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Cable/Video

Cisco Debuts IP Hubs for the Home

LAS VEGAS -- CES -- Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has kicked off its cable play here at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) by introducing a new series of digital set-tops, a Docsis 3.0 cable modem, and an IP services gateway that aims to tie together things all-digital in the home.

First, Cisco unveiled the 8500HDC set-tops, a series of digital boxes with on-board digital video recorders and high-speed home networking capabilities for whole-home DVR capabilities and other shared media apps.

Cisco, the No. 2 U.S. cable set-top supplier behind Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), says its new cable set-tops will head out the door under the Cisco label, removing the Scientific Atlanta brand. The SA logo, however, will continue to live on in previously deployed/shipped cable set-tops such as the Explorer 8300 -- so, like carbon dating, you can use the brand to tell the approximate age of your set-top. (See SA No More.)

The new series offers three models, each outfitted with a single 800 million instructions per second (MIPS) application processor, dual 500 MHz processors, and MPEG-4 support. They all come with Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) technology baked in. That alliance, which counts Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH), and Cox Communications Inc. among its founding members, can pipe digital photos and video, including high-definition fare, on home networks at theoretical PHY rate speeds up to 270 Mbit/s. A new version that's underway, MoCA 2.0, will push that to at least 400 Mbit/s. (See MoCA 2.0 .)



Cisco's support of MoCA is significant for cable applications. On the telco TV side of the house, its Scientific Atlanta division uses Home Phoneline Networking Alliance (HomePNA) for its IPTV deployment with AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T). (See Why AT&T Likes HomePNA and AT&T: Hold the MoCA.)

The 8500HDC has analog and digital tuning, while the 8540HDC is digital-only. MoCA is optional in the 8552HDC. All models are commercially available, the company said.

The new line of boxes will also tune to 1 GHz and contain OpenCable Platform software (now called tru2way). Cisco's new line shares many of the traits of the boxes rival supplier Motorola announced late last week and is showing off at this week's CE confab. (See Moto Plants Seeds for MPEG-4 .)

Cisco has also included some instant messaging software that can be used across multiple devices, including the PC and the TV. Operators, most recently Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), are gravitating to TV-based caller ID apps. (See Cablevision Bows TV Caller ID .)

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