Voice over IP is pretty cool. With it, I can even access my voice mail on the Web. But when I get right down to it, it's just phone service. Ah, but wait for IMS one-phone/one-number mobile anytime/anywhere calling? That will be very, very cool.
But cordless phones were also very, very cool when they first came out in the mid-70s. I don't know about you, but for me the shine has sorta worn off.
IPTV is great. When you IPitize video, all sorts of fun things are possible. Local content encoded on the fly and immediately available on demand, unicasting, stuff like that. It's all endlessly fascinating.
But it will all still be just TV. IP cannot improve the acting on any Disney Channel show you care to name, help the Oakland Raiders' offense, or prevent the networks from developing any more reality shows.
But I digress...
That's why it's amazing to realize then, that people are still finding ways to use the Internet in ways that have profound affects on cultural and societal behavior. Starting with e-mail and chat rooms, and on through MySpace and Flickr and YouTube and online dating services, the Internet has changed the way people interact in fundamental ways.
"The Suite Life of Zach and Cody"
appears on The Disney Channel.
"The Brady Bunch" wasn't
this bad, was it?
The Internet long ago began to change politics. The advent of the blogosphere 10 years ago was only the beginning. For a while now, politicians have been reaching constituents through the Web, and some bloggers have been drilling further into data for their political reporting than most major media outlets.
But recently, the Internet has gone beyond being a thriving forum for political discourse (incalculably valuable for that alone), but also for something new - keeping politicians accountable for their words and actions with video. No longer will politicians be able to argue "that's not what I said." And if they whine their words have been taken out of context, we can watch them deliver those words in context.
When Sen. George Allen uttered an uncommon word a few weeks back, when John Kerry had a slip of the lip, when Rush Limbaugh claimed he hadn't made fun of a man with Parkinson's disease, policy wasn't necessarily involved, but accountability certainly was.
When Mr. Bush said his Administration's message has never been "stay the course," that was about policy, and within hours any number of people were able to find hundreds of citations of him and other Administration members saying precisely what he was denying he'd said, including dozens of instances on video.
Take a deep breath, you over there; over time the gotchas will even out among all parties, I guarantee it. The point is faster broadband, cheap storage, and the ability to capture and publish video are becoming so common it's having profound and positive influence in our democracy. The phenomenon may be an unintended by-product of IP technology, but without IP in general and the Internet in particular, it wouldn't be happening. I'd say we're getting a terrific return on that investment.
Verizon raring to apply for NJ video franchise
Verizon said it intends to file the first application for a video franchise in New Jersey under the state's new video franchise law. This initial filing covers 2.1 million households, or 70% of the homes in the state, by Verizon's estimation.
Under the law, the Board of Public Utilities must act on the franchise application within 45 days. Two public hearings on the matter have been scheduled this month, on Nov. 17 in Newark, and Nov. 21 in Cherry Hill.
Verizon signaled its expectation the N.J. Board of Public Utilities will take the full 45 days to consider its application; the company said it is planning to begin offering video to some communities by the second half of December.
Verizon has been unspooling fiber throughout the state for over a year, and is already offering Internet access on its FiOS network. FiOS TV will take a little more time, however. Verizon said it will have FiOS TV available to only about 450,000 households by March.
Axtel to acquire Avantel
Mexican carrier Axtel will acquire Avantel for approximately $500 million. The combined company will have over 750,000 residential, small, medium and large customers, as well as multinational and government entities, throughout Mexico. By integrating Axtel's hybrid wireline and fixed-wireless local access network, and 683 kilometers of metropolitan fiber optic rings, with Avantel's 7,700 route kilometers of long-haul fiber optic network and 300 kilometers of metropolitan fiber optic ring, Axtel expects to be able to better target the business market with VPN and other IP-based services.
Infonetics says IPTV gear sales to hit $6.8B by '09
There are numerous technological issues yet to be worked out before IPTV becomes fully viable, and even when those are solved, the lack of a regulatory framework for IPTV may hinder the development of the market. That makes it hard to predict when and how the IPTV market will develop, but Infonetics Research took a stab at it anyway, predicting the number of worldwide IPTV subscribers will more than double just about every year from 2005 to 2009, when it will reach 68.9 million subscribers.
