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News summary for 8/14/07

Tue, 08/14/2007 - 9:11am

Hello Houston: Comcast launches voice, broadband services 
By Mike Robuck

Comcast launched high-speed Internet and digital voice services in the Houston area, which was formerly served by a joint venture between Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

Comcast acquired the Houston division after the joint venture with Time Warner Cable was dissolved earlier this year.

The availability of the new Comcast products in Houston follows the migration of high-speed Internet and phone customers to the company's fiber network, which was completed last month. Comcast’s Houston customers are in the process of transitioning their e-mail accounts from Time Warner Cable to Comcast domain names.
 
Comcast’s triple play offering in the Houston area enables new customers to subscribe to all three products for $33 each per month for one year when they sign up for all three.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts has acknowledged the strength of its triple play services as one area where the company is able to distinguish itself from its satellite and telco competitors.

"We're excited to enter the next phase of our transition by bringing the full suite of Comcast products to Greater Houston," said Tony Speller, senior vice president of Comcast's Houston region, in a prepared statement. “As Comcast continues to lead the way in delivering the communications services of the future, our local team in Houston has done the work to ensure that Comcast customers here can stay on the cutting edge."

Comcast’s broadband service enables customers to surf the Internet at speeds of up to 6 Mbps, or up to 8 Mbps with its Performance Plus tier. When combined with PowerBoost Speed Enhancer, Comcast customers hit download speeds of up to 12 Mbps. PowerBoost is a Comcast-developed technology that automatically uses additional capacity in the network to provide customers with extra bursts of speed when downloading and uploading large files, making it quicker and more convenient to access files like movies, music and photos.

Comcast began offering its services in the Houston market in June, introducing nearly 20 new networks. In the coming months, the company will launch its on-demand service, giving its digital-tier customers access to 9,300 programs a month.

Study: Cable facing bandwidth crisis 
By Mike Robuck

The sky is falling for cable operators when it comes to their bandwidth capacity, according to a new report by ABI Research.

ABI Research said escalating demand for bandwidth-intensive services such as HDTV and online gaming is gradually leading to a critical lack of capacity in cable operators' networks. Several solutions are available and, according to a study from ABI Research, collectively they will account for some $80 billion worldwide in investment over the next five years.

"Cable TV operators trying to satisfy the increasing bandwidth demands of HDTV customers feel very much like the thrifty grocer who tried to cram 10 pounds of potatoes into a five-pound bag," says vice president and research director Stan Schatt. "The increasing bandwidth demands on cable operators will soon reach crisis stage, yet this is a 'dirty little industry secret' that no one talks about."

Certainly cable operators are aware of the need for more bandwidth as they’ve started rate shaping and expanding spectrum beyond 750 MHz. Other solutions will come into play over the coming years, including spectrum upgrades coupled with node-splitting, switched digital video, PON overlay, MPEG-4 compression, and home gateway bandwidth management solutions.

According to ABI, all of these technologies involve tradeoffs and balancing of the cost versus benefit, and some are more applicable in certain circumstances than others instead of a one-size-fits all model. The best real-world solutions for particular operators may be determined using several cost models developed for the research: an ROI model, a cost-benefit model, and a relative cost model.

Arris, Incognito team on IPv6 interoperability
By Mike Robuck

Incognito Software announced that Arris will be taking part in the Incognito DOCSIS 3.0-IPv6 Interoperability (Interop) Program.

The program enables customer premise equipment (CPE) and cable modem termination system (CMTS) vendors to test the provisioning of their products in a multi-vendor, IPv6 environment.

Along with upstream and downstream channel bonding, IPv6 is a key component of the DOCSIS 3.0 suite. As large cable operators add more IP set-top boxes and mobile services onto their networks, the current number of IP addresses has diminished.

According to Incognito, the need for its interoperability program is underscored by the fact that the provisioning of DOCSIS 3.0 compliant equipment differs significantly from DOCSIS 1.x and 2.x equipment, as DOCSIS 3.0 relies on IPv6 addressing and DHCPv6 auto-configuration.

