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Video software

Housman Takes Reins at Alticast

Cable veteran David Housman has left Vidiom Systems Inc. to take over the Americas division of Alticast Corp. , a firm that specializes in tru2way software stacks, Blu-ray software, and other middleware and applications for digital set-top boxes.

Housman, most recently the senior vice president and general manager of Vidiom (an Alticast rival in some respects) and a former Charter Communications Inc. executive, says he's coming on board as Alticast's domestic division ramps up for an expected growth spurt. That ramp in activity is expected to come as major U.S. MSOs continue to get their headends ready for tru2way and begin deploying more boxes outfitted with the middleware. (See No Penalties for Missing Tru2way Date and MSOs to Miss Tru2way Date .)

Alticast is already supplying tru2way stacks to Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) and Pace Micro Technology , and has its middleware in more than 200,000 U.S. set-top boxes. Alticast has a third deal in place with a still unnamed consumer electronics partner that's "substantially larger than those two, and that will have an impact on our U.S. operations," notes Jeff Bonin, Alticast Americas' VP of business development and marketing.

Alticast Americas has about 18 employees today, but expects to hire more support and engineering staff soon. Worldwide, Alticast employs more than 300 and has its software in about 10 million boxes.

Housman, who started his new post on July 1, says he hopes to help Alticast strengthen its direct relationship with MSOs, noting that the company is still largely considered to be a third-party supplier in some cable operator circles. "There's certainly going to be a lot of road time," he says of his near-term priorities at Alticast.

But he doesn't have to move his office very far, since Vidiom and Alticast use the same business park in Broomfield, Colo. "I pretty much have the same view that I did before," Housman says.

But he is moving to a competitor. Vidiom doesn't have a tru2way stack of its own -- it recently sold those assets to another budding rival called enableTV Inc. -- but sister company Osmosys SA does. Advanced Digital Broadcast (ADB) , a set-top maker, is the parent company of Vidiom and Osmosys.

Housman says he left Vidiom on good terms, departing after he helped the company complete its transition following the enableTV deal. He said he weighed multiple options before going with the Alticast post. "For me, it was a point where it was just time to move. Personally, I'd much rather be in the software business for cable, as crazy as that sounds." (See Vidiom Founders Launch iTV Startup .)

Vidiom declined to comment on Housman's move, but a spokesperson did confirm that Jeff Berenson, formerly Vidiom's VP of integration and deployment, was named Housman's successor.

As for Alticast's near-term prospects, Housman says very little hinged on whether five of the top six U.S. incumbent MSOs were able to get their headends outfitted for tru2way by July 1.

"It would've been nice, but it wouldn't have made that big of a difference," he says. "It's clearly a very difficult task. They will get there. I have a hard time believing that they will not."

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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