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Techs Give Props to Internet Set-Top

A confab of CableLabs technology executives voted a palm-size set-top box that can play Internet video on a TV set the “best new idea” most likely to succeed in the cable industry, out of a field of 10 company presentations.

Startup Verismo Networks showed its VuNow set-top, which plugs into a television and a broadband connection to provide access to clips from YouTube and hundreds of other Web sites, as well as videos downloaded using the BitTorrent peer-to-peer protocol.

“The way we see this is, our VuNow service could be a portal in the linear channels [on a cable system] providing Internet videos through that link over to the television,” Verizmo executive vice president of sales and marketing Dhaval Ajmera said on a call with reporters.

The presentations by Verismo and the other vendors were part of CableLabs Technology Forum 2009, an invitation-only event for the consortium's members held Feb. 8 to 11 at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Ajmera said Verismo's main strategy is to license the platform to equipment manufacturers and service providers. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company has about 70 employees and is privately funded.

Comcast chief technology officer Tony Werner, also on the call last week, said “it's too soon to talk about what the business model would be” for the Verismo technology, noting that the product was picked because the startup has developed “a very compelling software platform.”

At some point, cable operators could consider integrating the VuNow features into their digital cable set-tops, said Charter Communications CTO Marwan Fawaz.