Qwest is laying the regulatory groundwork to offer video services in several cities in its operating territory, even as its plans for video service deployment remain vigorously tentative.
According to documents obtained by Broadband Reports, in the not-so-distant past, Qwest planned to have video available to 8 percent of its customers by the end of 2007 (potentially within reach in part because the company already has some long-standing video deployments in Denver and Phoenix), and to 24 percent of its customers by the end of 2008. Qwest had identified Seattle, Minneapolis, Albuquerque, Portland, Salt Lake City and Des Moines as its targets for video rollouts.
Iowa in May enacted legislation that will allow for statewide franchising; that will cover Des Moines. Qwest's recent attempt to secure a video franchise in Seattle, Wash., was scuttled, reportedly by the local utility commission's demand that Qwest commit to a city-wide deployment, a demand Qwest says it will not agree to meet.
Qwest may be closest to getting a franchise in Portland, Ore. The process there still has several steps to go, but the city could grant final approval as early as mid-November, according to Dave Olson, director of Portland's Office of Cable Communications & Franchise Management. Qwest could then offer video in Portland starting the beginning of 2008.
Olson said that public response, including formal comments from a large number of consumer groups, has been overwhelmingly in favor of granting Qwest a franchise. The notable dissenter is Comcast, the only other organization cleared to deliver video in Portland. (Verizon, by the way, has the rights to roll out FiOS in several towns immediately to the west of Portland and is in the process of doing so.)
A Qwest spokesman told CED that while Qwest will certainly be expanding its video footprint before the end of 2008, it is not going to be ready to start doing that in Portland as the year begins.
Qwest is now in the process of extending fiber deeper into Portland neighborhoods. The company has no plans to do fiber to the premises in Portland (except in some greenfields, consistent with what the company has always said). The franchise pact includes an explicit injunction against redlining.
As widely expected, it looks as if Qwest will be following a technology model closer to AT&T's than Verizon's – fiber to the node rather than to the home.
A Qwest presentation from May, prepared for Portland area regulatory bodies, shows a simple network diagram from which a little can be inferred about which way Qwest was leaning, at least as of May.
In the customer premise, every TV has a set-top box associated with it. A notation says "Pair bonded (2 pairs) for HD, 3 SD, data and POTS."
And the diagram not only invokes POTS - plain old telephone service, but also shows telephony being delivered via a classic Class 5 switch, suggesting that voice over IP may very well not be an element in the service bundle when Qwest introduces video.
The Qwest spokesman said the company is still defining a VDSL-based network, and remains undecided on any number of implementation details.
As for the franchise agreement, it would be, according to Olson, the shortest ever granted in the area – only six years. That's apparently to make sure that the company has incentive to expand in the market.
According to regulatory documents: "Franchise may be extended an additional two years to Dec. 31, 2015, if, at the end of the third year, or by Dec. 31, 2010, Qwest offers cable services to 20% or more of the homes in the city of Portland; and an additional three years to Dec. 31, 2018, if, at the end of the sixth year, or by Dec. 31, 2013, Qwest offers cable services to an additional 30% or more of the homes in Portland."
(According to a local census, Portland has a population in excess of 560,000.)
Qwest does not have to notify Portland of its build-out plans until next July, however. Between that and Qwest's dithering on its technology options, plus having a new CEO coming in who will no doubt want to review the company's video plans, Qwest is going to be lucky to have anything more than a token deployment in Portland before the end of 2008. And if it has 24 percent of all of its customers able to get video by the end of '08, it'll be a minor miracle.
Q: WHEN ARE WE GOING TO HAVE COMPETITION?
A:... Real soon...
|Brian Santo, IP Capsule Editor & CED Magazine Editor
Verizon adds to its list of FiOS roll outs
Verizon chalked up another deployment in Massachusetts with the addition of Framingham. Framingham joins the ranks of 51 other communities in Massachusetts that are offering Verizon's fiber optics-based FiOS TV service. The service will reach roughly 19,000 households in Framingham, and Verizon is currently negotiating with 15 other Massachusetts communities to obtain additional franchises.
In New York, residents of Garden City, N.Y.-a Long Island community-now have access to Verizon's FiOS TV service.
And FiOS Internet is now available in parts of Brooklyn, N.Y. The service will reach parts of Brooklyn's Canarsie, Mill Basin, Georgetown and Bergen Beach communities.
And As of the end of Q2, Verizon had 515,000 FiOS TV subscribers, and 1.1 million FiOS Internet subscribers.
Occam releases new ONT
Occam Networks Inc. has launched the ON 2351 Optical Network Terminal (ONT) for multiple dwelling units (MDUs) and multiple tenant units (MTUs). Occam designed the new 2300 series ONT to deliver triple-play services, including POTS, high-speed Ethernet data, VoIP and multiple HD video streams, to up to four residences or businesses.
Cox a top-5 commercial Ethernet vendor
Cox Business was the fourth-largest U.S. provider of retail business Ethernet services at mid-year 2007, marking the first time an MSO has reached the top tier, according to Vertical Systems Group. Cox Business held an 8.9 percent share.
Leading Cox Business were AT&T, Verizon Business, and Time Warner Telecom Verizon's share was up 12.2 percent, and Time Warner Telecom's increased 10.7 percent, compared with year-end 2006 results. And although AT&T placed first, the company's share declined compared with the combined year-end 2006 shares for AT&T and BellSouth, which the company acquired in December.
"The dense availability of low-cost metro services boosted share for many regional U.S. Ethernet providers, including MSOs," said Rick Malone, principal at Vertical Systems. "Additionally, the aggressive deployment of new fiber infrastructure for residential applications enabled broader accessibility of native Ethernet services for adjacent business sites."
Other MSOs in the market were Bright House Networks, Charter Business, Comcast Business, Suddenlink Communications, SureWest and Time Warner Cable.
Navini, AireWire to collaborate on WiMAX
Navini Networks and AireWire announced a service partnership agreement under which AireWire will become a services partner and system integrator of Navini's Mobile WiMAX 802.16e solutions equipment.