BigBand Forms Video 'Supergroups'

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BigBand Networks claims it has created a way to break down the walls between linear TV, video-on-demand and IP video on a cable network--and allow operators to use that aggregate pool of bandwidth more efficiently.

The vendor's forthcoming Converged Video Exchange (CVEx) is designed to let operators create a single "supergroup" of QAM channels. The system then manages subscriber requests for services and allocates bandwidth on the fly, working with other resource managers.

The need for such a QAM supergroup to handle multiple services will only increase as usage of VOD, IP video, switched digital video and time-shifted TV services grows, BigBand vice president of marketing John Holobinko said. "This is the first platform to bring together RF video and IP video resources," he said.

Holobinko described CVEx as an "intelligent software control plane" that can statistically multiplex different video streams across a collection of QAMs, whereas in today's environments QAM devices are typically dedicated to specific applications.

"The silos aren't hard to manage today. But as you try to deploy more and more advanced services, you'll need multiple interconnects to different devices," he said.

The CVEx will be available this fall, with support for switched digital video and IPTV, to be followed with VOD support. Initially, the CVEx's ability to mix different services within a 6-MHz QAM channel will work only with BigBand's BEQ6000 edge QAM platform.

Holobinko said the company would work with CableLabs to make the feature available to other vendors.

"We're not a charity. We don't do mounds of R&D and get nothing in return," he said. At the same time, Holobinko said, "we're hardware-agnostic. In the SDV world, we work with more devices than anyone else in the industry, bar none."

Is the CVEx product aimed at selling more edge QAMs? While that's not the main point, Holobinko said, "It's absolutely an opportunity to sell more edge QAMs... It will provide a strong reason for moving to larger groups of QAMs."

BigBand is not disclosing pricing for the CVEx. Holobinko said there will be a base price for the system, with additional services priced based on total number of QAMs and transactions in the network, similar to the way BigBand sells SDV systems.

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