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
REAL interesting: AT&T rolls
out Microsoft TV Edition IPTV platform
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
base its IPTV services on Microsoft TV's IPTV Edition,
now in a controlled marketing
launch in San Antonio.
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
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
took another step into IPTV by agreeing to trial
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
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.
new 6.0 version will support advanced media and services,
including DOCSIS 2.0.
The new version is also equipped with multiple qualifications
to support advanced media and services including DOCSIS 2.0
Vonage and Sonus form next-gen
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
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.
is about the size of two decks of cards.
Last month it won the CommNexus GadgetFest Best of Show for
Motorola gets Googled
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
Technologies, Inc., Tatung
Co. and Tll
Network Technologies, Inc. as new members and appointed
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
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
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.