IP Capsule - June 15, 2007

Thu, 06/14/2007 - 8:00pm
Brian Santo
IP Capsule from CED Magazine
   June 15, 2007 
IPso Facto...

Public airwaves
The FCC is preparing to formulate and announce rules for a federal auction of 700 MHz spectrum. The auction date has yet to be definitively scheduled, but might occur next January.

Brian SantoThe FCC's general goal is to encourage the use of the spectrum for competitive wireless services. Presumably, anyway. The Martin FCC justifies most of its actions with the prospect of increased competition. If that's the case, the question is: who should the competitors be? The same companies that already dominate the service provider market – notably the largest cable companies and phone companies, or some new competitor?

The Public Interest Spectrum Coalition (PISC), an ad hoc collection of consumer groups, observes that other countries have much higher levels of market competition, "which in turn has resulted in lower prices, better service and higher overall adoption rates." Many of them, PISC observes, have achieved this through open access policies.

So the PISC's suggestion (in an ex parte submission to the FCC that you can read here) is to have the auction rules stipulate that portions of the auctioned licenses must be reserved for open access.

An alternative is proposed by lefty activist group, which is advocating for rules that set aside a nationwide chunk of spectrum for a wireless Internet service provider (read the organization's letter here) that would compete with the cable and phone companies.

We're all in favor of lower prices, better service, and higher overall adoption rates...Um, well, many of us are. Some of us are just for better service and higher overall adoption rates. But I digress...

The MoveOn proposal has corporate advocates (Google, EchoStar, DirecTV, Skype, Intel), but it lacks something even more critical: a likely bidder for the licenses. Two FCC commissioners, Robert McDowell and Jonathon Adelstein, are publicly skeptical that any such bidder will show up.

I'm with Adelstein on this: if anyone were preparing to dedicate the $15 billion to $20 billion necessary, you'd think somebody would've heard about it by now.

The PISC idea also has some powerful advocates, including former Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards.

The 700 MHz band plan
The 700 MHz band plan. Source: FCC

The FCC has some experience with open access. That was the policy for DSL. Open access for DSL failed, however, for several reasons. The telcos were openly hostile to the idea and did everything in their power to subvert, undermine, and defeat open access. They got away with it because the Federal government had little interest in enforcing effective open access. By the time the FCC sorted out the problems, the companies in the competitive access markets had been crippled nearly beyond recovery.

To expect any large incumbent to behave any better with wireless licenses is foolish, and to expect the government to both reserve for itself the authority to enforce fair, effective open access, and to also enforce it? Might as well take those spectrum licenses to Vegas and belly up to the craps table.

Verizon is already warning that if the auction rules include provisions for open access (or net neutrality), then the licenses will be less valuable. Translation: you won't raise nearly as much money as you would have.

But if the alternative is to conduct the auction knowing that only the biggest telecommunications companies have the means and the intent to bid on the licenses, why conduct an auction? Why not just sell them?

So the real question, even more fundamental than who competes, is whether competition is really the goal, or if it's making the most money possible. If it's making the most money, the high bidders – virtually guaranteed to be incumbent providers – will just roll wireless access services into their bundles. Nice for consumers to have, but it won't improve the competitive landscape at all.

If the prevailing goal really is increasing competition, however, then providing for open access is the only bet. It's a longshot the government will enforce it, but a longshot is better than no shot.

Brian Santo, IP Capsule Editor & CED Magazine Editor

Tandberg sets up IPTV for Tenn. operator
Tandberg Television said DeKalb Telephone Cooperative Communications selected its video processing systems to launch advanced IPTV services. DTC Communications will use TandbergTV's Mediaplex and iPlex video processing platforms to build a new MPEG-4 AVC video head-end to deliver high quality video in standard definition and high definition to subscriber homes.

Tellabs helps Blue Valley upgrade to GPON
Blue Valley Tele-Communications, headquartered in Home, Kan., is upgrading its broadband PON network with Tellabs DynamicHome gigabit PON products. Tellabs Global Services helped Blue Valley plan and build the new network, including integration of new and existing technology. Blue Valley will use the new Tellabs 1150 multiservice access platform and the Tellabs 8830 multiservice router to deliver IPTV, in addition to voice and data.

