The notion of "hybrid" is nothing new to cable technologists, who have a knack for combining otherwise disparate technologies. Consider fiber optics and coaxial cable.

As the industry’s HFC architecture and related network infrastructure continue to evolve, that word has been popping up in new places, such as the home, or more specifically, the set-top box.
 
In a deployment announced last December and discussed more fully at last week’s IPTV World Forum event, Danish MSO Telia Stofa made Motorola hybrid cable/IP set-top boxes part of its overall layering of IP services on its existing cable platform.

The first IP-based service enabled by this Motorola VIP 1920 series set-top was VOD, using the box’s IP communication path. Now in test phase, according to Telia Technical Manager Thomas Helbro, are StartOver-style services.

Other features are promised by way of the set-top’s KreaTV software, which came into Motorola’s hands as a result of its early 2006 acquisition of Swedish-based Kreatel. Flexible and cheap A box that does both IPTV and DVB-C tuning is more expensive than a pure-play IPTV device, but the hybrid approach fit with the No. 2 Danish MSO’s philosophy. "Flexibility is a key word for us," said Helbro.

The limited extent of Telia’s IP-based video services plays into that universal trait of MSOs: careful attention to costs. In this case, that would encompass the relative expense of DOCSIS 3.0 vs. DVB-C technology.

"We don’t think that IP streaming is cost effective," Helbro said.

Apart from Motorola CPE, Helbro said the others parts of Telia’s self-integrated platform included conditional access from Irdeto Access, edge QAM modulators from Harmonic, flash-based VOD servers from Edgeware, on-demand session resource automation from EventIS. Additional partners were Teleste, Tandberg, AppearTV and Ruwido, Helbro said.

This tendency – especially in Europe – to think in terms of multiple or hybrid technologies also derives from the dual cable/telco nature of many of these providers. The leading Danish cable operator, for instance, TDC Cable TV, maintains both copper and coax access plants and has deployed both DSL and DOCSIS technologies. And as discussed in this interview in late 2006, TDC was an early dabbler in television over IP technologies.

In another IPTV World Forum presentation, Multimedia Polska Director of Strategy and Development Bartlomiej Kasinksi outlined his company’s deployment of IP-based TV services, notably using a single CA solution from Latens, over a plant that he said is 80 percent cable and 20 percent telco.

– Jonathan Tombes

The Daily

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