IP Capsule E-Newsletter, March 1, 2006

Wed, 03/01/2006 - 9:40am

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March 1, 2006

Addressing the IPTV challenges
The deployment of IPTV is facing some serious challenges in the U.S. such as cost, marketing, speed to market, integration and operational issues, not to mention stiff competition from other video over IP providers. But globally, it's moving beyond those hurdles, albeit with similar issues, including bandwidth management.

By 2009, more than 32 million households are expected to be IPTV customers, and with the 2008 Summer Olympics being held in Beijing, China, and its 360 million TV viewers, that number is expected to spike higher not only there, but in other key global markets.

And the operative word is global. The U.S. TV market, reports JupiterResearch, faces enormous challenges in "undertaking billions of dollars in investment to build out infrastructure and design services capable of attracting subscribers in a saturated market."

Consequently, IPTV's worldly growth is not surprising to those companies who are expanding their IPTV interests overseas. C-COR Inc. is a classic example of a company looking beyond the U.S. IPTV market. "What's the driver for IPTV growth? The consumer, of course. It doesn't matter if they live in England or Japan, the U.S. or Italy. And IP delivery seeks to be the most efficient way to give consumers what they want, but it only works if you have business and operational tools to leverage IP delivery. And remember, IPTV is simply a means of sending digital video streams over the broadband data network and not exclusive to any service provider-cable or telco," says Mike Pohl, president of C-COR's global strategy group.

And what should IPTV service providers be doing? "Avoid overwhelming the consumer with Jetsons-like TV of the future and focus on real value in terms of TV of the present," says Joseph Laszlo of JupiterResearch.

And though the potential to deliver IP video in the U.S. remains appealing to a cross-section of service providers, the real value of IPTV may lie in its global markets.

Widevine widens its HD, DVD deliveries
Widevine Technologies is expanding its Cypher Virtual Smart Card to include high-definition (HD) DVD players, and will enable IPTV service providers to license and acquire premium content for extended service delivery to retail IPTV-enabled HD consumer electronics devices, the company says.

The move will allow digital copy protection via the competing Blu-ray and HD-DVD formats, the company adds. Widevine's Cypher for hi-def DVD players is expected to hit the retail market this summer and will include Blu-ray and HD-DVD devices that run on Microsoft's Vista operating system.

What's the big deal? According to Widevine's CTO, Glenn Morten, the expansion "marks the first downloadable conditional access and digital rights management solution which opens direct retail availability to Widevine secured operators."

It also could give IPTV providers a lift in acquiring premium content, a key hurdle in their effort to launch video services.

Ixia passes triple play test; IPTV scores
Ixia has released its IxLoad 3.00 test application for assessing the performance of triple play networks. The IP performance test system company and its IxLoad can emulate millions of IPTV broadcast video and VOD subscribers and the millions of streams they're viewing, the company says.

The performance of key IPTV elements such as video servers, multicast routers, and the video delivery network, can be characterized by IxLoad, which can test the performance of Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) devices as well.

Why the test? Tracking and testing the performance of sophisticated new triple play networks is a growing concern among service providers. For IPTV service providers, it's especially important for metrics including channel changing delays and video quality.

And the research says....
Nearly 75 percent of U.S. consumers would be interested in the ability to access content on-demand via their mobile devices or computers, says a recent study by M2B World Inc. Seventy-six percent of respondents were very interested in lifestyle programming on food and cooking and 69 percent were interested in card gaming on-demand, including via IPTV set-top boxes and IPTV-based programming, the report concludes.

And more research tells us....
Fifty-two percent of consumers would switch pay TV services if they could get a better price for the same channel selection, while 46 percent say the option of a la carte channel selection would motivate them to switch pay TV services, says a recent report by JupiterResearch. Translation: Price remains a key driver for IPTV service.

HDTV didn't fare too well. Just six percent of consumers prioritized HD as a desired feature, and only three percent are attracted to a greater selection of VOD services, the report adds.

The report noted some sobering conclusions about IPTV and the TV sector at large: "The U.S. TV market faces enormous challenges in undertaking billions of dollars in investment to build out infrastructure and design services capable of attracting subscribers in a saturated market, where 66 percent of current pay TV subscribers are satisfied with their service. Aggressive pricing, better channel selection and other clear benefits to induce switching will be required," it concludes.

Cox and Cisco make contact
Cox Communications will implement Cisco Systems' standards-based IP software to upgrade its 19 contact centers across the U.S., the companies announced.

Cox will deploy Cisco's IPCC Enterprise Edition, Customer Voice Portal and Outbound platforms in the 19 centers. They will replace Cox's legacy systems. The IP-based solutions will streamline Cox's management of distributed contact centers and reduce operational costs, the company says.

