Cable-Tec Expo 2009: Motorola Slims Down HD Set-Tops


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Motorola will be showing off an all-digital, non-DVR high-definition cable set-top box designed to be less expensive for operators to deploy en masse by eliminating the analog tuner, among a smorgasbord of other wares at SCTE's Cable-Tec Expo here this week.

"Our service provider customers are feeling the pressure on capex," said Buddy Snow, senior director of solutions marketing for Broadband Home Solutions in Motorola's Home and Networks Mobility unit.

Motorola is targeting the first quarter of 2010 to ship the DCX700 to operators, Snow said. He declined to provide pricing information or indicate how much less expensive the unit, which is built on a single 1-GHz tuner, would be relative to other models.

Motorola DCX700

A separate forthcoming set-top model, the DCX3300, has a dual tuner and DVR capabilities but doesn't include hard disks. Rather, it connects to an external eSATA storage device. "That's looking toward giving the operators more options about how and when they spend capital," Snow said.

Both set-tops support MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 HD, as well as CableLabs' tru2way specification. The units also include an option for Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) home networking and CableCard support for U.S. operators.

Meanwhile, Motorola is beefing up the data side with a new line of DOCSIS 3.0-based gateways capable of supporting up to 300 Mbps downstream and more than 100 Mbps up, with the ability to bond eight channels down and four up.

The new SurfBoard integrated gateways include a four-port Gigabit Ethernet switch and integrated 802.11n Wi-Fi access point. Snow said the units should be available before the end of 2009 after they are certified by CableLabs.

Other announcements from Motorola timed for Cable-Tec Expo include:

 * The RX48 decoupled upstream module for Motorola's BSR 64000 integrated cable modem termination system is set to ship to MSO customers by the early third quarter of 2010. The RX48, which will be demo'd for the first time at the show, offers nearly 1.5 Gbps of upstream capacity per module, and is the "sister" card of the TX32 decoupled downstream module.

* Motorola has shipped video-on-demand servers licensed for more than 1 million streams worldwide. The company acquired VOD vendor Broadbus Technologies in 2006.

* MetroCast Communications is the first cable operator to deploy Motorola's RF over Glass (RFoG) solution. MetroCast will deploy the RFoG solution at select Virginia locations in specific rebuild areas, upgrading existing coaxial networks to fiber-to-the-home to increase bandwidth capacity.

* Motorola has implemented gallium-nitride technology to extend the reach of its "fiber deep" portfolio of optical nodes and RF amplifiers. According to the company, the technology provides highest available RF output levels, resulting in up to a 20% reduction of active components in node-plus-one architectures.

* Other new "fiber deep" tools include: the GX2-EM1000 family of 1550nm broadcast transmitters; the N2U-OA300 family of optical amplifiers for passive optical networks; the SG4000 dual-return receiver for RFoG networks; and the BTN100 optical node that upgrades existing Motorola SG2000, SG2440 and BTN nodes to 1 GHz and converts existing Motorola BT amplifiers to 1 GHz nodes.