Cable Tech Execs Bullish On Internet Video Set-Top


A confab of CableLabs technology executives voted a palm-size set-top box that can play Internet video on a TV set the "best new idea" most likely to succeed in the cable industry, out of a field of 10 company presentations.

Startup Verismo Networks showed its VuNow set-top, which plugs into a television and a broadband connection to provide access to clips from YouTube and hundreds of other Web sites, as well as videos downloaded using the BitTorrent peer-to-peer protocol.

"The way we see this is, our VuNow service could be a portal in the linear channels [on a cable system] providing Internet videos through that link over to the television," Dhaval Ajmera, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Verismo, said on a call with reporters.

The presentations were part of CableLabs Technology Forum 2009, an invitation-only event for the consortium's members being held Feb. 8-11 at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Verismo launched its Internet TV set-top last June, selling a standard-definition version for $99 and an HD version for $149.

However, Ajmera said, Verismo's main strategy is to license the platform to equipment manufacturers and service providers. The company, based in Mountain View, Calif., has about 70 employees and its privately funded.

Comcast chief technology officer Tony Werner, also on the call, said "it's too soon to talk about what the business model would be" for the Verismo technology, noting that the product was picked because the startup has developed "a very compelling software platform."

At some point, cable operators could consider integrating the VuNow features into their digital cable set-tops, Charter Communications CTO Marwan Fawaz said.

Asked when the technology would be available through a cable provider, Ajmera quipped, "I'm just waiting for these guys to give me a purchase order."

The other nine companies that delivered presentations during the CableLabs Innovation Showcase were: Ruckus Wireless -- a past winner of the "best new idea" for its 802.11n wireless networking gear  -- Cognizant Technology Solutions, RipCode, Intertrust Technologies, BigBand Networks, NetNumber, Ortiva Wireless, Arris and Celeno.

The event was the fifth Innovation Showcase that CableLabs has hosted in the past three years.