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Vidiom Pitches Prepackaged Cable IPTV

Vidiom Systems Inc. is targeting Tier 2/3 cable operators with a "turnkey" IP video platform that includes technology from a selection of specialist vendors including Verimatrix Inc. , BigBand Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: BBND), and Avail-TVN .

Vidiom, the services subsidiary of Geneva-based Advanced Digital Broadcast Holdings SA (Swiss: ADBN), is pitching this standards-based, "open" approach to smaller operators, claiming it has the expertise to handle all the tricky integration work that tends to accompany multi-vendor IP video deployments.

The company is developing that strategy around the Vidiom Open System Solution (VOSS), a pre-integrated platform that incorporates elements such as content ingestion, headend management, set-top boxes, and applications. That, in turn, has been built around Vidiom's management control server, which centralizes service management, including set-top provisioning, and interfaces to the operator's existing billing, conditional access, digital rights management, and video-on-demand (VoD) platforms.

At a more granular level, it's using middleware based on the GEM-IPTV specification, which uses technology that's key to the OpenCable Application Platform (the middleware piece of tru2way), the Multimedia Home Platform (MHP), and Blu-ray. It's also utilizing video coded in MPEG-4.

But, hold on... Advanced Digital Broadcast (ADB) , Vidiom's corporate cousin, makes IP set-tops and navigation software, and another company in Vidiom's family, Osmosys SA , makes middleware. So how "open" can this offering really be?

Vidiom executives insist that partners won't be required to use products from the ADB portfolio. Instead, it's basing it all on specifications upon which box makers and middleware suppliers can develop.

"Getting a second, and third, or fourth source of boxes is a key requirement," says Vidiom senior director Jeansie Wiley, citing discussions the company has already had with prospective MSO customers. "It's all about choice."

Vidiom, a 50-person outfit with an office in Broomfield, Colo., doesn't have any cable IPTV deployments to speak of yet, but it's already starting to get a stable of integration partners together.

At next week's Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) Cable-Tec Expo in New Orleans it will show off a platform that's integrated with a downloadable conditional access system from Verimatrix, though it's also working with Latens Systems Ltd. in this regard. It's obtaining MPEG-4 content from Avail-TVN.

As far as the IP video delivery architecture goes, Vidiom intends to use a Docsis "bypass" approach that's championed by two of its other partners: Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT) and BigBand. A bypass system sends video downstream via discrete, low-cost edge QAMs rather than piping it through the core of the cable modem termination system (CMTS). (See Harmonic Goes Lite for Cable IPTV and BigBand Lays Cable IPTV Groundwork.)

But next week's demo will also feature some ADB components, including the GEM stack, its "Carbo" user interface, and the set-tops. It will also show off some MHP applications that run on GEM-IPTV without any new development work, beyond the remapping of some remote control codes.

"All the components are based on proven products," Wiley says.

Tier 2 and 3 US MSOs haven't adopted IPTV in a big way yet, but there are some deployments. Butler-Bremmer Communications in northeast Iowa, for example, operates video services on cable, copper, and fiber-to-the-home networks, and viewed IPTV as a way to unify those services on one common platform. (See Iowa Cabler Gets Wired for IPTV.)

Wiley says that type of situation remains a driver, but notes that MSOs are also increasingly eager to use IPTV to support video not just on IP set-tops, but IP-based mobile devices as well. The use of MPEG-4 in conjunction with an IP delivery system also offers MSOs a bandwidth benefit as they look to expand their HD lineups.

Although Vidiom will largely be pitching this product to domestic MSOs at next week's show, the company is also chasing opportunities in Europe and in some select markets in Asia/Pacific.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable



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