& cplSiteName &

Cisco: 'We Love Set-Top Boxes'

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
2/21/2012
50%
50%

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is committed to the set-top box business, and don't let anyone tell you any different.

That was the crux of a message Cisco released Monday as it looks to defuse a rumor that the company is trying to unload its set-top box business. The New York Post reported on Sunday that private equity firms are among the most likely suitors for Cisco's STB business. (See Cisco Puts STB Unit Up for Sale.)

The company told Light Reading Cable that Cisco doesn't "comment on rumors or speculation," but company Director of Corporate Communications John Earnhardt went a step further on Monday afternoon by addressing the speculation in a blog post.

"Let me be as clear as I can: we love set top boxes," Earnhardt wrote.

He backed that up by reminding everyone that Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers, on the company's recent second-quarter earnings call, stated: "In terms of set-top boxes, we are very much committed to this marketplace."

"I hope that this clarifies any erroneous, un-sourced comments that might be out there in the marketplace," Earnhard wrote, allowing that Cisco's service provider customers have asked the company to help them migrate from "traditional" set-tops to IP set-top boxes that tie into Cisco's multi-screen Videoscape platform. Cisco, by the way, sold its set-top plant in Juarez, Mexico, to Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group last summer as part of a broader cost-cutting effort. (See Foxconn Buys Cisco's Set-Top Factory .)

In some ways, Videoscape does de-emphasize traditional set-top box hardware, because it's increasingly reliant on cloud-based delivery systems and software-based clients that can emulate that functionality in IP-connected TVs, tablets and smartphones. In fact, Cisco's been buying companies to help fill in some technology gaps in the Videoscape platform. (See The Disappearing Set-Top , Cisco to Buy BNI Video for $99M and Cisco's Videoscape Stresses Cloud Control.)

However, the New York Post isn't the only one that's buying into the rumor that something is afoot at its STB division. An industry source familiar with Cisco's plans told Light Reading Cable that it's his understanding that the vendor is "shopping it selectively," but did not say if that interest was for the whole STB division or limited to only its legacy, pre-Videoscape set-top products.

Even if Cisco stays in the set-top box game, the business is less lucrative than it used to be. Among recent examples, sources say Samsung Corp. , which competes with Cisco at key accounts such as Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Bright House Networks and Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), has been particularly aggressive with a pricing strategy that has been causing set-top box margins to shrink. (See Samsung Boxes Break In at Cablevision .)

And that market is becoming increasingly competitive. The world's top set-top maker, Pace plc , for example, has been making strides in the U.S. market, scoring a deal to make a video gateway that will power Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s next-gen "X1" video product. (See Comcast IDs Cloud TV Product as 'X1' and Comcast to Swing Xcalibur Wide in 2012.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

(8)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:42:07 PM
re: Cisco: 'We Love Set-Top Boxes'


True, it can still *love* set-tops even if the company ultimately decides to sell the unit to someone else.  It may love to see someone else deal with that tough part of the SP video business. Also, saying they are committed to the STB market isn't a denial that it's seeking a sale. They'll want to make sure that Videoscape supports all forms of STBs, whether that box is sold and made by Cisco or another vendor of the SP's choosing. JB




 
btierney
50%
50%
btierney,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:42:07 PM
re: Cisco: 'We Love Set-Top Boxes'


Well stated.  While Videoscape is good marketing, I'd like to see a bit more meat on the bone.  The STB business has been a custom one for decades.  Efforts to move it to retail have failed for many reasons such as each Video provider has custom features.


I can't believe Cisco will keep them as they are poor and getting poorer margins.  As a buyer, I still don't quite see any synergy at the street level with San Jose and Lawrenceville.  Alas, a missed opportunity that I'm afraid the window has closed.

DCITDave
50%
50%
DCITDave,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:42:07 PM
re: Cisco: 'We Love Set-Top Boxes'


Usually a sentence that starts like that means that the writer, not the reader, is searching for clarity. Cisco is so silly to address the media reports in a blog after stating its policy is that it does not comment on what it regards as speculation.


