Initially, Time Warner Cable's National Division is using the Tandberg kit to offer VOD in four markets: Clarksburg, W.Va.; Dothan, Ala.; Fort Benning, Ga.; and Terre Haute, Ind. The MSO expects to expand it to 10 additional markets by year's end. (See table.)
Table 1: Playing Small Ball
|Time Warner Cable National Division Small Market VOD Deployments|
|Coeur D'Alene, Idaho|
|El Centro, Calif.|
|Fort Benning, Ga.*|
|Terre Haute, Ind.*|
|* Live deployment|
Time Warner's National Division consists mostly of smaller, more scattered cable systems.
The MSO is offering VOD services in some of those systems using a special configuration of Tandberg's OpenStream system, but managing VOD services centrally from the National Division's headquarters in Denver. The operator is also using Tandberg's "Xport Producer" system to deliver local on-demand content to each system.
A key difference with the small-market configuration of OpenStream is that it allows operators to manage VOD services centrally over long distances, according to Andrew Rowe, Tandberg Television's vice president of software product management.
The "sweet spot" for Tandberg's small system configuration is 2,000 streams or fewer, but operators have the ability to scale it higher than that if demand calls for it, he says.
Although individual cable sites still need the necessary Mediapath gear to "catch" on-demand content and distribute it to the video servers, the primary management and coordination of the service occurs at the Colorado operation.
Rowe declined to discuss per-stream costs for the new system, but said the majority of the cost savings and benefits are found on the operations end, rather than capital expenses, since fewer personnel are required at the local cable systems.
While Time Warner Cable is the first to deploy Tandberg's new OpenStream configuration, other operators, including Tier 2 MSOs, are also evaluating it, Rowe says.
N2 Broadband, the originator of the OpenStream platform, secured a hunting license with the National Cable Television Cooperative Inc. (NCTC) , a group that represents 1,100 independent cable operators, in 2004. Tandberg acquired N2 Broadband in 2005.
Tandberg, a long-time Time Warner VOD supplier, is not the only company touting an on-demand system for smaller operators.
C-COR Corp. (Nasdaq: CCBL) and the Comcast Media Center (CMC) , for example, have teamed to create "VOD in a Box," a pre-integrated system that marries C-COR's n5 Compact server and nABLE backoffice platform with content that is aggregated and managed by the CMC. Phonoscope Communications Ltd. , an independent operator based in Houston, was the first to deploy it commercially. Others to deploy it include Seattle-based Wave Broadband and Bresnan Communications LLC . (See Houston, We Have Pre-Packaged VOD .)
Overall, C-COR and the CMC are supporting a total of 16 independent operator deployments, according to a C-COR spokesperson.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News