Cable Tech

Amedia Tricks Out Gateways

Amedia Networks Inc. (OTC: AANI) has come out of the recent TelcoTV show with some big ideas for its residential gateways.

The Eatontown, N.J., company is talking about adding an Internet browser, ultra-wideband (UWB) connectivity, media storage, and even some IP PBX functionality. (See Amedia Touts Gateway.) All these new features, targeted for early 2007 release, would be embedded as software on the gateway platforms Amedia currently sells.

"We demonstrated all these things at Telco TV, and they're all somewhat disparate now, but we are going to converge them all in one load of software," says Amedia CEO Frank Galuppo. "We didn’t want to show too much, because we have some ideas about some patents around some of this stuff."

Amedia believes home gateways will become the home network's nerve center for processing and routing services. For that to happen, the device must have the power and functionality of a personal computer, Galuppo says.

"After we got the product designed and into the market awhile back we realized that for all intents and purposes this is a computer -- it just didn't have some of the peripherals like a keyboard or a storage device."

Galuppo says he and his engineers began to think of the possibilities of a PC-based gateway -- one that sits at the middle of the home network, routing content and services to various devices. (See RBOCs Want Inside Your House.)

"One of the applications we demonstrated was the ability to access the Internet from the gateway without the use of a computer," Galuppo says. The Internet-connected gateway will allow users to download broadband video from sites like YouTube Inc. , Amedia claims, although Galuppo acknowledges the set-top box at the TV must contain the right decoding software to do that.

Still, Galuppo sees dollar signs around that trick. "We're pretty excited about this, because there are still a lot of homes out there without a PC, so for them access to Internet video is pretty much impossible."

Elsewhere, Amedia is adding UWB, using technology from TZero Technologies , to complement its support of the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) and Home Phoneline Networking Alliance (HomePNA) standards. (See Amedia Joins MoCa.) Galuppo says his engineers have demonstrated sending an HD video signal over the air across distances exceeding 30 feet.

Not everybody in the home networking crowd is so impressed with the potential of UWB. Ruckus Wireless Inc. marketing director David Callisch says that, because the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has imposed power limits on in-home UWB signals, the technology hasn't got much of a future in long-range home networking.

"They might be able to make some impressive demonstrations, but it's never going to see the light of day in commercial deployments," says Callisch, whose company uses WLAN to transmit video throughout the home.

Another future enhancement for Amedia's gateways is the ability to port large files -- think music, video, and the like -- to off-the-shelf storage drives. The gateway could access the stored files and route them to any TV in the house.

Amedia also plans to build some IP PBX software into its gateway. This opens the door to features like an auto-attendant function that routes calls to the correct family member's private phone extension, Galuppo says. (See Amedia Targets MDUs.)

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

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