Microtune, nCUBE Deploy VOD Cost-Savers


Microtune Inc. and nCUBE Corp. have joined forces to offer a lower-cost silicon chip solution for cable upconverters that will help operators lower
video-on-demand and network personal video recorder deployment costs.

Microtune's VideoCaster chipsets and VideoCaster MicroModules will reduce
four upconverter racks into one unit, which will be integrated into nCUBE's VOD

The new design reduces capital costs, conserves headend real estate and
improves operators' fault tolerance, said Microtune chief strategy officer Jim

'This dramatically reduces power and costs,' he said.

Added nCUBE senior vice president of broadband strategy and product
management Jay Schiller, 'This revolutionizes the ability for nCUBE to bring
what is normally an external box into our VOD solution.'

In a typical cable system, operators need one upconverter for each analog
channel. That hardware costs from $1,500 to $2,000 per unit.

Once digital cable arrived, operators were able to place 10 digital streams
through a single upconverter. A 30-channel premium multiplex suite from Home Box
Office, Showtime and Starz Encore Group LLC could be processed through three
upconverters, rather than 30.

But the arrival of large-scale VOD places increased pressure on current
upconverter silicon designs.

In a typical 10,000-subscriber digital VOD system - which requires 1,000
simultaneous streams to cover consumer-usage patterns - an operator would need
100 upconverters, effectively doubling the system's upconverter cost from its
typical analog-and-digital offering.

Microtune's new product would require an operator to buy only 25
server-integrated upconverters to handle 1,000 simultaneous VOD