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PacketCable 2.0 targets mobile voice, more SIP support

Wed, 05/25/2005 - 8:00pm
Jeff Baumgartner

New York - CableLabs is cooking up a new version of PacketCable that will incorporate support for mobile voice services and place more attention on SIP-enabled devices such as videophones.

According to CableLabs Vice President of Advanced Network Systems Ed Miller, the forthcoming PacketCable 2.0 specification will build on the voice-centric PacketCable 1.0 and PacketCable 1.5 architectures.

It marks a second coming of sorts for PacketCable 2.0. At a media briefing held in 2002, CableLabs also announced plans for a spec called PacketCable 2.0, which later morphed to become PacketCable Multimedia (PCMM), a platform that injects QoS into a wide range of IP-based applications, including voice and video.

With PacketCable 2.0, "we're taking the elements of the 1.0 and 1.5 architectures, and expanding them, broadening them," Miller said. He noted that the 2.0 spec is in its "beginning stages," but expectations are that it could be ready by early 2006.

The spec will support several modules. The first will support enhanced voice and video telephony services (TV-based caller ID, and voice messaging), and new SIP-based clients, including those based in software.

The new platform will also give special attention to mobile voice services supported by dual-mode WiFi/cellular handsets.

One MSO that's already putting convergence to the test is Rogers Communications of Canada, which is in the unique position of owning cable and cellular service platforms.

In a "roam-to-home" trial with friendlies, Rogers is testing handsets that can identify a home's WiFi or Bluetooth network and backhaul traffic on the cable network to the cellular switch. Such a set-up is important in residential areas where cellular signals traditionally are weakest, said Michael Lee, Rogers Cable's vice president of strategy & development.

Rogers hopes to integrate that with its forthcoming VoIP product to create a "converged home plan."

Lee estimated that Rogers is still 12 to 18 months away from a commercially-deployable platform that marries wireline and wireless voice services. Rogers is also exploring how WiMAX technology might fit into this convergence scenario, as well.

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