It’s pretty, it’s shiny, it’s red, and it does MPEG-4 rate shaping.
The new Motorola “headend 2.0” solution launched at the ANGA Cable Show this week plugs some serious holes in the European cable infrastructure market, and it does so after a period of years when Motorola’s involvement in the space has been limited. For one thing, the solution (details in a moment) supports DVB SimulCrypt conditional access (CA) technology. Simulcrypt is used by ninety-odd percent of the European cable operators, and until now Motorola hasn’t focused its technology efforts to support the Simulcrypt CA scheme, hence the limited presence in Europe.
More importantly, however, the new Motorola solution offers a capability that is virtually non-existent from other European cable infrastructure providers: MPEG-4 rate shaping. Unlike in the US, all HD content in Europe is delivered using MPEG-4 rather than MPEG-2. With MPEG-4 rate shaping capabilities in the headend, European operators can now do a lot more to optimize bandwidth while mitigating the risk of packet dropping. Motorola is demonstrating the solution by delivering four MPEG-4 HD streams and four MPEG-2 SD streams over a single QAM channel. It would certainly be possible to cram more into the space of one QAM channel, but the purpose here is to show that the quality of all eight video streams isn’t compromised through rate shaping. Operators gain capacity. Consumers continue to get high-quality HD and SD video.
The other upside of the Motorola solution is that it’s made up of several pieces that all work well together and support the widely-deployed network management platform DataMiner. DataMiner provides a view into the entire operation of a cable provider’s network for monitoring and diagnostic activities.
So what makes up the Motorola “headend 2.0”?
- The CAP1000 2.0 CherryPicker application platform with MPEG-4 and MPEG-2 rate shaping
- The APEX1000 high-density EdgeQAM with five active output ports and one standby port for fail-over
- The REM1000 Redundant Edge Matrix (aka switch) for automated fail-over to the sixth port of the APEX1000
Glad you asked, right? ;) According to folks on the ground at ANGA, the new Motorola solution is getting a lot of attention from European operators.