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Evolution's Expanding DTA Universe

Jeff Baumgartner
9/28/2009

4:40 PM -- Chinese giant Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. isn't the only vendor making some set-top noise at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this week. (See Huawei Takes On US Set-Top Market.)

Centennial, Colo.-based Evolution Broadband LLC , the first vendor ever to win a special waiver of the July 2007 ban on boxes with integrated security, is now seeking an FCC pass on three additional low-cost, Digital Terminal Adapter (DTA) products -- the DMS-2002-CA, the DMS-1004-CA, and the DMS-2002u. (See FCC Believes in Evolution-ary DTAs and Countdown to 'Seven-Oh-Seven'.)

According to info supplied by Evolution, here are a few details about the new entrants.

  • DMS-2002u: This one's definitely the most interesting of the new batch, at least from a competitive perspective. The DMS-2002u, the company says, incorporates the content protection scheme used by DTAs that operate on Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)- and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT)-based digital cable networks. Motorola's are capable of activating a fixed-key platform called "Privacy Mode;" we're still trying to track down what kind of content protection scheme DTAs on Cisco cable networks will use, but we suspect it's similar to Privacy Mode, or something akin to a stripped-down version of the company's full-fledged PowerKEY conditional access system. (See Comcast's DTAs: Security Optional .)

    Evolution says that same unit can also support the Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB)-based security SmartCards from Conax AS , making them a bit more "universal" than some other DTAs on the market. The idea, the company tells us, is to provide a DTA that not only addressed compatibility with incumbent Cisco and Moto platforms, but also gives MSOs the option to convert to a full DVB-based security system, which is at the heart of Evolution's digital box/headend platform for small and mid-sized MSOs. (See Evolution Thinks Small .)

    Evolution says this model's still in the development phase, but the company anticipates a launch in "early 2010," provided all goes well with testing. Once that happens, Evolution would be able to throw its DTAs in the ring, as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Mediacom Communications Corp. , and other MSOs that primarily use Moto or Cisco networks use the devices to help power their analog spectrum reclamation strategies. (See Are the DTA Floodgates Opening Up? and Comcast's $1B Bandwidth Plan .)

  • DMS-2002-CA: A "size-reduced" version of its current MPEG-2-based, standard-def DTA. We're told that the new one is roughly the size of a BlackBerry device.

  • DMS-1004-CA: An MPEG-4 version of the existing MPEG-2 SD DTA. Evolution anticipates taking this one to market with an all-MPEG-4 platform that takes in content from Avail-TVN.


Comments on those three waiver requests (as well as Huawei's) are due into the FCC by Oct. 8.

Evolution is also trying to get an FCC waiver for a DTA that can display high-definition television signals, but the Commission has yet to act on that request. Cable One Inc. , however, does have the green light to use HD-DTAs in one market in Tennessee. (See Evolution Guns for HD Box Waiver and Cable ONE Snares HD Set-Top Waiver .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News




Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to TelcoTV 2009, the telecom industry’s premier event for the exploration of a comprehensive entertainment convergence strategy, to be staged in Orlando, Fla., November 10-12. For more information, or to register, click here.


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