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Cable/Video

Suitors Circle LiquidxStream

LiquidxStream Systems Inc. , an edge QAM startup that's expected to factor into cable's budding Converged Multiservice Access Platform (CMAP) platform, is on the block and may reach its M&A exit later this month, Light Reading Cable has learned.

Several cable suppliers have taken a look at the five-year-old, Montreal-based company, but industry sources say ATX Networks Corp. of Ajax, Ontario has the pole position on a deal. Another says LiquidxStream has also shopped itself to larger companies such as Motorola Mobility LLC and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO). ATX sells a broad portfolio of cable and telco products and components for MSO headends, outside plant and multiple-dwelling unit (MDU) environments.

If ATX is successful in landing LiquidxStream, it would get its hands on what's considered an up-and-comer in a crowded edge QAM market that's led by Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT), BigBand Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: BBND), Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), Motorola and Cisco.

From the start, LiquidxStream has tried to stand out from the pack with a dense edge QAM that packs in 36 QAMs -- the same as Harmonic's new HectoQAM and just a smidge below the 40 QAMs per port that grace BigBand's new MSP2800. (See Harmonic Lays Claim to Edge QAM Density Crown and BigBand Plots Plans for Comcast's CMAP.)

Those kinds of densities also make LiquidxStream a candidate for the Access Shelf component of the modular implementation of the CMAP, an emerging product class that will combine edge QAM and cable modem termination system (CMTS) functions and help cable with its migration to an all-IP environment. CMAP deployments aren't expected to start ramping up until next year. (See Comcast Targets First CMAP Field Trial .)

Long-term potential aside, LiquidxStream has grown more attractive of late after winning a piece of Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC)'s edge QAM business last year. The vendor has not revealed any other MSO deals.

LiquidxStream also has not released any specific financing details (here's our original profile of them), but the privately held company is believed to be profitable. It has about 40 full-time employees.

If a deal comes to pass, it would mark ATX's first acquisition since it was purchased by Pamlico Capital late last year. ATX shored up its portfolio in 2009 with the purchase of ADC (Nasdaq: ADCT)'s SignalOn and RFWorx product lines.

Officials for LiquidxStream and ATX declined to comment on the M&A speculation.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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