IPso Facto...
Video Vectors
 January 09, 2008 
IPso Facto...

The IPTV market is like the computer industry in the mid '80s; PCs were available, but would not realize their full utility until being connected to networks years later. Likewise, TVs will not realize Brian Santotheir full utility until they, too, are connected to networks. That's the story Microsoft is spinning, anyway, as related by spokesman Jim Brady.

Connectivity isn't enough though. IPTV has to outdistance cable and satellite to succeed, and Microsoft intends to help make that happen with its Mediaroom software and other products.

Microsoft has taken some deserved lumps for the failure of Mediaroom to perform well in the past. Some of those lumps have come from brickbats we've thrown, but we've also said it was just a matter of time for Microsoft to make Mediaroom viable. Mediaroom is now deployed in one million set-tops, which is a pretty good sign of viability.

More signs that Mediaroom is ready to help IPTV become more competitive are the interactive applications running on Mediaroom that Microsoft is demonstrating at CES this week with Showtime and CNN. But the demos are just sizzle (in fact, Showtime and CNN will not be using them for broadcast); the meat is that Microsoft held a developers conference late last year, and at CES is showing off the tools developers will need to build interactive applications running on Mediaroom. They'll be commercially available later this year.

NASCAR on TNT: This demo application allows viewers to choose from among several views of the race, including several cameras mounted inside some of the competing cars. 
Source: Microsoft

The model for success is Microsoft itself, with Windows and the Windows software developers kit (SDK). PCs became wildly successful in part because anybody can write an application that can run on Windows – and therefore on millions of machines. It's the model the cable industry is trying to follow with tru2way (nee OpenCable). Microsoft can be expected to have some insight into how to replicate the model with its IPTV platform.

The company is putting together an "ecosystem" of developers. So far it includes IBM, Alcatel-Lucent, HP, Motorola, Cisco and recent addition Broadcom.

Both cable and IPTV are simultaneously trying to produce application development environments. You don't have to be Nostradamus to expect Microsoft will be looking to exploit the technology for interactive advertising, just as cable is trying to do with tru2way.

Furthermore, Microsoft is no longer completely inexperienced when it comes to TV. "A lot of the people working in our group also worked on WebTV," Brady said. "We know people don't want to do e-mail on TV. The killer app for IPTV is TV."

Brian Santo, IP Capsule Editor & CED Magazine Editor


Microsoft pushes capabilities of IPTV at CES
Microsoft nearly blanketed the first morning of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) with a blizzard of releases about its Mediaroom product. Chief among the announcements were that Microsoft partner BT intends to make good on Microsoft's threat to turn the Xbox 360 game console into a STB, and that Microsoft Mediaroom now supports multi-room DVR.

In addition, Microsoft claimed Mediaroom is now in 1 million set-tops worldwide and announced that Broadcom has become an "ecosystem partner," providing a system on a chip (SoC) that supports a number of advanced TV and video networking features.

Microsoft and Broadcom are collaborating to make sure Mediaroom will operate on set-tops that incorporate the latter's BCM7405 SoC. Notable among the boxes using the Broadcom chip is the V-Box used by BT ( A key issue will be providing content security, Microsoft said.

Verizon's FiOS TV wins in N.Y., Mass., Calif.
Verizon's FiOS TV service has been approved by 14 villages and one town in New York State. And the service is now available to some 1,800 residents of Rowley, Mass. Verizon now offers the service in 61 Massachusetts communities – in more than 400,000 households.

Additionally, Verizon's FiOS TV service is now available to more than 500,000 households in California, and the telco has announced plans to expand the service to one million homes by the end of the year.

MRG's IPTV report available
MRG Inc. announced the availability of its new IPTV Test, Measurement & Monitoring (TM&M) report. Key findings include:

• Pre-deployment testing is one of the best investments an IPTV operator can make at any time, because it helps anticipate new pressure points due to added services and subscriber usage.

• It's best to design your testing system architecture on one of four levels of service covered in this report: basic, intermediate, advanced or converged. Keep in mind how the system will change over the next three to five years.

• QoS and QoE measurements roughly match the OSI layers; for example, QoE is achieved through both objective and subjective measurements, with objective measurements done in OSI layers 4-7.


Vonage launches 'MyVonage' product strategy
Vonage has launched the "MyVonage" product strategy, which is focused on introducing products, services and features that support the way customers want to communicate.

As part of the overall strategy, Vonage unveiled the V-Portal, a digital voice adapter and single-port router with a built-in liquid crystal display (LCD). The VoIP provider also launched Contact Book, a one-stop communication hub with features such as group calling and voice-activated dialing.

Vonage also recently settled patent disputes with both AT&T and Nortel.


Cisco unveils IP Services Gateway at CES
Cisco's new IP Services Gateway (model DRG2800), which was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), will allow consumers to connect their set-top and large-screen, flat-panel TVs to their PCs via an Ethernet connection, so that they can watch videos, listen to downloaded music in surround sound and view photos accessed from their PC.

The gateway, which incorporates a 160-gigabyte hard drive and voice/telephone service, can distribute content throughout the rest of the home, as well.

Motorola showcasing at CES
CPEi 100Motorola is showcasing a host of products at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), including its first MPEG-4 STB for the cable industry.

