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Cable/Video

Slingin' Hash

For years, Paul Allen has worked to get MSOs to buy products from Digeo Inc. , his media center (a.k.a. fancy set-top box and user interface) company. Alas, Digeo's only major cable operator customer remains Allen's own Charter Communications Inc. . (See New Moxi Boxi.)

Given the reluctance MSOs have demonstrated toward embracing Allen, is there any chance they will spend their hard-earned greenbacks with Charlie Ergen? Hope springs eternal.

The recently spun-off EchoStar Technologies just announced its "entry into the cable industry" at The Cable Show in New Orleans, according to a company news release. [Ed note: We've got a story on this, too.]

The lead product at the show was EchoStar's Docsis 2.0-certified SlingModem shown at the CableNET exhibit.

"We are firmly committed to becoming the vendor of choice in the cable industry," said Mark Jackson, president of EchoStar Technologies, in a statement.

There's an easy way for EchoStar to make that stretch goal a reality: Show Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) a Digtial Terminal Adapter (DTA) priced at under $30. Money talks, after all. (See DTAs on Parade .) Even better, why not offer a "free" DTA to the cable industry?

Back in January at the Consumer Electronics Show, EchoStar unveiled two DTAs for over-the-air TV -- the TR-40 and TR-50. (See EchoStar Bows DTV Converters .) The former is to be offered at the "free" price point of $39.99 starting this summer, as it can be purchased with $40 coupons offered to consumers by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) . (See DTV Coupon Clippers .) The TR-40 includes a basic electronic programming guide with program search and parental locks.

If EchoStar could make that box Comcast-digital-cable-ready, and thus government coupon eligible, it might become a popular supplier in short order.

— Michael Harris, Chief Analyst, Cable Digital News

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