Infonetics forecasts IPTV service revenue and service provider capex to increase dramatically as well, and sales of IPTV equipment to skyrocket from $371 million in 2005 to $6.8 billion in 2009.
Source: Infonetics Research
At the moment, however, IPTV is still in the kick-the-tires phase, according to Jeff Heynen, directing analyst for Broadband and IPTV at Infonetics Research. He said the technical hurdles are well known, but the regulatory issues are less predictable.
"Legislators are asking, 'How do we treat and regulate IPTV?' While content owners are asking, 'How do we best take advantage of these new markets?' It's complex, and depending on how the regulatory and content licensing discussions go, the timeline for IPTV taking off could either slow down or speed up."
Highlights from the report selected by Infonetics include:
- Service providers are expected to generate significant IPTV service revenue between 2005 and 2009, with worldwide revenue increasing at a 169% five-year compound annual growth rate
- The bulk of IPTV service revenue is being generated by providers in Europe
- Service providers are dedicating rapidly increasing amounts of their capital expenditure dollars to IPTV infrastructure, including both content and transport equipment, with worldwide IPTV capex growing at a 41% CAGR between 2005 and 2009
- The number of IPTV subscribers in Asia Pacific more than tripled between 2004 and 2005, where faster forms of DSL like VDSL2 and ADSL2/2+ are stimulating subscriber growth
- The number of IP set top boxes (STBs) sold worldwide will nearly triple between 2006 and 2007, led by China-based Yuxing InfoTech and UK-based Amino Communications, who are currently the worldwide leaders in IP STB unit shipment market share.
Eye Rock Digital selects
Brightcove to deliver Internet channel
Savers Plus International has tapped Brightcove to help it develop an Internet-based network that Savers Plus is calling Eye Rock Digital. Brightcove will provide Eye Rock Digital with the ability to create, and publish, a series of online media channels, integrate ads and create a branded video player. Eye Rock Digital is shaping its content for 18 to 34 year old males. The network is scheduled to launch mid December.
Harmonic to demo IPTV headend
Harmonic said it will demonstrate its broadcast and on-demand IP-based video solutions at the Telco TV show in Dallas next week. The company will have on hand an all-IP remote headend to distribute aggregated content acquired via satellite; the demo includes the latest generation DiviCom Electra MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) encoders and the ProStream 1000 platform with ProCipher bulk descrambling capabilities.
Harmonic will also showcase the on-demand software for content ingest, real-time distributed intelligent asset management and high performance video streaming technology it recently acquired from Entone Technologies .
Tut Systems headend will
anchor DisneyWorld-area IPTV system
Smart City Telecom will begin offering IPTV services based on a system that integrates Tut Systems' Astria content processor (CP) and Astria video services processor (VSP) headend products with Minerva Network's iTVManager middleware and a conditional access system, dubbed FCAS, from Latens .
Smart City Telecom will deliver Smart City TV to the Walt Disney World Resort and other locations in central Florida.
From a central Astria CP headend, Smart City plans to deliver more than 200 channels of video over their end-to-end fiber network to residential subscribers. In addition, the solution will utilize Tut Systems' Astria VSP for conversion of digital channels to analog RF at the edge of the network for hospitality users.
ARRIS, SeaChange prep for DOCSIS switched digital video
ARRIS said its Keystone D5 Digital Multimedia Termination System (DMTS) has been demonstrated to be fully interoperable with SeaChange International's VOD System.
The testing anticipates and is preparatory for the advent of DOCSIS 3.0 and associated modular-cable modem termination (M-CMTS) technology, which will make it easy for cable operators to use their IP-based DOCSIS networks not only for data and voice but also for switched digital video services, including video-on-demand.
The D5 DMTS is able to support digital video EdgeQAM delivery today. Migrating to M-CMTS/DOCSIS 3.0 and to switched digital video applications would require only a software upgrade, according to ARRIS.
Entone delivers IPTV for tier 2 telco
Entone said Consolidated Communications decided to launch IPTV service using Entone's Hydra HD IP video gateway.
Consolidated wanted to avoid the expense of populating its subscribers' homes with set-top boxes, which led to the decision to go with Entone. Hydra HD delivers up to three independent video streams - with any combination of SD/HD, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4 (H.264/AVC) signals - over a single DSL or Ethernet connection using existing in-home coax cabling.
