The MSO community, at least in the United States, has been less than enthusiastic about CMTS bypass for Internet Protocol (IP) video. But now, BigBand Networks says its VipPass bypass product was just one step in a larger vision to leave the CMTS for voice and data and deliver IP video to multiple screens.

BigBand has announced a new product—the CVEx software control plane—which leaves the existing cable plant in place and makes use of common spectrum to distribute both RF and IP video to existing customer premise equipment.

The software is designed to eliminate dedicated silos for individual services such as video on demand (VOD), switched digital video (SDV) and IPTV.

CVEx permits broadcast, multicast and unicast. John Holobinko, VP of marketing at BigBand, gave this practical, consumer-facing application from an SDV deployment: Someone watching a football game in broadcast, who then stops to take a phone call, will be viewing time-shifted unicast when he returns to the game. The CVEx platform takes the SDV ball and runs with it.

"We’ve leveraged our switched digital technology and extended it to the control plane," said Holobinko. "Operators like statistical multiplexing. This extends it across all channels."

Why bypass?

Encapsulating MPEG video in IP and transporting it through the CMTS as data helps free up bandwidth on the 6 MHz channels for linear video.

But BigBand, among other vendors, has been promoting products that allow video to be transported in IP format to edge QAMs outside of the CMTS. The concept, dubbed "CMTS bypass," has been embraced in Korea where BigBand has a deal with LG Powercom. Harmonic has a deal with SK Broadband using its own approach. (For more, click here and here.)

These Korean operators, however, don’t have the legacy video plant and set-tops of American cable operators.

Engineers at Cox, Time Warner Cable and Charter have been more inclined to upgrade their CMTS systems to handle more IP video rather than deploy a new, bypass technology. (For more, click here.)

BigBand is hoping that operators will see CVEx as a way that video, whether MPEG or MPEG encapsulated in IP can be sent to edge QAMs, managed by the new software, then sent to any screen, whether via a traditional RF set-top box or to an IP-based PC or mobile device.

"For video, it turns bandwidth into a common pool," said Holobinko.

And that may be a good thing moving forward as operators introduce features such as interactive advertising and other video applications.

—Linda Hardesty

The Daily

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