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Video services

BBT Notches First Install

Beyond Broadband Technology LLC (BBT) , a cable consortium that has developed an "open" downloadable conditional access system (DCAS), received an early Christmas gift -- its first system installation.

Cable Nebraska/Cable USA installed the BBT headend on Tuesday, Dec. 23, at its system in Ainsworth, Neb., according to BBT president Bill Bauer.

Initially, the operator will deliver digital video services to a handful of "friendlies," and expand to a wider base of paying customers after it spends the next 90 days running tests and "fine tuning" the platform.

BBT's system obtains programming in MPEG-4 format from Avail Media Inc. . Cable Nebraska is using headend receivers and a few prototype boxes made by R.L. Drake LLC . Those set-tops are optimized to run BBT's downloadable encryption system, developed to comply with an Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ban on integrated set-top security that went into effect in July 2007. (See BBT's Set-Top Box , BBT Inches Toward DCAS Solution, and Countdown to 'Seven-Oh-Seven'.)

Those prototype boxes eventually will be replaced with full-production units from R.L. Drake. Although R.L. Drake is the first announced box partner for the BBT platform, Bauer has previously indicated that three other set-top suppliers are already on board and are at various stages of product development. (See Huawei Sniffing at Set-Top Strategy.)

"It's a technical trial, but more than that," Bauer says of the Ainsworth project, noting that the installation features a fully functional headend. "It's not anything we're going to pull back; it's a full-fledged system installation."

Bauer says the headend installation took about three hours to complete and ate up about a half rack of headend space. Officials for Cable Nebraska have yet to respond to calls for comment.

Although Cable Nebraska is the first to install the commercial version of the BBT headend and downloadable conditional access system, it's not the first to kick the tires. Bauer has been putting prototypes through their paces in at his own cable system in Lyman, Neb., since late October. (See BBT Loads Up for First Field Test .) WinDBreak, along with Buford Media Group and Tele-Media Broadband, are backing the BBT venture.

BBT is one of a handful of companies or system integrators that are targeting small- and mid-sized cable MSOs with new digital platforms that aim to compete with satellite TV offerings. Others in this group include the Blankom USA LLC , Comcast Media Center (CMC) , Evolution Broadband LLC , and Transparent Video Systems Inc. (TVS) . (See Evolution Thinks Small , Comporium Tests Positive for DTAs, Conax: Blankom Must Go Through Evolution, and TVS Makes All-Digital Pitch .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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