IP Capsule... April 27, 2007

Thu, 04/26/2007 - 8:00pm
Brian Santo
IP Capsule from CED Magazine
   April 27, 2007 
IPso Facto...

 Searching for a better ranking
The U.S. dropped from 12th to 15th in terms of broadband penetration, according to statistics compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

At the end of 2006, the United States led the world in sheer numbers of broadband subscribers, with 58.1 million. But since the U.S. is an industrialized nation and happens to be the third-most populous country in the world, that should be expected.

Broadband $ for Select Countries

It's also a leader when it comes to how expensive broadband is, at least by virtue of the way the OECD calculates prices.

There are critics of the way the OECD tallies broadband numbers and prices. The Information Technology and Innovation Forum (ITIF) has quibbles with the OECD data that are so extensive, it collects additional data and publishes its own rankings.

ITIF calculates the average broadband speed in each of 30 industrialized countries, the price per month for 1 Mbps (using the fastest speed available), and the number of people per household and multiplies through to create an index.

In terms of average speed, the U.S. ranks 15th at 4.6 Mbps, well below the average of 9 Mbps. Of course averages can be skewed if there are one or two entries that are unusually high, and in this case there are. The average broadband rate in Japan is 61 Mbps and in Korea is 45.6 Mbps.

...Which begs the question: to heck with averages - how come the fastest broadband most of us in the States can get is so much slower than the average rates in Japan and Korea? But I digress.

When it comes to price/month/Mbit, the U.S. fares much better, by ITIF's estimation ranking 6th, at $3.33. The average is $16.32, another average skewed by a single data point, this time by Turkey, at $115.76.

Total Broadband Subscribers
This chart and others are available as Excel downloads at
the OECD web site. Click Here 

So, when the ITIF makes adjustments for factors the OECD fails to consider, the U.S. ends up ranked 12th. Whoo-hoo. We moved up three.

Everybody's prescription is more competition, and competition that is more effective, which is finally, finally beginning to develop, albeit slowly and fitfully.

The ITIF makes some specific recommendations, none of which should be a surprise to anyone, as they're all variations on recommendations we've been hearing for a while, and are certain to be discussed in coming months, especially with the FCC looking into the matter (see story below).

  • Congress should exempt broadband services from federal, state and local taxation
    and from requirements to pay into the Universal Service Fund.
  • All states should enact video franchise laws.
  • Congress should enact tax incentives for the deployment of new high-speed
    broadband networks.
  • The FCC should move to a two-tiered definition of high-speed Internet by developing a
    more robust 3 megabit per second (mbps) asymmetrical "broadband" standard.
  • The FCC should collect county-level subscriber data for both speed tiers.
  • If Congress fails to mandate changes to FCC local broadband data collection, states should -work through non-governmental entities to collect and report local data.
  • The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) should help facilitate the development of a bottom-up database of local broadband speeds and prices.
Brian Santo, IP Capsule Editor & CED Magazine Senior Editor

Sun Microsystems launches streaming video platform
IPTV is about delivering streams, and Sun Microsystems thinks it knows a little about that. Sun has introduced the Sun Streaming System, a video delivery platform for cable and telecommunications operators offering new video-based services and personalized video streams to each consumer. The company says its server can support up to 160,000 simultaneous video streams, at the rate of 2Mbps, at a price of less than $50 per stream for complete video headend.

Streaming21 adds H.264 to support IPTV services
Streaming21 has added support of H.264 and IPv6 video streaming with highly scaleable video delivery to its Media Server product. The new version, Media Server 6.0, enables delivery of MPEG-4 compressed video at much lower bit rates than standard MPEG-2. The technology cuts in half the bandwidth required to deliver broadcast-quality video streams for VOD and HDTV.


Vonage gets major reprieve
The pall over Vonage was lifted - temporarily - with a recent appeals court decision that will allow the company to conduct business as usual, providing VoIP service and signing up new customers.

Vonage had lost a VoIP patent infringement case brought by Verizon. Vonage immediately vowed to appeal, but as a penalty for losing the case, the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., enjoined Vonage from signing up new customers until the company's appeal could be heard.

That injunction had the potential for devastating a company that already had a 2.4 percent average monthly churn, and no ability to replace customers. The permanent stay of that injunction by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., gives the company a new lease on life, with a term that extends at least until its appeal of the lower court's decision is heard. If Vonage prevails, it lives on. If not...

Tek's Spectra2 testerTektronix launches VoIP, IMS test solution upgrade
Tektronix Inc. has launched Release 5.2, part of its Spectra2 test solution. Release 5.2 enables Spectra2 to provide a complete diagnostic test solution for network operators and equipment manufacturers developing platforms and service offerings for VoIP, IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) and converged networks.

VoIP driving MSO sub growth
Voice-over-Internet Protocol technology is driving subscriber growth for MSOs; VoIP was directly responsible for an almost two-fold increase in the number of North American subscribers during 2006, by In-Stat's calculations.