Hydra HD's integrated HomePNA 3.0 interface allows for high-speed IP service over existing in-home coax and phone lines. It also has integrated Caller ID features and a built-in ATSC tuner for receiving over-the-air broadcast. Hydra HD also offers full interactivity and a modular personal video recorder (PVR) with up to 1 terabyte of storage.
Consolidated Communications claims approximately 240,000 access lines in Illinois and Texas.
Optibase, SeaChange to go after IPTV
Optibase will integrate its carrier-class media gateways with SeaChange International's TV Platform. Optibase's telco and hybrid network customers will be able to use the combined systems to deliver rich media over xDSL and other IP-based networks.
The Optibase Media Gateway family, designed for IPTV applications, encodes, transcodes, transmits and recasts live video in real-time. The SeaChange TV Platform, meanwhile, is an IPTV solution that includes modular client/set-top, network and back office software options supporting the delivery of a variety of subscriber services.
AudioCodes, BroadSoft team on VoIP service delivery
AudioCodes and BroadSoft have thrown their lots in together, deciding to conduct joint product development, marketing, sales and support of their voice over IP (VoIP) products.
The pair will integrate AudioCodes' media gateways with BroadSoft's VoIP application software to create access solutions for hosted VoIP applications. AudioCodes provides the ability to connect the BroadSoft application to existing enterprise PBX and/or analog phones and faxes.
By integrating the two product lines, the two hope to make it easier for carriers and other service providers to use their products in their VoIP deployments.
BroadSoft said it provides VoIP applications to 6 of the top 10 and 12 of the top 25 largest carriers worldwide, including Korea Telecom, Singtel, Sprint, Telefonica de Espana, Telstra, T-Systems, and Verizon.
Subscriber adds help Vonage shave its Q3 loss
Vonage Holdings added 204,000 new subscribers in its third quarter, for a total of just over 2 million customers. Vonage finished the quarter with 2,057,844 lines in service, an increase of 11% sequentially and 94% above the year-ago level. The company upped its guidance for the full year from a projected 2.2 million customers to 2.3 million total.
The additions helped Vonage rack up $161 million in sales in its third quarter, up 12% sequentially, and up 118% from the year-ago quarter. The record earnings helped to diminish the company's losses from $74 million the previous quarter to $62 million in the quarter just ended. Vonage lost $66 million in last year's Q3.
The company said it was the first time its loss narrowed year over year. Vonage said it is aggressively managing direct costs and achieving scale benefits due to growth in its subscriber base.
The company has been criticized for having miserable customer care. Consequently customer care was an area that received both attention and investment. Vonage reported "marked improvements" in most service metrics, including call abandonment rates, first call resolution and overall customer satisfaction. Churn began to lower in September, the last month of the quarter.
Cox offers Digital Telephone across the board
Cox Communications launched its VoIP service in Santa Barbara and Palos Verdes, Calif. Cox is now offering the service in every single one of its markets, though it has yet to make it available to every single one of its subscribers.
Cox previously this year introduced its VoIP telephony service to Northwest Arkansas, Sun Valley, Ida., and Cleveland, Oh. The company said more than 1.9 million households and 150,000 businesses subscribe to Cox Digital Telephone.
Separately, ADT Security Services, a unit of Tyco Fire & Security, announced it recognizes Cox Digital Telephone as a primary method of alarm transmission - only in those markets where Cox provides its VoIP service over a private, managed IP-based data network.
ADT made similar recognitions for IP telephony networks managed by Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable, Cablevision Systems Corp., Charter Communications, and Bright House Networks.
Nortel helps Neuf deliver fixed/mobile service in France
Neuf Cegetel is trying to get a jump on France Telecom with the rollout of its fixed/mobile TWIN(xx) service.
Le Neuf Box
The GSM/WiFi TWIN service is based on VoIP and IMS-ready Multimedia Communication Server 5200 from Nortel . The MCS 5200 integrates voice with video, collaboration, and presence services. It uses SIP technology to deliver handover between cellular and WiFi technologies.
Under WiFi coverage, TWIN phones automatically connect to either a Neuf box or WiFi community access point, and calls are made at the same price as calls from a landline phone. Users will also benefit from receiving one, convenient consolidated phone bill.
