'Dogs and cats living together…'
Could we be on the verge of a rapprochement that rivals the canine-feline cohabitation that Bill Murray warns in Ghostbusters would presage impending apocalypse?
The DSL Forum is expanding its scope beyond the various flavors of DSL to include a variety of next-generation networks, including fiber, wireless and (are you sitting down?) it might even consider HFC.
Surely the ramifications of cooperation between the cable and telco industries would be something less than eschatological, but they might be fairly profound for consumers, for a start.
Love makes the world go 'round, but standards make the electronics industry grow by leaps and bounds. One of the things consumer electronics makers would like to do would be to make consumer premises equipment (CPE) that is access agnostic - products that will work no matter what type of network they find themselves dangling off the end of. That would require some standardization.
Another potential common ground would be standards for a common management platform that would allow service providers to manage networks that combine subnetworks based on DSL, FTTx, and the various wireless technologies out there, including the various flavors of cellular along with Wi-Fi and WiMAX.
The DSL Forum (which is keeping its name, at least for now) is developing standards in these areas and others. At first blush there's no reason cable can't be involved in any of that. And the DSL Forum agrees.
Representatives of the DSL Forum said they are trying to set up a meeting next month with EuroCableLabs at the 2006 Broadband World Forum Europe conference, set for Oct. 9-12 in Paris, to determine if there are areas of common interest.
Laurie Gonzalez, marketing director of the DSL Forum, also was enthusiastic about establishing contacts with CableLabs in the U.S., though that hasn't happened yet.
There are already multiple standards that are now part of the
DSL Forum's new BroadbandSuite initiative. Source: DSL Forum
The expansion of the DSL Forum's charter is an initiative it's calling the BroadbandSuite, which has three focus areas: BroadbandControl, BroadbandAccess and BroadbandHome.
BroadbandControl is aimed at creating an intelligent, programmable control layer that unifies management of next-generation network elements and devices. This should help service providers deliver personalized services.
The goal of BroadbandAccess is to define specifications for broadband-agnostic access network architectures, evolving from ATM to Ethernet-based access aggregation. With Ethernet, service providers can better support high-bandwidth applications such as IPTV, video-on-demand and videoconferencing.
The BroadbandHome aim is to unify the home networking environment by establishing a common set of capabilities for networked devices as well as automating device activation and configuration to simplify the service delivery process.
Seems like there might be some areas of common interest in there. Can't hurt to talk.
AT&T, MobiTV launch live TV subscription service
AT&T and MobiTV are planning to offer a mobile television service in the U.S. accessible through any broadband connection. AT&T currently offers access to MobiTV through AT&T Wi-Fi hot spots.
A subscription to the new AT&T Broadband TV will cost $19.99 a month on top of any broadband access fee. Among the channels included in the initial channel lineup are Fox News (available to AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet subscribers only), Bloomberg, Oxygen, History Channel, Comedy Time, Toonworld, Maxx Sports and the Weather Channel. AT&T intends to add more channels.
The service is browser-based, and is being available on what AT&T referred to as a three-screen basis - TVs, PCs, and handhelds.
The two have set up an AT&T Broadband TV Web site where the service can be sampled.
OpenTV, Innovative Systems target telcos with turn-key IPTV
Middleware and set-top applications specialist OpenTV Corp. has formed a partnership with Innovative Systems that will result in a turnkey IPTV platform for independent telcos.
Innovative Systems will market the system, which is comprised of its own integrated headend server and IMS-based application server, and IP set-tops from Amino Communications running OpenTV's Core2 middleware and a suite of digital video recording, interactive television and telephony applications. Among them, the combo will support an electronic program guide, video-on-demand capabilities, TV-based caller ID, and voice mail.
Via the partnership with Innovative, which touts more than 500 telco customers, "we think we can make faster progress developing and delivering a reliable, scalable solution that will form the basis for the continued extension of our product lineup," said OpenTV CEO Jim Chiddix.
"We see a real need in the independent telco market for a more full-featured IPTV solution than is currently available," added Innovative Systems CEO Roger Musick.
Entone goes the CPE-only route
With a deal in place to sell its VOD software and assets to Harmonic Inc., Entone Technologies will next apply a laser-like focus on its IPTV set-top and gateway business.
