IP Capsule - September 28, 2007

Thu, 09/27/2007 - 8:00pm
Brian Santo
  September 28 , 2007 
IPso Facto...
Sigma Systems - Sigma All Play

The Third Network
Initial reports out of Chicago, host to the 2007 WiMAX World USA Conference & Exposition, are that mobile WiMAX works pretty well.

Brian SantoMotorola and Sprint's WiMAX operation, called Xohm, demonstrated a WiMAX system consisting of four base stations spaced along four-fifths of a mile of the Chicago River, transmitting to PCs installed on a boat the sponsors rented to cruise by.

Conceptually, WiMAX is being approached as sort of a cross between Wi-Fi service and cellular phone service. Sprint is convinced that Xohm has to be different from both however, and it's certainly right, especially if it's thinking about charging DSL/cable modem prices, as it is.

To that end, Xohm is working with Google to develop applications that go beyond whatever can be accessed on the Web, and Xohm president Barry West promised a pricing model unlike cellular. He said customers would have to buy their own WiMAX devices, but Xohm would not require two-year service contracts. Subscribers can purchase access in various time increments, and the company is entertaining the possibility of offering a number of speed tiers.

Chicago River
The Chicago River

A lot of people are no doubt hoping that WiMAX service providers like Xohm will enter the market and put price pressure on cable and telco, but if that were definitely going to happen, I think we'd have heard about it by now, on the verge of the commercial introduction of WiMAX services.

If Xohm and other WiMAX competitors can get away with pricing about the same as DSL and cable modem, they will. The prices will only come down if the cost really is lower and if WiMAX providers are going to fail if they don't bring their prices down. That might happen.

I'm assuming not that many people commute to work on cruise ships, and it remains to be seen whether WiMAX service providers' networks will cover the entire lengths of various urban commuter railroads – two situations where a commuter can sit down and work.

And I don't expect commuters on the Chicago El or New York's IRT to find much advantage in WiMAX, unless those Google apps are really, really useful. If they're not, I would expect consumers to just wait to get to the office and connect to the LAN, or go to the nearest coffee shop and use the free Wi-Fi.

If that's what happens, WiMAX service providers will start to get a little desperate for subscribers, and only then will start pricing aggressively.

BTW, the X in Xohm sounds like a Z, and the word rhymes with "foam." You may laugh, but before you do, you have to try to make up a nonsense word that a) hasn't already been taken and b) doesn't sound like it could be the name of a dungsweeper in a Dungeons & Dragons game. Not so easy, is it? But I digress...

Google is hot on mobile – the reason it was going to work with EarthLink in San Francisco had EarthLink's municipal Wi-fi proposal in that city not crashed and burned. It's also why Google may bid on 700 MHz spectrum in January. Maybe the founding of a fourth competitor might actually lead to lower prices...

Brian Santo, IP Capsule Editor & CED Magazine Editor
  CED - 2008 Emerging Technologies Awards - Presented by SCTE and CED  

BigBand upgrades its universal edge QAM
BigBand Networks said its newest universal edge QAM, the BEQ6000 is now available. Last month Cox Communications said it was using the BEQ6000 for switched digital video in its Northern Virginia system, with the one of the primary goals being to add more HD channels to its lineup. Cox has 246,000 video subscribers in Northern Virginia.

BigBand's BEQ
BigBand's BEQ supports SDV, broadcast video, VOD and IP services

Dutch operator Multikabel has also deployed the BEQ6000 platform for M-CMTS to provide high-speed data and voice-over-IP services while Japanese operators Cable Networks Akita, Hino Cable Television and Bay Communications are using the BEQ6000 to deliver high-speed data services as well.


Another pure VoIP provider on its deathbed
Another standalone VoIP provider is about to fail, according to 8x8 Inc., which said it cut a deal to have the unnamed, dying company refer its 12,000 subscribers only to 8x8. The goner intends to wind down operations over the next three months. 8x8 pulled off a similar trick when SunRocket declared its imminent death a few months back. Meanwhile, the deathwatch is on for the largest standalone VoIP provider, Vonage, which is reeling from a patent infringement lawsuit brought by Verizon earlier this year.

