Juke left, run right
PC vendors are beginning to embed CDMA EV-DO Revision A modems into their notebooks.
There's this scene near the end of "Jurassic Park" where the wily game warden is stalking an escaped velociraptor who, he realizes too late, has led him into a trap. "Clever girl," he says admiringly as a second velociraptor bears down on him.
But I digress…
The cable industry has been feeling pretty secure for quite some time about DOCSIS, which historically has provided Internet access at speeds well in excess of access rates provided by DSL technology. Now, even when a phone company ups the amount of bandwidth it offers well into the double digits, competing MSOs can usually at least match the offer.
Sony's Vaio VGN-TXN10
with Rev A modem
But maybe the velociraptors…, er, the phone companies - have led cable companies into a trap, where they can be blindsided with the aide of an unexpected ally: the computer industry.
The CDMA Development Group (CDG) just issued a reminder that one of Sony's VAIO notebooks and several of Panasonic Toughbook models are the first computers to embed Rev A modems to provide wireless wide area network (WWAN) broadband connectivity.
This means that every one who owns one of these notebooks will have built in connectivity to the cellular data networks of Verizon Wireless and Sprint. Subscribers to either mobile broadband service will have secure, blanket wireless coverage, with maximum download and upload rates of over 3 Mbps and 1.8 Mbps respectively, in many markets across the country.
Sony and Panasonic are building on prior success. There are currently 25 notebook models, based on the first generation of EV-DO, that are commercially available from those two, along with Dell, HP, Itronix, Lenovo, and Toshiba. CDG said that WWAN modem shipments have reached 5.5 million this year, up 45% from 2005.
In-Stat expects WWAN modem shipments to break 28 million by 2011.
The telcos don't need to win every broadband speed skirmish (although they'll win more and more with FiOS and U-Verse). They could find success being merely competitive in terms of speed, but also being virtually ubiquitously accessible.
MSOs can provide fast broadband in homes, but they generally lack the ability to provide connectivity anywhere else. There's no point in trying to enlist the computer industry in a similar joint effort; PC makers have no incentive to integrate a DOCSIS modem in their machines.
This merely underscores the potential importance of the joint venture among five top MSOs and Sprint. The current participants promise other cable operators will be able to join the group once they've got services up and running, but there has been minimal progress so far on that front. Comcast, for example, recently began offering mobile telephony in two cities; Time Warner Cable is offering it in two cities, and Cox and Bright House Networks are expected to follow.
The proliferation of Rev A modems in notebooks puts a bit of pressure on operators to at least re-evaluate their strategies for building municipal wireless networks, or to consider cutting deals with companies who are building them.
Cisco rapidly integrating video into IP NGN
Cisco Systems has launched its new Content Delivery System (CDS), based on the software and other VOD-related assets from Arroyo Video Solutions, purchased earlier this year for $92 million CDS has been fused with the company's Internet Protocol Next-Generation Network (IP NGN).
At the same time, Cisco announced a series of new and enhanced features for delivering services - specifically IP video - over the IP NGN architecture.
The CDS is made up of what Cisco calls "Content Delivery Engines" (CDEs), which handle content ingest, storage, distribution, personalization and streaming capabilities. On the storage side, it leverages a hierarchical combo of RAM and less expensive SCSI and SATA drives, with algorithms that determine where content should be placed based on its popularity.
Cisco estimates that content delivery - from ingest to play out - occurs within 300 milliseconds with its new system, regardless of where the asset is physically stored on the network, a feature that is becoming more important as network DVR services and those such as Time Warner's "Start Over" begin to proliferate.
One change from the Arroyo days: the software is now baked into Cisco's hardware. Arroyo previously used off-the-shelf IBM servers. Another difference: Cisco is the only company standing behind the product, providing soup-to-nuts technical and customer support.
That's important, said Kip Compton, Cisco's senior director of video & IPTV development, because cable operators admired Arroyo's technology well before Cisco stepped in, but were equally concerned about whether a small startup could supply the necessary support for such an important component of the network.
Still, there is little to speak of so far in terms of deployments of the technology Cisco acquired from Arroyo. Although Cisco can't name all of those customers, it can point to some recent deployments with Time Warner Cable (in Portland, Maine) and with Charter Communications. Cablevision Systems also tapped Arroyo for its Remote-Storage DVR trial, which has been mothballed pending a court ruling.