Entone, explained company CEO Steve McKay, had struggled in the boardroom with the fact that the company had enjoyed moderate success with its VOD and CPE businesses, but had to shed something in order to achieve "terrific success" with one.
Obviously, the CPE side won the long-term focus for Entone, leaving it up to Harmonic to score the "big prize" in VOD - U.S. cable - in a sector that will now include participation by bigger players such as Cisco Systems Corp. and Motorola Inc. via their recent and respective acquisitions of Arroyo Video Systems and Broadbus Technologies.
The 'Hydra,' Entone's flagship IPTV gateway.
McKay will continue on with Entone as it enters CPE-only mode. Several key players will remain with Entone post the Harmonic deal, including VP of Product Development Mark Evensen and VP of Business Development Ian Jefferson. The VOD-free version of Entone expects to have 50 employees by the end of the year.
"In many ways, the company will look identical to what it did before, except we'll be totally focuses on CPE," McKay said. The set-top/gateway business "can't be a part-time business," he added.
Entone will also be able to go full-time on CPE as a well-capitalized entity, thanks to the Harmonic deal, valued at $45 million, $26 million of it in cash.
Entone expects to remain focused on the IPTV CPE category, led by its flagship Hydra products. It has rounded out its family with a hybrid IP/QAM set-top called "Magi," and "Crescendo," an environmentally-hardened network interface device that is installed outside the customer's home. Today, the latter uses HPNA 3.0 networking, though Entone plans to also offer a version based on Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) technology, as well.
Entone's Hydra box, meanwhile, uses basic RF modulation, a "sleeper" approach that provides a low-cost, albeit analog, solution to delivering standard-def IPTV signals to multiple televisions in the home, McKay said. "It's your workhorse solution, if you will."
A house-full of HDTVs will need a solution with HPNA 3.0 or MoCA, he added.
McKay said Entone has more than 12 deployments with "thousands" of CPEs deployed.
Its flagship customer is Consolidated Communications, which started IPTV deployments with stand-alone IPTV set-tops, but later opted for gateway gear in order to keep deployments costs for multiple-TV households down to palatable levels.
Nortel to help Telus migrate to IPTV network
Telus has engaged Nortel to help it integrate the components of an IPTV system, enable SIP-based voice over IP services, and create a migration path to a converged IMS-based platform.
The move prepares Telus for introducing new IP-based services, including IPTV, in a marketing thrust it is calling the Future Friendly Home.
Telus has been experimenting with IPTV, relying on a system provided by Alcatel and Microsoft, but has opted to go with Nortel to integrate an open, standards-based IPTV network.
Nortel anchors a group of technology companies who together can provide the elements of a complete IPTV solution. They include: IPTV middleware from Minerva Networks and Orca Interactive; video-on-demand (VoD) from Kasenna and BitBand; content security solutions from Irdeto; encoders from Harmonic Inc. and Optibase; a Web browser interface from Espial; digital program insertion (DPI) from Terayon; an emergency alert system (EAS) from Trilithic; xDSL modems from Westell; and set-top boxes from Amino.
Ken Couch, Nortel director of marketing for IPTV, said Telus will rely on some of its own preferred vendors, though there is some commonality with some of Nortel's partners. For example, Telus will source middleware from Minerva Networks.
Three groups form to assure quality of IP services
With three entirely separate groups announcing three separate partnerships aimed at improving the quality of voice and video over IP, one might get the sense that the quality of voice and video over IP needs to improve.
The V2oIP Quality Alliance is an organization that aims to support the quality of both voice and video over-IP, which it is rendering as the now completely unpronounceable "V2oIP."
Alliance members are Ditech Networks, Empirix, Global IP Sound, JDSU, Polycom, and Telchemy.
Meanwhile, Brix Networks and Texas Instruments will collaborate on the development of IP endpoint service assurance management tools, which will give service providers the ability to collect network performance information and gain visibility into the quality of VoIP, IPTV, and advanced data services.
TI will contribute its PIQUA real-time, IP quality management system, and Brix Networks its BrixWorx central-site correlation and reporting engine. Brix introduced a new BrixWorx Connector for TI's PIQUA software.
Separately, Minacom and Sunrise Telecom are partnering to deliver VoIP and IPTV testing systems. The two will combine the centralized test capabilities offered by Minacom's DirectQuality R7 service level test automation platform with the network and service test functionality available in Sunrise Telecom's handheld FTTx, DSL, and cable test sets.
