Cable operators are in various stages of transitioning to IP at the network headend. Traditionally, satellite receivers (and encoders, and other local media sources) have used a specification called ASI to transport content to the edge network. But since about 2007 there’s been a steady migration to IP. Today, Motorola has announced a new ASI-to-Gigabit-Ethernet (GigE) Bridge, the Motorola AGB240.
There are other solutions for translating ASI to IP, but they are tied into more expensive equipment with different primary functions. For example, Motorola sells the SEMV8, designed for encryption and modulation, and the Cherrypicker line of products, designed for high-density video processing and splicing. Both can be and are used in some networks solely for the purpose of ASI-to-IP conversion. That’s a bit mind-boggling given the other functionality available and the relative cost. Now, however, the AGB240 will do the same job for a lot less. And at only 20 watts per rack unit, the AGB240 uses a lot less power. Up to 90% less.
Another benefit: operators currently using SEM and Cherrypicker products can now re-deploy them for their intended purposes, supporting advanced services like VOD and targeted ad insertion.
One thing to remember, the IP migration at the headend is different from proposed migrations to IP leading out to the home. However, operators certainly need IP at the headend if they plan to make a conversion to full or even hybrid IP delivery to the home in the future. In the meantime, IP at the headend provides both more reliability and more flexibility within networks today.