RGB Networks is opening a UK office as it brings its video processing technology to Europe. Julian Clover reports
Every once in a while a technology emerges that captures the enthusiasm of the industry. In the mid-1990s Imedia’s Cherry Picker, later acquired by Terayon, and once described as the “grandfather of grooming devices”. The Cherry Picker strips out unwanted channels in a digital multiplex. The three developers, then in their early 30s, are now firmly back in the bandwidth saving business as the founders of RGB Networks. William Randolph Hurst III is on the board and the investors include Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers and the US cable operator Comcast.
The San Mateo, California company is targeting the video on demand sector with a range of products that allow the operator to run more streams through a combination of statistical multiplexing a variable bitrate compression performed on a single chip. The bandwidth saving is a valuable 40%.
Like so many Californian technology companies the man at the helm is a Brit. CEO Jef Graham was an executive vice president at Juniper Networks and comes via 3Com, Hewlett-Packard and a string of Fortune 500 companies. The UK office also has a familiar name in charge. Sarah Hackforth, most recently with Entone, was cherrypicking at Terayon and a former managing director, EMEA at Motorola Broadband Networks. “We’ll show them what we’ve got and hopefully get into the networks, but the reality is they’ll be buying from our partners,” says Hackforth.
While to the consumer the offer of premium content and video on demand is largely indistinguishable between cablenet and telco, but Graham highlights a key difference beneath the marketing materials. “Cable doesn’t really test products,” he says. “That’s completely different to the telco who will study every area before they even build a prototype.” Both sets of operators will presumably be content with RGB Networks’ use of FPGA technology in its Video Intelligence Architecture line, as opposed to the more traditional ASIC route. It means that updates can be more quickly introduced.
Last September, RGB added a DVB version of its Broadcast Network Processor and is anticipating the first European deployment of the product later this quarter.