The combination will allow installers to test the quality of IP services at set-up, and fix any problems before customers begin to use their services.
Sprint adds PPV movie service for cell phones
Sprint launched Sprint Movies, a pay-per-view service that streams full-length movies to mobile phones. The new PPV service complements its existing mSpot service, which is subscription-based.
is available on
For Sprint Movies, Sprint has rights to 45 films (and counting) from Buena Vista VOD, Lionsgate, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Universal Pictures, including "National Treasure," "Spider-Man 2" and "Scarface."
Both the mSpot service and Sprint Movies are enabled by mSpot, a startup that aggregates entertainment from major media companies, and optimizes it for delivery over existing wireless networks.
Sprint began making mSpot streaming movies available on a subscription basis last December. mSpot also provides Sprint with a music service.
The mSpot monthly subscription fee is $6.95. Sprint said subscriber growth for that service has averaged more than 30 percent month over month. Sprint Movies cost between $3.99 and $5.99 each. Customers can view the movie an unlimited number of times within a set period, which varies between 24 hours and one week, depending on the title. One-day extensions can be purchased for 24-hour titles for $0.99.
Broadbus updates server to support IPTV applications
Broadbus Technologies, now officially part of Motorola, announced a new version of its B-1 on-demand video platform that adds reliability features and enhanced support for IPTV-based advanced video services such as nDVR, time-shifted TV, and on-demand ad insertion, all distributed to a number of devices beyond the TV.
The Broadbus B-1 Video Server and Stream Commander management software have also been updated with support for H.264/MPEG-4, improved security (including SSHv2, TACACS+, Denial of service (DOS) prevention), and enhanced fault tolerance and reliability.
"We've always been ready for prime time with VOD, but now we're ready for phase two of on-demand, for services like Cablevision's networked DVR and Time Warner's Start Over," said Tom Kennedy, senior director of marketing at Broadbus.
Kennedy said the new version of the B-1 is being tested by a number of service providers he declined to name.
Qwest beefs up VDSL/FTTH channel lineup
Qwest Communications is adding premium movie channels and offering new high-definition and standard-definition channels (at prices the company says are set below cable) -- all only for customers with either a VDSL or FTTH connection, and only in Denver and Phoenix.
Qwest had been offering the common HBO/Cinemax suite of programming. New options include an expanded Starz/Showtime package with a total of 30 channels, and the combination of both packaged with the Sundance Channel.
In addition, Qwest Choice HDTV customers who now have access to HBO, Cinemax, and The Movie Channel will get the HD versions of all three at no additional charge. Showtime HD and Starz HD were previously available.
Qwest Choice HD customers will also receive additional high-definition channels, including the NFL Network HD, Food Network HD, and local stations.
mPhase upgrades IPTV software
mPhase Technologies is updating its TV+ System IPTV software with the ability to encode a simultaneous mix of both MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 streams in a single channel.
The idea is to allow service providers to populate each of their systems with a mix of set-tops that support MPEG-2 or MPEG-4, or both, rather than upgrade to MPEG-4-only STBs all at once. Alternatively, the capability provides a way for providers to support a mix of network types, including Ethernet, DSL and fiber.
Another addition to the TV+ System is a Dynamic Menu System that allows service providers to define menu profiles and map viewer selections to portal and browser-based services. mPhase offers optional Flash integration for gaming services, and has also developed a Portal SDK for applications developers.
The updated software will not be commercially available until Q4. mPhase is demonstrating the new capabilities in the Tilgin Mood 300 Series of MPEG 4-capable set-top boxes (STBs).
Orca IPTV Interactive Alliance adds new partners
With few companies able to offer an entire IPTV system, leveraging partnerships is the way to go. Eight more companies have joined Orca Interactive's Interactive Alliance IPTV partner program.
They include broadcast and media-on-demand software company Streaming21, content security provider Irdeto, interactive television software developer inLive Interactive, content and applications aggregator Accedo, iPanel, a provider of embedded Internet solutions for interactive digital television, Texas Instruments, and Russian integrator BCC.
They join BitBand Technologies, Nagravision, Verimatrix Widevine, GooMe, Emblaze-VCON, Amino, ANT, Humax, Kreatel, Opera, Setabox, DigiEyeZ, HP, IBM, Indra, Lucent, and Open Technologies.
