Alcatel-Lucent debuts small-market IPTV system
Alcatel-Lucent introduced a turnkey, compact IPTV solution, powered by Microsoft Mediaroom, designed for small networks (or small markets) of between 1,000 and 100,000 set-top boxes.
Cinergy MetroNet in Indiana is among the first to deploy the system. The operator expects to begin providing IPTV service on Monday.
A-L started with Microsoft's Mediaroom Hyper-V architecture and provided some design tweaks that allows the company to offer a solution it says more than triples the number of set-top boxes supported in a single deployment and reduces the number of servers needed.
A typical IPTV system might require as many as 120 servers or so; A-L has knocked that back to 10 to 12, said Geeta Chaudhary, vice president of Alcatel-Lucent's Multimedia Integration Services group.
The system A-L architected is further optimized when deployed on HP BladeSystem with HP Virtual Connect technology. The number of physical connections from the servers to the content aggregator is similarly reduced from thousands to about a dozen, Chaudhary said.
The small physical footprint means a much "greener" deployment with reduced overall energy and operating costs. A-L can train an operator's staff or provide managed services on an outsourcing basis.
With broadband stimulus dollars still to be spent, A-L is confident that there is plenty of business out there among small Tier 3 and Tier 4 phone companies. Cable companies with an IP-based network – perhaps those with DOCSIS 3.0 installed – should also be able to take advantage of the system.
The solution is also appropriate for utilities looking to get into the business – Chaudhary says there are quite a few, as well as for larger companies aiming to serve smaller, less-densely-populated markets.
Operators deploying the system will be able to offer their customers a lineup of as many as 550 channels, she said. The solution also supports whole-home DVR and the ability to combine Web-based content, including over-the-top sources.
The Alcatel-Lucent IPTV offer, called the Integrated Solution for Microsoft Mediaroom, is a substantially modified version of an existing solution that Alcatel-Lucent has previously deployed in more than 25 [(large) networks globally. The system uses Internet protocol technology to transmit the television signals and, thanks to the power and flexibility of IP, enables carriers such as Cinergy to offer a variety of new services.
"The needs of operators serving smaller customer bases are unique because they often don't need large multi-rack solutions," said Vince Vittore, principal analyst for Yankee Group. "Alcatel-Lucent's approach to this market is unique because it combines a great user experience with a reasonable price point and leverages its experience as a video integrator."
Cinergy MetroNet has a customer potential of about 50,000. "We want to provide our customers superior service and access to such capabilities as whole-home DVR, interactive applications and over-the-top content," said John Cinelli, CEO of Cinergy MetroNet. "Alcatel-Lucent's IPTV solution fits our business needs and gives us a powerful, flexible and differentiating tool to deliver IPTV-based services to our customers."