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BBT Update

6:30 PM -- Beyond Broadband Technology LLC (BBT) has reached another milestone: It's finally ready to conduct live demos of a full, "end-to-end" platform that uses an "Open Standard Downloadable Security" system and relies on MPEG-4 compression to deliver a lineup of about 200 channels.

Some attendees at The Independent Show in Orlando, Fla., are learning this fact first-hand this week, but BBT president and CEO William Bauer shared that news last Thursday in Los Angeles during the latest Light Reading Live! event: Cable Next-Gen Video Strategies: Meeting the Satellite & Telco TV Challenge.

In a session dedicated to cable bandwidth, Bauer said the system -- soup to nuts -- is ready for live, public demos. Although R.L. Drake LLC is the first announced cable set-top and headend partner for BBT, the consortium has now signed on a total of "four major manufactures" for those components, Bauer said. (See BBT's Set-Top Box .)

In addition to demos in controlled settings, BBT must also test out how well its platform performs in living, breathing cable systems. And some of that work is getting underway. (See BBT: Tru2way? No Problem .)

However, technical hurdles may turn out to be the easiest for BBT to overcome. As you might recall, the consortium, backed by WinDBreak Cable , Buford Media Group, and Tele-Media Broadband, is clashing with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) about whether operators will need a special waiver from the FCC to deploy the BBT system. (See Cable Group Faces DCAS Debate.)

For operators, that would mean more time (waiting for the FCC to act on waiver requests) and expense (hiring lawyers to file the proper paperwork). We'll just assume that MSOs, particularly the more cash-strapped smaller ones, would rather avoid both.

Predictably, Bauer reiterated BBT's position that MSOs don't need one. BBT's downloadable approach "is an acceptable alternative to a CableCARD," he said.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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