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Dutch MSO Plans HD VOD Service

After deploying a video-on-demand service in the second quarter of this year, the Netherlands’s largest cable operator Ziggo is planning to add an HD VOD offering.

To deploy a VOD service that can be easily upgraded to HD, Ziggo used Motorola’s B-1 Video Server and Stream Commander management software, according to Jim Owens, senior product marketing manager of on-demand video at Motorola.

“It is a solid state video server that is designed to be extremely high performance and extremely scalable,” Owens said.

Being able to easily expand server and streaming capacity is very important for high-def VOD because HD content typically uses four times as much bandwidth as MPEG-2 standard-definition video and two to three times as much as MPEG-4 SD, Owens adds.

No exact timetable has been set for the launch of a HD content on demand. Ziggo deployed SD VOD in the areas once served by Casema in the second quarter of 2008 and is planning to deploy the VOD offering to Ziggo’s entire footprint by the end of the year.

Casema, which had served about 1.4 million homes, merged with Dutch operators Multikabel and @Home to form Ziggo, which now has about 3.3 million subscribers.

Ziggo’s plans are notable because the move to VOD and high-definition has gone much slower in Europe than the U.S.

European cable operators only began deploying HD linear channels within the last year and few providers offer HD on demand in Europe.

Owens said HD on demand “is relatively new” in the region but “it is certainly on everyone’s road map. It is something every operator is thinking about and trying to figure out the best way to work into their systems.”

To help with those deployments, Motorola also introduced new products and enhancements to its on demand platform at IBC last week.

New VOD product announcements included the ODM2000 on demand media blade. Designed to improve the performance and scalability of Motorola’s B1 video server, the ODM2000 is the industry’s first hybrid solid-state ingest and streaming module and it uses both DRAM and Flash Memory, making it particularly suited for ingesting live content for advanced services like Time Warner’s Start Over, said Owens.

The ODM2000 will not be available until the first quarter of 2009.