CED Up Front - June 2011
LOOK BACK IN ANGA
It was a smorgasbord of product demos at the Anga Cable Exhibition and Congress, held May 3-5 in Cologne, Germany, that attracted 16,500 visitors and 420 exhibitors.
Sunrise Telecom demonstrated its portfolio of advanced testing productivity solutions.
The company unveiled the AT2500RQ4, a spectrum analyzer offering proactive detection for impairments in digital networks. And the vendor showed off its RxT, a productivity test platform to improve field productivity for operators; its CM3000 Series, a DOCSIS 3.0-compliant family of test instruments that provide operators with a spectrum analyzer, a D3 measurement suite and a PC toolkit to simplify installation, speed plant maintenance and increase overall quality; and its realGate workflow optimization system that manages and optimizes workflow for engineers, managers and field technicians.
Cheetah Technologies showcased how cable system operators can ensure quality of experience in complex video environments.
Cheetah’s V-Factor portfolio includes the V-Factor Stream Probe and the V-Factor Source Monitor. Cheetah couples this monitoring solution with the Q-Advisor management software solution, designed to aid video technicians in identifying and prioritizing video defect resolution.
Meanwhile, multi-screen strategy was the focus as Viaccess presented content security, rights management solutions and content discovery with subsidiary Orca Interactive.
Viaccess demonstrated flexible rights management and content discovery for fourscreen content strategy. Demonstrations included flexible rights management, a DRMagnostic rights management solution bringing subscribers easy purchase and consumption of premium content across multiple devices; and Compass, a content discovery and recommendation solution enriched with Web content to give subscribers personalized recommendations.
Aurora Networks released its Digital Return module for the BK Fiber Node that will enable cable operators in Germany and neighboring countries to better meet bandwidth requirements driven by high-demand services.
ATX Networks upgraded its Maxnet II product line to provide solutions for both HFC and RFoG/PON deployments.
With respect to HFC deployments, ATX demonstrated a platform that includes optical transmission and reception, narrowcast combing, and return path splitting for up to 50 node segments in one rack. From an RFoG/PON perspective, ATX integrated all of the distribution and receiving components required for delivery to 128 ONU/Ts into one module, so that a total of 1,280 ONU/Ts can be served from a 3RU platform.
Broadpeak demonstrated its BkM100 content delivery management system, which allows cable operators to manage video deployment on cable, IPTV and open Internet networks from a single management interface.
As for the company’s wholesale CDN option, powered by the BkM100, it lets operators provide content producers with secure bandwidth and the mechanism to ensure quality of service all the way to the subscriber’s premises. Operators can also work with resellers that can, in turn, resell this bandwidth to content owners for managed content delivery.
And Broadpeak previewed its latest entry to the streaming server space, the BkS200, a family of live and on-demand servers that can deliver video on managed or open Internet networks to a variety of devices.
InnoTrans Communications showed off its new Transcend platform, a single-rack unit modular chassis that supports up to four rear-facing modules, with the RF and optical interfaces contained within each module, designed to eliminate optical “bottlenecks.”
And the company’s CE-compliant Chromadigm solution provides distance-independent performance, crucial for RFoG and Fiber Deep projects that may have receivers at varying distances from the transmitter.
“The solution provides operators the ability to do full eight-way node segmentation in both forward and reverse directions on one fiber, for distances up to 36 km,” said Mani Ramachandran, InnoTrans’ CEO.
And at Anga, Digital TV Labs launched its CI Plus Operator Test Tool, designed to let operators test CI Plus compliance, covering all of the key aspects of the specification and full testing of the CI Plus (MHEG-based) browser functionality. The latter provides branding opportunities and access to valueadded services, such as VOD.
The tool is also ideal for operators that are trialing, developing and testing CI Plus, as it can be used to test scenarios such as Usage Rules Information (URI) combinations for content recording and receiver output control, as well as simulated CAM software upgrade by over-the-air download.
MSOS DO WELL IN HOME, SME SATISFACTION SURVEY
Cox Communications and Cablevision’s Optimum Lightpath operation continue to rank highly in J.D. Powers’ customer satisfaction surveys in the home office and SME business services categories.
Phone companies continue to come out on top in the enterprise category, which they have long served.
J.D. Power said that business customers are experiencing fewer and fewer outages of any duration, and, as a result, simple network uptime has been reduced significantly as a factor in customer satisfaction.
Instead, customer satisfaction is now largely dependent on customer service. Interestingly, overall customer satisfaction rates have gone down. For one thing, when the network does go down, customers want an instant response. Second, this year’s survey responses underscore how critical good customer service is becoming as a competitive differentiator.
“The greatest differences in satisfaction between customers who intend to switch and those who intend to stay with their current provider revolve around the empathy and responsiveness of account executives and customer service representatives,” the company said.
On a more macroeconomic level, the study found signs of increasing economic optimism, with 53 percent of respondents forecasting growth in 2011, compared with 47 percent in 2010. This optimism has manifested itself in the number of large enterprise businesses that say they plan to add data lines in 2011 – 33 percent, compared with 30 percent in 2010.
Small- and mid-size businesses are collectively more conservative, J.D. Power reported, with 46 percent forecasting growth in 2011. Home-based businesses are the least optimistic, with 36 percent predicting growth in their businesses in 2011.
THE TOP PROVIDERS, IN ORDER, BY CATEGORY:
• Home office: Cox, Optimum Lightpath, Verizon, AT&T, CenturyTel, Qwest (those two have just merged), TWC, Comcast, Charter
• SME: Optimum Lightpath, Cox, Comcast, Qwest, AT&T, Verizon, TWC
• Enterprise: Verizon, AT&T, TWC, Comcast
NETFLIX STREAMING BIGGEST SOURCE OF INTERNET TRAFFIC IN N. AMER.
Move over, Web surfing. Netflix movies now take up more of the Internet pipes going into North American homes.
A recent study published by Sandvine shows that Netflix movies and TV shows account for nearly 30 percent of traffic into homes during peak evening hours, compared with less than 17 percent for Web browsing.
Only about a quarter of homes with broadband subscribe to Netflix, but watching movies and TV shows online takes up a lot of bandwidth compared with Web surfing, email, and practically every other Internet activity except file sharing and videoconferencing.
As late as last year, both Web surfing and peer-to-peer file sharing – mainly the illegal trading of copyrighted movies – were each larger than Netflix’s traffic.
The number of Netflix customers is growing quickly, to 23.6 million subscribers in the U.S. and Canada as of the end of March. This year, the number of Netflix subscribers surpassed the number of video subscribers at Comcast.
The growth in Netflix traffic doesn’t mean overall Internet traffic is growing faster than before. Rather, it means the type of traffic that’s driving growth has shifted, as it has several times before. A few years ago, YouTube traffic was driving the growth of overall Internet traffic. It now accounts for 11 percent of traffic into the home at peak hours, according to Sandvine.