"After seeing the benefits that IP telephony can bring, companies are increasingly adopting IP-based contact centers for mission-critical service and support," says Laurent Philonenko, vice president and GM of Cisco's customer contact business unit.

AT&T outlines global growth
AT&T has revealed some ambitious goals for its global business, including an $8 billion to $8.5 billion capital infusion for 2006 that will be used to extend services in key global markets. Some highlights:

  • Extend dedicated MPLS-based IP access capabilities, giving service nodes in 127 countries;
  • Integration of more than 1,000 Frame Relay/ATM nodes in the legacy SBC 13-state region into the AT&T backbone network;
  • Doubling DSL country coverage for business access, via alliance agreements with local carriers;
  • Tripling Ethernet country connectivity;
  • Enhancing access via satellite, WiFi and other wireless technologies.

ATX and BroadSoft doing business
ATX Communications will use BroadSoft's VoIP application software as the platform to deliver its CoreFlex VoIP service to small and mid-sized businesses in the Mid-Atlantic region.

CoreFlex is ATX's IP-based business trunking service that enables users to increase bandwidth by maximizing the flexibility and throughput of a customer's access circuit on ATX's MPLS IP network, the company says.

Yackety-Yak, Yackety-Yak
Yak Communications is launching an unlimited calling plan to international customers. Yak Unlimited allows international customers to choose a local North American number to associate with their account, Yak says.

International subscribers using the company's Virtual VideoPhone will also have access to Yak's global search and directory. Yak also provides other VoIP services.

And the trends say.....
Consumer VoIP shows great potential, but its added value is more in new services than as a mechanism to deliver cheap telephony, says a report by Research and Markets.

Other VoIP trends for 2006:

  • Leading device makers will not try to replace the phone embedding voice into devices like TVs and appliances. Instead, they will try to enhance their devices with voice.
  • VoIP browsing and chat will change how customer service questions get answered.
  • In areas where cell coverage is limited, telcos will use a combination of VoIP and Wi-Fi to support telephony and conferencing services.

BPL goes to the Opera
The Open PLC European Research Alliance (OPERA) has approved the first open global specification for Broadband over Powerline (BPL) technologies. The specification aims to accelerate the mass rollout of powerline-based high-speed, low-cost, broadband access, voice and audiovisual services, as well as utility applications for control and management operations.

OPERA tested technologies from various international vendors to evaluate performance, notching capabilities and industrial maturity against the blueprint requirements. The new specification provides for interoperability for non-OPERA technologies via a co-existence mechanism, according to OPERA.

Covad closes NextWeb deal
Covad Communications has completed its acquisition of NextWeb, a provider of wireless broadband service to about 3,000 business customers in parts of San Francisco, Los Angeles, central California and Las Vegas.

The acquisition extends Covad's reach deeper into the business-class segment, where NextWeb is offering speeds up to 100 Mbps, and complements Covad's existing portfolio of data services, the company says.

Proxim extends family to include WiMAX
Proxim Wireless Corp. is launching a family of WiMAX standard-based products in the 3.5 GHz band. The products will be offered as part of Proxim's Tsunami product line and is designed to expand the use of WiMAX technology among a wider range of service providers, Proxim says.

You're hired. Microwave Satellite Technologies (MST), the newly acquired technology company of Telkonet, Inc., will provide New York's Trump Palace with a quadruple play after signing an agreement with EchoStar Communications.

The quad-play is expected to be offered in Trump's seven high-profile buildings on Manhattan's West Side by the end of March, and then move into other Trump properties.

And just in time for television's sweeps season.

NextWeb brings 100 Mbps speed to Covad's
portfolio of data services.
(See story above: Covad closes NextWeb deal.)

March 2006
Issue Contents »

Company: OpVista, Inc.
Headquarters: Milpitas, Calif.
CEO: Karl May

Claim to Fame: Provides advanced optical networking through its OpVista2000 optical networking platform and its reconfigurable optical add/drop multiplexing (ROADM) capability. The two products combined allow service providers the ability to obtain any wavelength, anywhere, the company says. Its true value is in helping service providers cost-effectively deliver triple-play services.

Recent news of note: Service Electric deployed OpVista's ROADM, Ultra-DWDM technology, and its Switch Ring Architecture on an interconnected system across New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Service Electric serves about 300,000 subscribers across Pennsylvania.

CTHRA Spring Symposium
March 9
San Diego, Calif.
More information

March 19-23
Las Vegas, Nev.
More information

CCMI's Profitability Assurance 2006
March 22-23
San Diego, Calif.
More information

Internet Home Alliance
Spring 2006 Connected Home Research Planning Conference

March 29, 2006
Orlando, Fla.
More information

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

ACA Washington Summit
American Cable Association
May 8-9
Washington, D.C.
More information

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

2nd Annual C-COR Global IP Summit
June 28-29
Athens, Greece
More information

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


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