RGB Unit Delivers 1,280 Channels

Houston -- With an eye on the growth of “personal TV,” RGB Networks developed a video modulator that can deliver as many as 1,280 digital channels or services in a single-rack-unit device.

The company’s Universal Scalable Modulator is an edge quadrature amplitude modulator that can support up to 128 QAM channels, with 10 video channels in each one. RGB claimed that it provides the highest density in the industry, at least double those of competing edge QAMs.

The company positioned the device -- announced Wednesday at the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers’ Conference on Emerging Technologies here -- as helping cable operators to expand their narrowcast services, such as video-on-demand and switched digital video.

“You can’t do just one stream for everyone anymore,” executive vice president of business development Adam Tom said. “It’s going toward one stream for one person, eventually.”

In-Stat analyst Gerry Kaufhold said the USM is “very impressive, and it’s not only interesting, it’s important … Cable headends are running out of room for adding these kinds of personalized services.” In-Stat is a sister company to Multichannel News.

Customers, however, won’t have to buy a USM fully loaded for 128 QAMs. The unit is available with between one and four radio-frequency modules, each of which has four RF ports. RGB also touted this “pay-as-you-grow” capability as unique in the market.

VP of product marketing Ramin Farassat said the company is only disclosing pricing information to prospective customers, adding that USM units are currently available for evaluation.

For video input, the USM offers a choice of multiple gigabit Ethernet interfaces, as well as one 10-gigabit Ethernet interface. The USM receives MPEG transport streams over Internet protocol; performs multiplexing, digital QAM modulation and RF upconversion; and outputs RF signals to deliver to subscribers’ set-tops.

The modulator supports VOD applications, as well as IP-video-delivery services based on Cable Television Laboratories’ Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification 3.0 for modular cable-modem-termination systems.

USM provides fault-tolerance features, including the ability to switch over to a second standby unit if the primary one goes down.

On another front, Farassat said the company later in 2007 will introduce a chassis-based offering that will encompass its various video-processing products.

“People don’t want to see ‘pizza boxes,’” he added. “They want a common way to manage all of their devices.”