News summary for 8/28/07

Tue, 08/28/2007 - 9:08am
CED staff

Service Electric Cablevision picks Harmonic’s edge QAM for VOD service
By Mike Robuck

Service Electric Cablevision is using Harmonic’s edge QAM for its video-on-demand deployment in Pennsylvania.

Service Electric Cablevision, one of the first cable operators in the United States, is deploying Harmonic’s Narrowcast Services Gateway (NSG) edge QAM with privacy mode encryption for its VOD service. Harmonic’s privacy mode encryption is used to insure the VOD assets are protected.

"Harmonic introduced the world's first edge QAM and we have continued to remain at the forefront of edge processing technology with greater density and support for advanced applications in our latest generation NSG systems," said Dan Ambauen, VP of North American Cable Sales for Harmonic, in a statement. "Cable operators such as Service Electric Cablevision rely on the market-leading NSG with privacy mode to encrypt VOD assets and perform other valuable functions such as IP to RF conversion, multiplexing, program filtering and routing."

Harmonic's family of edge QAM solutions includes the NSG 8108 and 9116 models as well as a universal edge QAM, the NSG 9000. Edge QAMs allow cable operators to share bandwidth across QAMs between video services such as HD and VOD.

As a result of an RFP by Comcast, edge QAMs were all the rage at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo earlier this year. Last month Comcast announced it had selected Arris as one of its edge QAM providers. While not officially announced, several analysts said Harmonic’s edge QAMs were also tapped for use by Comcast.

Optimum Lightpath adds broadcast video transport to Ethernet portfolio
By Mike Robuck

Optimum Lightpath, a business telecommunications unit of Cablevision, added broadcast video transport (BVT) over Metro Ethernet to its portfolio of business services.

The service addresses the needs of the media sectors, including production facilities, broadcasters, television stations, content distributors and enterprises that have high-resolution broadcast quality video requirements. The service supports compressed, uncompressed, analog, digital, and high-definition video applications that require "broadcast quality," given its sensitivity to packet loss, transit delay and jitter.

"Content distributors, broadcast stations, post-production facilities, and live venues have long been requesting alternatives to the video services currently available in the market," said Dave Pistacchio, general manager, Optimum Lightpath, in a statement. "With the launch of Optimum Lightpath's new Broadcast Video Transport over Metro Ethernet, we are able to leverage our state-of-the-art fiber optic network to offer our customers greater flexibility, resiliency and simplicity, as well as provide a superior alternative to currently available services."

The BVT service has received both MEF 9 and MEF 14 certification from the Metro Ethernet Forum. Optimum Lightpath was a pioneer in the Metro Ethernet Forum when it became the first cable operator to join in April of 2006. Earlier this year, Optimum Lightpath was named "Best North American Regional Service Provider of the Year" by the MEF.

Small Asian STB makers challenging market leaders
By Traci Patterson

Traditional set-top box (STB) manufacturers remained the leaders in the worldwide market last year, but they are facing increased competition from lower-tier manufacturers, according to IMS Research. This competition added to the strong growth of the worldwide STB market last year, which saw an estimated 122 million units shipped.

French STB-maker Thomson held on to the lead position with double-digit share, due primarily to its dominant position in the U.S. pay-DTH market and its entry into the European IP-STB market.

Motorola nearly doubled its digital cable STB output compared with 2005, and the company has further extended its share lead over Scientific Atlanta. Philips Consumer Electronics has ascended into the top five by supplying the continued growth of pay-DTH markets in Europe and Asia.

Lower-tier Asian manufacturers—such as DVN, Changhong, Huawei, Skyworth, Jiuzhou and Gospell—have moved into the top 20 by capitalizing on the growth of digital cable TV markets in China, India and other parts of Asia. These manufacturers are poised to challenge the top-10 STB makers in the coming years as the need for conditional access and security, and the demand for increased functionality, drives these local markets, IMS said.

“Some of the lower-tier manufacturers that barely registered on the radar a few years ago are now moving into position to capture the low-end STB market in the quickly developing digital markets in Asia,” said Connected Home Research Group analyst Mark Meza.

Chicago opts out of municipal Wi-Fi network
Chicago Tribune

Chicago is curtailing its digital dreams, deciding to back away from municipal Wi-Fi service after failing to reach agreement with either of two companies that sought to build a wireless Internet network in the city.

The move comes as municipal broadband wireless projects around the country face difficulties, and EarthLink Inc., a major player in the field, is re-evaluating its future in municipal Wi-Fi.

As envisioned in early 2006, Chicago was expected to become one of the first big cities in the country to blanket its streets and neighborhoods with a wireless Internet signal that would allow residents access to the Web in their homes and wherever they traveled in the city.

But technology is advancing and the cost of online access for consumers is declining so dramatically that Chicago has other avenues to promote more use of the Internet. As a result, the Wi-Fi deal lost luster when negotiations bogged down, according to sources close to the matter.

Chicago officials had intended that the city would offer infrastructure, but no cash, to a carrier that would use its own funds to build the network here. EarthLink and AT&T Inc. submitted proposals to the city, but after months of negotiations the parties were unable to reach agreement.

The companies sought a commitment from Chicago to be an "anchor tenant," agreeing to pay to use the Wi-Fi network to support city services, but the city declined.

Taking its proposal request off the table for re-evaluation "is entirely appropriate for the city," said Tom Hulsebosch, vice president of municipal sales for EarthLink. "We're seeing this evolve as we learn more about these networks, and the city needs to think about this again from its own business perspective."

It might be possible for the city to spend money on Wi-Fi services that it now spends on other communications, he said, but that would require rethinking the budget.

A few years ago when San Francisco, Philadelphia, Houston and other cities jumped into Wi-Fi, officials thought paying less than $20 a month to get a high-speed Internet connection anywhere in the city would find a lot of takers. They also thought advertising could support citywide free connections.