Motorola will be showing its next-generation Surfboard SBV5422 Digital Voice Modem and Integrated DECT Cordless Phone System at CES. The system is designed to deliver whole-home telephone and data services over cable's broadband connection to the home. The SBV5422 enables IP telephony, high-speed data and new cordless phone technology that Motorola said can be installed by consumers, which will help cable operators eliminate unnecessary truck rolls.

And Motorola has added the CPEi 100 to its portfolio of wireless WiMAX customer premises equipment (CPE). The CPEi 100 is a single data port, 2.5 GHz "plug-and-play" WiMAX device that delivers wireless broadband Internet connectivity. It is designed to sit on a desktop and serve as the interface between a computer and the WiMAX network.

Broadcom sticks with the connection theme at CES
At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Broadcom announced an AVC/MPEG transcoder chip for home gateways and announced customers for its Intensi-fi 802.11n wireless chips.

The two customers for Broadcom's dual-band 802.11n chips are Netgear, which is using the device in its RangeMax Router, and Cisco's Linksys unit, which is using the Broadcom silicon in its Ultra RangePlus Router. The 802.11n version of Wi-Fi, still being worked on, promises maximum data rates of 248 Mbps (extant 802.11g has a theoretical max of 54 Mbps).

Meraki to deploy free Wi-Fi in San Francisco
Meraki Networks will deploy a city-wide wireless access network in San Francisco that will provide San Francisco - Golden Gate Bridgefree broadband Internet access for every neighborhood by the end of the year.

Meraki's plans are bold considering other large companies, such as EarthLink, saw their Wi-Fi plans flounder last year. Meraki touts its inexpensive routers and backend system that balances the bandwidth demands between the customers and the routers.

"This groundbreaking network in San Francisco will show the world that with Meraki's unique approach to building networks, we can quickly bring broadband Internet access to every city in the world," said Sanjit Biswas, CEO and co-founder of Meraki. "By expanding our San Francisco network, we are creating the largest real-world test network of its kind, where we plan to develop new wireless networking technologies and also test the economics of free, ad-supported Internet access."

Verizon's symmetrical FiOS Internet service reaches businesses
Small- and medium-size businesses can now take advantage of Verizon's symmetrical FiOS Internet service, with speeds of up to 20 Mbps.

Verizon is also offering up to 50 Mbps download (with 20 Mbps upload) "at prices close to those charged by the ordinary service providers for slower, asymmetric access," said David Frendo, director of business voice and broadband services for Verizon.

Verizon has also increased the speed on its fastest business Internet plans and lowered prices by as much as 35 percent.

2Wire intros multi-service home networking server
2Wire has a new home server, aimed at xDSL service providers, that the company claims is the industry's first fully integrated, multi-service connectivity solution. The system incorporates an ADSL or VDSL modem, high-speed router, firewall, integrated VoIP and a flexible home networking configuration.

Other features of the 2Wire platform include automated storage, backup and universal access to all media types, from purchased video to photos, music and user-generated video. Content and services are accessible via a single Web portal, whether at home or away.

Arvind Sodhani
Arvind Sodhani

Intel's Sodhani resigns from Clearwire board
Clearwire Corp. said that Arvind Sodhani has resigned from the Clearwire board, effective Dec. 23, in order to avoid any conflicts of interest that might arise regarding his position at Intel Corp. Mr. Sodhani is president of Intel Capital and EVP of Intel, and he has been one of the two members of the Clearwire board that are appointed by the chipmaker.

"Intel continues to view WiMAX as a top strategic initiative and looks forward to continuing to support Clearwire to develop, deploy and market a mobile WiMAX service offering in the U.S. over Clearwire's network," Sodhani said. "My resignation is not in any way related to any disagreement with Clearwire's management or the company's operations policies, practices or strategic direction."

Marvell intros 450 Mbps Wi-Fi chip
Marvell said it has a Wi-Fi chip that operates at 450 Mbps. The 802.11n-compliant chip, called Top Dog, is a 3x3 WLAN solution with three spatial streams. Marvell expanded on the proposed Wi-Fi standard with several techniques, including Special Time Block Coding (STBC), which the company explained helps maintain higher throughput over longer distances.

The chip is backward compatible with previous 802.11a, b, g and n versions, according to the company, which expects to begin shipping in volume next quarter.

China tightens regulatory grip on Internet video broadcasts
According to Bloomberg News, the Chinese government is tightening its regulatory grip on media content offered in the country by allowing only state-run Web sites to broadcast video or radio via the Internet.

Beginning Jan. 31, Internet broadcasting license applicants must be government-run entities, and operators will be banned from offering content promoting sex, violence, gambling or religious cults, as well as content divulging state secrets, according to China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.


Company: Wi-Fi Alliance
Headquarters: Austin, Texas
Executive Director: Edgar Figueroa

Claim to fame: The Wi-Fi Alliance is a global, non-profit industry association of more than 300 member companies devoted to promoting the growth of wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs). The Alliance's testing and certification programs help ensure the interoperability of WLAN products based on the IEEE 802.11 specification.

Recent news of note: On Dec. 14, the Alliance named Edgar Figueroa as its new executive director. For the past several years, Figueroa led the operations for the Alliance's certification program, Wi-Fi Certified, which has grown to include a global network of labs and more than 4,000 certified products.


• British plan: broadband for all kids, according to BusinessWeek.

• Top business and regulatory trends for VoIP in 2008, according to New Telephony.