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Video hardware

SDV Turf Battle Heating Up

The switched digital video (SDV) land-grab is on, and it appears that Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) has carved out more than its fair share of the deal territory.

Motorola, which makes and markets an SDV management platform along with edge QAMs that hook into it, has deployment commitments in place for 24 million homes passed with three cable MSOs, according to Bruce Bradley, director of product management for Motorola's Home & Networks Mobility division.

"Our solution has been well accepted in the industry. We're moving steadily into the deployment phase," says Bradley, who joined Motorola when it purchased Vertasent LLC last fall. Vertasent makes an edge resource manager that is now part of Motorola's SDV system. (See Motorola Buys Vertasent.)

Motorola isn't at liberty yet to say which cable operators make up those commitments. So far, the only confirmed partner is Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), which is testing the Motorola platform in the Denver market, hooking in with edge QAMs from Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT) and Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS). (See Comcast Taps Arris for Edge QAM Initiative and Comcast Puts SDV Vendors to the Test.)

Motorola is installing about 25 percent of its committed systems this year, with the balance expected for completion in 2008.

Motorola marks the latest SDV vendor to break its silence on deployment activity, and it shows clear momentum for a bandwidth-saving technique that streams channels in a "switched" tier only when customers in a service group select them for viewing.

According to Motorola's anecdotal evidence so far, about two thirds of the networks in a switched tier are viewed less than 10 percent per day, and only 5 percent of those channels are viewed by a service group greater than 50 percent of the day.

So, how does Motorola's commitments stack up against the rest of the market? So far, two SDV rivals -- BigBand Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: BBND) and Scientific Atlanta -- have quantified their activity.

SA recently announced it had SDV commitments for 7 million homes passed. (See SA Touts SDV Milestone.)

At last check, BigBand, the vendor with the most active commercial rollouts of SDV and a just-bagged deal with Charter Communications Inc. , claimed to have switched deployed with five MSOs in 20 cable systems passing more than 11 million homes. (See Charter Charts First SDV Course .)

C-COR Corp. (Nasdaq: CCBL), which has been relatively quiet as it becomes part of Arris, previously has been linked to the Comcast trial in Denver. (See Comcast Reveals SDV Test Beds.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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