BBT's Set-Top Box
BBT, a venture of WinDBreak Cable , Tele-Media Broadband, and Buford Media Group, isn’t just making a downloadable CA; it’s also developing a digital set-top box to run it. At last, Cable Digital News has proof that such a box actually exists. Courtesy of and Bill Bauer, WindBreak’s president, here’s a look:
R.L. Drake LLC is BBT's initial box partner, and the joint venture has tapped STMicroelectronics NV (NYSE: STM) as its silicon partner. According to Bauer, ST and BBT recently completed testing on a secure chip that will serve as the centerpiece of the downloadable security system. ST is making 4,000 chips on the first run, and they will be available for manufacturers “within weeks,” Bauer notes.
On the content end of the BBT house, Avail Media has signed on for satellite-based video distribution, on tap to deliver about 200 standard-def channels and another 28 nets in hi-def, all in bandwidth-saving MPEG-4 format.
The joint venture is developing its own downloadable CA system under the “BBT Heavy” name. BBT is targeting the whole smash at smaller operators as a cheaper way to comply with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ’s integrated set-top security ban, which went into effect last July. (See Countdown to 'Seven-Oh-Seven'.)
Bauer, who was stumping for BBT last month in Phoenix at the National Cable Television Cooperative Inc. (NCTC) Winter Education Conference, said delivery of the set-top box is slated for the end of June or early July. Although the headend equipment remains in the production phase, BBT still managed to obtain deployment commitments from more than 10 operators at the conference.
“How many people actually go to a tradeshow and get orders?” Bauer jokingly asks.
Earlier this year, Bauer suggested that BBT, if all goes well, could ship boxes in volumes "well over six figures" in 2008. (See BBT Inches Toward DCAS Solution.)
Bauer says his cable system in “the hinter lands” of Gering, Neb., will likely be among the first to serve as BBT’s guinea pig, though the consortium also plans to seek out a “more accessible system” to showcase the platform.
“I’ve had a lot of offers,” Bauer says.
He’ll have plenty of competition when it comes to digital video systems tailored for small and mid-sized MSOs. Comcast Media Center (CMC) and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) are working on an upgraded system to allow smaller operators migrate to an all-digital environment. (See CMC, Moto Offer Digital Path for MSOs.) Transparent Video Systems Inc. (TVS) has also staked its claim on the market, and has already nailed down two cable deployments. (See Paul Comm. Picks TVS and TVS Makes All-Digital Pitch .)
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News