Moto Builds Cable an IP Bridge
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.
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