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Netgear’s Gateway Goes ‘Headless’

A new “headless” gateway from Netgear that can be customized to serve either cable operators or telcos will place the CE company in head-on competition with Arris and other set-top suppliers as service providers carve out their IP video transition strategies.

Netgear’s HMG7000, being shown off at the IBC Conference in  Amsterdam, is headless in the sense that it does not support direct video outputs. Instead, it’s made to be deployed in basements, garages, and other out-of-site places, take in the service signals from the operator and then redistribute them to IP client devices, legacy QAM set-tops, and connected smart TVs, tablets and other video devices hanging off the home network.

This QAM/IP, headless approach provides operators with a “bridge” to an all-IP services delivery platform, said Naveen Chhangani, director of product management for Netgear’s service provider business unit. “It won’t happen overnight.”

In many ways, Netgear’s headless entry will integration or offer as options many of the features, down to the component level, that grace a similar product introduced by Arris in January, including an Intel Puma6mg DOCSIS 3.0 chip that can bond up to 24 downstream channels, a video transcoding chip from Zenverge, and Entropic-made Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) silicon. One difference is in the Wi-Fi piece. Netgear’s version will use an 802.11ac chip from Qualcomm, Chhangani said. Arris, by comparison, started off with video-optimized Wi-Fi chips from Celeno.

The HMG7000 is also the first gateway from Netgear to integrate NeoMedia, a system developed by Netgear that manages elements such as access rights and the user interface from a cloud server rather than in the light-weight clients that are served on the home network by the gateway.

Depending market targeted, the HMG7000 is also made to use CableCARD or a Smartcard security, and will work with SeaChange’s Nucleus gateway software and support the Reference Design Kit (RDK), the pre-integrated video software bundle that now managed by Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

Netgear expects to have the HMG7000 ready for operator trials by the first half of 2014, but already has the product in lab testing with three different providers on three continents, said Chhangani, noting that Netgear is already responding to gateway requests for quotation in Europe and North America.

Cable operators that already buy DOCSIS modems from Netgear  include Comcast, Liberty Global/Virgin Media, Numericable (France), J:COM (Japan), ONO (Spain) and ComHem (Sweden). Charter Communications is using Netgear Wi-Fi routers for its recently launched in-home networking platform.