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Motorola, Evolution Win RFPs for Set-Tops

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Independent Show -- Motorola and Evolution Digital LLC have won request for proposals (RFPs) from the National Cable Television Cooperative Inc. (NCTC) for standard- and high-definition Digital Transport Adapter (DTA) devices that can help small- and mid-sized operators kick-start their all-digital video migrations, Light Reading Cable has learned.

NCTC President and CEO Rich Fickle confirmed the selections Monday afternoon, noting that the initial RFP is good for six months and that the co-op, which negotiates bulk programming and equipment deals on behalf of its members, will then re-evaluate its selections. Motorola (now part of Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)) and Evolution "really stepped up" on product pricing and support to secure the organization's first RFP on the video devices, he said.

DTAs are inexpensive, one-way "channel-zappers" that convert digital signals to analog signals, allowing operators free up spectrum for Docsis 3.0 and more HD services. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has already deployed millions of DTAs in support of its all-digital initiative, dubbed Project Cavalry. (See Comcast's $1B Bandwidth Plan .)

NCTC members can buy DTAs from any vendor, but the deal gives members access to special pricing on equipment that's lower than they can probably get on their own. Fickle said the NCTC negotiated pricing on Motorola and Evolution DTAs so independent operators can buy DTAs at prices that some major MSOs enjoy. Financial details of the DTA RFI weren't known, but standard-def DTAs sell for less than $35 per unit, while HD versions are expected to sell for less than $50 apiece as volumes ramp up.

NCTC's membership is made up of several small- and mid-sized cable operators, but the organization represents operators that serve a combined 26 million subscribers. Evolution and Motorola will get the first crack at them, though other suppliers, such as Pace plc , Technicolor (Euronext Paris: TCH; NYSE: TCH) and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , will likely try to win a spot at the table when the co-op takes a fresh look at the DTA product category later this year.

Fickle said the DTA RFI fits into the NCTC's new strategy to help members obtain better pricing on technologies and equipment for next-gen services, including TV Everywhere. He said the NCTC is in the early phases of evaluating hybrid QAM/IP gateways. (See Cable Co-Op Lights Up TV Everywhere Platform .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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