IP Capsule E-newsletter, June 14, 2006

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June 14, 2006

Can IPTV keep its promise? New study says yes
The promise of video delivery via IP-based networks by a host of new service providers to compete with cable and fulfill the promise of triple and quadruple play services remains just that, a promise.

Keeping the promise is the tricky part.

Can it compete technologically in a burgeoning triple play market? Is it price competitive? How about the reliability and quality? What's the best medium to deliver IPTV?

Those questions are being answered in some select markets, and a recent report from the New Millennium Research Council (NMRC) suggests IPTV will be a viable programming platform in the future.

Here's why, according to Milton Ellis, vice president and senior consultant for the Technology Research Practice at Harris Interactive, who commented on the report. "When you consider that IPTV is a new technology offering, the future of IPTV does look promising," he explained.

Forecasts for IPTV are enthusiastic, with $55 billion in revenue expected for the digital convergence of services and products in the IPTV space through 2010, according to a Deloitte TMT report.

Meanwhile, Multimedia Research Group predicts there will be nearly 37 million IPTV subscribers by 2009.

Other key findings of the NMRC report include: Online video interest is growing and the strongest market potential for IPTV is among younger consumers.

Yet hurdles remain for IPTV, for both PC and traditional TV delivery, the report acknowledges. Regulatory issues, including local franchising rules; lack of IPTV technical standards; and content protection issues still must be addressed.

Complicating the promise is actually defining IPTV, since it covers many different forms of video programming and services.

However, once IPTV is clearly defined, and the regulatory, technical, content and marketing issues are resolved, IPTV just may keep its promise after all.

Juniper adds firewall to Microsoft's Edition
Juniper Networks and Microsoft Corp. have signed a global agreement to enhance the protection for IP networks, services and applications, the companies announced.

Juniper will provide its NetScreen-5200 and NetScreen-5400 Integrated Firewall and Integrated Security Gateway 1000 and 2000 for access control, secure communications and network and application-level security.

Why the agreement? As IPTV gets traction, particularly in Europe, the need for a more secure and reliable delivery system of IPTV services is becoming top of mind for service providers.

HD on-demand for IPTV coming soon
OnDemand TV, a telecommunications provider in Japan, will launch what is says is the world's first IPTV on-demand service to offer HD programming encoded in the H.264 video compression standard, or MPEG-4 AVC (Advanced Video Coding), the company announced.

SeaChange International will provide the MPEG-4 platform, which will allow OnDemand to deliver HD video streams in less than half the bandwidth required by MPEG-2, the companies added.

"Higher compression ratios are allowing network operators to efficiently push multiple services through a single home connection, and our use of H.264 now makes long anticipated high-definition content a leading feature of our competitive offering," said Yasuyuki Taniguchi, an executive at OnDemand TV.

And why the launch? OnDemand FTTH (Fiber To The Home) subscribers in Tokyo and Osaka will have access to on-demand libraries of HD movies, sports and other programming, the company said.

Cisco takes upgrade route to IPTV
Cisco Systems is enhancing its 7600 Series Router portfolio to increase network intelligence and flexibility for service providers and their IP NGNs (Internet Protocol Next-Generation Networks).

The enhancements include multicast connection control, which provides more efficient delivery of video services, and an integrated video/IPTV quality-monitoring module.

Why the upgrade? Better efficiency, greater variety of services, Cisco says.

Kasenna goes to the Heartland

Heartland Communications and Kentucky Telephone, two independent telephone companies, said they will support their respective IPTV services with Kasenna Inc.'s PortalTV suite.

Kasenna will provide its LivingRoom 2.0 IPTV middleware as the cornerstone of the platform, which includes software for the consumer set-top box and for the backend service creation, management and delivery, the company noted.

McLeod's new strategy? The business
McLeod USA Inc. has announced a new strategy that will focus more on its IP-based integrated voice and data broadband solutions for single and multi-location small and medium-sized businesses.

The services will include multiple voice channels and high-speed Internet with or without IP VPNs, along with managed security and firewall protection, McLeod noted.

Why the changing strategy? "Our focus is not just doing what everyone else does, but offering businesses a unique suite of products and services. That's what we're doing with our new and enhanced IP-based products," said Royce Holland, CEO of McLeodUSA.

Nuera's gateway nets softswitch certification

Nuera's BTX-8 media gateway.
Nuera Communications' BTX-8 media gateway has received interoperability certification with MetaSwitch's Class 4/5 softswitch.

Nuera, which in the process of being acquired by AudioCodes, said the integration with MetaSwitch will allow the two companies to build on open IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) standards and is target the combined offering to competitive service providers, cable operators and incumbent local exchange carriers.

What's the deal here? Another prime example of vendor companies understanding the need to add partners to service the expanding IP-based service market.

Agilent's N2X passes test
Agilent Technologies Inc. announced that its N2X multiservices test solution will validate IPTV service quality for thousands of subscribers under real world video, VoIP and data-traffic conditions.

Agilent says that network manufacturers and service providers can now use the N2X solution to characterize the ability of individual network elements or entire networks to meet IPTV Quality of Experience (QoE) expectations prior to deployment.

The N2X, Agilent notes, is the only triple-play test solution that simultaneously combines channel changing, hundreds of IPTV channels and hundreds of thousands of VoIP and data-traffic streams to identify the true service quality experienced by every IPTV subscriber.

