Verimatrix Dishes Up IPTV for Cable

Verimatrix, a provider of content-security technologies, is betting that some small and midsize cable operators will be interested in diving into Internet Protocol TV, a technology that to date has been associated with telephone companies.

The San Diego firm has struck a partnership with GoBackTV, a startup that has developed a system to let IP video traffic bypass a cable-modem termination system. This creates an "IPTV overlay" on the cable network that doesn’t burden the CMTS with bandwidth-intensive video traffic, according to Verimatrix.

Verimatrix’s pitch: Using IPTV on existing cable plant could provide a cost-effective option for operators that have not yet introduced digital video to offer a premium tier of new channels or video-on-demand.

“We think smaller operators in the U.S. will be interested in this,” Verimatrix director of product management Bo Ferm said. “If you’re analog-only today, you would need additional equipment to do headend processing to go digital anyway.”

Ferm said IPTV also would allow cable operators to have a wider selection of set-top vendors, beyond the cable market's duopoly of Motorola and Cisco’s Scientific Atlanta.

“In the cable industry today, you have two very dominant vendors, whereas in the IPTV market you have a lot of specialized vendors,” Ferm said. “The biggest multiplier effect you have is the set-top… Today, interactive cable boxes are still pricey.”

However, Verimatrix's cable IPTV solution doesn't provide all the pieces an operator would need to deliver a video service. Other required elements include IPTV middleware and set-tops. Ferm noted that Verimatrix’s VCAS has been integrated into more than 70 IPTV set-top boxes.

With GoBackTV’s bypass system, multicast and unicast IPTV streams are delivered over the vendor’s edge quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) devices directly through DOCSIS-compliant cable modems to IP set-top boxes, thereby bypassing the CMTS core processor. Verimatrix provides its Video Content Authority System (VCAS) conditional-access and encryption technologies to deliver video assets securely over IP.

The idea of doing an end-run around CMTS systems for video isn’t new. Motorola (opens in new tab) and Harmonic are among other vendors that have proposed CMTS-bypass mechanisms that would allow cable operators to deliver video directly to IP devices in the home.

GoBackTV, based in Menlo Park, Calif., was founded by several former employees of Com21, the CMTS vendor that filed for bankruptcy in 2003 and sold its assets to Arris. GoBackTV president and CEO David Baran, for one, previously was VP of DOCSIS products at Com21.

As part of their agreement, Verimatrix will sell GoBackTV’s GigaQAM solution under the Verimatrix brand. Verimatrix said it also will provide installation, training and support on a global basis.

Verimatrix plans to demonstrate VCAS for Cable IPTV at the IBC 2007 show in Amsterdam this week.