Results on both scores have been generally disappointing. In Lompoc, Calif., which activated its $2 million Wi-Fi network almost a year ago, the city signed up fewer than 500 users out of a population of more than 40,000.

"There's a serious dose of reality, much needed, that has come into play after all the hype last year about free, ad-driven Wi-Fi," said Craig Settles, a wireless business strategist and consultant based in Oakland.

The most successful municipal Wi-Fi networks are those devoted to improving public safety and other city services, Settles said. Helping less-affluent residents get fast Internet access also can be a goal, he said, but it requires much more than just firing up a wireless network. Getting computers and training for the poor is a greater challenge, he said.

"We think that municipal services and public safety are at the sweet spot for a Wi-Fi network," said Blair Klein, a Chicago-based spokeswoman for the company. She said anchor tenancy has been a key point for the company in all its discussions of municipal Wi-Fi.

A primary goal of Chicago's request for proposals to build a wireless network was to assure that all city residents had high-speed Internet access at affordable prices.

Municipal Wi-Fi was one aspect of that goal, but getting hardware, software and training to city residents is also necessary, said a city official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement is not scheduled until Tuesday.

The city already provides free Internet access at 79 public libraries and at public spaces like Millennium Park and Daley Plaza and will seek other ways to expand access, he said.

A Wi-Fi network intrigued Chicago as a low-cost method of blasting an Internet signal across the city. The system would deploy radio equipment mounted on light poles and would cover 220 square miles of territory. Industry sources have estimated that it could cost as much as $50 million to install the infrastructure and perhaps an additional $150 million to operate the system for six years.

Chicago never intended to be a leader in municipal Wi-Fi, said a city official, preferring instead to watch what happened in other cities and learn from that. Some of what's happening isn't pretty.

In San Francisco, bickering among elected officials has stalled progress for months. In Houston, where the city council approved a contract with EarthLink last spring, work on the project has yet to start.

As municipal wireless projects have hit one snag after another, prices for wired Internet have fallen. AT&T charges $20 a month for speeds of 1.5 megabits a second in Chicago and will provide connections half that fast for $10 to new subscribers, although more than 10 percent of residences in the metropolitan area cannot get digital subscriber line service because they are located too far from AT&T's switching centers.

Even if Chicago declines to back a municipal wireless network, city residents soon will gain more Internet connection options. Sprint Nextel Corp. is building a wireless WiMAX network here that is due to offer service next spring. WiMAX is a technologic cousin to Wi-Fi intended to cover miles of territory with a wireless Internet signal via radio spectrum, whereas Wi-Fi transmits hundreds of feet per transmitter.

Another new wireless network may be built in 2009 after a portion of spectrum now used for analog television broadcasts becomes available for Internet connections.

MoCA adds first European MSO
By Traci Patterson

CAIW of The Netherlands has joined the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA), becoming the first European cable MSO to join the alliance. 

The operator offers TV, Internet and digital radio services in The Netherlands, where there is nearly 100 percent cable penetration. 

“MoCA is the clear standard in the U.S. for multi-room distribution of digital entertainment and networking,” said Aart Verbree, CEO of CAIW. “This is why at CAIW, we believe MoCA could and should also work in The Netherlands and a substantial portion of Europe.”

Verizon extends FiOS TV in N.Y.
By Traci Patterson

Verizon and the Maine Public Advocate’s office have reached an agreement that will allow Verizon to offer high-speed Internet service to about 70 percent of the company’s access lines in the state.

It is estimated that an additional 35,000 of the company's lines in the state will have broadband capability. The expansion is expected to be completed by February 2008.

Verizon has also expanded its FiOS TV service in New York with the addition of Westchester County communities Yonkers, Scarsdale and Bronxville; Long Island villages Floral Park and South Floral Park; and parts of the Town of Islip. Verizon offers the service to more than 120 New York communities.

Broadband Briefs for 8/28/07

* Calix solutions chosen by Canadian op
By Traci Patterson

Mornington Communications, a Canadian ILEC and CLEC, has selected the Calix C7 multiservice access platform (MSAP), the Calix Management System (CMS) and the four-port, 2.5 Gbps GPON service interface module for the C7, enabling Mornington to deliver HD IPTV and other high-bandwidth services.

The Calix C7 MSAP allows high-speed DSL and GPON to be offered on a single platform. The solution is being deployed throughout Mornington's ILEC and CLEC operating areas in southwestern Ontario.

* Emtel chooses Alvarion for WiMAX deployment
By CED Staff

Alvarion Ltd., a provider of WiMAX and wireless broadband products, announced today that mobile operator Emtel has chosen its BreezeMAX solution for a WiMAX network deployment in Mauritius. The new network is planned to provide extended data services to both corporate and residential users starting in the major cities and eventually the entire island.

Alvarion's BreezeMAX 3.5 GHz solution will enable Emtel to offer its subscribers greater coverage and increased capacity. As part of this deployment of primary broadband services, Emtel also plans to use Alvarion's BreezeMAX PRO, and BreezeMAX Si, the latter of which eliminates the need for professional installations.

* Actelis Networks unveils new loop analyzer
By CED Staff

Actelis Networks, a global supplier of Carrier Ethernet over copper products, took the wraps off its new EFM (Ethernet in the First Mile) Loop Analyzer at the OSP Expo. Actelis’ EFM Loop Analyzer is an automated test tool that includes a suite of loop qualification and diagnostic tests, along with troubleshooting capabilities, for copper plant. The EFM Loop Analyzer is designed to be used in concert with Actelis’ network element management software application, MetaASSIST View, to analyze and troubleshoot copper loops being used to deliver Carrier Ethernet access services.



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