New All-Digital Box Helps to Set the Pace

Pace Micro Technology Inc. introduced a new all-digital set-top box that would be priced in the $110 to $125 range, leading a parade of new products that were on display two weeks ago at the Society of Cable & Telecommunications Engineers Cable-Tec Expo.

Pace's DC515 set-top includes a Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification cable modem and would have the capability to deliver VOD and interactive guides. At the Expo, Pace showed the box as it handled video to a TV, video to a PC and video games over the Internet via PlayStation 2.

The digital signaling gateway (DSG) box is an Americanized version of a set-top Pace developed for Spanish cable operator Ono, which uses Motorola Inc.'s conditional-access system, said Pace president Michael Pulli. It's also a response to U.S. cable operators' next-generation architecture plans.

“We're still gathering information to nail down the final spec,” Pulli said. “We wanted to try and spec this out for some particular MSOs. The beauty of this box is that it will do most conditional-access systems.”


Pulli envisions the set-top used as the main box in all digital homes — i.e. homes that until now have had either no set-top or an analog-only box. Pace chief technologist Chris Dinallo said the box sports 8 Megabits of flash memory, 16 Mb of standard-definition random-access memory and a processor at just under 200 MIPS (millions of instructions per second) processor. It has one digital tuner, a DOCSIS 1.1 modem and is DigiCipher II compatible.

“It helps the transition towards all digital, and leverages their DOCSIS and [cable-modem termination system] investments,” Dinallo said. “Currently, out-of-band signaling takes place on the traditional side of the network. This moves everything over to [Internet protocol] and gives you more bandwidth. You can use it for an alternative conditional access scheme.”


SeaChange International Inc. showcased its HDTV video-on-demand recording system. The company was recording an HD feed from ESPN for VOD usage.

SeaChange said the system automatically records and stores HD content, and combines it with VOD metadata.

MidStream Technologies Inc. introduced a new video server, plus software enhancements to its server product line. The new V10 server can deliver 1,900 standard-definition streams per rack unit, with eight full duplex Gigabit Ethernet ports.

The company released a 3.0 version of its MVS-2000 video-server software. Upgrades include near-digital video recorder ingest performance, tiered caching, trick mode performance and standard-definition and HDTV content management. MidStream Technologies Inc. also exhibited its new X2 video-streaming card. The card reduces costs by marrying off-the-shelf PC platforms with MidStream's core streaming engine technology, the company said.


General Bandwidth showcased its G6 voice-over-IP media-gateway product, which is in Cable Television Laboratories Inc.'s current test wave. Director of business development Ken Cavanaugh said the product is in one rollout in the U.S. cable market.

“We bring a differentiated solution to cable operators,” he said. “It scales and is cost-effective for larger MSOs.”

Cavanaugh said General Bandwidth has completed interoperability tests with Nortel Networks Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., Syndeo Corp., Siemens AG, Arris Group Inc., Motorola and Scientific-Atlanta Inc., covering call-management servers and embedded multimedia-terminal adapters.