New Cisco Gear Targets Cable VOD

Cisco announced Tuesday a new line of products to help cable operators deliver new video-on-demand services.

The UMG9820 and UMG9850 gateways sit between the cable companies’ Internet protocol networks and coax systems, converting content sent from video servers into a format that can be understood by set-top boxes. The 9820 and 9850 can handle 240 and 1,200 standard-definition video streams, respectively.

“Video-on-demand has been around for a long time, but it’s been really expensive to deploy,” said David Lively, a senior marketing manager in Cisco’s video networking division, told

Lively said previous video-specific technologies required to deliver the service were expensive given the amount of bandwidth they required.

The move by many cable operators to Gigabit Ethernet , combined with mounting competition from satellite and personal video recorder offerings like TiVo, made it the right time for Cisco to enter the VOD market. The company believes that buying its gateways will be far cheaper and easier for cable firms than replacing or upgrading the cable set-top boxes of customers.

Cisco said it has been working with video server manufacturers, including SeaChange and nCUBE, to insure the gateways are compatible with the back-end equipment.

It has also been testing the gear with several cable companies, including Cox Communications , the fourth-largest cable provider in the United States.

The new offerings from the San Jose, Calif., networking giant can be ordered immediately and will begin shipping in February 2004. Pricing, however, has not yet been finalized.

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