In-Stat projects that cable telephony service revenues will reach $10.4 billion in 2007, up from $7.9 billion in 2006. North America will account for two-thirds of the worldwide service revenues in 2007. The data comes from In-Stat's recent report titled "The Worldwide Market for Cable Telephony Services."


FCC to redefine broadband, launches net neutrality inquiry
The FCC is preparing for a possible revision of how it defines broadband, and how it defines broadband availability. As it does so, it will simultaneously look into issues associated with network neutrality and competition.

The Commission's current, profoundly outdated definition of broadband is a minimum transmission rate of 200 kbps. As for availability, if a provider has a single customer in a particular zip code, the FCC assumes the provider's service is available to every customer in that zip code.

The FCC publishes its findings in semiannual reports, but the quality of the data in those reports has been criticized as inadequate and even misleading by everyone from consumer groups to the U.S. General Accounting Office.

The FCC's process of revising how it evaluates broadband availability and broadband competition was announced in March, and is only now just beginning with two measures: 1) the issuance of a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) into whether broadband services are being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion, and 2) a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) exploring ways to collect information the Commission needs to set broadband policy in the future.

Through the NPRM, the FCC is now asking for comments on the issue of what constitutes a high-speed data service and how it measures availability. The issue of availability will also be examined in finer detail, to evaluate the so-called digital divide between those able to afford connectivity and those who cannot.

nquiries under the separate, simultaneous NOI are fairly wide-ranging, but all elements point to the network neutrality debate. One line of inquiry will be into how every company that has a role in transmission handles packet management. The Commission also intends to look into pricing policy, including tiering - again, with an eye to the net neutrality debate. Also, if the FCC determines some remedy is necessary for whatever conditions it discovers, it will also have to determine whether it has the authority to impose those remedies.

TWC, FON, ally on free Wi-Fi access 
FONTime Warner Cable is partnering with FON, a worldwide network of Wi-Fi hotspots. Time Warner Cable subscribers can become FON community members. Members offer access to their connections to other members for free, in exchange for free WiFi access around the world, wherever FON has partner ISPs. FON said it currently has nearly 60,000 FON members in the U.S.

Comcast's Q1 data, VoIP adds both exceed half a million
Comcast increased its number of revenue-generating units 63 percent to 1.76 million, in its first quarter. That broke down to 563,000 new data customers to reach 12 million, 644,000 new digital video subscribers to reach a total of 13.3 million, 75,000 new basic video subscribers for a total of 24.2 million, and 571,000 VoIP customers to achieve a total of 2.4 million. The company lost 93,000 circuit-switched subscribers, leaving it a total of 560,000.

The number of homes passed for all services from Q4 of 2006 to Q1 of 2007 increased only marginally, so Comcast's gains came largely from increasing penetration.

AT&T adds 402K data subs; U-verse beginning to catch
AT&T's regional consumer connections-retail access lines, high speed Internet and video connections-increased by 402,000 in Q1 2007. AT&T's video connections-including AT&T U-verse service and bundled satellite television service-increased by 187,000 in the first quarter. At the end of the first quarter, AT&T had 1.7 million total video connections in service.

The vast bulk of AT&T's video customers continue to be DBS subscribers. AT&T's recently launched U-verse service is now in 15 markets, but at the end of the first quarter, AT&T had only 13,000 U-verse video subs.

AT&T offered U-verse numbers from after the close of the quarter to show the service is ramping. By mid-April, U-verse installations had increased to approximately 2,000 per week, and as of April 24, U-verse subs in service had reached approximately 20,000, the company said.

Ambit, Netwave introduce channel bonding modem in Korea
Ambit Broadband Corp. and Netwave are partnering to deliver a so-called pre-DOCSIS 3.0 modem to subs of Korea's Hanaro Telecom. The modem can handle up to three bonded downstream channels to enable a maximum 144 Mbps downstream and up to 30 Mbps upstream throughput. It also supports features such as Gigabit Ethernet and USB 2.0 interfaces, bonding channel recovery and QoS features enabling IPTV service.


Company: Streaming21
Headquarters: Taipei
(U.S.: San Jose, Calif.)
CEO: Joe Lin

Claim To Fame: Developed the Streaming Media Platform, which provides the required infrastructure for distributing IP-based applications, used by Chungwa Telecom for IPTV.

Recent News Of Note: The company recently expanded its growing universe of partners by signing a deal with Pixelmatrix; it also released the latest revision of its media server.

The Cable Show 2007
May 7-9, 2007
Mandalay Bay - Las Vegas
More info: Click Here 

May 22-24, 2007
More info: Click Here 

China VoIP
Conference & Expo 2007

May 23-24, 2007
Hong Kong
More info: Click Here 

SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2007
June 19-22, 2007
Orlando, Fla.
More info: Click Here 

C-COR Global IP Summit
June 28-29, 2007
Cannes, France
More info: Click Here 

Wireless & Mobile
Expo & Conference

July 17-18, 2007
Toronto, Canada
More info: Click Here

CTAM Summit 2007
July 23-25, 2007
Washington Convention Center
Washington, D.C.
More info: Click Here

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