If Cisco can so quickly step outside of its own stated policies by attempting to "be clear" about an issue, I'm led to think that the company is likely to be shopping the set-top unit while stating its affinity for set-tops in its corporate blog posts.


To say it loves set-tops is not the same as Cisco saying that the sale of its set-top unit has not been a topic for conversation in meetings. Cisco could tell us as much, but it doesn't comment on speculation.


 


 


 

msilbey
50%
50%
msilbey,
User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2012 | 5:42:06 PM
re: Cisco: 'We Love Set-Top Boxes'


It would be interesting to see Cisco drop its QAM set-top business, but I have a hard time seeing the advantage right now given the gateway movement. Everyone and their mother can create an IP box, but the value of a QAM/IP gateway is significantly higher. Of course, it's a lot of investment too, but Cisco's already put that money in. I can't see why someone new would get into the game now, but I also can't see why the big guys would dump QAM now when there are still years ahead for milking that revenue even as the industry shifts to IP. 

DCITDave
50%
50%
DCITDave,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:42:06 PM
re: Cisco: 'We Love Set-Top Boxes'


Right. The company can simultaneously have two loves. It loves set-tops. And it loves profit margins.


Also, for Videscape to work, a set-top is not needed. Just some hardware somewhere in the home to decode and translate/transmit the signal to an end device or screen.


Right now, the set-top is as good a device as any for that chore. In a little while, I think home networks will be more about having one all-powerful gateway (managed by the service provider) and a plethora of end devices to distribute content. 


A few more years into the future, I wouldn't be surprised to just see wireless broadband baked into all end devices with no home network needed at all to consume cloud-based services.


 

Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:42:04 PM
re: Cisco: 'We Love Set-Top Boxes'


Yeah, the way it was told to me again today is that they'd be looking to unload the whole STB biz, qam, ip, hybrid, etc.   Plus, I've got some additional detail on the other cable businesses that they got from SA and what they plan to do with that.  anyway, more on that later today. and I agree...who would want a QAM-only STB biz or be willing to pay for a unit that is that limited and clearly on the decline. JB


 




 
Rush21120
50%
50%
Rush21120,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 5:42:02 PM
re: Cisco: 'We Love Set-Top Boxes'


SA was about revenue and customers for Cisco.  In fact SA was given lower margin expectations then the other produt familys when I worked for Cisco at the benefit of more customers and revenue.  As revenue and margins fall, it's a business decision held up only by what to replace the revenue with.

Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:42:01 PM
re: Cisco: 'We Love Set-Top Boxes'


And it sounds like they are being selective on what they are trying to sell. Rather than selling all of what we used to know as SA, they are picking their spots, starting with the STB unit, or what's left from that to actually sell. Still I wonder who would buy it.. the original story suggested private equity... i might suggest Arris as they look to make more hay with STBs/video gateways, but I think they and Cisco are too competitive everywhere else for such a deal to come together, even if it was at a price Arris wouldn't balk at. JB




 
From The Founder
Light Reading sits down at CES with the head of Cisco's service provider video business, Conrad Clemson, to discuss how NFV and cloud security relate to video, the challenge of managing 4K/8K traffic, the global expansion of Netflix and virtual reality.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
LRTV Documentaries
All Change in Video

2|11|16   |   33:12   |   (1) comment


At this moderated panel at 2020 Vision in Dublin, Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader of Light Reading, sits down with Jeff Finkelstein, director of network architecture at Cox Communications, to discuss the rapidly changing video market.
LRTV Custom TV
Hosting in Ireland, Past & Present

2|10|16   |   16:07   |   (0) comments


Garry Connolly, president of Host in Ireland, presents the keynote at Light Reading's 2020 Vision Executive Summit in Dublin.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
What's Hot in Mobile Commerce?