“It is critical to the mutual success of operators and suppliers in the DOCSIS 3.0 open standards environment to establish and maintain these types of interoperability relationships,” said Arris senior director of business development Jeff Brooks, in a prepared statement. “They not only ensure basic operation but have the potential to accelerate network transition and subscriber deployments.”

Hosted at the Incognito software head office in Vancouver, B.C., this program brings hardware vendors together into an integrated interoperability testing environment where testing and verification are continually performed. Device provisioning within the lab will be accomplished through the Incognito Software Broadband Command Center provisioning system, which currently activates millions of cable modems and MTAs within all major CMTS vendor environments worldwide.

“Our goal in establishing this interop is to have this advance work within the interoperability and testing sphere reflect well on the industry as together we roll out multi-vendor solutions to take advantage of the new capabilities afforded by these standards,” said Incognito co-founder and CTO Stephane Bourque, in a press release.

CommScope, Axis partner for converged security solutions
By Traci Patterson

CommScope Inc. has formed an alliance with Axis Communications, allowing CommScope to link its customers to Axis’ converged surveillance operations.

CommScope provides infrastructure solutions for communications networks. Axis is a Swedish-based IT company offering network video solutions and aiding in the ongoing shift from analog to digital video surveillance.

“In the security space, Axis has the clear leadership and expertise in IP-based video surveillance,” said Mark Peterson, SVP of global marketing and enterprise at CommScope.

“We believe that the alliance represents a great way to help our customers receive exceptional intelligent building solutions.”

Fredrik Nilsson, general manager of Axis, said, “CommScope is helping us communicate more effectively to our customers the importance and benefits of an intelligent building network system where all applications, from servers to video surveillance systems, are converged onto one infrastructure platform.”

African operator taps OpenTV
By Brian Santo

MultiChoice South Africa (MCSA), a multichannel television provider in Africa, has selected OpenTV as systems integrator for the roll-out of advanced digital television services on its DStv platform.

MCSA is investigating high definition personal video recorders (HD-PVRs) with OpenTV Core2 middleware and OpenTV PVR2 software, in combination with Irdeto's content security for digital TV.

The Push Video-On-Demand service will allow MCSA to broadcast a selection of television and entertainment content directly on the hard disk of set-top boxes for immediate access by subscribers. The advanced service will provide MCSA's subscribers, over time, with a range of interactive TV content, PVR, video-on-demand, and HD services.

Xtendwave lands $10 million financing
By Jeff Smith, Rocky Mountain News
Copyright 2007 Denver Publishing Company

A company co-founded by a Denver technology executive has received $10 million in private financing to develop a business to extend the reach of high-speed Internet signals on copper wire phone networks.

Xtendwave is co-founded and chaired by Mort Aaronson, who once ran Ricochet and Aerie Networks in Denver.

Xtendwave has nearly 30 employees in the Dallas area and a half-dozen in Denver, Aaronson said.

Aaronson said the computer chipset technology can be added to a house modem and DSL terminal to extend a broadband signal to more than 20,000 feet, compared with the usual 4,000 to 7,000 feet.

"It's obviously a rural play," but also could be used in urban areas, Aaronson said.
But Xtendwave still must sell telcos and equipment manufacturers on the technology.
Aaronson said the company is in "active discussions" with Latin American phone companies to place a first order.

Broadband Briefs for 8/14/07

* Hawaiian Telcom picks Telcordia’s service automation suite
By Traci Patterson

Hawaiian Telcom has selected Telcordia’s Fulfillment Suite in order to automate the provisioning and activation of high-speed services.

The suite will help Hawaiian Telcom support its new MPLS-based IP services - including IP VLANs, DSL-over-IP and other future services - and it will also assist the service provider in managing the full life-cycle on service design, assignment, activation and synchronization.

* NextPhase upgrades wireless net
By CED staff

NextPhase Wireless said it has completed the migration of a key segment of its wireless backbone to licensed spectrum. The company said it can now provide aggregate throughput of up to 300 Mbps to its customers within Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Furthermore, moving to licensed spectrum allows NextPhase to deliver carrier-grade services to the 135,000 businesses within its existing wireless footprint.

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