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Video hardware

Moto Builds Cable an IP Bridge

Cable operators are growing eager to migrate to all-IP infrastructures, and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) claims to have built a new "bridge" for headends that will help MSOs reach that destination rapidly while preserving their old video equipment.

The bridge, in this case, is the AGB240, a one-rack unit box whose sole purpose is to transform legacy video equipment with ASI (asynchronous serial interface) ports into IP video spigots. Moto's device is coming into play years after cable cut its digital video teeth on ASI, a streaming data format that's capable of carrying MPEG transport streams.

As envisioned, the new bridge would be hooked into older, ASI-based satellite video receivers and other headend video gear, and essentially IP-enable them, notes Ray Bontempi, senior director of product management for Moto's newly broken-out Home business unit. (See Moto Shuffles Ahead of Split .)

The AGB240 supports 24 ports of ASI input, and deployment isn't limited to Motorola-based headends. At 38.8 Mbit/s per port, a fully-utilized box supports capacity approaching 1 Gbit/s.

A Better Bridge?

He says most of Motorola's next-gen cable video headend gear, including its new CherryPicker video processing box and edge QAMs, assumes an IP infrastructure. "This product [the AGB240] sort of completes that story. There's a lot of ASI equipment in the field we need to interface to," Bontempi says.

The emergence of the AGB doesn't mean cable's about to start delivering IPTV services all the way to the home right away, but all-IP headend conversions represent a key step along that path. In the meantime, handling the headend piece now will enable cable operators to transport video on their networks using the more efficient IP format. ASI-based video services, by comparison, require more complicated switching techniques, Bontempi explains.

He acknowledges that the ABG240 isn't the only option at cable's disposal, as Moto and its competitors have developed headend products with ASI and GigE interfaces. However, this product marks the first that's purpose-built to handle ASI-to-IP conversions.

The ABG240 also has some greenness in mind, as it eats up only 20 watts per rack unit -- about one fourth to one tenth of the power that's required by alternative ASI-to-IP conversion options that are available to MSOs today, according to Bontempi.

Motorola isn't discussing pricing, but Bontempi says "several operators" are already testing the product. "As we move later into the second quarter and into the [second] half of the year, we'll start seeing it deployed," he adds.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:38:59 PM
re: Moto Builds Cable an IP Bridge Thanks, for the helpful comment. I'll check in with those folks, as it was my understanding that the asi-to-ip capability from others was tied into broader products that baked in other features, versus a pure standalone asi-to-ip device. JB
StephenSacks 12/5/2012 | 4:38:59 PM
re: Moto Builds Cable an IP Bridge Mr. Bontempi is way off base here...his statement "He acknowledges that the ABG240 isn't the only option at cable's disposal, as Moto and its competitors have developed headend products with ASI and GigE interfaces. However, this product marks the first that's purpose-built to handle ASI-to-IP conversions" is totally untrue. PathOne has been making such an ASI-IP converter for at least 6 years, RGB has done so for almost 4 years, in dedicated products.

This is NOT anywhere close to being a new product, especially in our industry. Neither is Motorola hitting a special area when they say it is finally 'cost-effective'.

What this article shows me is that Moto iw waaaay behind.
StephenSacks 12/5/2012 | 4:38:58 PM
re: Moto Builds Cable an IP Bridge Understood, Jeff, I hear you. It's tough, if not impossible, for you to keep track of all the products out there. But certain statements do resonate the wrong way. The existing products that encapsulate ASI to IP are both dedicated and multitasked in their operations, and have been around for years and years. No matter which way we look at this, this Motorola offering is anything but new, in any aspect of broadband markets. Thanks for looking into this! SS
Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:38:51 PM
re: Moto Builds Cable an IP Bridge I still need to obtain word from PathOne, but RGB did confirm that it has a dedicated ASI-to-IP converter called the Modular Media Converter (MMC), and was indeed one of the company's initial products. Here's more info on that product. JB
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