2|10|16   |   12:18   |   (1) comment


Claire Maslen, financial services relationship manager at the GSMA, talks about the development of the digital commerce sector and the types of relationships that mobile operators are developing to further their m-commerce strategies.
LRTV Documentaries
EANTC Tests Nokia IP Routing & Mobile Gateway VNFs for Real World Deployment

2|9|16   |   5:08   |   (1) comment


Nokia obtained validation of its virtualized router and virtualized mobile gateway capabilities through rigorous testing performed by EANTC. The results set a new industry benchmark for outstanding performance, scalability, resiliency and manageability. Nokia VNFs are ready for telco cloud deployment, so that service providers can accelerate mobile, business and ...
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat With Level 3's Jack Waters

2|8|16   |   26:15   |   (1) comment


Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders sits down with Level 3 Communications' CTO Jack Waters to discuss hot topics like virtualization, 4K and the future of telecom...
LRTV Custom TV
The Composable Telco

2|8|16   |   24:46   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading's Principal Analyst Caroline Chappell presents the keynote at Light Reading's 2020 Vision Executive Summit in Dublin.
LRTV Custom TV
Join Us at the Digital Operations Transformation Summit

2|4|16   |   03:52   |   (0) comments


The Digital Operations Transformation Summit on February 21, 2016 at the Crowne Plaza Barcelona Fira Centre will bring together 50 senior executives to engage in a unique debate on the opportunities and challenges presented by the transformative evolving digital landscape. RSVP now at events@lightreading.com.
LRTV Custom TV
Making the Test: ADVA Ensemble Connector vs. Open vSwitch

2|4|16   |   01:28   |   (0) comments


Light Reading, in partnership with EANTC, recently tested ADVA's Ensemble Connector, which replaces open vSwitch and offers carrier-grade capability and interoperability. The test results strengthen ADVA's credibility as a provider in the virtualization space.
LRTV Custom TV
Bridging the Gap Between PoCs & Deployment in NFV

2|4|16   |   31:50   |   (0) comments


Charlie Ashton of Wind River presents the keynote at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Dublin.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat With Mike Aquino

2|3|16   |   17:34   |   (0) comments


The former CEO of Overture Networks, Mike Aquino, discusses why truly open virtualization solutions provide service providers with the greatest choice.
Shades of Ray
MWC: Buckle Up for 5G & the IIoT

2|2|16   |   02:28   |   (0) comments


This year's Mobile World Congress looks set to be a 5G land grab and a chance to get down and dirty with the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) – but what will the 5G discussions actually be about?
LRTV Custom TV
Case Study: Building China's Next-Gen TV Networks

2|2|16   |   5:01   |   (0) comments


With over 2 billion viewers worldwide, Shenzhen Media Group is one of China's largest content producers. By partnering with Huawei and Sobey, SZMG was able to modernize media operations with the Converged News Center, a production studio that is a model for next-generation workflows.
Upcoming Live Events
March 10, 2016, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 5, 2016, The Ritz Carlton, Charlotte, NC
May 23, 2016, Austin, TX
May 24-25, 2016, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
AT&T Lights Fire Under 5G, Plans 2016 Trials
Iain Morris, News Editor, 2/12/2016
Yahoo & Verizon Sitting in a Tree...
Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading, 2/8/2016
Vodafone: Flexible Work Policies Boost Profits
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/8/2016
It's Time to Integrate OTT Video
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 2/8/2016
Andreessen Facepalms on Facebook Free Basics
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 2/10/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders sits down with Level 3 Communications' CTO Jack Waters to discuss hot topics like virtualization, 4K and the future of telecom...
The former CEO of Overture Networks, Mike Aquino, discusses why truly open virtualization solutions provide service providers with the greatest choice.
Live Digital Audio

Broadband speeds are ramping up across Europe as the continent, at its own pace, follows North America towards a gigabit society. But there are many steps to take on the road to gigabit broadband availability and a number of technology options that can meet the various requirements of Europe’s high-speed fixed broadband network operators. During this radio show we will look at some of the catalysts for broadband network investments and examine the menu of technology options on offer, including vectoring and G.fast for copper plant evolution and the various deployment possibilities for FTTH/B.