Concurrent VOD works with Danish IPTV application developer
Nordija, a Danish developer of interactive applications for IP-based video services, said it will use Concurrent's MediaHawk 4000 video server for use in its IPTV middleware platform. The Nordija middleware offers a TV portal that assists the viewer selecting channels and using other features such as video-on-demand, electronic program guides, network personal video recording, and personal channel mosaic.
Single chip integrates multiple TV standards
Frontier Silicon has announced a multi-standard digital TV baseband IC, the first to integrate the multi-standard mobile TV platform from Imagination Technologies, a U.K. company that specializes in system-on-chip technology. Frontier Silicon's new Paradiso chip supports DVB-H, DVB-T, T-DMB, DAB-IP and enhanced packet mode DAB. Samples are now available.
BitBand to add VOD to Israeli DBS TV
Israeli satellite TV broadcaster Yes has selected BitBand for the deployment of video on demand (VOD) services in Israel. Yes will run a hybrid network that will deliver TV by satellite and VOD through an IP feed, both via a single set-top box at the subscriber's home.
New CDMA revision promises carrier-grade VoIP
The CDMA Development Group (CDG) announced that CDMA2000 operators upgrading to 1xEV-DO Revision A (Rev A) with conversational QoS capability will be able to offer carrier-grade voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services over wireless 3G networks.
QoS enabled Rev A networks will increase downlink and uplink speeds, provide symmetry, and reduce latency and jitter. These improvement should increase the quality of VoIP and other delay sensitive services including push-to-talk (PTT), push-to-media, video conferencing, multicasting, and 3D gaming with multiple players.
Perry LaForge, executive director of the CDG, said "VoIP over cellular is not only more flexible and affordable than circuit-switched networks; it will help enable the convergence of telecommunications with entertainment, consumer electronics and information technology."
360networks offers to host VoIP in western U.S.
The number of potential VoIP-provider partners continues to grow, as 360networks plans to debut a new wholesale VoIP service for cable operators, ISPs, CLECs, wireless broadband and other service providers.
With a single IP connection and feature server, customers can access 360networks' VoIP platform and gain access to an a-la-carte menu of services that includes inbound and outbound local calling, e911 services, directory listings, local number portability, operator services, caller name services, directory assistance and domestic long distance termination.
The IP service, called VoIP360, runs on the company's wholly-owned 16,000-mile fiber optic backbone, which currently extends through the western United States. 360networks signaled it intends to expand its footprint.
360networks said it is in the final stages of beta testing with multiple customers using the VoIP360 service. TransAria, which serves Montana, was the one identified customer.
i2Telecom, Wave Systems consider PC VoIP collaboration
i2Telecom International and Wave Systems are circling around each other, with plans to improve security and quality of PC-based VoIP. The deal is contingent upon "the completion of integration and development work and the negotiation of definitive documentation," according to i2 Telecom.
The plan calls for i2Telecom to enable its product offerings for authentication via a Trusted Platform Module (TPM), a security chip installed on the motherboard of millions of PCs shipping today. Wave Systems would promote the hardened i2Telecom VoIP service as part of its third-party services program for its EMBASSY Trust Suite software (ETS), which assists users in managing the TPMs on their PCs.
In English, users of i2Telecom's technology would be able make secure VoIP calls without having to enter passwords or login information.
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Time Warner unit making hay with business Ethernet services
Time Warner Telecom has broken into the top three purveyors of retail business Ethernet services in the U.S., according to a new survey by Vertical Systems Group.
The market is in flux, with acquisitions, new entrants, expanding geographic coverage, and the introduction of sub-10 Mbps services all roiling the market.
AT&T continues to lead the market with a 16.2 percent share of Ethernet ports, followed by Verizon at 13.5 percent and Time Warner Telecom at 10.9 percent.
Next in order were BellSouth (10.5 percent), Cogent (9.0 percent), Level 3 (6.5 percent), which gained share with its recent acquisitions of WilTel, TelCove, Progress Telecom and Looking Glass Networks. Next are Sprint and Yipes with 6 percent and 5.7 percent shares, respectively. Qwest (5.5 percent) has just closed a deal to aquire OnFiber (5.1 percent).
Share figures are calculated using mid-year 2006 enterprise customer installations of Ethernet services.