Cable-Tec Expo 2009: Cisco Debuts 'Blue' IPTV Guide For Cable

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Cisco Systems has crafted a guide for IPTV set-tops based on a Web-browser -- dubbed Cisco Blue -- aimed at cable operators pondering the eventual switch from traditional RF video delivery."Cable's transition to IPTV is clearly center-stage," said John Morrow, vice president of strategy and business development for Cisco's Service Provider Video Technology Group.

Cisco Blue provides Internet-enabled widgets, which can dynamically pull in data and video from any source, as well as usual guide functions like grid listings and DVR support. The new IPG "leverages the expertise" the company has from years of developing the Scientific Atlanta Residential Application (SARA) guide, according to Morrow.

In a demo here at Cable-Tec Expo 2009, Cisco has set up an IPTV set-top (model CIS430) connected to a DPC3010 DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem, capable of delivering 300 Mbps downloads with support for eight downstream channels. The Cisco's uBR 100012 CMTS is delivering MPEG-4 HD multicast video to the IPTV box.

The Blue IPG demo features widgets to connect to Yahoo News, Twitter, Flickr as well as weather and stock info. A widget for sends a search query to the e-commerce site based on the program information for the program currently playing.

All the creative elements of Cisco Blue were developed in-house, including the graphical design, menu layout, colors and fonts. Cisco licensed the underlying Web browser code from a third-party firm, which it declined to identify.

IPTV, once dismissed by cable as a telco-specific architecture, is now accepted as the industry's inevitable destination. "IP video distribution will have economic advantages over the distribution we have today," said Charter Communications chief technology officer Marwan Fawaz during the show's opening-session discussion panel Wednesday.

Underscoring that point, John Schanz, executive vice president of national engineering and technical operations, said in his keynote that IP is as widespread as fresh water. "You can laugh," he said, but "there's nothing on the Earth as ubiquitous now as air, water and IP."

Cisco's Morrow, though, noted that different operators will have different deployment cases for IPTV. "It's not a one-size-fits-all world," he said.

Today, Cisco's biggest IPTV customers are telcos, including AT&T, Deutsche Telekom and Swisscom.