BigBand Shrinks MSP, Adds Linear Video-Processing Blade

BigBand Networks, in its last hurrah as an independent company, will debut a smaller version of its Media Services Platform video-processing system for pay-TV operators along with a blade dedicated to traditional linear TV functions at next week's SCTE Cable-Tec Expo.

BigBand is in the process of being acquired by Arris in a deal worth $53 million. Arris anticipates closing the transaction around Nov. 21.

At Cable-Tec Expo in Atlanta, BigBand will show the MSP1200, which is roughly half the density of its initial MSP2800 system. The MSP1200 is seven rack units high with capacity for five payload slots compared with the MSP2800, which is 13 RU and has 12 available slots.

"We've re-centered on what customers want today," said Jay Chambers, vice president and chief architect for cable in BigBand's office of the CTO.

The MSP1200 has a maximum capacity of 1,200 QAMs, compared with the MSP2800's support for up to 3,800 QAMs. "It's a little bit more stomachable for the smaller hubs," Chambers said. "You don't want to kill a gnat with a cannon. Not every customer needs thousands of QAMs in a chassis, or they don't want to consume 13 rack units. They're the customers who lean toward things being modular anyway."

The MSP1200 is in lab qualifications with customers, Chambers said.

AT&T is among operators that have deployed the MSP. The telco is using the BigBand platform to deliver local ads for its U-verse TV service.

Along with the smaller form-factor MSP chassis, BigBand will demo a video-processing blade (code-named "MSP B") that will handle functions provided by BigBand's legacy Broadband Media Router, such as grooming, splicing and muxing. The blade is early lab qualifications.

"It can take over all those legacy functions, in one platform with one control plane," Chambers said.

In addition, BigBand will show traditional MPEG-2 ad splicing occurring alongside dynamic ad insertion for adaptive bit-rate IP video in the same physical MSP system.

"There's a big push toward targeting, whether that's on the set-top box or on a lean-forward, unmanaged device like an iPad," Chambers said. "What the operators don't want is two different architectures to do that."

In a letter to employees last month following the announcement of the Arris bid, BigBand CEO Amir Bassan-Eskenazi said he expects Arris to keep all of BigBand's existing products "and all of our roadmap commitments." In addition, he said, there is no plan to close any of BigBand's current locations. 

Arris said in an investor presentation that it plans to "optimize cost structure consistent with current sales levels" at BigBand. Arris is aiming for $7 million in quarterly opex savings by the third quarter of 2012, which will be "primarily realized" in the first quarter of 2012. Arris hasn't disclosed expected headcount reductions at BigBand.