Cable modem/CMTS

EchoStar Blazing Way to Tru2way

5:30 PM -- It may have taken some serious arm-twisting to get long-time cable foe Charlie Ergen to sign the tru2way agreement, but it appears that EchoStar Technologies LLC, the Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) technology spinoff, is serious about selling set-top boxes to cable operators. (See EchoStar Inks Tru2way Accord .)

That much was clear here in Denver at the "Cable Days" events, which included the Cable Hall of Fame gala Thursday night and a string of industry sessions this morning. EchoStar and Sling Media Inc. , which EchoStar snapped up last year, not only entered the cable lion's den this week, but sponsored the events, too. (See 'Business as Usual' for Sling Media and EchoStar Unit Unveils SlingModem.) So no one can say it's not putting its money where it's mouth is.

"We do believe we have a lot to offer" to cable operators, EchoStar president Mark Jackson said Friday morning at a session centered on the impact of new technologies.

But how does EchoStar expect to differentiate itself and offer cable MSOs some boxes they would be willing to buy from a company that has some corporate ties to one of cable's fiercest competitors?

Jackson didn't go into excruciating detail, but said EchoStar is looking to integrate some of Sling's place-shifting functionality and add some "unique" user interface features that are under development. On top of that, EchoStar is trying to build in some services that will generate recurring revenues for the vendor and its cable partners.

Jackson acknowledged that EchoStar's cable foray won't be an easy one and that the company will not only have to prove itself with cool, new products, but will also have to earn the trust of the cable industry. Likewise, he indicated EchoStar might have an easier go of it in Europe, where it won't face the same potential barriers that it might face here in the U.S.

EchoStar spokesman Mark Lumpkin noted that the company expects to have tru2way boxes available for MSO testing sometime in the first half of 2009.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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