EchoStar Jumps the Pond

3:45 PM -- EchoStar Corp. LLC (Nasdaq: SATS), Charlie Ergen's technology spinoff, has yet to serve up many details about its tru2way cable box strategy for the U.S., but at this week's Cable Congress event in Berlin, the company's European division is offering a sneak peek of what could be in store. (See EchoStar Enters European Cable Market and EchoStar Blazing Way to Tru2way .)

EchoStar Europe is entering the market there with a line of line of entry-, mid-, and high-level cable boxes to help MSOs make the move from analog to digital. As you might expect, its top-of-the-line HDC-600 supports hi-def and a DVR, and can come "SlingLoaded," meaning it bakes in "place-shifting" tech from its Sling Media Inc. division. If MSOs want the option, EchoStar Europe will also hook that box up with an integrated Docsis/EuroDocsis modem or a straight up IP return channel.

On the lower end, there's the C-200, a simpler digital converter box, and the HDC-400, a hi-def set-top that can also be paired with a high-speed cable modem.

Tru2way isn't all that in Europe, so EchoStar's left the door open there for this new product line to accommodate different middleware and conditional access configurations.

That EchoStar is taking its cable act to Europe isn't a big surprise. In fact, it's probably a smart move… if the company is truly serious about selling boxes directly to cable operators.

EchoStar's cable sledding in the U.S. will be much more difficult, because MSOs here remain leery of the company's ties to Ergen and Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH). Plus, there's that whole litigious mess with TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) to consider. (See Dish vs. TiVo and EchoStar, TiVo Play Patent Ping Pong.)

But that won't keep EchoStar from trying to earn their trust, and maybe swinging them a deal they can't refuse. A company spokesman said we can expect some cable-specific product announcements at The Cable Show, which starts April 1 in Washington, D.C.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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