Why the test? Ensuring VoIP, IPTV and data quality from the get-go is paramount to service providers.

And the research says....
Voice and the bundle; two of a kind

IDC, a global market intelligence firm, is predicting the demise of standalone communications services. It predicts that by 2010 the US market for bundled services will grow from fewer than 45 million today to more than 84 million.

And what's driving the bundled market? VoIP, IPTV, satellite and mobile strategic partnerships, IDC says.

DBS deals mean full speed ahead for WildBlue
The on-again/off-again relationship WildBlue Communications has had with the satellite video industry is back on again after it secured distribution deals with EchoStar Communications and DirecTV.

Under the five-year wholesale distribution deal announced Friday, DirecTV and EchoStar have agreed to offer WildBlue's satellite-fed Internet service exclusively over the next five years. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The deal is a major one for WildBlue, which will now be able to tap into a combined DBS subscriber base of more than 27 million customers.

A WildBlue spokeswoman said DirecTV and EchoStar customers will need to use a separate dish to receive the high-speed data service, but that the companies are still considering the development of a dual-mode dish that's capable of providing digital video and data services simultaneously.

EchoStar and DirecTV expect to begin marketing WildBlue services under their own respective brands in the "coming months." They said pricing information will be forthcoming.

Earlier this year, WildBlue secured a similar deal with AT&T Inc., which will market satellite broadband services in rural areas underserved by DSL and high-speed cable lines. Under that deal, AT&T will market WildBlue's highest speed tier, 1.5 Mbps downstream/256 kbps upstream, for $79.95 per month.

The deals with DirecTV and EchoStar "are a turning point for WildBlue," said WildBlue CEO David Leonard.

They are also a long time in coming. EchoStar, despite earlier high hopes, had already written off its $50 million investment in the Ka-band, Colorado-based satellite data service provider. It also wrote off a previous investment in Starband Communications, another provider of broadband-based data services.

DirecTV, meanwhile, used to be linked to the Ku-band-based service Direcway, which is now part of Hughes Network Systems LLC and has recently been rechristened "HughesNet." DirecTV also had plans in place in the late 1990s to offer high-speed services via three satellites attached to the Spaceway project, but has since decided to use two Spaceway birds to expand its high-definition television capabilities.

The WildBlue connection also calls into question past speculation that DirecTV would use WiMAX technology to fuel a high-speed service bundle.

And now, WildBlue U
WildBlue and several rural utilities across America are launching WildBlue U, a program sponsored by the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC) to advance the training, sales and marketing experiences of high-speed Internet services in rural areas.

The program will also provide paid internships to college students in rural America. Twenty-eight electric and telecommunications utilities in 17 states are participating.

Qwest and Microsoft deepen strategic alliance
Qwest Communications International Inc. and Microsoft Corp. are expanding their alliance to include co-branded Windows Live service to customers. The deal makes Qwest the first U.S. communications company to offer Internet services in tandem with Windows Live.

The new services on the new Windows Live services platform will include benefits such as: Safety with Windows Live OneCare; Flexibility with the personalization of Qwest customer home pages; and Connectivity, with co-branded Windows Live Messenger and Live Mail services.

Why the deepened alliance? Qwest is feverishly competing in a crowded triple play market and Microsoft's brand recognition is no small upgrade.

CableLabs and EuroCableLabs tighten relationship
CableLabs and EuroCableLabs have signed an agreement to further align the development of cable technology in the US and Europe.

The agreement provides EuroCableLabs access to CableLabs' DOCSIS and PacketCable specifications and test plans.

Why the agreement? Better access to engineering changes to specifications and greater consistency across cable technologies developed in Europe and North American markets.

And the research says…
European Broadband prices falling

Subscription rates for download speeds of up to 4 Mbps are trending downward for residential and business segments, dropping as much as 32 percent for 1.5 Mbps in the consumer market, says research firm Research and Markets.

Why the drop? Increased competition from cable operators and tariff cuts in Eastern Europe.

The bundle remains en fuego
Of more than 3,000 U.S. Internet households surveyed, 35 percent are highly unlikely to switch from their bundled services, which increases customer retention by 20 percent, says a recent report by Parks Associates.

And, they're willing to pay 11 percent more for their dual-play services than the overall average, Parks adds.

Company: AirCell
Headquarters: Louisville, Colo.
CEO: Jack Blumenstein

Claim to Fame: Designs, manufacturers, markets and supports a full line of airborne telecommunications systems for the business aviation, general aviation, government and air transport markets. Its latest generation of products provides voice and data services for passengers and flightcrews using the global Iridium Satellite System.

Recent news of note: Aircell and JetBlue won bids via an FCC-run auction for spectrum for air-to-ground broadband frequencies, which, in turn, will allow the companies to provide wireless broadband services to airlines and business aircraft in the U.S.

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

2nd Annual C-COR Global IP Summit
June 28-29, 2006
Athens, Greece
More information: Click Here

IPComm 2006
Sept. 25-27, 2006
Nashville, Tenn.
More information: Click Here

CTHRA Fall Symposium
Oct. 18, 2006
Philadelphia, Pa.
Park Hyatt Hotel
More information: Click Here


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



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