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Drake Downloads Some Deals

12:55 PM -- R.L. Drake LLC says a handful of small cable operators have signed on to field test its new MPEG-4-based "Digital Freedom" video platform that's outfitted with a downloadable conditional access system from the Beyond Broadband Technology LLC (BBT) cable consortium.

According to R.L. Drake, the following ops have started trials: NexHorizon Communications Inc. (for new systems in southern and central California); FamilyView Cablevision (northwestern South Carolina); and Nelson Cable (a "private" community system in Virginia). The vendor said other installs are expected in the "next few weeks." CableNebraska/Cable USA installed an earlier version of the platform in its Ainsworth system. (See BBT Notches First Install and MSOs Take Drake to the Test.)

R.L. Drake introduced Digital Freedom at The Cable Show in April. It's now cranking things up again ahead of The Independent Show, slated to kick off next week in Grapevine, Texas. (See Drake Heats Up Digital Strategy .)

R.L. Drake, which competes for share among smaller MSOs with the likes of Evolution Broadband LLC , Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), and the Comcast Media Center (CMC) , uses a downloadable security system called BBTPlus that conforms with a separable set-top security ban that took effect in July 2007. BBT's system, however, has gotten some static from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) . (See Evolution Thinks Small , Countdown to 'Seven-Oh-Seven', and Cable Group Faces DCAS Debate.)

In addition to the security element, Drake's system also supplies satellite uplink and transport (via a partnership with Avail-TVN), set-tops, a user-interface, and the requisite headend gear, including a headend controller from InterTECH.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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