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Cox, Entropic MoCA Deal Not Exclusive

Cox Communications Inc. has become the latest major MSO to formally adopt Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) as it gears up for a deployment of whole-home DVR services, but the nation's third-largest cable operator likely won't pin all those hopes on its initial MoCA partner, Entropic Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: ENTR). (See Cox Stirs In Entropic MoCA Chips and Cox Preps Multi-Room DVR.)

"Cox's selection of Entropic's MoCA chipset is not exclusive," a company official confirmed via email. "We recognize that there are other chip vendors and we'll continue to keep our technology options open and ultimately will work with the vendor who provides the best solution to meet our strategic objectives."

Entropic fits those requirements at this juncture, but the door evidently remains open to Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), which entered the MoCA game in March 2007 with the $31 million acquisition of Octalica, and obtained MoCA certification earlier this year. (See Broadcom Jump Starts MOCA Strategy and Broadcom Nets MoCA Certification.)

That Cox adopted MoCA isn't a big surprise. It's a MoCA founder, after all. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), another MoCA founder, has not announced what technology it will use, but MoCA is considered to be the front-runner. Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), the nation's second-largest cable MSO, has already announced plans to deploy a MoCA-powered platform. Beyond all that, there was plenty of additional evidence at the recent cable show in Washington indicating that cable operators of all sizes are preparing for a big multi-room DVR push this year to counter products already available from Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T). (See The Cable Show '09: 5 Takeaways .)

But Cox, Comcast, and other MSOs have historically balked at the cost of Entropic's MoCA silicon, a price that Verizon, MoCA's reigning poster child, has been willing to pay in order to get a temporary competitive edge.

Broadcom's entry should push MoCA pricing down, and Cox's selection of Entropic this week offers some evidence that those costs are growing more attractive to cablers. Broadcom and Entropic haven't publicized MoCA pricing, but in January a Broadcom exec told Cable Digital News that its newly minted, integrated MoCA chipset should trim costs by about 50 percent. Entropic has since responded by introducing a smaller-footprint, third-generation MoCA chip, the EN2510, and partnering with Cavium Inc. (Nasdaq: CAVM) on a MoCA system-on-chip initiative. (See Entropic, Cavium Connect on MoCA and Entropic Slashes 18% of Staff .)

And Broadcom has some serious catching up to do. Entropic has shipped more than 20 million MoCA-enabled c.LINK chipsets, with Verizon as the biggest customer. In its fourth-quarter earnings call in February, CEO and chairman Patrick Henry said Entropic provides the telco with three MoCA chips for every FiOS Internet install, and, on average, an additional three MoCA chips for every FiOS TV sub.

Broadcom offered little in the way of a MoCA update on its first-quarter earnings call this morning, since most of the discussion centered on its hostile bid for Fibre Channel specialist Emulex Corp. (NYSE: ELX). (See Emulex: We'll Review Broadcom Bid, Broadcom Posts Q1, and Broadcom Goes After Emulex.)

Broadcom president and CEO Scott McGregor noted only that his company has started MoCA deployments and remains interested in integrating the technology into set-tops and other products. Entropic, meanwhile, is already moving MoCA technology beyond the set-top, scoring design wins with Actiontec Electronics Inc. and Netgear Inc. (Nasdaq: NTGR) for Ethernet-to-coax bridge devices.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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