Digeo Lands Comcast

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Digeo Inc. has signed its biggest cable customer to date, announcing today that Comcast Corp.’s cable unit will purchase 40,000 units of the Moxi Media Center set-top for deployment later this year.

It’s Digeo’s third MSO deal, following a 100,000-box order from Charter Communications Inc. and a 25,000-unit purchase by Adelphia Communications Corp.

“This is the first time Comcast has a media-center product into the marketplace,” said Comcast vice president of digital TV Mark Hess. Comcast has been testing Digeo for six months, Hess said, and will deploy the 40,000 boxes in a “market trial” in some markets where it uses Motorola Inc. technology.

“Everyone is interested in the [digital video recorder] product and the media-center technology,” Hess said. “[Moxi] has an incredibly innovative user interface.”

Hess said DVRs are available to about 25% of Comcast’s customer base, including most of its Scientific-Atlanta Inc.-based markets. The MSO is rolling out the Motorola 6208 single-tuner DVR, and it will start deploying Motorola’s dual-tuner DVR (the 6412) in the third quarter. Comcast prices DVR service at $9.95 per month.

Digeo’s setup has the capacity for up to four tuners (including an HDTV tuner), a DOCSIS 1.1 cable modem, DOCSIS signaling gateway capability, a three-dimensional graphics engine, CableCARD conditional access and an 80-Gigabyte hard drive.

“We’re now getting a lot of traction out there,” said Digeo president Jim Billmaier.

Charter has completed tests and will begin commercial deployments this week in Rochester, Minn., with other markets to follow, Billmaier said.

Digeo is building two models, the 9012 and 9022. The latter has a second graphics chip, which allows operators to offer a second user interface on a second TV in the home.

Moxi also supports up to four other TVs, using an extension product.

Digeo benefited from Steve Silva’s position at Comcast: He once led Charter’s charge into the Moxi arena. And the delays Motorola faced in getting a two-tuner DVR to market also helped, Billmaier said.

Still, Digeo is partnered with Motorola, which is now ramping up production of the 9012 and 9022 boxes.

The Moxi set-top, with its DOCSIS 1.1 cable modem, has the ability to run applications on the OpenCable Applications Platform, which is gaining interest in MSO circles.

“We think this is the best OCAP platform out there,” Billmaier said.

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