Beyond Broadband Technology LLC, a consortium of three small cable operators, will form a new company to manufacture MPEG-4 set-top boxes designed by R.L. Drake aimed at helping independent providers move to all-digital video.
BBT was formed by Buford Media Group, Tele-Media Broadband and WinDBreak Cable. In 2006, the group began developing a system intended to provide a cost-effective way for small operators to go all-digital and as well as comply with the Federal Communications Commission's rules requiring "separable security" for cable set-top boxes.
Originally, BBT anticipated its vendor partners delivering a commercially deployable solution before the end of 2007. Drake, based in Franklin, Ohio, announced set-top plans at the 2009 Cable Show but had not delivered production-ready BBT-based units.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. In a joint announcement, BBT CEO and CTO Bill Bauer and R.L. Drake president and CEO Mike Brubaker said that now that the "initial technical development phase" of the set-top box is completed it makes more sense for Drake to focus on headend design and development and hand off the set top box manufacturing to the new company.
The box was designed by Drake in cooperation with BBT and uses secure microchips manufactured by ST Microelectronics. The FCC has indicated the BBT's downloadable-security solution would comply with its separable-security rules.
BBT also said it is in discussions with other manufacturers to build various models of set-top boxes enabled for its solution, but didn't identify them.
In addition, BBT is working with Avail-TVN, which distributes more than 250 standard-definition and 64 HD channels as well as VOD and pay-per-view content, to incorporate a conditional-access stream compatible with the BBT downloadable-security design.
The companies made the announcement to coincide with The Independent Show this week in Baltimore.
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