Pulse~LINK Demonstrates UWB Over Cable

By Jeff Goldman

August 24, 2004

The chip maker wants to show that ultrawideband is capable of increasing the capacity for cable-based data providers, with little or no physical upgrade.

At the annual CableLabs Summer Conference earlier this month in Keystone, Colorado, the ultrawideband (UWB) chipset developer Pulse~LINK showcased its technology for cable operators.

"We have a little 'traveling road show' with the architecture of a hybrid fiber coax network," says Bruce Watkins, Pulse~LINK's President and COO.

Using that architecture, Pulse~LINK demonstrated its ability to transmit high definition television content over cable. "We're showing that ultrawideband works across the entire cable plant -- and showing that it coexists with the television signals that are already there," Watkins says.

The benefit of UWB, he says, is that it gives cable providers access to a significant amount of additional bandwidth. "The bandwidth that we provide -- which can be up to a little more than a gigabit on the downstream, and up to 480 megabits on the upstream -- is all brand new bandwidth on top of what you already have," Watkins says.

That additional downstream bandwidth can make it easier for cable providers to offer high definition television, as well as other services. "HDTV consumes the bandwidth of three to five standard cable channels," Watkins says. "As you start converting more and more programming to HDTV, you've got two choices: you can either give up existing television channels, which means lost revenue -- or you can expand your plant."

The technology can also help cable providers offer a wide range of additional services to their subscribers.

"All of the revenue growth in the cable industry over the last five or six years has come through the provisioning of new services -- things like cable modems, video on demand, telephony over cable networks," Watkins says. "But more than 85 percent of the world's 330 million cable subscribers are on networks that haven't been upgraded yet to carry those kinds of services."

Upgrading the network can be extremely expensive, but Watkins says Pulse~LINK's technology can provide the bandwidth necessary without requiring any physical upgrades. "New services tend to require new bandwidth, and we have a way of providing it at an inexpensive price," he says.

Because Pulse~LINK's technology also works wirelessly and over existing electrical wiring, a Pulse~LINK enabled set top box can serve as a gateway to connect a wide range of different devices throughout the home. "A cell phone with our technology inside of it, when brought inside a home or business that had our technology being delivered through the cable infrastructure, would have bandwidth capacities that eclipsed anything on any 5G cellular drawing board today," Watkins says.

And it's not only downstream -- the extra upstream bandwidth can also make it easier for customers to do everything from sending e-mail to controlling video on demand. "On your upgraded digital advanced networks today, the subscriber density tends to be about 500 households per node," Watkins says. "Those 500 households have an aggregate upstream capacity per node of 8 to 12 megabits -- but we can take that up to as high as 480 megabits."

That can enable a customer to send DVD quality video from their living room, say from a camcorder, back into the network and to another subscriber. "That's true 52-inch display, DVD quality, home-to-home interactive video," Watkins says.

More importantly, Watkins says, the additional upstream bandwidth could allow cable providers to target business customers. "They can't go after businesses today in the cable industry, because they don't have the upstream bandwidth capacity," he says. "But we can give them T-1 or T-3 capacity, and all of a sudden they can start pursuing a corporate market that they couldn't pursue before."

Pulse~LINK's first commercial chipsets should be available in the third quarter of 2005.



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