New Products Rise Above HDTV's Din


As industry officials gathered here for the National Show, members of the technology community did their best to cut through all the noise about high-definition TV with new product announcements and showcases at their respective booths.

There were plenty of other tech news developments and showcases at the National Show. Microsoft Corp. said ESPN, Motorola Inc., SeaChange International Inc., Concurrent Computer Corp., Meta TV, Two Way TV, Sigma Designs, National Semiconductor and Advanced Digital Broadcast are working with the software giant on its new Microsoft TV Edition Foundation.

Concurrent demonstrated the integration of Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc.'s new HDTV capabilities on its video server system.

Pace Micro Technologies Inc. reported that Bright House Networks was launching its DC-550HD set-top. Pace also said it completed MediaCipher conditional access validation testing for its DC-755HD set-top.

And N2 Broadband debuted its Mpulse software, which allows cable operators to provision premium cable packages and VOD from set-tops. N2 is working with Gemstar-TV Guide to integrate Mpulse software for the Motorola platform. N2 also said Mid-Hudson Cablevision and CoMPAS Cable will launch VOD using N2's OpenStream platform.

Scopus Network Technologies debuted its IVG-7300 intelligent video gateway device, designed to help cable operators route video through their network to the headend. The box can handle video routing and processing, advanced video processing for MPEG protocol conversion, dynamic session allocation, and seamless digital program insertion.

Damming digital churn

Digeo Corp. reported that digital churn has dropped 11% in Charter Communications Inc. systems which carry its I-channel interactive services, which include gaming, news, weather and sports information. In the first quarter of 2003, Charter found that 63% of its 700,000 subscribers used the service, for a cumulative viewing total of 2.3 million hours in the first quarter.

Cedar Point Communications Inc. unveiled its QuickStart program to help cable operators launch Internet-protocol telephony services.

QuickStart includes not only VoIP hardware built around Cedar Point's Safari C3 multimedia switch, but also the associated network certification including telephone network interconnection, service activation, testing, support and training to run the system. It also It also includes a three-phase business plan for commercial deployments.

"Our QuickStart program provides operators with direct entry into, and full control of, voice services, so that they can capitalize on immediate opportunities while managing the long-term growth and development of the telephony business," said Dave Spear, Cedar Point's executive vice president of strategy and market development.

Motorola Inc. trotted out the latest edition to its family off wireless cable-modem gateways. The SBG 900 sports a more simplified lineup of the most popular home-networking features, including an 802.11G wireless access point, a Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification 2.0-compatible cable modem, 10/100 base-T Ethernet and universal serial bus ports, content filtering and parental controls, wireless security and an an advanced firewall.

"The Motorola SBG900 offers a smart, simple solution for broadband users who want to set up and enjoy a wireless network in their home," said Motorola corporate vice president and general manager for digital core gateways Carl McGrath.

S-A active

Scientific-Atlanta Inc. said Cable Television Laboratories Inc. has approved its point-of-deployment module for digital TVs. S-A at the National Show was also showcasing its new Explorer 8000HD set-top, which combines an 80 gigabit DVR hard drive and HD capabilities.

Additionally, S-A was previewing its Explorer 8000MR set-top, which allows for in-home video networking. In that setup, a master Explorer8000 box feeds into other lower level S-A boxes, including Explorer2200s that allow for consumer multi-room DVR functionality.

The company is also banking on the idea of no new wires for home and small-office networking with its new SmartLAN system, which provides links to multiple devices using existing phone lines.

The SmartLAN system includes a power unit and outlets that replace a standard phone jack. Customers can then link multiple devices using an Ethernet connection that runs across phone lines.

"Replacing the phone jack that serves the PC with a SmartLAN outlet and using the powerful data-transmission capabilities of WebSTAR cable modems can provide enhanced, high-speed data service to the PC, as well as networking service to any other devices in the home that are connected to the phone system, such as additional PCs or printers," said Himanshu Parikh, vice president and general manager of S-A's data products and licensing business unit.