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Cable/Video

Cisco: Do-it-All Gateway on the Way

Scientific-Atlanta Inc. , the newly minted division of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), is preparing a do-it-all residential gateway product that it plans to release later this year.

The product will be outfitted with a 4-port Ethernet switch/router, two lines of SIP-based VOIP, an 802.11g WiFi access point, as well as the HPNA home networking standard for coax cable, according to the company. The company is shooting for a late third quarter launch date, says David Alsobrook, Director of Video Products for IP Subscriber Networks at Scientific-Atlanta. (See RBOCs Want Inside Your House.)
Scientific-Atlanta is more famous for its set-top boxes but sees the home gateway assuming greater importance in the “connected home” network. (See SA Unveils Set-Tops.) Cisco originally acquired Scientific-Atlanta with an eye toward making a grand entrance into the home networking space. (See Scientific-Atlanta: Cisco's Sweet Deal?.)

The new Scientific-Atlanta gateway will be designed specifically for ADSL2+ and VDSL networks, says SA Director of Business Development for IP Subscriber Networks Todd Waters. SA has already won a contract to provide set-top boxes for subscribers of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)’s new Project Lightspeed services. Asked if the new SA gateway might eventually displace the 2Wire Inc. gateway now being used in Project Lightspeed homes, Waters responded: “We would certainly like that; we’ll have to see.”

Scientific Atlanta’s leg-up in the home gateway arena may be its experience designing and deploying carrier-class equipment, one vendor source says. That’s important because the SA gateway will be targeted at operators themselves, who increasingly view the home gateway as their entry point to the home network.

"The residential gateway is sort of the hub that it all flows through, because it's got the router functionality built into it,” Alsobrook says. “It really enables that whole next generation of services, whether it's sharing of videos or photos or music from a PC to a TV." (See IPTV Drives Home Networking.)

According to Alsobrook, his company wants to sell a gateway that can handle the role of central distribution point for high-bandwidth video content. “To do IPTV you have to have a high-bandwidth residential gateway."

Scientific-Atlanta will join a host of other companies now selling home gateways. A recent Heavy Reading report identified 34 home gateway vendors present in the global marketplace. Some of the more visible vendors, other than those already mentioned here, include Thomson S.A. (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453) in France, Pirelli SpA (Milan: PECI.MI) and Telsey SpA in Italy, and Westell Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: WSTL) and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) in the U.S. Other brands like Netgear Inc. (Nasdaq: NTGR) and D-Link Systems Inc. are sold through retail channels and have a more global reach.

SA's sister company Linksys is also active in the market. Linksys sells mainly at the retail level and is among the top five home gateway vendors in the world. (See Cisco's Linksys 'Outgrows' Founders.)

Alsobrook says the two Cisco divisions are now collaborating on certain home networking projects. “We’ve actually got a whole task force going on between Scientific-Atlanta and Linksys on the connected home activity."

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

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