs, which would ease congestion on the CMTS data traffic.

Jones said vIP Pass is about to go live with an unnamed service provider overseas later this month, after the current trial with friendlies is completed. He said cable operators in North America and around the world have been in touch with BigBand in regard to getting it into their labs for testing.

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