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30 March 2009


Firecomms demos Ethernet transceiver in IPTV set-top box

At last week's IPTV World Forum in London, UK, Firecomms Ltd of Cork, Ireland, which manufactures high-speed plastic optical fiber (POF) transceivers and visible-wavelength vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs), gave the first live demonstration of its Optical Ethernet OptoLock transceiver integrated into STMicroelectronics’ newest HD IPTV STi7105 set-top box (STB) reference design.

Based on photonics technology, OptoLock suits Fast Ethernet applications with stringent quality-of-service requirements such as residential IPTV gateways, set-top boxes, and hubs.

Firecomms says that OptoLock is an easy-to-use, low-cost transceiver housing for instant termination of bare POF. The plugless connector enables the optical fiber to be cut and terminated to the exact required length on site, allowing consumers to quickly and easily connect POF ports directly into the STB.

POF provides home users with all the benefits and none of the disadvantages typically associated with optical fiber connections, says Firecomms. In particular, Mitsubishi Rayon, the world's largest fiber manufacturer, used IPTV World Forum to present OPTOHOME, its latest fiber-optic cable developed for the cost-competitive home networking market.

"Although we have seen many thousands of POF connections installed with external network adapters, this integration step and demonstration illustrates to set-top box manufacturers the level of maturity that POF has reached within the IPTV home network," says Hugh Hennessy, Firecomms' VP of sales & marketing. "With this increased level of interest in this low-cost embedded solution, we are hopeful to announce first platform releases by leading set-top box manufacturers in the coming months," he adds.

"The STi7105 is a new, advanced decoding System-on-Chip targeted at next-generation high-definition cable, terrestrial, satellite, DSL, IP, and hybrid set-top boxes," says Jean-Michel Goiran, IP-STB business development at STMicroelectronics. "The integration of OptoLock into our STi7105 reference design further expands the flexibility of the chip in facilitating developments in next-generation home network and set-top box solutions."

OptoLock compatible with Broadcom's BCM7405 IP set-top box SoC

At the IPTV World Forum, Firecomms also announced the compatibility of its OptoLock Fast Ethernet optical transceiver with the Ethernet PHY (physical layer chip) integrated into Broadcom's BCM7405 IP set-top box (STB) system-on-a-chip (SoC) solution.  

"This announcement is a significant milestone in our efforts to enable integration of our OptoLock transceivers across set-top box platforms," says Firecomms' chief technology officer John Lambkin.  "Operators recognize the benefits POF brings to reducing installation time and complexity.  Integration of POF ports directly into the set-top box enables reductions in bill of material costs as compared to external network adapters."

"With an integrated PHY capable of driving both copper and optical ports, our collaborated solution enables deployment efficiencies that allow set-top box manufacturers, service providers and consumers in Europe to quickly realize the benefits of home networking," says Aidan O'Rourke, Broadcom's senior director of Product Marketing. 

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