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Cisco Targets DTA Trials For Q3

Washington — It will be a few more months in the labs for Cisco’s low-cost DTA 50.

Dave Clark, director of product strategy and management in Cisco’s Service Provider Video Technology Group, says the product will be ready for beta field trials in early Q3.

DTAs are designed to do one thing: convert digital cable TV signals into analog format. DTA stands for “digital transport adapter” (Cisco’s preferred term) or “digital terminal adapter”or even “digital-to-analog” adapter.

The idea is to distribute DTAs to customers who simply won’t upgrade to a digital tier, thereby allowing a big chunk of the analog lineup to get freed up for other users (see FYI, DTA Means More HD).

Comcast has already started rolling out DTAs, supplied by Motorola, Pace and Thomson. Its first DTA market was Portland, and Comcast expects to reclaim the majority of the analog channels in about 50% of its footprint this year. (See Comcast: 50% ‘All-Digital’ in 2009.)

Why is Cisco behind the curve on DTAs? These are just simple devices, right?

Clark acknowledged that Cisco has been later to market with the DTA 50 than others, but says the solution is not not just the end device. The headend piece, which manages the channel maps and performs other functions, is the DTA Control System (DTACS), which communicates with the SA Digital Network Control System (DNCS).

“We wanted something that wouldn’t require changes to the DNCS,” Clark said. “That’s a major issue from an operational perspective.”