WooshCom Corp. has sold Time Warner Cable and Bresnan Communications on a battery kit designed to extend the life of Motorola IRT-1000 and IRT-2000 receiver/modulators.

Together, these MSOs will save approximately $3.5 million through their purchases; total savings for operators, large and small, to date has reached $5.4 million, according to the inventor of the kit.

"There is approximately $2,500 per IRT in savings. A typical headend for a small operator has at least 10. There is $25,000 in potential savings at that headend," said Bruce Marler, president and CTO, WooshCom. Lost keys When an IRT battery drains down and the device powers off, the encryption and decryption keys are lost. Only the manufacturer can reestablish them. Motorola has charged between $900-$1,000 to fix these IRTs.

"For smaller systems, the cost implications of having to repair eight or 10 of those receivers is significant … Bruce (Marler) has identified a need and responded to it with this customized kit," said Alan Tschirner, vice president, hardware, NCTC, adding that Motorola has now issued an end-of-life notice. The association is making members aware of the product.

Because the battery in the IRT backs up the encryption and decryption keys so that they remain present if the power is turned off, the WooshCom kit extends the life of the IRTs by allowing the backup mechanism to operate.

"It’s one of those scary issues that if you don’t take the bull by the horns and be preemptive, you could wake up to a very big and nasty surprise where some or all of the IRTs in your headend could have turned into boat anchors overnight," Marler said. Capacity, install The shelf life of the original battery is 10 years; WooshCom’s battery is said to have 50 percent more capacity. The life span of both, however, depends on factors including whether or not the unit remains plugged in.

"The battery will drain down much more quickly when it is not plugged in. That battery can go  bad in a matter of a few months when left unplugged," Marler said.

The battery kits are useful even for operators upgrading to 256-QAM. They can buy a new modulator, but continue using the receiver portion of the IRT, which would be more expensive to replace, Marler said. "You don’t need to throw the everything out."

The kits were designed to be "dummy proof," without any need to de-authorize and re-authorize. "It takes about five to 10 minutes per IRT to perform the replacement," Marler said.

– Monta Monaco Hernon

Read more news and analysis on Communications Technology‘s Web site at http://www.cable360.net/ct/news/.

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