Cable Tech

C-COR Sets Sights on SDV

Cable's migration to switched digital video (SDV) will happen well before the industry expands spectrum to 1 GHz, C-COR Corp. (Nasdaq: CCBL) CEO David Woodle said during the company's fourth-quarter earnings call this morning.

Woodle said SDV will be "big" for the vendor as it moves into its next fiscal year. (See Sales Jump at C-COR.)

C-COR became a top video-on-demand (VOD) software and equipment supplier in 2005 after closing its purchase of nCUBE Corp. It now wants to apply that technology and expertise toward the SDV sector. In April 2006, C-COR announced an "open" SDV system based on its nABLE Global Session and Resource Manager. Middleware specialist OpenTV Corp. (Nasdaq: OPTV) was announced as an initial technology partner. C-COR already uses nABLE as the back office of its widely deployed VOD platform. (See OpenTV, C-COR Enter Switching.)

Although C-COR has not publicly disclosed any SDV field work, it is believed to be participating in the technical trial Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is conducting in the Denver area. (See Comcast Puts SDV Vendors to the Test.)

The SDV market is expected to heat up later this year and into 2008, creating opportunities for a handful of system-wide switched digital players such as BigBand Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: BBND), Tandberg Television , Scientific Atlanta , Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT).

According to recent data, BigBand is well ahead of its peers and appears to be the only one in the group with an SDV system that’s been commercially deployed. (See SDV Deployment Snapshot.)

"We're finishing trials," Woodle said Thursday of C-COR's SDV-related activity. "I think we're one of the key vendors. We do have systems that are working operationally today. I think the revenues for that will be a key part of our fiscal '08 performance."

But there's some haziness about how rapidly or widely MSOs expect to deploy bandwidth-saving switched digital video systems. "I don't think we'll see a lot of revenues, just to clarify," Woodle said of the nearer-term opportunities.

Among major MSOs, companywide sales for C-COR's full fiscal year gravitated toward Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) (31 percent of total revenues), Cox Communications Inc. (15 percent), and Comcast (12 percent). All three, led by Time Warner, are either deploying or testing SDV.

Another hot button on the call was 1 GHz technology, which, when activated on the cable networks, could give MSOs extra headroom for bandwidth-eating services. Examples would include high-definition television (HDTV) and, further down the road, extra channels for speedier cable modem services fuled by the Docsis 3.0 platform.

Woodle said 30 percent of C-COR's access-network growth in fiscal 2007 in the U.S. was driven by node splits, a bandwidth booster that reduces the number of homes served by any given node on the cable network.

A move to 1 GHz "has not hit yet," Woodle said. "Every new piece of gear is 1-Gig, but [operators] aren't converting the old networks to 1-Gig yet." He predicted that such a conversion could happen "a couple of years from now."

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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