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Cable Show 2011: Motorola Develops Slingbox-Like Device With Comcast

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Motorola Mobility worked with Comcast to develop a broadband device that connects to a Wi-Fi router to let subscribers watch live TV on connected IP devices anywhere around the home.

The Televation device, which had been code-named "Streamer," uses a 1-GHz digital tuner and CableCard to access broadcast TV channels directly from a coax outlet. The device then uses a high-performance transcoder to convert the programming in real-time from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4, as well as changing resolution and bit rate to match the capabilities of the consumer's viewing device.

Motorola collaborated with engineers at Comcast Innovation Labs to develop the device. Unlike EchoStar Technologies' Slingbox, the Televation device is designed for only in-home use.

"Motorola shares our focus on developing innovative consumer entertainment experiences, and we're pleased to have been able to work with them on Televation," Comcast chief technology officer Tony Werner said in a statement. "As the digital home continues to evolve, Televation is one of many tools that MSOs can use to give consumers a more portable TV experience in the home so they can watch anytime and anywhere."

Comcast did not announce plans about offering Televation to customers. Motorola said the device in the final stages of quality-assurance testing, with initial customer deployments expected in the third quarter of 2011.

The Motorola-built device has an Ethernet jack to plug directly into the home Wi-Fi router so the TV show can be wirelessly streamed over IP to any device connected to the home network. To keep the programming secure while it is being streamed, and to preserve the digital rights associated with the program, Televation uses Motorola's SecureMedia IPRM-HN technology, which has been approved by both CableLabs and the DTLA (Digital Transmission Licensing Administrator).

Motorola provides software development kits for both Google Android and Apple iOS development environments to let MSOs develop client apps that work with Televation. In addition, the vendor is providing a reference client application for tablet devices that can be rebranded.

The company did not disclose expected pricing for the unit. "The expectation is cable operators would buy it from us and lease it to customers," senior director of marketing Buddy Snow said.

Motorola may also consider offering a retail version of Televation, Snow added.