BigBand Releases Multimedia Routers

BigBand Networks Inc., a newcomer to the router market, has launched its first products: two multimedia routers that the privately held company says will let providers seamlessly deliver video, data, and voice services.

The Broadband Multimedia-Service Routers are intended initially for use by cable-TV operators that want to provide high-speed services on their coaxial-fiber networks, which will carry integrated high-quality video services, data services, and Internet access, BigBand execs say.

Two cable-TV operators, Cox Communications Inc. and Rogers Communications Inc., are beta testing the products for their ability to route a combination of multimedia traffic types on their networks. Cox hopes the routers will let it use the bandwidth on its cable facilities more efficiently by combining multiple traffic types on its circuits, rather than allocating separate channels on the network to each traffic type, says Chris Bowick, senior VP of technology development at Cox.

"With the BMR, we can combine video applications, E-mail, Web browsing, and other high-speed data services all commingled within [the network], and that optimizes the use of our bandwidth," Bowick said.

The Broadband Multimedia-Service Routers will be available in two configurations. The BMR1200 is for installation at central sites within providers' networks, and the BMR100 is for placement in smaller hub sites, according to BigBand. The systems will be available in the first half of 2001, with prices beginning at $40,000.

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