Neuf Cegetel has more than 1.4 million residential broadband customers in France. Since June 2004, Neuf Cegetel has been using a Nortel solution to provide VoIP services to more than 500,000 of those customers.
Now Enables Primary Voice Services over WiMAX
Alvarion said it is now capable of providing primary voice services over WiMAX on the latest edition of its BreezeMAX system. This version of the BreezeMAX combines support for the V5.2 interface and its existing VoIP capabilities. This allows the BreezeMAX to interface with carriers' traditional TDM networks, allowing phone companies to extend their network coverage with WiMAX.
The company said the primary voice services of BreezeMAX have been tested with carriers in Africa and South America, and approved as interoperable with various vendor's Class 5 switches. As a result of these trials, two unnamed operators in Africa are today leveraging their TDM switches by deploying this BreezeMAX voice and data solution.
Alvarion also introduced its BreezeMAX voice customer premise equipment (CPE). The voice terminals include one or two voice lines and battery backup. An outdoor version is commercially available; an indoor, self-install version will be available in Q2 2007.
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SingTel uses Juniper to offer bandwidth on demand
Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) has deployed Juniper Networks' SDX Service Deployment System and E-series Broadband Services Routers to support the introduction of new premium IP services, including a new bandwidth on demand service.
The deal with SingTel was arranged through Juniper's marketing partner Siemens , which has the SingTel contract for network integration.
With the E-series and SDX, SingTel customers will be able to dynamically request and change their bandwidth transmission rates, adjusting speeds from 125 Kbps up to as much as 25 Mbps.
Bright House Networks introduces business tiers
Bright House Networks debuted a set of new business broadband services, available only to customers of its systems in central Indiana.
For larger business customers, Bright House Networks Business Solutions now include network services, business Internet, business data protection, business wireless, business TV, and other services.
For small to medium-size businesses (SMB) and home-based businesses, the company said it has repackaged its high-speed Internet access, automatic remote data backup, user level security, wireless workplaces and other services.
Bright House Networks Business Solutions include seven tiers or plans. The top-tier Business Ultimate plan includes 10Mbps downstream/2Mbps upstream Internet access, 25 e-mail accounts, a 1GB remote backup and a static IP. The company's Business Lite plan includes 786Kbps by 128Kbps Internet access and five e-mail accounts with the option to upgrade to more options as a business grows.
Previously, Bright House Networks provided Road Runner Business Class services primarily to small- and medium-size businesses.
Bright House Networks also operates systems in various markets in California, Alabama, Michigan and Florida.
Verizon Wireless expands reach of broadband network
Verizon Wireless has expanded its EV-DO (Evolution- Data Optimized) network to Bryan and College Station, Tex., and Pensacola, Fla. Subscribers in all three places can now get the company's BroadbandAccess and V CAST services. BroadbandAccess provides professionals with full, mobile access to their corporate networks, with average access speeds of 400-700 kbps. V CAST dishes up music, videos and 3D games on demand to mobile devices.
Cingular extends its wireless network in Florida
While Verizon Wireless was extending the reach of its data network, so was Cingular , which extended its HSDPA/UMTS (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access/Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) network into Tampa and Lakeland, in Fla. Cingular's network also advertises connection speeds of 400-700 kbps. The two networks are incompatible.
Rogers starts fast wireless data service in Canada
Rogers has begun 3.5G wireless voice and data service based on The HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) upgrade to GSM technology. The footprint covers Canada's Golden Horseshoe - an area that hugs the western shore of Lake Ontario and includes Toronto.
HSPDA networks are capable of data transmission speeds of either 1.8 mbps or 3.6 mbps, over twice as fast as previous wireless data networks.
Subscribers will need a Sierra Wireless AirCard 860 from Sierra Wireless in order to access Rogers' network with their computers. The Sierra Wireless AirCard 860 is available from Rogers at an introductory price of $49.99 with a three year term, or $349.99 with a one or two year term. That's in addition to the fees for the data service.
Rogers said it will continue to expand its HSDPA network coverage to other top Canadian markets throughout 2007. The rollout will include the introduction of HSDPA-enabled phones and new applications as well as improved customer experiences on current applications offered by Rogers Wireless.