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Coax Networking Gets Boost Pulse-Link announced an unprecedented 400-Mbps solution, joining MoCA and Coaxsys as promising providers of networking-over-coax. by Julie Jacobson If you're like most TV watchers, you probably have a rat's nest of coax cable running through a network of cheap splitters. And you probably think you'll never get HDTV with out rewiring, much less data and video over the same crummy coax network. But networking-over-coax is slowly catching on, allowing consumers to use the existing coax installed by the most miserly cable companies for delivering both IP data and high-quality video throughout the house. Michael Wolf, an analyst with ABI Research puts the number of worldwide coax networking ports worldwide at 780,000 for 2006. "The main place they're showjng up is in IP set-tops like those used for Verizon's FiOS," he says. Through its FiOS ho me initiative, Verizon has already passed about 3 million homes with fiber, and will cover 3 million more by year's end, delivering IP-based TV services to countless consumers who no doubt have coax {not Ethernet) in their homes. Verizon is using products based on the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) "standard," created by Entropic. After a slow start, MoCA silicon can now be found in set-top boxes and gateways from Motorola, ActionTec and 2Wire. Verizon is using MoCA-enabled routers from ActionTec that can theoretically deliver IPTV at 100 Mbps over existing coax throughout the home. ActionTec claims it has already shipped "in the hundreds of thousands" of MoCA routers. While MoCA may be visible in the telco space, the organization came to the party later than Coaxsys, which was apparently the first modern-day company to ship a product that delivers both video and IP-based data over existing coax cables and splitters. With the company's TVnet/C Pro, virtually any coaxial jack in a residence can be used for Ethernet networking. The paperback-sized devices connect directly to the home's cable TV network at any coax jack. Both cable TV and IP data can be distributed simultaneously over the same wired network at KM) Mbps throughput.

Alan Brichta, Audible Solutions, Roslyn Heights, N.Y., says Coaxsys let him deliver high speed data in an old Manhattan brownstone. Coaxsys markets its products through ADI, Capitol Sales and other distributors that cater to low-voltage integrators. Ed Constantine, cabling product manager for ADI, says Coaxsys "is one of those products you just have to keep in front of people [dealers] because one of these days they're going to need it. They run into this problem all the time. Most houses are already wired with coax, but they're not wired with Cat 5e." Coaxsys beat Pulse-Link to the punch, albeit with lower-bandwidth (100 Mbps) solution, demonstrated here in 2005.

A Faster Solution? The networking-over-coax category has barely emerged, and already a newcom er is boasting a better solution. Pulse- Link says its CWave UWB (ultra-wide band) over-coax solution delivers higher-bandwidth multistreaming capabilities that the other guys can't touch. According to Pulse-Link, a third- party testing agency, Quantum Parametrics, has certified that CWave can sustain 400 Mbps throughput over coax, spanning "hundreds of feet if in- home coaxial cable, including multiple consumer grade signal splitters." The company tested the technology over networks that included "several combinations comprising hundreds of feet of RG-59 consumer-grade coaxial cable; multiple signal splitters; and various lengths of unterminated coax cable stubs attached to unused splitter ports." Pulse-Link has demonstrated IP and multiple streams of HDTV over consumer-grade coax networks. Pulse-Link maintains that such performance is unprecedented. The company is working closely with the High-Definition Audio-Video Network Alliance (HANA} to implement IEEE 1394 over the coax network for delivering guaranteed quality of service (QoS) and content protection. HANA is a group of technology providers, CE manufacturers and content providers that promotes the use of 1394 for secure, high-performance A/V distribution. At the Parks Associates Connections Conference in May, HANA set up two 1394-enabled CWave UWB transceivers in two separate booths, with splitters and several hundred feet of coax cable between them. 1394-based HDTV audio and video was streamed bi-directionally between the two booths, showing how coax cable in the home works as broadband backbone with 400 Mbps application layer throughput for trans

porting multiple simultaneous streams of digital content to 1394-equipped devices throughout the home. www. in www. For daily products, news and analysis on the !T/Convergence market, visit Servers, VolP Highlight D&H Expo Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'" could easily describe the state of IT/convergence products, where integrators are clamoring to stay abreast of the changing form factors for media servers, IPTV and VolP {voice over IP) hardware. It seems that the only constant is change. That's one reason D&H Distributing attempts to sort it all out every year with its annual Digital Convergence Expo. This year's fifth annual event, held in mid-July in Camp Hill, Pa., drew hundreds of A/V- and IT-centric VARs and integrators to check out trends like the rapidly altering form factors of media servers. Today's sleek set-top box media servers can look gigantic next to a tiny net work attached storage (NAS) device, while a high- end, dedicated A/V-style media server could seem limiting to a techie expecting a multimedia laptop. For example, AOpen America's miniPC media server measures just 6.5-inch (w) x 1.97-inch (h) x 6.5-inch (d). According to Chris Liu, vice president of product marketing, the compact unit is quickly becoming a favorite in the IT world. The Viiv-ready unit features DVI, component video and S-Video inputs, 802.11b/g wireless, 5.1 channel surround sound, a 1-GB hard drive and MCE. Dan Schwab, vice president of marketing at D&H, is bullish on the media server market getting huge boost from the introduction of Vista, the new Microsoft oper ating system that is due out in January 2007 "There are going to be millions of people playing with the Media Center Edition on their computers who will need someone to service the system. This is the key differentiator," he says. Citing research from Parks Associates, Schwab says the market for media servers will grow from 10 million units sold in 2006 to 50 mil lion units by 2010. He also believes the number of households with home networks will grow to nearly 30 million by 2010 from its current level of 4 million households. Meanwhile, VolP is showing similar trends. According to research from IDC, 38 percent of Dan Schwab of D&H says the media server category will get significant boost from Media Center Edition's popularity. U.S. households will have VolP. Carl Glick, national distribution manager at Linksys, was at the event to show off Linksys' new IP telephony products. The compa ny recently added the VolP equipment part of its Trade Up Program that guarantees commercial and resi dential end-users can upgrade their products if new features are introduced.

Schwab reported that D&H now inventories products from 260 computer hardware vendors, 38 video gaming vendors and 35 consumer electronics manufacturers. The company has grown from revenues of $500 million in 2001 to $1.5 billion today, with 35 percent of its business now coming from "convergence" products, compared to just 7 percent five years ago.

Jason Knott