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The Cable Show 2011: Aurora Networks Inks MDU with China's DRFT

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In a move that cable optics transmission specialist Aurora Networks hopes will give it a leg up in China's China's rapidly growing digital cable market, the company has signed a memorandum of understanding (MDU) for technical cooperation with Radio, Film and Television Design and Research Institute (DRFT) in China, an organization that is part of the government regulator, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT).

As part of the agreement DRFT and Aurora will set up a joint laboratory where Aurora will provide technical training on its fiber optic transmission systems and consult with DRFT and operators on future network design projects. Based on the information DRFT provides, Aurora will generate prototype network design recommendations for Chinese cable operators to follow.

As part of its duties, DRFT must approve network designs and upgrades among operators in China.

The laboratory is expected to open by the end of July and will remain operational for the next six to 12 months as Chinese operators test possible designs for upgrading their networks to offer triple play services.

The agreement comes at a time when the Chinese multichannel and telecommunications industries are undergoing rapid change.

SARFT has put through rules requiring most cable operators to consolidate into one province wide MSO, and the Chinese government has approved regulations allow cable operators, mobile service providers and telcos the right to launch triple play services, a move that could create more competition for cable operators in the video space and open up new opportunities for them in voice and data services.

Some telcos have already launched trials for IPTV, though no permanent licenses have been granted, and cable operators are looking for ways to upgrade their networks to offer triple play service, or as they are known in China, "three network convergence" designs.

Ed Feghali, vice president of sales, Asia, Aurora Networks notes that they have been active in the Chinese market for four years, doubling their sales last year, and that the new agreement opens up a significant opportunity for even larger growth. 

"China has over 170 million cable subs with only 8% of them on a two way network, so the opportunity is huge," explains Feghali in an interview.

Aurora will be working closely with operators in a 10 cities as they test triple play services through the end of 2012.

"We will be helping in looking at the existing infrastructure and developing designs for the upgrades," which will give them both knowledge of the operators needs and an opportunity to demonstrate solutions to them, he adds.

Operators are expected to select standards and solutions for building triple play networks in 2013.

"Aurora Networks is respected as a leading provider of cutting-edge optical fiber technologies," added Mr. Xu Jiaqi, president of DRFT in a statement. "Their knowledge and expertise in this area will help to increase our local cable operators understanding of both the operational and network deployment techniques that utilize fiber optics to accommodate next generation services. The "win-win" cooperation between Aurora Networks and DRFT will produce significant benefits in China's next-generation network development."

Separately, at this week's Cable Show, Aurora will unveil two new technologies, a new technology platform to increase upstream bandwidth and a high-performance full spectrum DWDM transmitter series.

This DWDM transmitter series supports full analog channel loading up to 550 MHz with QAM channel loading up to 1 GHz, along with the eventual transition to full QAM loading when required.

The unit is being pitched as ideal for node segmentation and a cost-effective technique to significantly increase capacity-per-subscriber over longer distances without expensive fiber construction.