Light Reading
Zodiac has introduced a hybrid QAM/IP software stack to unify the pay-TV user experience across unmanaged and managed devices including legacy set-tops.

Zodiac: One Software Stack to Rule Them All

Mari Silbey
4/29/2014
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LOS ANGELES -- The Cable Show -- Zodiac Interactive has a dream to unite television hardware platforms, set-top middleware, and web-based standards through a single hybrid software stack.

The interactive TV specialist has announced the addition of a new Video Broadcast Solution to its PowerUp product suite. PowerUp VBS is a combination QAM/IP software platform that supports both managed and unmanaged devices, works with multiple middleware-type platforms including the Reference Design Kit (RDK), and integrates with HTML5 for next-generation user interface designs.

As described by Zodiac CEO Brandon Brown, PowerUp VBS operates under the middleware stack in a set-top and connects to hardware at the silicon level. For example, VBS sits on the RDK system on a chip (SoC) in RDK-enabled devices. The solution is a blend of cloud-based and client-based software components, and Zodiac says it is currently deployed with "two of the largest video service providers in North America."

One of the most notable features of the new Zodiac software stack is its ability to support not only new hardware, but also legacy set-tops going back as far as the now-fabled Motorola DCT2000. Brown told Light Reading that the software bundle can be pushed to legacy boxes from the cloud using a dynamic downloader technology. The dynamic downloader allows operators to schedule software updates in phases and during off-peak viewing hours.

According to Zodiac, PowerUp VBS is fully compatible with Arris and Cisco boxes, and is built to interoperate with a number of other hardware platforms. The advantage of interoperability is that operators can create a consistent user experience without coding the UI multiple times.

"Transportability is a hallmark of the stack," said Brown. "So for something it doesn't support today, it's relatively easy to make it support tomorrow. As an example, one of the first things we had to do was create the stack to adapt to unmanaged devices."

Zodiac said it is deploying PowerUp VBS with Charter Communications as the operator implements its new cloud-based user interface. The solution is supporting next-generation hardware, and more than 40 different models of existing managed devices. According to Brown, the solution is complementary to the technology ActiveVideo supplies for Charter's new cloud UI. (See Charter Rolls Out TV Everywhere.)

In the VBS news release, Cablevision is listed as another Zodiac customer, but Zodiac could not confirm that Cablevision is the other provider rolling out the new solution.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

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