Video services

BBT: Tru2way? No Problem

Beyond Broadband Technology LLC (BBT) , that other MSO-led consortium cooking up a downloadable conditional access system (DCAS), says its security implementation will have no trouble hooking into "existing and future" apps and platforms, including tru2way.

That much was spelled out in an ex parte document filed June 5 that briefly described a meeting between BBT and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Kevin Martin. That disclosure should also spell some relief for other U.S. cable operators, including the six largest, that are ramping up for widespread deployment as outlined in the "binding" Memorandum of Understanding for interactive digital cable ready set-tops and televisions. (See Revealed: The Tru2way MOU, Sony Supports tru2way, and More Firms Go the Way of Tru2way.)

In case you've forgotten, BBT -- a venture backed by WinDBreak Cable , Buford Media Group, and Tele-Media Broadband -- is cooking up an open DCAS solution that will comply with the FCC's ban on integrated security set-tops, which went into effect last July. (See BBT Inches Toward DCAS Solution and Countdown to 'Seven-Oh-Seven'.) PolyCipher LLC , a partnership of Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), and Cox Communications Inc. , is also working on a downloadable CA platform, but the keys were recently handed to Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and NDS Ltd. to help get the initial trials and deployments off the ground. (See Cisco, Moto Take Control of DCAS .)

BBT is not in the set-top business, but it did sign up R.L. Drake LLC to build the first box, which happens to be one-way. (See BBT's Set-Top Box .)

Although those first boxes will have the processing horsepower to handle the OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP), the middleware component of tru2way, should operators want it, BBT also has a roadmap in place for two-way devices, BBT CEO Bill Bauer tells Cable Digital News.

Bauer, who's also the president and CEO of WinDBreak Cable, says the timing of those interactive boxes depends on the manufacturers that have agreed to build them, but his hope is that the devices will be ready by the end of this year or in early 2009.

"It's up to them," Bauer says of the development schedule. "We're a marriage counselor more than anything. It's our job to bring everything together."

The builders of those two-way boxes (RL Drake isn't among vendors developing the first set of interactive devices that will support the BBT security system) will use a new STMicroelectronics NV (NYSE: STM) system-on-a-chip that houses a Docsis cable modem.

Trial/deployment update
BBT expects to launch a small tech trial (with about a handful of set-tops) in what amounts to Bauer's backyard -- Lyman, Neb. -- "within weeks."

BBT hopes that will lead to a larger field trial and tee up its first commercial deployment in September or October. But, Bauer acknowledges, deployments will hinge on when BBT's hardware partners can ramp up production. BBT, he adds, has received "many offers" from operators that want to take the first swing at it.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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