Cisco is moving toward what it's decided to call "Video 2.0" -personalized video services characterized by greater interactivity and features such as videoconferencing complete with collaboration technologies. The overall goal is formatting and provisioning content to any device across any network, anytime - streaming content to PCs, PDAs, iPods, cell phones and other devices - while maintaining the integrity of the visual experience, Cisco said.
The new features and capabilities Cisco announced today are to that end.
Cisco has also enhanced its 7600 Series Router portfolio with the same support for its Intelligent Services Gateway (ISG) that Cisco earlier this year added to its 10000 and 7200 Series platforms. The combination of ISG and routers provides policy control, service control, and subscriber management.
Cisco also added what it is calling Visual Quality Experience (VQE) technology to its IP NGN systems. VQE enables network-based rapid channel-change and video error repair. VQE allows the network to detect and repair packet loss on degraded copper lines, Cisco said. It will initially ship as an appliance and will soon be integrated into Cisco 7600 Series Routers.
UTStarcom demos IPTV set-tops with UWB wireless
UTStarcom and Tzero Technologies are demonstrating a new generation of IPTV set-top boxes from the former that incorporate ultra wideband (UWB) silicon from the latter at the ITU Telecom World 2006 show in Hong Kong this week.
RollingStream Media Console
Equipped with UWB, UTStarcom's line of set-tops, called RollingStream media consoles, will connect a range of A/V components, including displays, set-top boxes, digital video recorders, media center PCs, residential gateways, and other equipment.
With bandwidth exceeding 500 MHz, UWB should be more than adequate to simultaneously transmit several streams of uncompressed HD video. Tzero's UWB is based on standards from the WiMedia Alliance; the company guarantees it will be able to coexist with other WiMedia-compliant devices.
SeaChange, subsidiary net Russian IPTV deployment
Corvette Telecom, a broadband operator based in Moscow, is deploying an IPTV system in partnership with SeaChange International and subsidiary On Demand Group. Corvette initially will offer the service, called "City TV," to 300,000 homes passed, offering a range of Hollywood films, independent titles and music, children's and lifestyle programming.
The deployment will center on SeaChange's "TV Platform," which includes components such as the company's Axiom Core software, TV Navigator Four middleware, electronic program guide, and VOD storage and streaming systems. London-based On Demand Group, meanwhile, is providing Corvette with content strategy and acquisition support.
IPTV adopted by Belgians faster than expected
As a mark of how fast IPTV is being accepted worldwide - and, not coincidentally, as a chance for Siemens to crow about its accomplishments - Belgacom, Belgium's biggest telco operator, topped 100,000 customers for its IPTV service faster than planned. The company had hoped to hit that mark by the end of the year; it did so in September. Belgacom's IPTV, delivered on an ADSL network, is based on the Surpass Home Entertainment from Siemens.
AT&T U-Verse makes its Houston debut
U-Verse is making its first appearance outside of San Antonio in Houston - albeit in only a few initial neighborhoods. AT&T will of course expand availability on an ongoing basis.
AT&T plans to introduce U-Verse in a total of 15 markets by the end of this month.
U-verse in Houston (and elsewhere) will offer the same slate of services also available in San Antonio, including more than 300 channels, 25 of which are high-def; digital music; three tiers of Internet access; Web remote access to digital video recorders (DVRs); video-on-demand, and other features.
Among those HD channels will be HDNet and HDNet Movies, after AT&T wrapped up a new distribution agreement with HDNet last week.
To clarify earlier reports in this space, AT&T does intend to be able to transmit multiple streams of HD, is fully confident it can do so, but had always planned to offer the capability at some point in the future.
Secondly, the DVR boxes customers had been able to open and re-attach the hard drive cable were Tatung boxes. AT&T is moving forward with new boxes from Motorola; some have DVRs, others do not.
FCC hopes to speed phone companies' entry into TV
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is floating the possibility of adopting rules to streamline the video franchise approval process. Martin expects subscription TV prices will diminish if cable and satellite TV operators are exposed to competition from phone companies. Martin wants agencies that grant franchises to be required to rule on applications within 90 days or six months, depending on whether the company submitting the application has already secured rights of way or not.
