IP Capsule E-Newsletter, January 12, 2006

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January 12, 2006

Looking for Trends
Everyone wants to know about trends. Where we're headed, why and how they'll affect us personally and professionally. In the IP space, looking for trends can be dicey. Nevertheless, a gaggle of top executives from a cross-section of IP-related industries gathered recently at the IP Trend Summit in San Francisco, put on by IMS Research, to discuss what's on the IP horizon. Here's what they came up with, according to Ian Weightman of IMS.

  • Careful consideration of architectural strategy prior to deployment is essential to ensuring adequate capacity and QoS for future IPTV deployments. Translation: better have an architectural clue.
  • Compression will be the key for IPTV providers competing with cable, with MPEG-4 viewed as an enabler for multiple video streams, with at least one being HD.
  • Cable operators will not stand still as IPTV grows, and will eventually get into IPTV themselves if the telcos start using interactivity as a differentiator. Few telcos understand the TV business, and that will hold them back.
  • Some believe the set-top box is the natural candidate to become the whole home video server. But no initiative has been taken to make all the bits needed to make the STB-as-media-gateway concept work together.
  • VOD usage is growing at the expense of traditional television, and on-demand content is a strong potential differentiator and churn-reducer. With the IP VOD industry offering DVDs, gaming, and local content on demand, traditional TV usage will continue to erode.

No real jaw-dropping surprises, but the trend towards IPTV and on-demand services is unmistakable. This will get real interesting.

REAL interesting: AT&T rolls out Microsoft TV Edition IPTV platform

AT&T will base its IPTV services on Microsoft TV's IPTV Edition, now in a controlled marketing
launch in San Antonio.
AT&T (formerly SBC) has joined the IPTV ranks with an announced "controlled market" entry of IPTV service in San Antonio, Texas. The company expects to launch additional IPTV services "in larger volumes" later this year, said a spokesperson with Microsoft Corp., the company providing plenty of the service's set-top software.

Now, powerhouse AT&T is in the video business, a major, much anticipated move which began with SBC's Project Lightspeed, the company's $4 billion capital initiative to deliver IPTV over the company's fiber network.

And in the same breath, Verizon, which is using Microsoft's TV platform to power its FIOS TV service, expanded its presence in Texas. Following an initial launch last year in Keller, Verizon will soon offer it to seven additional communities in the northern part of the Lone Star State, including more than 1 million potential viewers in the Dallas/Fort Worth area by year-end.

Bell South is advancing its technology trial with Microsoft TV, as well. With AT&T, Verizon, Bell South and others pushing ahead with their IPTV strategies, the fundamental shift in the video landscape many had predicted is underway.

Brix expands its IPTV monitoring
Brix Networks has expanded its existing IPTV monitoring capabilities targeted at providing more visibility into channel change times and network performance relating to multicast infrastructure.

Providers can now measure user response times and monitor network performance and service degradation related to running dynamic IP video services over an IP architecture, Brix said.

"We know that measuring channel change times and monitoring IP infrastructure performance is imperative. So service assurance is a requirement to meet the growing demand for bundled services," said company Director of Marketing Robert Travis.

Bell South and SES Americom to trial IP-PRIME

Bell South took another step into IPTV by agreeing to trial SES Americom's centralized, satellite-centric video distribution solution, IP-PRIME. The purpose? To allow the telco to bundle and distribute hundreds of standard- and high-definition programming channels with voice and broadband services.

Bell South and Microsoft initiated a technical trial of IPTV in 2005 and are expanding into a market trial using additional MPEG4 encoded programming channels delivered by IP-PRIME. Bell South is testing the system alongside Microsoft's IPTV middleware and conditional access system.

BigBand Networks releases big version of CUDA CMTS

BigBand's new 6.0 version will support advanced media and services, including DOCSIS 2.0.
BigBand Networks has released version 6.0 of its Cuda cable modem termination system (CMTS). It incorporates a suite of features designed to improve delivery of real-time services such as VoIP and IPTV. Why the new version? "It's designed to maximize reliability of subscribers' real-time voice and video sessions, and leverage IP and DOCSIS technologies for myriad applications," says John Connelly, executive vice president of marketing and business development for BigBand.

