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New Set-Tops and Deals for SA, Motorola

Scientific Atlanta Inc. announced what’s next for its line of digital set-tops last week, introducing a new series of boxes that will work with the “Next Generation Network Architectures” cable operators are now starting to deploy.

At the same time, chief rival Motorola Inc. cut a deal with the National Cable Television Cooperative to supply digital, high-definition television and digital video recorder set-tops.

The next-generation boxes mark SA’s first new set-top since Cisco Systems Inc. acquired the company for $6.9 billion in February.

The new line includes the 4500HDC High-Definition CableCard Set-Top and the 8500HDC High-Definition Digital Video Recorder CableCard Set-Top.

Based on the OpenCable Applications Platform developed by CableLabs, the two new set-tops use the removable Multi-Stream CableCard security module. They are powered by a nimble Linux operating system that can more quickly fire up applications and has the ability to decode advanced H.264 video streams.

In addition, the boxes will support the new Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) Set-Top Gateway specification, allowing box commands to flow over a built-in DOCSIS 2.0 cable modem. That will open the door for future Internet Protocol-based delivery services.

SA also unveiled its new Explorer 940 compact digital-only interactive set-top box. Designed to help cable operators move toward the simulcast of digital and analog signals, the box will offer enhanced basic-digital features at a lower cost than its larger cousins, or provide a second digital-TV outlet for a home. Pricing was not disclosed.

Meanwhile, Motorola also marked a first, inking a deal to supply the National Cable Television Cooperative’s more than 1,000 independent operators with all-digital, high-definition and digital video recorder boxes. The co-op’s 6,500 systems reach more than 8 million subscribers nationwide.

The Motorola agreement will allow those operators to more quickly and cheaply supply boxes for high-demand services such as HD and digital video recording.

Under the pact, Motorola will supply the DCT2500E, a basic interactive set-top that adds home media network capabilities; the DCT6412 and DCT3412, both HD DVR boxes; and the new DCT 3080, a standard-definition DVR box.