UTStarcom B1000

UTStarcom to support Tiscali IPTV/VoIP in Italy
UTStarcom said it was granted a contract to supply its iAN8K B1000 Multiservice Access Node / Gateway (MSAN / MSAG) to Tiscali Italia, the Italian operation of Tiscali, one of the main European independent telecommunication companies. Tiscali Italia will deploy over 350,000 lines of UTStarcom's iAN8K(R) B1000 to support the delivery of high-speed data, voice over IP (VoIP) and IPTV services to all major markets in Italy.

Verizon's FiOS TV expands in Mass.
Verizon's FiOS TV service is now available to consumers in the Massachusetts communities of Franklin, Lawrence and Southborough, some 16,500 households.

The addition makes 44 the number of communities in the state where FiOS TV service is offered, and the company is negotiating with about 20 others. Verizon will be competing with Comcast and Charter Communications in the area.

THINK - Thomas Watson, Sr.
Thomas Watson, Sr.

IBM networks with Nortel
IBM is combining forces with Nortel to help corporations migrate to IP telephony.

The Nortel-IBM System i Unified Communications solution, targeting small to medium businesses (SMBs) and branch offices, will integrate IBM's System i business computing platform and the IBM Lotus Sametime unified communications and collaboration platform with Nortel's suite of VoIP and multimedia technologies to create a system that supports VoIP and multimedia applications that all run on a single system.

The Nortel-IBM i platform that will be complemented by a portfolio of SIP clients and allow for connectivity to Nortel's data portfolio for SMBs.

CableLabs issues CALEA safe harbor
CableLabs has issued its Cable Broadband Intercept Specification (CBIS) to assist cable operators with meeting legal mandates under the federal Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA).

CALEA, enacted in 1994, mandates that providers of communications services—which now include VoIP and broadband—be able to isolate, pursuant to a court order or other lawful authorization, the content of a communication, as well as call-identifying information.

Cedar Point announced customer win
Cedar Point Communications has found a customer in Grupo Hevi, a cable system operator in Mexico. Grupo Hevi is using Cedar Point's Safari C3 Multimedia Switching System to deliver telephony services to Grupo Hevi subscribers. Their contract covers an initial deployment of VoIP service in the Zapopan, Jalisco, market.

Tekelec intros SIP signaling router 
Tekelec said its TekCore Session Manager product now supports SIP signaling router (SSR) functionality. The Tekelec SSR provides centralized session routing for softswitches and enables core signaling capabilities that cross between time division multiplexing (TDM), NGN and future IMS domains. These capabilities allow subscribers to use existing, next-generation and future IMS-based services regardless of access type.

Ambit's wireless EMTA ready to go
Ambit Microsystems' wireless EMTA has been approved for deployment in North America. The wireless EMTA contains all of the features of Ambit's cable router, wireless gateway and residential EMTA products, allowing cable operators to deliver a variety of services via one device.


Three in Japan using BigBand's M-CMTS
BigBand Networks's M-CMTS solution, which utilizes DOCSIS 3.0 downstream channel bonding, is being deployed by three Japanese cable operators as part of their rollout of high-speed data services.

Bay Communications Inc. and Cable Networks Akita Co. have already begun rolling out high-speed data services, offering speeds up to 120 Mbps by leveraging BigBand's Cuda-based M-CMTS with channel bonding. Hino Cable Television Inc. has upgraded its existing deployment of the Cuda 12000 to an M-CMTS architecture, expanding the 25 Mbps downstream service to subs and rolling out 120 Mbps downstream high-speed data service with channel bonding.

Meanwhile, Korean cable operator Keumkang Cable Networks has deployed BigBand's Broadband Multimedia-Services Router (BMR) to deliver digital TV service. The operator is using the BMR as a "headend-in-a-box" for RateShaping, scrambling and RF modulation abilities.

DirecTV, Dish to bundle Clearwire's wireless data
Clearwire Corp. has entered into distribution agreements with DirecTV and EchoStar Communications Corp. The agreements enable both satellite companies to bundle Clearwire's high-speed Internet service, and allow Clearwire to bunle video services of one or both satellite companies.

Clearwire's service area
Clearwire's service area

AT&T selling business Internet in retail outlets
AT&T Inc. is offering small businesses the option to buy broadband Internet services in its more than 780 AT&T wireless retail stores. The service starts at $34.99 per month and offers downstream speeds ranging from 1.5 Mbps to 6 Mbps.

The Shanghai Daily reports that the Shanghai Media Group has teamed with Intel to co-develop wireless broadband and mobile technology for high-definition TV programs, both sides said yesterday.
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