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Time Warner Plucks CherryPicker for N.Y.

Time Warner Cable has again picked the CherryPicker digital-video management system, this time for use in its flagship New York City operation serving 1.1 million digital customers.

Time Warner will install between 15 and 20 of Terayon Communication Systems Inc.'s CherryPicker DM 3200 units in its main headend, which serves the boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. Another 15 to 20 units will find a home in a backup headend Time Warner is now building.

The CherryPicker's main task is to groom and multiplex video signals, taking as many as 10 individual standard-definition digital feeds and folding them onto a single quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) channel. But in the coming months, the gear's duty will expand to include Time Warner's first test of digital ad insertion based on the new ANSI/SCTE 35 2001 standard.

To date, the only MSO that has attempted to use the system is Cox Communications Inc., which has a trial underway in San Diego, Calif.

Larry Pestana, the New York City system's vice president of engineering, said Time Warner is planning to start the test in the New York system in May — and it won't just be a dry run for the CherryPicker.

"We are probably going to do 12 channels or so, and that's not just to test that piece of hardware, but to test a whole bunch of systems behind it — the measurement systems and the servers and everything else that goes with that," he said.

For Terayon, Time Warner's decision to keep with the CherryPicker products is an important contract win.

"It's Time Warner's premier system," said Ian Jefferson, Terayon's vice president of digital video sales. "So it's a very, very big stamp of approval in my mind from Time Warner to have the confidence in our product, to give them the picture quality they want and the future platform they need."

The DM 3200 can also provide simultaneous support for a number of new services, including switched video, HDTV and program insertion, "and I think these are the things we will start to explore more with Time Warner in Manhattan," Jefferson said.