The buzzwords swarming around the edge QAM releases on the show floor were high-density, universal, redundant, and efficient with a few mentions of interoperability-and even deployments-thrown in for good measure.

C-COR stressed the low power consumption of its CHP Max5000 eQAM module, which it says is 40 percent more efficient than "typical" QAMs. Joe Matarese, C-COR senior vice president, advanced technology, said the CHP-eQAM generates less heat, meaning less power needed to cool it, and generally doesn’t require an electrical upgrade to the headend.

"Forty percent sounds like a nice little neat number, but it has a lot of impact on both operational and capital expenditures associated with power consumption," Matarese said.

Five eQAM modules fit into the company’s CHP chassis, providing up to 120 QAM channels per 2RU. The management platform communicates with the modules, enabling more automated configuration, he said.

Harmonic separately announced at Expo that Cox Communications is using the NSG edgeQAM to expand its VOD service in Kansas and Arkansas. Launched in Q4 2006, the NSG 9000 was designed to support switched broadcast, modular CMTS and IPTV.

BigBand Networks announced that it had shipped more than 70,000 EdgeQAMs in 2006 and is showing its universal edge QAM platform in the booth.

RGB Networks focused on density, noting that its Universal Scalable Modulator supports up to eight QAM channels per RF port, a total of 128 X 6 MHz QAM channels in a 1RU chassis, while Vecima Networks talked about the multiple layers of redundancy in its HyperQAM, from Gigabit Ethernet ports to power supplies all the way to the fans. "If one fan goes down, an alarm rings, you pull the one fan out, the other fans keep pushing … you don’t lose down time that way," said Scott Davis, director of technology strategy. The Vecima chassis holds four QAM cards for up to 128 QAMs in 2RU and is software upgradeable.

Cisco Systems showed the first in a series of universal eQAM products. The RF Gateway 1 offers up to 48 D-RFI compliant QAM channels in 1RU. There are four QAM channels per RF output port, which Andrew Page, Cisco product manager, said is the "sweet spot" for operators right now.

"Freeing up more adjacent frequencies on a cable network is not a simple feat today …. It is extremely unlikely that anyone could free up more than four frequencies in a contiguous fashion today to deploy something," he said.

"More QAMs per rack unit coming out of some of the other products are not effective because they either force you do eight QAMs contiguous or 12 QAMs or even 16 QAMs contiguous, and none of the operators have got (the frequencies) … (While) it is theoretically available, it is practically not available," Page added, noting that research indicates that the "sweet spot" will move to eight QAMs per spigot by 2010 because of the reclamation of frequency among other things.

Tandberg Television also entered the fray, with a demonstration of its universal Edge QAM EQ8096, which it described as high on density and reliability, and low on power consumption.

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