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Another Motorola D3 Certification in CW75

These Cablelabs certifications are becoming old hat. In the recent Cert Wave 75, Motorola notched another DOCSIS 3.0 certification win with the SB6121. An update on the SB6120, the new modem has a swankier look and is powered by an Energy Star qualified adapter. Specs include the ability to do channel bonding with four downstream and four upstream channels, 1 GHz capable tuners, and support for IPv4 and IPv6.

Motorola Q2 Earnings

Motorola announced Q2 financial results today. Here are some of the highlights from the Home business.

In Home, second-quarter sales were $886 million, up 6 percent from the previous quarter. Sales of set-tops increased from the first quarter. Sales of video and access infrastructure also increased from the first quarter and accounted for more than 25 percent of Home total sales. This reflects growing demand for high-definition content and channel offerings as well as on-demand services.

Motorola remains focused on whole-home network solutions, 3D TV, advanced interactive services and converged experiences such as uniform delivery of content to a multi-screen environment.

Other highlights from the quarter include:

  • Launched 3D TV set-top solution in North America and a next-generation HD IP set-top that supports fixed-mobile convergence solutions with KDDI in Japan
  • Introduced Motorola M3 Media Server family, which delivers multimedia content and services across television, PCs and mobile devices
  • Introduced Medios suite of software solutions for content distribution across multi-screen environments and advanced on-demand services
  • Launched DCX700, a next-generation, cost-effective HD set-top solution that supports applications for whole-home content sharing

The 3D TV Road Ahead

Two stories on 3D this week point in opposite directions for the future of the technology. On the one hand, Panasonic introduced a 3D camcorder designed to get consumers interested in producing their own 3D content. Even if it takes a while for the studios to stockĀ  their own libraries, the idea is that consumers will still be able to enjoy their own home videos in 3D. On the other hand, The Wrap, a publication covering Hollywood, has posted data suggesting that the revenue share from 3D movie screenings is declining. In other words, more consumers may be choosing to watch films in 2D rather than the more expensive 3D showings. There could be several reasons for that: lower quality 3D production with some films, consumer belt-tightening, even concern that some children will be scared by certain movies in 3D. But whatever the reason, if the numbers are right, then studios and distributors need to look more closely at what makes certain 3D films successful, and learn how to replicate that success for film and television in the future.

New Multi-Room DVR: Pause Live TV, Record Anywhere

UPDATED: Now with images

The multi-room DVR launches continue to roll. Cincinnati Bell is now deploying Motorola’s software-based whole-home DVR solution, giving subscribers access to DVR features on up to eight client boxes over an in-home MoCA network. Unlike other multi-room solutions, the Cincinnati Bell deployment lets users not only watch recordings on non-DVR set-tops, but also schedule recordings, manage multiple DVR libraries, and even pause live TV. This is far from typical. And it’s all done with Motorola software.

There are a few technical notes of interest. First, Motorola is doing the user interface for this deployment. Since it’s designed to look like the rest of the Rovi UI, this isn’t revolutionary for consumers, but it is an interesting add-on for a smaller operator that doesn’t want to manage the interface and isn’t contractually obligated elsewhere. Second, and speaking of Rovi, the solution for Cincinnati Bell works with both legacy and new Rovi guides. For those in the industry, it works with A25 and A28, making it widely accessible across the operator’s subscriber base. Third, the Motorola technology is entirely software-based, which means subscribers can order the multi-room feature for existing set-tops in the home and get the upgrade with a simple code download. It creates great up-sell opportunities for Cincinnati Bell.

It’s taken a while, but multi-room DVR finally appears to have gained some momentum among providers. Big and small.

Motorola’s New Hosted Switched Digital Solution

Timed to coincide with the Independent Show kicking off today, Motorola has announced a new hosted switched digital video solution for small, independent cable operators. The idea is to provide SDV benefits to operators who don’t have the necessary equipment to do switched digital on their own. In an effort to stay competitive, particularly with their HD offerings, smaller providers are feeling the bandwidth crunch as much as their larger cable brethren. However, there’s a cost barrier in implementing SDV, and sometimes a barrier in managing the day-to-day operations of a switched network as well. The new hosted SDV solution aims to reduce significantly both the cost and complexity of switched digital video, making it possible for independent operators to reclaim bandwidth and expand their services to meet subscriber demand.

The really interesting part about the new SDV offering is how it works. Motorola operates the NAS-RAC system out of San Diego, which provides access to a DAC and associated equipment to independent operator customers through a VPN. The SDV solution works in the same way, with the primary switched digital equipment hosted and managed by Motorola out of NAS-RAC. Operator customers still deploy and maintain the edge QAMs in their individual systems, but they don’t have to take on the cost or hassle of adding new SDV-specific hardware. [Clarification note: the hosted SDV solution also works for operators with their own small DACs who want to offload only the SDV infrastructure components.]

Prior to launch, the hosted SDV solution was tested extensively in Motorola labs. If you think of an average NAS-RAC system as supporting two thousand set-tops, the number of channel changes during peak usage time nets out at about twenty channel changes per second. The new SDV system, however, was tested at up to twenty five times that rate. That means the hosted solution can support up to five hundred channel changes per second, more than enough for any real-world deployment.

Motorola Works with China on Next-Gen Network

Motorola this week signed a cooperative agreement with the Broadcasting and Television Planning Institute under China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) to further efforts in creating next-generation broadcast (NGB) services in the country. Although the press release can only be read in Chinese, the gist of the news is that Motorola will provide equipment and professional services to help transform existing one-way networks into two-way networks that support advanced TV applications and high-speed Internet access. SARFT has already announced plans to deploy its next-gen network to 200 million families in ten years, with promised services including HDTV, 3D television, and interactive TV.

China is not a new market for Motorola. The company has been heavily invested in the area for years, and has deployed everything from ONTs, to set-tops, to VOD services. The new agreement under SARFT is just the latest
milestone for Motorola in a region where TV and broadband services continue to undergo massive change.

Industry News Round-Up

Being on vacation this week, I’ll take this opportunity to do a round-up of industry news I’m just catching up on. Enjoy the review.

  • The FCC Raises the Broadband Bar: According to a report it issued today, the FCC now defines broadband speeds as a minimum of 4 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream.
  • Comcast Frank is Leaving!: Frank Eliason (famous @ComcastCares tweeter) announced on the Comcast blog that he’s moving on to a new opportunity.
  • The SCTE gets a CTO: Daniel Howard, co-author of two early DOCSIS specifications, was hired this week to act as the first ever chief technology officer of the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers.
  • Set-Top Shipments Up 9% in 2009: Yup. Despite the recession, set-top shipments continued to rise in 2009 according to IMS Research.
  • Tech Support Biz is Up: Parks Associates reports that demand for remote tech support services is on the rise, and projects the industry to generate $5 billion by 2014.