Cable Operators

SCTE Packs In the Tech Crowd

11/21/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

Atlanta — After two years of weak turnout,
the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers’
Cable-Tec Expo roared back here last
week, luring more than 10,000 attendees to the
flagship tech conference.

Attendance at the Nov. 15-
17 event was up 24% from
the 2010 Cable-Tec Expo in
New Orleans (which drew
8,200) and up over the 9,000
attendees in 2009 in Denver.
The nearly sold-out show
floor had nearly 400 exhibitors,
up 8% over last year.

SCTE credited an expanded
program of educational
sessions and technology
exhibits for the bump. Not
scheduling the Cable-Tec
Expo the same week as the
CTAM Summit — as had
been the case the two previous
years — likely helped
as well.

The show attracted industry luminaries including
CTOs from the top MSOs (see Platforms), as well as Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay
Jha and Cox Communications president Pat
Esser.

In his opening keynote remarks, Esser said
cable must adopt much faster product-innovation
cycles. As an example, Esser cited Cox’s
plan to launch an iPad app to stream about 35
live TV channels in the home in about a month.

Cox was able to develop the “Cox TV Connect”
service in “about nine months from the
day we said ‘go’ to when consumers are going
to see it,” Esser said. In the past, “that could
have taken our industry three years to get out
the door.”

Buzz at the show trended toward gadgets and
the Internet, with products and services targeted
at high-capacity broadband gear, multiscreen
video and Web-based user interfaces.

Some of the highlights from Hotlanta:

BROADBAND BOOM

• Th e cost of DOCSIS equipment is dropping
about as quickly as the amount of Internet traffic is increasing — but the long-term transition
to Internet-protocol TV still represents a looming
“pain point” for operators, Arris Group
chairman and CEO Bob Stanzione said on a
panel of tech suppliers.

Broadband traffic is rising 50% per year and
the price per downstream channel
on cable-modem termination systems
is falling commensurately,
Stanzione said. With the introduction
of even higher-density platforms
tailored to CableLabs’ Converged Cable
Access Platform spec, “you’re going to move a
lot of that [video] traffic into the
DOCSIS sphere, and we expect
the price to come down radically
at that point.”

“Our No. 1 objective is to get
CCAP out the door,” Stanzione
added.

• Cisco Systems also is tilting
at CCAP, with plans to release
new line cards for its RF
Gateway 10 universal edge
quadrature amplitude modulation
platform early in 2012 that
will increase capacity roughly
eightfold — to deliver
nearly 4,000
downstream narrowcast
QAMs and
support more than
3,000 broadcast video streams in
one chassis.

The high-capacity QAM cards,
coupled with the Cisco uBR10000
cable-modem termination system,
will deliver specs close to those defined by CCAP, according to Mark
Palazzo, vice president and general
manager of the Cisco Access
Network Business Unit. Cisco is
shooting to ship the line cards toward
the end of the first quarter of
2012.

“The goal is to not compel customers to go
to CCAP until it’s economically viable,” Palazzo
said.

• Motorola Mobility also sees the road to
CCAP as “an evolutionary story, not a revolutionary
one,” Floyd Wagoner, director of global
product marketing for network infrastructure,
said. “The increase in capacity of our current
CMTS environment can handle early phases.”

The vendor last week launched the APEX3000
Universal Edge QAM, which bumps up capacity
eightfold to support 384 QAM channels per
rack-unit—or a total of 1,536 QAM channels per
4-RU chassis.

WEB AND MULTISCREEN

• Arris is adding more horsepower to the next
rev of the Moxi Gateway HD DVR, due out in
mid-2012, to let the device
transcode MPEG-2 channels
for viewing on tablets, PCs
and other IP-based consumer
electronics. In addition,
the company plans to embed an HTML5-compliant
browser into the Moxi Gateway, to be able
to render a Web-based user interface and other
content on a TV.

The next gateway, the MG 6225, will include
a faster processor from Broadcom that will increase
its processing power by about 20%, Plug
said. The MG 6225 — like the currently shipping
5000 series — will continue to have six QAM
video tuners and an 8-by-4 DOCSIS 3.0 data and
voice modem. Arris will integrate the transcoding
technology acquired from EGT into the next
Moxi gateway, to dynamically transcode video
into adaptive bit-rate MPEG-4 H.264 streams.
That will let users watch up to six streams of live
TV on any device, over a Wi-Fi connection.

• Verivue will bring its
content-delivery network
solution to the table in a
joint solution, led by interactive-
TV developer Itaas,
that promises to let small
and midsize cable operators
deploy live video services
to tablets and other
IP devices. Atlanta-based
Itaas serves as the system
integrator for the ConnXstream
solution, and provides
an interactive client
app for viewing content.
RGB Networks contributes
video-encoding and -delivery
solutions and Verimatrix provides a digital
rights-management solution.

Itaas vice president of marketing Jim Elayan
said cable operators can gain a competitive advantage
over over-the-top services by delivering
live TV to smartphones, tablets, game consoles,
broadband-enabled TVs and Blu-ray players.
“Netflix can’t offer that,” he said.

• Canada’s Shaw Communications is developing
an HTML5-based program guide, using
Motorola Mobility’s DreamGallery software
(picked up with the Dreampark acquisition
this year). Shaw will begin launching Dream-
Gallery on the Motorola DCX3200 HD set-top,
which supports both MPEG-2 and MPEG-4. A
cloud-based HTML5 platform can let operators
“innovate at Internet speeds,” in Motorola’s
marketing-speak, as well as deliver a consistent
guide across multiple devices.

March