DirecTV Tees Up Multiroom DVR In Q1


DirecTV is getting ready to launch a multiroom DVR service over in-home coaxial cable within the next two months, using Entropic Communications' silicon in its next generation of set-top boxes.

The new generation of DirecTV set-top boxes is currently in production. The multiroom DVR boxes -- the HR-24 server DVR set-top and H-24 client DVR set-top -- are expected to be in customer's home later in the first quarter of 2010.

DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer declined to provide pricing for the new service. He said the satellite operator has a beta test of multiroom DVR currently underway with customers who have at least one HD DVR and one additional HD or HD DVR receiver networked.

Entropic's chip sets are based on the standard from the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA), which is able to send HD video over existing coax in the home. Other members of MOCA include Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Verizon Communications, Motorola, Cisco Systems, EchoStar and Broadcom.

Entropic CEO Patrick Henry said his company has been in development with DirecTV for more than a year, along with several of the satellite operator's set-top box manufacturing partners, to integrate the multiroom DVR capabilities into its receivers. He declined to identify the equipment makers Entropic was working with.

Other pay-TV providers that offer multiroom DVR include Verizon's FiOS TV -- which also uses MoCA-based set-tops with Entropic chips -- and AT&T U-verse TV, which is using the HomePNA 3.1 specification for phone-line networking.

Cable operators, including Time Warner Cable and Cox, have said they plan to introduce multiroom DVR features using MoCA.  Set-top box maker Pace also has launched a multiroom DVR product that was being tested by Mediacom Communications, Buckeye CableSystem and Sunflower Broadband.

According to DirecTV, the coax-based networking also will allow it to propagate the RVU Remote User Interface on its platforms. The RVU interface is designed to ensure that the client set-top receivers in a multiroom DVR environment display the exact user interface of the server on a "pixel-accurate" basis.

"By integrating MoCA technology into our STBs [set-top boxes] along with the existing deployment of the Single Wire Multiswitch, we will set ourselves apart from the competition as a leading provider of connected-home technology," DirecTV chief technology officer Romulo Pontual said in a statement. "This is part of our overall strategy to simplify the installation process and create a reliable video distribution system for our customers who want to enjoy a connected home lifestyle. Technology cooperation with Entropic was instrumental to expedite the delivery of these new STBs."