Entone Gets CableCARD Clearance

Entone Inc. 's cable strategy pressed forward after CableLabs recently "verified" a new line of hybrid QAM/IP set-tops and video gateways outfitted with CableCARD slots.

The CableLabs stamp means Entone's boxes are compatible with legacy digital cable TV services that run on Motorola Mobility LLC - and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)-based cable plant and security systems, but the box maker is trying to take things a step further by pitching Tier 2/3 MSOs on devices that can also support broadband video and other over-the-top applications. At last year's Telco TV show in Las Vegas, Entone identified VUDU Inc. as a third-party partner for its cable bet. (See Entone Crafting VUDU-Powered Cable Boxes .)

A company official said three Entone's 400-series models -- Amulet, Kamai and Magi -- are scheduled to launch later this year and all will support the video security modules. Among them, Amulet is an HD MPEG-4 box that supports whole-home DVR applications. The hybrid Kamai receiver handles several codecs, including MPEG-4, MPEG-2 and VC-1. Magi is an MPEG-4 hybrid box that can morph into a DVR when its Serial ATA interface is linked to external storage.

Entone's U.S. cable target is the Tier 2/3s, a group made up of operators that have not yet upgraded to digital or have deployed digital video services but don't have the resources to deploy and maintain a homegrown video-on-demand service. Entone CEO Steve McKay says Entone can help the latter group using its over-the-top approach. It also hopes the OTT option will also be attractive to MSOs that have not gone digital but want to use a broadband-fed video service that can complement their broadcast analog TV service.

But Entone will have plenty of competition as it chases deals with small- and mid-sized operators that aren't already working with Motorola, which already owns the bulk of the U.S. set-top market. EchoStar Corp. LLC (Nasdaq: SATS), Adara Technologies Inc. (in tandem with domestic No. 2 set-top supplier Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)), Evolution Digital LLC , Beyond Broadband Technology LLC (BBT) , and Transparent Video Systems Inc. (TVS) are some of the vendors that are fighting over an addressable Tier 2/3 U.S. market of about 8.9 million subs.

EchoStar, considered one of the most aggressive of the lot, has set a forecast of 1 million cable subs by the end of 2013 for its recently introduced, cable-tailored "Aria" platform. (See Cisco Partner Tries to Break Moto's Grip on Tier 2s, EchoStar's Cable Target: 1 Million Subs and TiVo Believes in Evolution .)

Entone, which hasn't announced any MSO deals yet, isn't making any similar predictions for its new cable product line. "But we have [cable] customers that are deploying it," asserts McKay, noting that he expects to have between five and ten operators up and running in the second half of 2011. "We're looking at an aggressive 2012 market entry."

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:55:18 PM
re: Entone Gets CableCARD Clearance

Although Adara's system is based largely on Cisco technology, it claims that it's approach can also work on legacy Motorola-based digital cable plant. JB

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