EchoStar Unit Unveils SlingModem

LAS VEGAS -- CES -- Sling Media Inc. has finally taken the wraps off a place-shifting device that embeds a Docsis 2.0 cable modem, affirming that the company, now part of EchoStar Satellite LLC , will continue to pursue opportunities with cable operators. (See EchoStar to Buy Sling Media.)

The new SlingModem combines the traditional functions of the Slingbox with a built-in high-speed cable connection, removing the need for consumers to configure it on a separate home networking router. The new entry can also connect to a cable set-top box to access live or recorded video programming, as well as premium channels (HBO, Showtime, etc.) and cable-fed video on demand (VOD). (See Sling Unveils Docsis Box.)

In September, Cable Digital News learned that CableLabs had awarded certification to a Sling product following Wave 52, despite the fact that no such device showed up on the R&D house's list of approved gear. At the time, CableLabs declined to comment, because Sling had requested that the vendor's certification status remain undisclosed. (See CableLabs Certifies Secret Slingbox Gear.)

After EchoStar acquired Sling, questions surfaced as to whether the place-shifting pioneer would pursue its general retail strategy and direct relationships with cable operators now that it was connected to Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH), one of cable's chief competitors. Well, we have our final answer: Yes. (See 'Business as Usual' for Sling Media.)

"The introduction of the SlingModem demonstrates our operator-agnostic philosophy, as well as our commitment to the cable industry," said Sling CEO Blake Krikorian, in a statement.

While the Docsis stamp clears the way for retail distribution, it's believed that some cable operators could consider offering the device directly to customers, possibly subsidizing it in concert with a flagship or high-end speed tier. (See CableSling .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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