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Optical/IP

BigBand Plays for a Telco Tier 1

SAN DIEGO -- Telco TV Conference -- Video gear vendor BigBand Networks Inc. has had its share of success in the cable industry. Now it says it has a crossover hit with a Tier 1 phone company. (See LR Names Top Ten Privates.)

BigBand representatives say the deal involves its video processing routers but would not divulge the carrier's name.

BigBand is here at the Telco TV Conference making noise about another carrier win. The company's gear is part of SureWest Communications' (Nasdaq: SURW) network, which, the carrier claims, is the first telco TV network in the U.S. to deliver HDTV. (See SureWest Plans HDTV.)

Most of BigBand’s revenue today comes from sales of various infrastructure devices to cable MSOs. The vendor says its gear is now installed in eight out of the ten largest MSOs in the world. (See BigBand Wins in China, BigBand Wins at Cable One, and BigBand Wins Cablecom Deal.)

Like several other companies exhibiting here, BigBand has learned in the cable world what it takes to deliver reliable video service to paying customers and hopes to parley that experience into success in the telco world.

The company has even marketed a special version of its edge router, which it calls the Broadband Multimedia-Service Router (BMR), to telecom carriers. (See BigBand Offers Net Video Decoding.)

Within the telco setting, the BMR handles video transport, multiplexing, and quality of service, usually from an operator's central office, where it terminates video on demand (VOD) and broadcast streams -- sending them to homes over a coaxial RF overlay or IP over fiber. (See BigBand Brings Video to FTTP.)

The BMR is also built to specifications required for the delivery of VOIP and broadband data service, along with video. Many here feel that telcos must find creative ways of integrating those services (and wireless services) in order to tempt cable and satellite customers to switch over.

BigBand says in carrier bakeoffs its BMR usually goes head-to-head with similar products from Scientific-Atlanta Inc. (NYSE: SFA) and Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA). The company has also been in talks with Microsoft about using the BMR as an edge device in future Microsoft TV buildouts.

BigBand marketing manager Marcos Sanchez says the company's cable experience has been helpful. “People have come to expect a certain level of service for video,” Sanchez says.

As a startup, BigBand's success has gotten it lots of notice; it's been a favorite on the Light Reading Top Ten Private Companies list for a while. But the company says its most recent acquisiton -- its 2004 buy of the IP Cable business unit from ADC -- put off its IPO aspirations for late 2004.

“We would like to do an IPO in the next year, but it all depends on whether the market conditions are right,” Sanchez says.

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

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