Cable Technology Feature Article
Cable Technology Week in Review
By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor
The Winter Olympics opened in Sochi this week, and it’s the 50th anniversary of the Beatles coming to America, but when it comes to factors affecting the cable sector, the news has gotten down to business. Literally: M&A continued to be hot this week, as was the technology investment space in general.
The lead news is the fact that Ericsson is planning to acquire Massachusetts-based Azuki Systems, which provides TV Everywhere and multiscreen delivery platforms for service providers, content owners and broadcasters. The Swedish infrastructure giant is extending its spending spree to beef up its multiscreen and over-the-top video capabilities. It will also gain additional key functionality related to the deployment of TV Everywhere services, including adaptive bit rate (ABR) and content protection technologies; it also enables multiple monetization options, beyond portals and authentication services. Ericsson's TV and media portfolio recently got another big boost from the high-profile acquisition of the Mediaroom IPTV platform from Microsoft (News - Alert).
"We are executing on our TV and media strategy, and Azuki adds key technologies and capabilities to extend our market leadership position,” said Per Borgklint, senior vice president and head of business unit support solutions at Ericsson.
Speaking of multiscreen, Comcast (News - Alert) has made Boston its maiden market for the X1 network-powered DVR service and in-home live video streaming apps for IP-connected mobile devices, set-tops and gateways. First talked about at the 2013 Cable Show, the cable MSO is finally adding the capabilities to the X1 DVR service. Dubbed the “X1 DVR with Cloud Technology,” it offers the ability to stream recorded shows and movies from the network to not just the set-top but also to Wi-Fi connected mobile devices within the home zone. The technology also lets customers to download DVR recordings directly to a mobile device to take on-the-go. “We want to provide customers with the best television experience on every device, when they want it and where they want it,” said Matt Strauss, senior vice president and general manager of video services at Comcast Cable.
Not to be outdone, Time Warner (News - Alert) Cable announced the roll-out of enhanced service capabilities under a new brand for its customers in New York City and Los Angeles as part of a migration to all-digital. The enhanced services, currently code named “TWC Maxx,” will be rolled-out following the company’s adoption of new standards for network infrastructure and management. The first phase of the new program will be rolled-out in New York City and Los Angeles with plans for a country-wide roll-out in the future. The services are expected to go live sometime in 2014 and will provide increased network reliability, ultra-fast internet and next generation TV services. As part of the announced enhancements, the company would also introduce next-generation video services along with an advanced on demand portal featuring improved search capabilities across its service offering.
It’s not just the big guys making investments: Also in the dealbook is Service Electric Cable TV & Communications, which has selected the Infinera (News - Alert) DTN platform to deploy within its new regional network. The solution will enable the cable company deliver services on-demand, ranging from 155Mbps to 100Gbps.The optical WDM platform includes a fully integrated, non-blocking, colorless, directionless and contentionless ROADM. Designed with Infinera's large scale Photonic Integrated Circuit (PIC) and an integrated OTN switch, the Infinera DTN converts the network capacity into a pool of resources that can be tapped on demand, the company said. By leveraging GMPLS-based network intelligence and a plug-and-play architecture, operators can deliver any service to any customer on-demand.
Clearly, operators are busy making new investments in their networks, to expand capacity and provide better user experiences as online video and other bandwidth-intensive applications put a strain on the pipes. It also looks like that investment in infrastructure is trickling down into the BSS and OSS space: Sandvine (News - Alert) has received a follow-on order in excess of $5 million from a leading North American cable operator. "Recently, our network analytics product has been a key component in enhancing the North American cable market's understanding of the challenges and opportunities presented by popular video applications like Netflix and Hulu,” said Tom Donnelly, Sandvine's COO for sales and global services.
There was one other bit of M&A news this week, beyond Ericsson’s announcement: Datacasting and digital-signage company Novra Technologies said that it is planning to acquire Wegener Corp., in an all-stock transaction The move will improve Wegener's financial stability while strengthening the company's management in all aspects of its operations including sales and marketing, engineering and production. The combined company will offer a suite of capabilities for large-scale networks in radio broadcasting, business music, broadcast video, digital signage and IPTV.
After weathering financial difficulties, Wegener said, "We are working on major projects in Latin America and we believe real progress will be made in the domestic digital signage market during fiscal 2014. Strong improvements have been made in channel partners and digital signage product capability. We are encouraged by the opportunities in the future.”
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