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BigBand Aims At “Converged Video” Services

BigBand Networks, the leading provider of switched-digital video (SDV) technology to cable operators, has created a new form of “control plane” software to help operators juggle linear program channels, video-on-demand content and broadband video over their precious network bandwidth.

BigBand’s new Converged Video Exchange (CVEx) is designed to provide a unified means to deliver and manage linear and non-linear video services across the network to both traditional MPEG set-top boxes (STBs) and IP devices, including PCs, next-generation set-tops and mobile devices, and remove the boundaries between disparate video service types. It dynamically controls the allocation of all RF and IP video services within a single bandwidth pool, and provides an overall viewer of service usage and resource utilization.

Operators want to launch new converged services but aren’t going to switch to IP-based operations overnight, says BigBand VP of marketing John Holobinko as they have billions of dollars invested in an installed base of RF transmission equipment and set-tops. So they are looking for flexibility to launch and manage new video services in the most efficient way possible.

“The clear message to us is they want to be able to deploy services to any device without the restrictions of current networks,” says Holobinko.

BigBand’s solution is to eliminate the practice of placing different services, such as linear TV, VOD, SDV and broadband video streams, into bandwidth silos. That said, CVEx only deals with video services, and leaves voice-over-IP and convention broadband applications such as Web browsing and email alone.

“It manages the applications and network resources in an optimal way, to take away restrictions,” says Holobinko. “It takes all the bandwidth and turns it into a shared pool as opposed to specialized areas for your VOD service, switched digital or IP [video].When a customer makes a request CVEx understands what resources are needed to meet that request, and this is done in a fraction of a second.”

CVEx, which will be available in the fall, will be sold on a success-based model, with the price dependent on how many applications and how many set-top or IP clients it is being used to manage. BigBand expects it to be installed at an operator in the second half of this year.

Holobinko notes that CVEx is particularly well suited to the “TV Everywhere” broadband video concept that is being tested by Time Warner and Comcast, as it includes reporting tools to let advertisers know their content is being watched. It’s also applicable to advanced advertising applications, as it can direct an ad-decision system to switch from a broadcast program stream to a “multicast” switched-digital video stream in order to deliver targeted commercials.