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Cable Technology Feature Article

June 13, 2011

New Broadcom SoC Technology Supports Multi-Device Home Networking for Cablecos

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, IP Communications Magazines

Semiconductor outfit Broadcom (News - Alert) Corp. today takes the wraps off system-on-a-chip technology with Full-Band Capture technology. It’s designed for use within home networking gateways and set-top boxes, and it could potentially lower costs for cable TV operators while better positioning them to deliver IP-based video services.

“The introduction of our Full-Band Capture is going to fundamentally change how cablecos deliver content to the home in the future,” Jay Kirchoff, vice president of product marketing for Broadcom, told TMCnet in an interview last week.

Broadcom’s Kirchoff explains that cable TV started using just a single narrowband tuner that supported one channel. Then the industry moved to wideband tuners, for four to eight adjacent channels. In any case, he says, today each channel has a tuner associated with it, so if there are five devices a service provider wants to support in the home, it needs five tuners.

But Full-Band Capture, he says, has the ability to capture content from any channel in 50mHz to 1gHz space, and it can capture content off of four or eight different channels simultaneously – all with just the one silicon device in a gateway or set-top box. This solution also eliminates the analog front ending that had to happen in the past.

All of the above means that cablecos will be able to deliver video to multiple TVs and other devices, like iPads, computers and the like, within their subscribers’ homes. And because the Broadcom SoC, in essence, eliminates up to eight tuners with a single device, Kirchoff says, those service providers will enjoy smaller footprint solutions require far less power.

Additionally, he says, it helps future-proof cablecos because it allows them to use the solution in the near future (because gear using this Broadcom technology is not available just yet) over current spectrum, and they can use it in the future should spectrum requirements change. And, as indicated above, it enables cablecos to transition from the traditional QAM-based cable plant model to IP video.

Broadcom currently is sampling its 3124 and 3128 SoC solutions, which are design for use within set-top boxes. But there’s a third SoC solution involved in today’s news, and that’s the 3383, a new DOCSIS 3.0 gateway product that can leverage its Full-Band Capture capability to enable broadband operators to take some of their eight channels and use them to deliver TV services.

The 3383 also supports dual simultaneous Wi-Fi (at both the traditional 2.4gHz and at 5gHz). That allows the in-home Wi-Fi to run data over 2.4gHz, which is a more crowded spectrum and so not good for video, and use 5gHz Wi-Fi distribution for the video.

Set-top boxes and home gateways using this new Broadcom SoC technology are expected to be available later this year or early next from as-yet-undisclosed vendors.

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Edited by Jennifer Russell