The new version is also equipped with multiple qualifications to support advanced media and services including DOCSIS 2.0 and PacketCable.

Vonage and Sonus form next-gen alliance
Vonage will deploy Sonus Networks' network architecture to support its market expansion across the U.S. Vonage will deploy Sonus' GSX9000 PSX Call Routing Server, SGX Signaling Gateway, and the Sonus Insight Management System in New York and Los Angeles, and eventually overseas, the company said.

With growing VoIP competition, Vonage is scaling up its network. And fast. "We're now in a position to rapidly scale the size of our network," says Michael Tribolet, executive vice president of operations for Vonage. The broadband telephone service provider now has more than 1 million lines deployed throughout its network.

And now…PhoneGnome

PhoneGnome is about the size of two decks of cards.
TelEvolution's PhoneGnome said it will seamlessly join VoIP communications with a customer's existing Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) service to allow Internet and PSTN phone calls from the same phone. It can also provide free voice mail, three-way calling, call-forwarding and free call-transfers. Described as "a plug-and-play box about the size of two decks of cards that turns regular phone service into a full-fledged voice over IP service" by PC Magazine, Gnome owners combine their existing phone line with their broadband connection by plugging in PhoneGnome. And its getting some attention.

Last month it won the CommNexus GadgetFest Best of Show for multi-media devices.

Motorola gets Googled
Motorola, Inc. and Google Inc. have partnered to allow Motorola to integrate a Google icon and search capabilities onto selected devices, specifically some of its handsets. Google's search engine/icon will be accessible on select handsets sometime in Q1 2006.

HomePNA crowd getting bigger and S-A gets board
The HomePNA alliance has added Amino Communications, Entone Technologies, Inc., Tatung Co. and Tll Network Technologies, Inc. as new members and appointed Scientific-Atlanta to its Board of Directors. The additions, particularly S-A's, strengthens the alliance's position as a technology option for in-home distribution of triple-play services such as IPTV.

The new members are expected to bring additional clout to the alliance and facilitate the delivery of IP enabled services such as home networking, broadband modem and routers and IP set top boxes. And more companies are likely to join the alliance.

AOL and Intel dive deeper into digital
America Online Inc. (AOL) and Intel Corp. will deliver AOL digital entertainment services, including its new AOL Video Service, to consumers via Intel's Viiv technology-based PCs. Content will include music, movies, TV shows and videos viewable on home television sets and other devices.

Intel's Viiv platform includes dual core processors and tailored chipsets and software that can enable HD video and surround-sound audio, and will enable on demand entertainment throughout the house. The service, the companies say, will be available later this year.

And the research says...
The need for speed is growing. By 2010, over 10 percent of U.S. households will likely subscribe to at least 24 Mbps service, and by 2015 penetration should exceed 50 percent, says Lawrence Vanston, president of research firm Technology Futures Inc. Why the higher speeds? IP video, of course. It is expected to drive the need for more speed, especially HD IP video. "Both Moore's Law and the move to IP video are driving an increase in data rates for broadband. The ability to provision very high data rates, reliably, economically and universally, will be the key to carrier competitiveness in the future," he maintains.

A big win for CableLabs and its DCAS (Downloadable Conditional Access System) effort. Big-time consumer electronics firm LG Electronics has singed a license for the emerging technology, which will likely replace the hardware-centric CableCARD. LG's partnering with CableLabs is another piece to the security puzzle in the march toward "set-top-free" digital televisions that support interactive cable services.


January 2006
Issue Contents »

Company: Akimbo
Headquarters: San Mateo, Calif.
CEO: Josh Goldman

Claim to Fame: Named "Best of What's New" by Popular Science, Akimbo is the first company to deliver digital quality VOD to any television via a broadcast-Internet connection and a functional marriage of TV and the Internet.

Recent news of note: Akimbo recently signed a deal with CE firm Thomson that will allow Akimbo users to watch titles from Movielink on their TV sets.

NCTA National Show
April 9-11, 2006
Location: Atlanta, Ga.
More information:

SCTE Cable-Tec Expo
June 20-23, 2006
Location: Denver, Colo.
More information:

Copyright © 2006 Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.



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