Motorola - Beyond the Basics of IPTV

Brix rolls out 10 Gig IP assurance platform
Brix Networks took the wraps off its next-generation, IP Service assurance platform. The 4100 Verifier platform scales up to 10-Gigabits and helps network operators monitor the quality of service of their live, IP-based voice and video services while also providing network information to operator employees. The Verifier provides real-time monitoring of live customer VoIP and IPTV traffic from its end-to-end service monitoring.

Wave7 sets up Fla. FTTH network
Wave7 Optic said it has installed FTTH networks for Orlando Business Telephone Services (OBTS) and Orlando Telephone Company (OTC). The sister companies operate throughout Florida and service more than 14,000 access lines in the Orlando area.

OBTS and OTC are using Wave7's Trident7 Universal Access Platform, deployed in its EPON (IEEE 802.3ah EFM standard) FTTP configuration, to initially connect more than 1,600 homes and apartments.

Ikanos chip used in wireless gateway
Ikanos Communications said Gemtek Technology is shipping a triple play residential gateway that integrates Ikanos' VDSL2 CPE and Fusiv®processor silicon and residential gateway software suite. Gemtek's gateway is being offered to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) worldwide and has been qualified by a major North American carrier, Ikanos said.

The flag of Laos

WiMAX World roundup
Aperto Networks said SkyTelecom will use Aperto base stations and subscriber units to launch WiMAX voice and data services to both business and consumers in Laos.

Texas Instrument just introduced a WiMAX Forum compliant 802.16e Wave 2 software and development tools platform, suggesting that there's still plenty of room in the market for more OEMs who might want to make WiMAX equipment.

Alcatel-Lucent and Kyocera Wireless announced they are working on to combine the former's WiMAX infrastructure with the latter's wireless devices into an end-to-end broadband network. Kyocera's devices for WiMAX networking will include multimode mobile phones, non-traditional wireless devices, wireless PC cards and USB devices for PCs.

At the same time, Alcatel-Lucent said it expanded its interoperability testing (IOT) efforts with WiMAX ringleader Intel to similarly ensure the compatibility of its WiMAX infrastructure with devices built around Intel's fixed/mobile WiMAX silicon (the Connection 2250) and Intel's WiMAX MIMO-capable chipset for mobile devices. Devices based upon Intel's WiMAX chipsets are expected to be made available for fixed and nomadic services before the end of 2007, and for mobile services in 2008.

Xanadoo now has more than 12,000 subscribers, making it more of a competitor in the 2.5 GHz wireless market. The company offers service in Lawton, Okla., and in three Texas cities: Lubbock, Wichita Falls and Abilene. Navini Networks serves as Xanadoo's network infrastructure provider, offering its Mobile WiMAX solution.

Trango Broadband Wireless added to its licensed microwave point-to-point product line a new wireless backhaul product, TrangoLINK Giga 6, which operates in the licensed 6 GHz microwave spectrum and was developed to deliver high-capacity IP connectivity for wireless internet service provider (WISP) backbones, WiMAX networks, cellular backhaul, enterprise connectivity, broadcast and municipal applications as well as other mobile and fixed wireless networks.

In the last IP Capsule, I tried to do some simple math. Beware of simple math. Come to think of it, what you should really beware of is me doing "simple" math.

Calix has a total of 450 customers, as I wrote. Calix's customers collectively have 25 million subscribers. Calix says it has set up its customers using a number of technologies (ADSL2+, VDSL2, Ethernet, BPON, GPON) to broadband-enable something on the order of 5 million subscribers. Of its 450 customers, about 250 have deployed FTTP.

"So," the company says, and without providing actual numbers, "we're actually quite a bit bigger than some people realize. In fact, in the telecom access space we're larger than Nortel and Motorola."

Company: Aperto
Headquarters: Milpitas, Calif.
CEO: Michael K. Pratt

Claim To Fame: Specializes in carrier-class infrastructure for WiMAX networks

Recent News Of Note: The company has built WiMAX networks in Brazil, India, and most recently received a contract to build one in Laos.


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