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Cable/Video

Harmonic's Bright Idea

Cable's technology gurus said a video-over-Docsis demo by Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT) was the "best new idea most likely to succeed" at the CableLabs Summer Conference, an annual press-free confab taking place this week in Keystone, Colo.

Harmonic was the top vote-getter for the latest Innovation Showcase, which featured demos and presentations from a dozen other vendors. The first Showcase, held in March at the winter version of the conference, did not feature a "best new idea" category, but a user-generated-content specialist called Simple Star Inc. took the crown. (See Here She Is: Miss CableLabs!)

Harmonic's vote-driver demonstrated how high-def and standard-def MPEG-4 video streams could be delivered to a PC over Docsis at high quality. It featured the company's NSG 9000 Universal edge QAM, which, along with Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), is said to have gotten the deployment green light from Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK). (See Comcast Taps Arris for Edge QAM Initiative and Universal Edge QAM Market Heats Up.)

Harmonic officials, speaking during a conference call on Monday (OK, so the event wasn’t' entirely press-free), said it streamed HD at 8 Mbit/s and SD at about 2 Mbit/s, using a pre-Docsis 3.0 configuration that bonded three downstream channels (the full spec calls for modems to bond a minimum of four downstreams and upstreams). Although a PC was the output device for the demo, MSOs are also looking at advanced set-tops that put Docsis-based video delivery into the mix.

Harmonic also showed off how the system could be used to help users navigate channels via personalized mosaics (e.g., video thumbnails). ICTV Inc. has demonstrated something similar at recent tradeshows. Comcast, meanwhile, is rapidly deploying a theme-based mosaic navigation application, but customers aren't able to personalize it yet. (See It... Lives! and Comcast Ramps Up 'Video Rich Navigation' .)

Although nearly 80 vendors are on the CableLabs exhibit floor this week, only the following (including Harmonic) were selected for the Innovation Showcase:

  • 4HomeMedia Inc. : Showed off how "value-added services" such as home security, monitoring, automation, and media management, can be delivered to the home over broadband. Featured a company-developed user interface for TV, mobile phone, PC, and touch panel screens.
  • Adzilla Inc. : Demonstrated online, targeted advertising systems.
  • Ambit Microsystems Corp. : Presented its Digital Entertainment Gateway (DEG), which features an embedded cable modem, multimedia terminal adapter, and 802.11n access point. The box also featured home networking powered by the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) platform.
  • Arris: Demonstrated a 120-Mbit/s-plus Docsis delivery system using the company's C4 cable modem termination system (CMTS) and pre-Docsis 3.0 FlexPath modems.
  • Digeo Inc. : Showed set-top-based photo sharing applications and RSS feeds.
  • Nortel Networks Ltd. : Demo'd its Web Services platform, which provides instant messaging, click-to-call, and other apps regardless of a customer's location.
  • Oberon Media Inc. /PixelPlay: Showed off "Diamond," a multi-platform, community-based gaming service.
  • Pure Networks Inc. : Demonstrated its Expert System and Customer Support Repository, which gives customer service reps visibility into the customer's home network.
  • Scopus Video Networks (Nasdaq: SCOP): Presented an "error resilient" transport system that delivers secure IP-based video for point-to-point or point-to-multipoint architectures. Also showed off a targeted advertising system that spliced and delivered spots to set-tops representing four different demographics.
  • Sereniti Inc. : Demo'd a "simplified" home networking system that supports set-up, management, and security.
  • TZero Technologies : Presented an ultra-wideband-based system that distributes high-definition video wirelessly for in-room and whole-home entertainment apps.


— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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