Halo 2 a catalyst for PCMM?
With traffic for Microsoft Corp. 's Xbox Live service jumping four-fold following the Nov. 9 launch of Halo 2, it's becoming more and more apparent that there will be a place for the emerging PacketCable Multimedia (PCMM) specification.
PCMM, a spec under the auspices of CableLabs, is designed to inject guaranteed QoS into a wide range of IP applications, including voice, video and even games. The PacketCable 1.x architecture, meanwhile, is designed specifically for carrier-class VoIP services.
Although many MSOs today cap cable modem download speeds at 3 Mbps or more, what's key to a high quality online gaming experience, especially with "twitch" games like Halo 2, is low latency, or "lag."
The PCMM architecture adds to the mix new elements such as policy servers and application managers.
PCMM is expected to open the door to a set of long-standing and newer vendors to the cable realm, including Sandvine Inc., a broadband traffic management firm that has big stakes in the game of helping cable operators and other service providers manage and throttle bandwidth. Sandvine was the company that issued the initial report about Halo 2's bandwidth impact on Xbox Live.
Although CableLabs has yet to say when it will conduct formal testing on PCMM products, eight vendors participated in a three-day PCMM interoperability event earlier this year. ARRIS, Cisco Systems and Motorola Broadband supplied cable modem termination systems; Camiant, Telcordia and CableMatrix supplied policy servers, and Ellacoya, Syndeo Corp. and Telcordia supplied application managers.