The results are in for Communications Technology’s 6th annual Readers’ Choice Awards. The winners in their respective categories are: Advanced video S-A’s MCP-100 Media Center builds on the company’s Explorer 8300 digital video recorder (DVR) platform and adds a built-in DVD burner. Explorer 8300 features include a multi-tuner DVR, optional high definition (HD) DVR, and Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) set-top gateway (DSG) and Multi-Room DVR capability. Said one of our judges: "This DVR really will cause a mindshift of the consumer concerning advanced technology in the home provided by the cable operators. Recordable DVD built in? Awesome." The DVD burning function for standard definition (SD) and HD content lets consumers record to writeable DVDs and play off-the-shelf CDs and DVDs. It also is designed to respect key content protection flags, including "copy freely," "copy once" and "copy never" tags. "Giving MSO customers the ability to play off-the-shelf CDs and DVDs containing either standard-definition or high-definition content will be a huge step forward in the highly-competitive DVR arms race," said another judge. Cable telephony Motorola’s Multi-Line Multimedia Terminal Adapter (ML-MTA) aims directly at the commercial services market. The ML-MTA is an embedded MTA (EMTA) designed for bundled voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) and data services for the small home office (SOHO) and small to medium enterprise (SME). It supports four phone lines via RJ-11 jacks and data via either 10/100BaseT Ethernet or universal serial bus (USB) port. Voice is prioritized over data so that the user can talk and surf simultaneously without reduction in voice quality. One judge described the ML-MTA as a "great multi-line solution for the SOHO market. (It) will help MSOs to launch more VoIP-based small business services that may have been held back due to multi-line restrictions." The ML-MTA also has integrated battery backup, which another judge called "all-important," and supports remote battery monitoring. The subscriber can install the unit himself-it’s plug and play-so there’s no need to dispatch an installer. Of course, the main appeal of commercial services is increased revenue per subscriber. "Looks like a nice, simple solution for the SME/SOHO markets," said one judge. "Four telephone lines plus data would generate nice monthly revenue from business subscribers." Motorola estimates that using this product for a business customer can help operators generate three to four times the revenue of a residential customer. High-Speed Data Sandvine’s Network Integrity Suite is designed to mitigate and eliminate malicious traffic on broadband data networks. One judge described it as an "excellent tool for operators. Practically a mission critical necessity in order to maintain a high quality network." Echoing the sentiment, another judge said, "This type of product will become a necessity as the customers’ expectation and experience gain focus." The NIS combines behavioral and signature-based network intelligence to identify and cleanse network flows of worms, spam, domain name system (DNS) attacks and denial-of-service (DoS) traffic in real time. Infected traffic flows can be rate-limited, shaped or blocked. The suite also features a service component that provides trend and threat information from a Sandvine database of more than 100 deployments, providing advanced warning of major malicious traffic trends and events. Said another judge: "(This) represents advancement in a critical area of growing concern for the industry. Not only is it necessary to have visibility to malicious traffic, it is an absolute must that this traffic is tunneled away and isolated." Sandvine guarantees that the suite will eliminate 98 percent of malicious traffic on the network before it reaches subscribers. "Offering a 98 percent guaranteed SLA (service level agreement) is unheard of—proving Sandvine really believes in their combination of signature-based and heuristics-based technologies," said another judge. Operations support systems Acterna’s PathTrak WebView software V1.0 is a stand-alone enhancement to the company’s PathTrak return path monitoring system. It provides remote access to live spectrum analyzers and reports based on performance history via the Internet, from outside the corporate local area network (LAN), allowing troubleshooting from any location with an Internet connection. "Operators have wanted this for years—the ability to monitor their upstreams, acknowledge alarms and provide remote troubleshooting," one judge said. "With the Web interface, they can now do it anytime, anywhere, with any Internet-connected PC." Acterna is targeting the software toward troubleshooting and preventive maintenance of upstream-intensive advanced services, such as VoIP. It’s intended to reduce time spent troubleshooting and analyzing data for trending and also generates trending reports for preventive maintenance planning. Another judge said: "The key to reliability is pro-active network management. This tool provides increased visibility by making it easier to access and by broadening the availability of the tools." Said another, "This product provides for the maintenance of critical upstream parameters that are necessary to provide advanced content over our HFC (hybrid fiber/coax) plants." Outside plant To judge by the several wireless and commercial services workshops at Expo, both topics are hot right now. CommScope’s AirBridge Wireless Plant Extension covers both of those bases. It consists of a radio system that can transmit a data channel to a receiver to deliver cable modem or other services, such as VoIP, to subscribers in areas where wired plant doesn’t reach because of zoning, cost or construction delays. One judge called it "a great tool to offer services to businesses quickly and at a low cost," and another called it "another good option to allow operators to bridge last-mile gaps to provide commercial data services." The AirBridge is plug-and-play and transparent to the underlying signal that it carries because it doesn’t process the signal other than up- and down-conversion and does not rely on DOCSIS for upstream noise mitigation or other operations. It can carry any service that fits within the defined bandwidth, including DOCSIS and T-1. It can operate at any RF input channel and transmit at any of four frequencies in the 5.8 GHz UNII band, from point to point or point to multipoint, and is remotely configurable. Another judge described it as a "great new product that can support all digital transport protocols across a very wide range of RF frequencies—highly flexible configuration with a wide upstream frequency range." It pays to voteNot only vendors benefit from CT’s Readers’ Choice Awards. Expo attendees who voted also were registered for a drawing to win an iPod. The three lucky winners were Randy Meeks of NPG Cable, Scott Lumley of CommScope, and Jim Watkins of Terayon. Congratulations to them, our product winners and all of our finalists. Ron Hendrickson is managing editor of Communications Technology. Reach him at rhendrickson@accessintel.com. Thanks to our Judges A panel of engineers winnowed the nominations down to 14 finalists. We thank them for the time they spent reviewing all the entries. Our 2004 judges were:

The Daily

Subscribe

ESPN College Football Update

The college football Bowl Season is getting closer, but first we have to make it through conference championships.

Read the Full Issue
The Skinny is delivered on Tuesday and focuses on the cable profession. You'll stay in the know on the headlines, topics and special issues you value most. Sign Up