Wilmington, VT-based Duncan Cable TV is making the leap from analog TV to some rather sophisticated technology to offer its subscribers HD TV and some interactive features.
The 2,900-sub operator has picked GoBack TV’s technology, involving switched multicast, CMTS bypass, IPTV set-top boxes and time-shifted TV.
Duncan has provided analog TV over its hybrid fiber coax (HFC) plant since 1972, said its president, Cliff Duncan. And the company has provided Internet with DOCSIS modems for about eight years.
But Duncan has never deployed any set-top boxes for digital TV services.
"HD prompted us," said Duncan. "To do efficiently and in a manner to have hundreds of channels in HD, you’ve got to deploy a switched digital video (SDV) solution."
Duncan is also looking to the future where subscribers will want to watch video on cell phones, PCs and whatever else. "SDV is not broadcast; it’s only one stream at a time," he said. "I just feel that’s another part of this that gives flexibility in the future."
Actually, GoBack’s technology is an IPTV solution, and "SDV" is a cable term, but SDV is almost completely analogous to IP switched multicast, said Rei Brockett, VP of marketing and product management with GoBack TV.
Along with GoBack’s IPTV solution, Duncan is initially deploying set-top boxes from Amino. (For more on cable IPTV, click here).
GoBack’s technology bypasses the CMTS for digital video delivery.
"The platform that GoBack operates requires a DOCSIS modem, that basically communicates operating parameters through the set-top box and CMTS brains in the headend," said Duncan. "However the content goes around that and passes through the network in parallel, therefore not laboring the DOCSIS platform."
"The basic concept (of bypassing the CMTS) is sending IPTV to a set-top using a DOCSIS cable modem," said Brockett. "We have one method."
BigBand Networks and Harmonic have their own CMTS bypass technologies. (For more on CMTS bypass, click here).
For all its SDV and CMTS-bypass technology, GoBack TV’s core intention is time-shifted TV such as start-over, look-back and network-based DVR, said Brockett. Its customers have been smaller operators, both telcos and cable in Europe, but mostly telcos in the United States.
"We have middleware that runs on an HTML browser aimed at IPTV set-tops," said Brockett. "What Duncan is doing is taking a broad sampling of everything we offer."
Those services include 50 linear HDTV channels, an interactive video mosaic, VOD, start-over TV and switched multicast. Duncan will also use GoBack’s middleware to provide guide and navigation tools.
Since Duncan is starting from scratch with digital TV, it doesn’t have to worry about legacy equipment. "It’s a lot cheaper if go to an IPTV set-top compared to an HD cable set-top," said Brockett.