Cable Show 2011: Cisco Gives Early Looks At 'G8' Hybrid IP Video Gateway

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Cisco Systems is providing select customers a closed-door demo of a hybrid cable video gateway, dubbed "Generation 8," designed to give operators a pathway to a full IP-based video infrastructure.

The G8 gateway includes six QAM tuners, with the ability to stream up to 10 live or recorded video streams inside the home over IP. In addition, it includes a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem with the ability to bond up to eight downstream and four upstream channels (for up to 320 Megabits per second down and 120 Mbps up).

To deliver video to tablets and other non-set-top platforms, the G8 includes a transcoding engine to convert MPEG-2 into MPEG-4 H.264 format, with the ability to handle one HD stream or up to four standard-definition channels concurrently.

"You're not going all-IP overnight. This can extend your linear channels to IP devices and then provide the full lineup down the road," said Ken Morse, chief technical officer of Cisco's Service Provider Video Technology Group. "It's a no-regrets investment."

The G8 communicates with companion IP set-tops -- also part of the Cisco demo -- via the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) spec.

Morse said Cisco had initiated development work on gateways two years ago, but then the industry began focusing on moving to full-blown IPTV. Now the pendulum has swung back the other way, he said.

"People have re-evaluated their plans," Morse said. "Everyone's on a different journey, and you can't force customers to go down a specific path."

Cisco hasn't determined when trials of G8 might begin.

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