RGB Puts Intelligence Into Processing

Imedia founder Adam Tom is back as president and CEO of RGB Networks, a company offering operators an intelligent-processor video platform that’s designed to maximize the efficiency of cable’s video networks.

RGB — which stands for the red, blue and green color bars associated with video programming — sports a processor that can handle a variety of functions, according to Tom. They range from placing more channels into single quadrature amplitude modulation devices to inserting digital ads into video-on-demand streams to aiding the all-digital transition and handling MPEG-4 to MPEG-2 conversions.

“The goal is to help MSOs build new value-added services,” he said.

For instance, Tom said that while MSOs have launched VOD, they lack the ability to manage bandwidth to its greatest efficiency, conduct ad insertion or handle variable bit rates. RGB’s Video Intelligence Architecture is designed to handle all manner of video inputs — digital-ad insertion, advanced codecs, switched broadcast, linear channels, VOD and HDTV — and to transmit the content using less bandwidth.

“We can deliver 50% more digital streams per QAM channel,” said RGB vice president of business development Lou Mastrocola. An operator could have 15 to 16 services in a QAM channel that normally handle 10, effectively saving one QAM in a four QAM setup, he noted.

In terms of working with digital-ad insertion equipment, the technology effectively splices commercials into VOD content, he said.

“It lowers prices for splicing by 50%, and operators can do multiple zones,” Mastrocola said.

The architecture can also digitally encode analog signals then convert that video back to analog at hub sites on a channel-by channel basis. The single operation also saves MSOs on maintenance costs when looking at analog to digital conversions, he said.

The hardware also provides for MPEG-4 to MPEG-2 (Moving Picture Experts Group) transcoding, and vice versa.

“We can deliver transcoded MPEG-4 to MPEG-2 boxes,” Mastrocola said. Although the MPEG-4 specification will save operators on bandwidth and is regarded as superior to MPEG-2, the number of legacy MPEG-2 set-tops in the field has slowed the MPEG-4 transition. But RGB’s hardware could help speed that process, executives said.

The processor will be available for trials in the third quarter, with availability scheduled for late this year.

He also said the box will reduce per stream costs to $70 apiece — well below today’s typical price for VOD streams.