IP Unity gets in with Mexican operator
Cablemas is installing IP Unity's Mereon 3000 Media Server and Mereon Voice Messaging application. The rollout of the IP Unity equipment will start in Cuernavaca and in the next few months will cover 13 additional cities. The selection was based in part on the compatibility of IP Unity's equipment with the Cedar Point softswitches previously installed by Cablemas, which claims 15,300 VoIP customers, and operates networks that pass nearly 2 million homes.
VoIP pushing worldwide growth in equipment market
The worldwide VoIP and IMS equipment market is jumping, with sales to service providers up 4% sequentially and 26% year over year. The market is expected to more than double between 2005 and 2009, from $2.5 billion to $5.8 billion, according to Infonetics Research.
VoIP is driving the market, with the number of worldwide residential and SOHO VoIP subscribers nearly doubling from 2005 to 2006 to over 47 million, Infonetics said.
If anyone was worried about it - and with the 2002 recession still fresh in mind, who wouldn't be cautious? - the trend suggests the growth in the market is sustainable, lacking the earmarks of a bubble.
"The service provider next gen voice market is robust and healthy, with none of the extravagance that led to the telecom crash of 2000-2002, pointing to a sustainable investment cycle," said Infonetics Research principal analyst Stéphane Téral. "All segments but softswitches showed gains in the third quarter."
Nortel recaptured the lead in the $2.8 billion media gateway and softswitch market, according to Infonetics. Cisco is making inroads into the media gateway market and is now second in the media gateway/softswitch market. Sonus also remains strong.
The media gateway segment is up 11% quarter-over-quarter and 45% year-over-year. The session border controller segment grew 8% QoQ and up 102% YoY. As more traffic becomes IP, softswitches will increase their share at the expense of media gateways, Infonetics said.
Nortel recaptured the lead in the $2.8 billion media gateway and softswitch market, according to Infonetics. Cisco is making inroads into the media gateway market and is now second in the media gateway/softswitch market. Sonus remains strong. Acme Packet leads in the session border controller (SBC) segment, RadiSys is the worldwide leader for media servers, and Broadsoft leads in voice application servers.
Meanwhile in the Enterprise Telephony Market, the top IP PBX vendors are, in order, Siemens, Avaya, Cisco, Nortel, and Alcatel. Cisco, Avaya, Nortel, and NEC lead in North America, Siemens is in first place in EMEA, followed by Alcatel. In Asia Pacific, NEC is first, followed by Avaya.
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ARRIS joins Metro Ethernet Forum
ARRIS has joined the Metro Ethernet Forum, becoming the organizations 100th active member. The MEF promotes the adoption of Carrier Ethernet Networks and Services. Several Arris clients are also MEF members, including Cox Business Services, Time Warner Cable and Cablevision's Optimum Lightpath. Arris said it is the first Forum member to offer an end-to-end DOCSIS-based Ethernet solution, which is expected to be used largely to service business customers.
French MSO to bond with DOCSIS
Numericable, the largest cable operator in France, has tapped tech from Cisco Systems and its Scientific Atlanta operation to power a cable modem service that will push speeds up to 100 Mbps using "wideband" channel bonding, a key feature of the DOCSIS 3.0 specifications.
The introduction of channel bonding is tied to Numericable's overall network upgrade to Cisco's "IP Next-Generation Network" (IP NGN) architecture, the companies said.
Numericable plans to offer channel bonded, or wideband cable modem services, to more than 9 million homes by the end of 2007.
In this initial pre-DOCSIS 3.0 implementation (no equipment has been certified or qualified for DOCSIS 3.0 yet), the operator is deploying Cisco's uBR10012 cable modem termination system, and Scientific Atlanta's xDQA24 edge QAMs and EPC2505 Wideband cable modems.
BellSouth triples up on $99 bundle
BellSouth has launched an introductory $99 "Triple Choice" bundle that ties together the telco's phone and DSL services, and the choice of digital video from DirecTV or a mobile phone offering from Cingular. BellSouth launched the new bundle in South Florida, and expects to fuel it with a TV, radio and print advertising campaign.
The Vinyl Department...
Correction: In its commercials, Vonage uses a cover of "Woo Hoo" by the 126.96.36.199's, not the original by the Rock-A-Teens. Find it on the 188.8.131.52's own disks, and on the Kill Bill Vol.1 soundtrack.